SHOWING: What I look for in a ferret being shown.
The first time I went to a ferret show was at Chatsworth game and country fair. It was by accident I came across the ferret show being run by Ken Griffith and Jim Walsh in the mid eighties. It only had two classes, hobs and jills, this was on the Saturday so on the Sunday I took along 1 hob and 1 jill to enter into the show and to my surprise I won both classes. After that I started taking my ferrets to ferret shows.

After many years of showing I got talked into doing some judging by a very good friend, Chris Tyler of the IFWS. Since then I have travelled the country to judge ferrets at various events. Over the years the standard of ferret keeping has improved immensely, making the job of judging very difficult.

So in this section I will try to explain what I would look for in a ferret being shown.

When first handling the ferret I like to see how the ferret behaves he/she should not be so lively you can not hold them and also not so languid they just dangle like a bauble on a Christmas tree, also you can check the looks of the ferret i.e. whiskers eyes nose and mask.

Whiskers should be long and resemble those of a walrus long whiskers are a sign of good health. The eyes should be clear and bright albinos always have transparent eyes but blood vessels at the back of the eyes give them the appearance of being red or pink, Sandy's and coloureds have either ruby red or black, whereas polecats and silvers always have black. The nose should show no signs of discharge, on albinos you only get a pink nose, Sandy's a nice pale pink or brown nose is normal, on polecats a black nose is favoured but you can get pink, silvers have either pink black or patchy, whereas coloureds come with a variety pink black brown and patchy.

The face itself is marked on shape and colour the shape of a jills head is long and pointed almost weasel like and very petite whereas a hob has rounder and shorter head a lot more masculine looking. The colour of the face depends on the type of ferret for instance a polecat should have a full mask, above the mask is a lighter patch called a crown some judges will not accept a ferret with out this personally I don't mind either way.

The weight of the ferret can vary with size and sex hobs are the larger of the species weighing from 1Kg to 2.5Kg the jills weight is a lot less from as little as 0.5Kg to 1.5Kg obviously the larger the ferret the heavier he or she will be and in the winter this can increase by 40%, if a ferret feels somewhat thin this does not necessarily mean it is underfed or it is ill as lots of ferrets are on the go all the time especially in the summer and this can be a major contributor to weight loss.

I would rather see a ferret a little over weight than under, but obesity can be a serious problem and seems to be coming more common among ferrets today.

Cleanliness and health are my top priority. Check the fur looking for dirt fleas and ticks, the easiest way to do this is to gently blow the fur apart, minor cuts and abrasions can be caused by friendly play but anything more could be just plain bullying, I mark down for badly grazed necks.

The feet should show no signs of dirt when checking claws you can also check for any dirt between the toes under and around the pads (the back feet tend to be worst) bearing in mind some ferrets are walked on leads it's worth remembering there is a difference between muck off the floor and ground in muck out of a dirty box which do turn up on occasion. Moving on to the nails, they should be evenly cut not too short, not too long about 2-3 millimetre from the quick and rounded off at the end. Flat-ended nails do not look good so they should have been cut a week or so before to allow time for natural ware.

Checking skin condition and fur

The tail is pretty straightforward, it should be at least an inch longer than the stretched out back legs, the longer the better. I don't mark down for bold tails as this is an hormone problem and can't be helped as well as boldness there can be little black spots on the tail also they can't be helped so should be ignored.

The ears should be nice and clean and a pale pink in colour, look for dirt around the outside of the ear as well as the inside wax deep in the ear is their to protect the ear drum so should not be considered when marking, redness in the ear can be a sign of excessive cleaning.

This brings us to teeth and they should be white with no staining on either front or back, fangs should be whole and pointed on young ferrets but as the ferret gets older the fangs start to ware and can become discoloured this can be taken into consideration as long as you know the ferrets age. When you open a ferrets mouth this is the time you will more than likely be bit if the ferret is not well handled so always approach this job firmly but with caution, some ferrets open their mouths willingly whilst others can refuse flat, if the later happens try a different approach it is well worth persevering to get a good look at the back teeth.

Checking Teeth

How to open the mouth

This is my wife Jackie with Cinders the dark polecat jill who took champion ferret.
Kelstedge Show 2005

Copyright 2004 Bob Bradury