The word ferret has its origins in Latin and means translated little thief. With that hint of knowledge, it shouldn’t surprise you that ferrets love to steal things and hoard them.
My ferrets will take anything they can carry. I saw my little one pound girl try to carry away the dog’s sterilized bone; the bone weighs more than she. (The only reason she didn’t succeed was because the dog saw her dragging the bone across the room and intervened.) They appropriated my shoes, wrist brace, and stuffed animals. They looted bookmarks, balls and cutlery. They stole computer mice, handkerchiefs and socks. They removed apples, potatoes and staple removers. If they can pirate an item, they will.
So, after my ferrets acquire an object of desire, they hoard it. Almost all stolen things end up in the same place. After I clean they might move their stash, but usually there’s only one cache at a time. I found the cache under her cage. Once the hiding place was behind the TV and once they actually plugged everything into one of my husband’s speakers. Currently, my babies love to move objects into their Tower of Fun, a tube that rotates up and down. The fuzzies love to slide down the slopes of the Tower of Fun, so it’s a bit strange that they block their fun slide with toys. Yet they do.
Since I don’t speak ferret and my ferrets don’t speak human, I can only guess based on their natural behavior in the wild. Polecats (from which our domesticated ferrets were domesticated) are carnivores. They are hunters. They kill things smaller than themselves (usually smaller, but I’ve seen videos of ferrets killing things bigger than themselves). So a ferret kills a mouse and eats it. When it’s done, it will hide the leftovers. If a ferret kills an animal too large to eat in one sitting, the ferret will hide the corpse to finish off later. And in all these cases, ferrets try to prevent other animals from getting their prey.
I think that’s probably the best explanation for why ferrets steal, but I have another thought. I often find ferrets asleep amidst their stolen treasures. When they sleep in their cache, the items are usually soft and squishy, like small stuffed animals and other fluffy things. So my second hypothesis is that ferrets like to build cozy beds.
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