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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The European ferret, Mustela putorius (Family Mustelidae): Its public health, wildlife and agricultural significance

  • Author(s): Hitchcock, Jim C.
  • et al.

The European ferret, Mustela putorius, a species prohibited in California, has become increasingly popular as a household "pet." As a result, its threat to public health, wildlife and agriculture has markedly increased. There has also been a consequent increase in reported attacks on humans, especially infants, including several fatalities. Reports of rabid European ferrets are also on the increase. When European ferrets establish "feral" populations, domestic poultry, waterfowl, game birds, rabbits and other species are at substantial risk. At this time, a California Legislature Assembly Bill has been introduced to change the status of the European ferret from a wild animal to a domestic pet. Passage of this bill would allow unlimited legal importation into California of this now prohibited and potentially detrimental species. The opportunity is therefore taken to increase the public's awareness on the dangers of European ferrets and by extension to also include other exotic wild animals as "pets."

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