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Morning bucket o’ weasels = molto ossim


I had a dental cleaning this morning, so I blew off work for the rest of the day. I dropped by Petco for some catfood on the way back and got there just as the store was opening. The highlight of any trip to Petco, of course, is gawping at the animals– especially the big box of ferrets at the front of the store — so I was grievously bummed to see the ferret cage empty. An employee was rushing around filling food bowls and dumping various squeaking gobs of fur into cages and I said, “no ferrets?” and she said, “oh, they’re over there in that big red bucket.”

And they were!

Three pointy white faces stared up at me out of the bucket. It was a big red bucket of weasels! They were extremely excited to see me, and I was extremely excited to see them. Much to my surprise, nobody cared if I played them and she left the lid off the cage when it was all set up and the bucket was up-ended into it. The ferrets humped all around the cage and chewed on my sleeves and tried to climb me like a tree and, one by one, did the weasel dance for me. Wonderful way to start a long weekend.

Alas, I didn’t have a camera with me. But while I was Googling suitably representative ferret pics, I found this story: one of our last two colonies of wild black footed ferrets has lost a third of its members. To the plague. Yes, that one. THE plague. The big mama-jama.

I knew that plague was endemic in the prairie dog population, and I knew that prairie dogs were ferret food, but I never put two and two together. My favorite disease and my favorite animal, tragically juxtaposed. Apparently, ferrets have zero resistance to plague. They up and die, every time.

People do okay with it now. Every once in a while, some kid out West skins a rabbit he found dead and gets himself a dose of yersinia pestis for it, but antibiotics knock it right down. Whether that’s really the same disease that knocked out a third of the population of Europe is not entirely certain.

Huzzah! My weekend has begun! In with a weasel, out with a…well, we’ll find out.


Comment from porknbean
Time: August 8, 2008, 1:01 pm

PnB’s advice for the day – do not eat chocolate cake before bedtime.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 8, 2008, 1:13 pm

Yup, Plague is indemic in this region, enough so that Prairie dog towns are routinely gassed if they get too close to human habitation. A local company has even gone so far as to buy a Honeywagon and convert it to a Prairiedog sucker, which they use to suck the prairie dogs out of their towns alive to be fed to captive blackfooted ferrets in the breeding program.

Comment from Jill
Time: August 8, 2008, 1:57 pm

Stupidity is the only thing endemic round about these parts.

True story: tenants in my building at work were storing large batteries outside near the loading dock. Today, some Einstein-ish fellow decides to steal them and sell them for scrap. Tenants watch Einstein load them into his vehicle. They follow him over two miles to the scrap yard. They have called 911 en route, and police show up not long after Einstein. Police take statement from tenants, and force Einstein to load all of the large, heavy batteries onto a push cart and push them the entire way back to building.

This is Pittsburgh. It’s not exactly flat here.
Is that a great story, or what?

Comment from porknbean
Time: August 8, 2008, 2:11 pm

and force Einstein to load all of the large, heavy batteries onto a push cart and push them the entire way back to building.

Now that is the way punishments should be dealt out. Creatively. Along with the occasional punch in the nose.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 8, 2008, 2:16 pm

A little off topic, but I thought Stoatie would like this story about a feline fashion show…. ๐Ÿ™‚


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 8, 2008, 2:27 pm

ARGH!!!! CURSED SPAM FILTER!!! I was going to post a kitty fashion show link for Stoatie, and it won’t come up!

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 8, 2008, 2:27 pm

Lets try again.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2008, 2:39 pm

Sorry for releasing both of them, Scubafreak, but the filter supposedly ‘learns’ when you release things. I’m not convinced. I’d like to have a whitelisting ability.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 8, 2008, 3:30 pm

NP, luv. I just thought you’d get a chuckle out of the pussycat fashion show….. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 8, 2008, 3:47 pm

Yeah, there’s plague stories in Oregon every so often, usually in the deserty parts. Nobody dies from it these days, and nobody would have in the past if they’d had even rudimentary care. The reason it was so awful was the ghastly sanitation and lack of cleanliness.

And scuba: I figured all fashion shows were feline.

Comment from Lemur King
Time: August 8, 2008, 3:57 pm

pnb, I’ve always thought very highly of the creative punishment of chopping off the right hand of a thief.

Weas, can’t the little ferrets just go to the clinic and get a shot to clear that little infection right up? Seriously though, is there any kind of vaccine that anyone knows of? Seems like the plague is one of those things you want to avoid if you can. Black pussy nodes… mmmmm.

Comment from iamfelix
Time: August 8, 2008, 4:15 pm

Stoaty: Did you read this? Very good — One of the ones I bought when you were talkin’ plague pits last year. This one is really good as well, and a lot closer to home.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2008, 6:30 pm

Oh, man, Scubafreak…if those cats murder their owners in the middle of the night, I’ll post bail for them. Poor bastards.

Why do people dress cats up? And why the HELL do they wash them? Cats are self-cleaning ovens.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 8, 2008, 6:43 pm

I must admit, I found the Cornish Rex in the phycadelic green dress and bonnet on the first screen to be especially odd…… ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment from Allen
Time: August 8, 2008, 6:45 pm

I have heard of prarie dogging, but that little fellow appears to be “ferreting.” The wiki article on them is pretty good.


Dayum, a family of 4 ferrets goes through 250 prarie dogs a year. That means they rarely if ever miss their prey. That’s efficiency in hunting.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2008, 6:45 pm

Working my way down the comments after a day offline.

There is a vaccine, LK. But these guys are wild (legitimately. They aren’t escapees, they’re ancestors). And it’s two shots. So the ferret volunteers have to catch, vaccinate and release them TWICE. They’re working on it.

I have read neither of those, Felix. They both look excellent. It’s been many years since my serious <koff> study of plague, but Plagues and Peoples was one I read. A trawl through Amazon isn’t turning up any of the others, that I recognize. I read Camus in the original French in High School…does that count?

My favorite plague, anyhow. The whole world changed, but people didn’t talk about it much after it happened. We might think it odd, but how many know that the ‘flu pandemic at the end of WWI was the most destructive plague in history?

Okay, maybe a lot of people, now that bird ‘flu hysteria is the new hoola hoop…but not many before then.

Comment from LemurKing
Time: August 8, 2008, 6:48 pm

Dark forces are at work here, Scubafreak. People who dress cats up are just not well. It takes a special kind of nipplehead to conceive and carry out such a dastardly plan.

I’d show my daughter the pic to get a laugh out of her but I don’t want to remind her of her missing kitty. She had the two weeks of no cat while we vacationed and neither kid has noticed what was wrong with the picture yet. (whew, I think)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2008, 7:02 pm

The only cure for a dead pet is a new pet, LK. Yeah, sure, it’s a never-ending circle. But IT’S THE CIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIFE.

Oh, shit. I just burst out in song, didn’t I?

Comment from Dave in Texas
Time: August 8, 2008, 9:19 pm

Attention. I am full of porterhouse, onions and mushrooms.

Go back to your activities now.

Comment from iamfelix
Time: August 8, 2008, 11:09 pm

Comment from Dave in Texas

Attention. I am full of porterhouse, onions and mushrooms.

So I’ve heard … (raises one eyebrow) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Comment from Allen
Time: August 9, 2008, 12:14 am

Tally Ho, the last round of Margarita Polo is over. Do you ‘member playing Marco Polo in the swimming pool?

Polo is on horseback… Blindfold… horseback… margaritas

Shit that hurt.

Comment from porknbean
Time: August 9, 2008, 2:37 am

Heh. I especially like the kittehs swaddled like babies.
Yes, I am a nipplehead and I haven’t been well for nie on 18 years.

Allen, I have never played Marco Polo in the pool, but if I am not sure where my daughter is in a department store, I start calling ‘Marco’. BTW, do you have a death wish? Blindfolded on horseback. Drunk.

Comment from LemurKing
Time: August 9, 2008, 2:40 am

Weas, you can burst out in song whenever you like. It’s fun.

We are seriously litter-shopping right now for an English Shepherd. The pups are really way cute. Hey, I should perhaps post some pics. Duh.


Marco Polo… the game where you see who can bleed out the nose the most in the pool while blindfolded before passing out. Lovely game, that.

Comment from porknbean
Time: August 9, 2008, 2:40 am

Oh…and I am anti-critter selling at pet stores. They usually get them from mills. Mills, I say.
Our first two critters we bought from a pet store and both were ill. Took months to get them better.

Comment from LemurKing
Time: August 9, 2008, 4:43 am

Nope, this is a farm where they are lovingly cared for one litter at a time, the mama dog looks radiant, and beer flows in the streams. It’s Big Rock Candy Mountain. Ok, the beer and the mountain part are BS, but the rest is true. They really love their dogs and go to great pains to match temperament to family/work – they are excellent farm dogs and love work but are great family dogs as well, going so far as to grab a kid’s arm and pull them back home rather than let them wander off. Not pet mill there!

Comment from Allen
Time: August 9, 2008, 4:49 am

Could be PnB, but my wife trained the horses. She passed away 2 years ago, but the training stuck.

Which when you think about it’s kind of spooky, no way. My neighbor’s wife died from ALS but her horse and my wife’s were goombahs. They trained them together.

OK now I crapped on the carpet, sorry.

Comment from Allen
Time: August 9, 2008, 5:10 am

LK, Margarita Polo is a… well… experience.



The folks seeking the mragaritas must be blindfolded, on horseback, and with no reins.

The folks with the margaritias are free to move around the arena, but when a horse zooms in on em’ they have to stand still.

You might be a redneck….

Comment from porknbean
Time: August 9, 2008, 12:14 pm

LK, I mentioned ‘mills’ ’cause weasel mentioned looking at the critters in the pet store. Your comment and mine were posted at the same time. ๐Ÿ˜‰
My critter adopted me from the pet store. She is a bright one, my Neva.

Allen, never heard of drunken Marco Polo causing one to lose their bowels….unless it’s played a little too hard? Heh.
Condolences regarding your lovely wife. Sounds like she is still there is spirit.
So what if your are sitting on the horse blindfolded, and the horse doesn’t want to move?

Comment from LemurKing
Time: August 9, 2008, 6:18 pm

I played water polo (sans horses, because a mouthful of bobbing horse poo is not very tittilating) but not margarita polo. Sounds good to me. Redneck version should be “Jello-Shooters Polo”.

Sorry for calling you a nipplehead pnb. You don’t swaddle the cats like the ones in that picture, do you? (SHUDDER)

I share your reaction to classic bad-place puppy mills, though. It takes away from the care that a dog needs at ALL stages if they are to be kind and loving and well-adjusted. Just being another ball of numbered fur with a respiratory infection because of a high concentration of feces in the area isn’t a great start on life.

Comment from porknbean
Time: August 10, 2008, 12:09 am

You donโ€™t swaddle the cats like the ones in that picture, do you? (SHUDDER)

If I could have a cat, I would. Cats are especially fun to pick on.

Comment from Allen
Time: August 10, 2008, 4:59 am

PnB, Ta. It’s real translation from Brit is thanks.

In fact, Ta much.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 11, 2008, 2:54 pm

You don’t swaddle cats, you put a piece of tape on their side or back and watch them try to duck under it constantly.

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