Ferrets in Egypt? (A "myth" of the origins of pherret domesti

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PhlawlessPhelon
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Postby PhlawlessPhelon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:04 am

Phara wrote:[10:50:17 PM] Phara: NINJA CATS ARE SACRED
[10:50:21 PM] Phara: TOP ADMIN IS EGYPTIAN
[10:50:22 PM] Phara: THEREFORE
[10:50:24 PM] Phara: SACRED
[10:50:25 PM] Phara: O_O


This inspired me to research the history of of pherret domestication because one of the most common "myths" about ferrets is that they were domesticated by Egyptians for rodent control prior to cats. In fact, drawings of ferrets have been found in crypts, tombs, and temples of ancient Egypt. That being said, no evidence of either polecats or ferrets have been found in that area, nor have any mummified pherret remains ever been found. One theory is that if Egyptians did domesticate the pherret, then they were likely used by lower class individuals for rodent control, and thus would not likely be mummified. This theory also would suggest that pictorial/hieroglyphic depictions of ferrets may have merely been depictions of wild Asian polecats or distorted/eroded images of cats. The truth is that ferrets are highly susceptible to extreme heat and a lack of water, thus it is unlikely that they were widely present throughout Egypt during this time. Likewise, no archeological evidence has surfaced any ancient remains of ferrets or polecats (mummified or not).

All this taken into account, it is unlikely that ferrets were domesticated by Egyptians prior to cats, but it does not rule out Egyptian fondness for ferrets or polecats. Their journeys and trade routes likely would have brought them into contact with European or Asian polecats, and the timing of domestication is within the time frame of the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman empires, but the specifics of which society fully domesticated them first may still be debated. So, while the domestication of ferrets may have begun in Egypt, their widespread domestication seems to have occurred later. The persistence of the tale of pherret domestication in Egypt may be related to their current popularity worldwide, including Egypt - where ferrets are commonly used to control rat populations. Many sources will attribute pherret domestication to Egyptians, but very little hard evidence has surfaced to back up these claims. The lack of hard evidence is likely because ferrets were not kept as pets by pharaohs and because of the popularity of cats.

The facts

1. Ferrets were domesticated 2500-3000 years ago for rodent control purposes.
2. Roman scholars and many others attribute pherret domestication to the Egyptians, but their domestication did not likely occur prior to the widespread domestication of cats.
3. Debate persists among pherret historians and general historians regarding who first domesticated the pherret.


Sources:

Ferrets for Dummies, 2nd edition

KAMAL, A. M.; GAMAL EL DIN EL HEFNY, A. (1941). Rats in Egypt, and the Effect of Local Squill, Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association pp. 105-29

Kerry Brennand (2011). Ferrets - Curious Critters, Veterinary Nursing Journal Volume 26, Issue 12
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MAK
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Postby MAK » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:39 am

Awesome! :D.... Are ferrets more efficient than cats in regards to rodent control?
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PhlawlessPhelon
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Postby PhlawlessPhelon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:42 am

(UPDATED)

So, from what I can gather, both cats and ferrets are highly efficient rodent killers.

I would make the argument that certain ferrets (prey-fed), wild or domesticated, are better/more efficient for controlling rodents for a variety of reasons:

1. Ferrets are more easily trained than cats.
2. Due to their slinky bodies and small frames, ferrets can get into areas/places cats simply are unable to reach. For instance, a cat can kill mice, but a pherret can track them all the way to their nests/hiding places.
3. Ferrets will rip prey to pieces in little time, whereas cats are often notorious for "playing with their food" if you catch my drift.
4. Wild ferrets have been introduced in certain regions to specifically control prairie dog populations, as prairie dogs are natural prey of black footed ferrets.

Most of my google searches revealed anecdotal accounts of ferrets being more efficient than cats at controlling rodent populations. There are even anecdotal accounts that the smell of a pherret alone is enough to deter mice from an area.
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MAK
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Postby MAK » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:46 am

Can't wait :D
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Candeeoke
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Postby Candeeoke » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:18 pm

what an awesome thread! I used to have a pherret - named Templeton. I didn't realize they were rodent hunters! Very cool.
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Phara
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Postby Phara » Fri Apr 15, 2016 11:40 am

//reminder to read
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AliceElite
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Postby AliceElite » Sat Apr 16, 2016 2:29 am

This is really cool.

#themoreyouknow
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