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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.

August 8, 2008 — 10:54 am
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