Ferret mom shows her babies to giant human

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/17/ermagherd-ferrert-behbehs.html


That was all wonderful and full of feels!! I’d love to know the non-anthropomorphic explanation for that behavior (just so I can discount it. Did you even SEE that video??)


Maybe it’s thinking “How do these 5 conjoined pink babies keep escaping?!? I must drag them back!”


My thought exactly. It was like she thought the hand was one of her kits.


I wondered if it was more, “You’re going in the box, too. You’re going to help keep my babies warm!”


Oh thank goodness you’re home. Hey, where are you going? Please, just watch them for like 10 minutes. I am dying of thirst and I have had to poop for the last two hours.

Our cat did this with her adopted kitten. My wife got home before me, mama cat would meow from the bedroom for relief. Once mama cat saw grandma human settle down with the kitten, she ran off to use the litter box, eat, and drink.


Yeah. That’s what I was thinking too.

“come put hand in the box to help keep babies warm. I gotta go eat something”


My wife had 4 ferrets (no kits though) and they displayed this kind of behaviour as well. We called it “stashing” because they loved to drag inanimate objects away and hide them in the same manner. One of them used to grab me by the finger, drag me through the house and stash me behind a painting leaning against the wall in a hallway. It bothered her that there were bits sticking out the ends, but you can’t have everything. Once I was stashed she would wander off, and then get very annoyed when I emerged and try to drag me back. Ferrets tend to relate to human hands as being the whole of the person, so i think she’s trying to put the human in her box with the other kits.


Can it be that the mother is introducing the human smell to her babies so they get used to it early? Their eyes are still closed, it has the be the smell.


That was simply precious. Mama was persistent and the babies all went to squealing.


Yes, this! It’s a strong maternal instinct.


When I was a kid we had pet gerbils. One we adopted turned out to be pregnant and had a litter. The vet advised us not to touch them as babies as there was a danger the mother would be confused by them not smelling right and fail to feed them. Apparently ferrets are smarter (or maybe just less OCD).


I was thinking “Here human! Into this box with us! I can’t do this alone! They’re driving me crazy!”


There was a fun doc on PBS years ago about people raising and showing ferrets, which included this woman’s ferret song. The way others have described ferrets’ gathering habit made me think of it:


When I was a kid we had pet mice. (I know, rodents are different from weasel-type critters.) It took a few litters before, we learned to tell the difference between the girls and the boys. Anyway, the different mothering styles of the mama mice was remarkable. One mousie named Nibbles was the best mother, and she would show off her babies to us humans. Being a mouse she wasn’t as grabby as the ferret; instead she would open up the nest and drag the babies to our hands whenever we were doing something with the cage. Unsurprisingly her babies grew up very well socialized to human interaction. On the other end of the spectrum was Brownie who would bite if our hands got too close to the nest.


The (completely inappropriate anthropomorphized) behavior this reminded me of, is when a nonverbal autistic teenager wants you to do something for them (open a package, tie their shoes, install batteries in a stim-toy) they might take your hands and try to drag them to the place where the work needs to happen. So I interpreted that gesture as, “I’m tired of nursing them, you give it a go now!”.


Weird, but unbelievably cute.


Feast, my children! Feast upon the delicious handmeats I have provided!"

This was totally my first impression.


Oxytocin is a powerful hormone!


Almost 100% sure that’s a myth. Animals usually know how to recognise their babies. Though, if you stress the mother out she might decide that raising them isn’t worth the effort (little animals like that can always have more). Mice and rats will kill and eat their pups if they’re too stressed, but gentle handling isn’t usually enough to trigger it.

The advice itself is good though, just not the reasoning.

Edited for typos