Behavioral characteristics of the ferret

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Ferrets have become companion animals during the last thirty years. Although the animal does not exist in its natural environment and there is limited research about the species available, some behavioural aspects have been identified that Should be taken into account by the veterinarian. Numerous Physiological and behavioural characteristics differentiate this species from other carnivores. Ferrets need a higher energy requirement and several meals per day. Ferrets sleep Lip to 18 hours per day However, when awake they are highly active displaying exploratory and play behaviour even in adults. Aggression by biting is never pre-empted by menace behaviour. Owners should be aware of these characteristics and should provide the animals with a suitable space and environment.

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Phylogenetic relationships among 20 species-group taxa of Mustelidae, representing Mustelinae (Mustela, Martes, Gulo), Lutrinae (Enhydra), and Melinae (Meles), were examined using nucleotide sequences of the nuclear interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein (IRBP) and mitochondrial cytochrome b genes. Neighbor-joining and maximum-parsimony phylogenetic analyses on these genes separately and combined were conducted. While IRBP performed better than cytochrome b in recovering more-inclusive clades, cytochrome b demonstrated more resolving power in recovering less-inclusive clades. Strong support was found for a close affinity of Enhydra with Mustela to the exclusion of Martes and Gulo (causing Mustelinae to be paraphyletic); the most-basal position of Mustela vison within Mustela, followed by Mustela erminea; an association of Mustela lutreola, Mustela itatsi, Mustela sibirica, and the subgenus Putorius (including Mustela putorius and Mustela eversmanii), to the exclusion of Mustela nivalis and Mustela altaica; and a basal position of Mustela itatsi to a clade containing Mustela sibirica and Putorius. Whereas cytochrome b strongly supported Mustela lutreola as the sister species to Putorius, IRBP strongly supported its basal placement to the Mustela itatsi–Mustela sibirica–Putorius clade. The low level of sequence divergence in cytochrome b between Mustela lutreola and Putorius is therefore a result of interspecific mitochondrial introgression between these taxa, rather than a recent origin of Mustela lutreola in a close relationship to Putorius. Time estimates inferred from IRBP and cytochrome b for mustelid divergence events are mostly in agreement with the fossil record.
This paper reviews seven lines of auditory research which bear upon the issue of awareness in animals. First, comparative studies of auditory sensitivity have found important differences in the hearing abilities of animals such that sounds easily audible to one species may be inaudible to others. Second, studies of auditory attention indicate that when an animal is presented with a complex stimulus, such as a sound that varies in both quality and location, it may attend to one feature and not the other depending on the particular situation. Third, studies of relational concepts have indicated that animals can respond to relations between sounds, for example, indicating whether two sounds are the same or different. Fourth, memory studies have begun to examine the ability of animals to remember sounds. Fifth, studies of auditory perception have demonstrated that animals can classify sounds into natural categories such as dog sounds vs. other sounds. Sixth, studies of primate alarm calls indicate the degree to which animals can use vocal communication within a species. Seventh, studies of an African grey parrot have demonstrated that this animal can communicate with us using human speech sounds.
The response of ferrets to changes in the cost of obtaining food was studied by systematically increasing the number of responses necessary to gain access to a feeder. The results obtained were consistent with an ecological analysis of feeding. As cost increased, meal frequency declined and meal size increased. These changes in feeding allowed the ferrets to obtain sufficient food intake to maintain growth, while conserving total time and energy spent procuring food.
Experiments were conducted to assess the time course of behavioral and endocrine changes which occur in female ferrets as they switch from estrus to the pseudopregnant state. Significant reductions in females' acceptance of neck gripping by a stimulus male (receptivity) and in their latency to approach a stimulus male in an L-maze (proceptivity) were first observed 3 days after receipt of an intromission; no such changes occurred in other females which were only neck gripped by stimulus males during the initial test session. Corpora lutea were later found only in the ovaries of females which received intromissions, confirming that ovulation had occurred in these animals. Plasma concentrations of prostaglandin E1, prostaglandin F2 alpha, and the 13,14-dihydro 15-keto metabolite of prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGFM) were unchanged in female ferrets for 4-5 days after receipt of an intromission. By contrast, plasma concentrations of progesterone were significantly elevated beginning 5 days after, whereas plasma estradiol was significantly reduced beginning 4 days after receipt of an intromission. Daily sc administration of the progesterone receptor antagonist. RU 38486, significantly retarded the lengthening in females' approach latencies to a stimulus male, suggesting that postcoital elevations in circulating progesterone normally contribute to the expected decline in proceptive responsiveness. By contrast, postcoital reductions in acceptance quotients occurred at equivalent rates in females treated with RU 38486 versus vehicle, leading us to infer that postcoital reductions in estrogenic stimulation may cause this decline in ferrets' receptive responsiveness.
Onset of hearing in the ferret was judged by simple behavioral, physiological and anatomical indices. The ear canals do not open until the end of the first postnatal month. This coincides with the appearance of a startle response to loud hand claps and the recording of acoustically activated neurons in the midbrain. The late onset of hearing in the ferret (around 32 days postnatal) contrasts with the cat (6 days) and the mouse (12 days).