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Russian Ferret Society
Russian Ferret Society
Origin of russian ferrets
In our opinion, four general historicaly existing populations of domestic ferrets exist now in the world: European, Australian (include Australia and New Zealand), Russian (include Russia, ex-soviet countries and some east-european countries) and American (North- and South America). American and Australian populations came from European population in XIX century and developed mainly independently since then. Russian population of domestic ferrets also has european roots.
At the beginning of 1970 soviet fitch farms begin to breed wild polecats (Mustela putorius). In 1971 noted zoologist Dmitry Ternovsky introduce to USSR furo (albino ferrets) from Prague's Zoo. Dr. Ternovsky with other biologist to clear up a question about origin and taxonomy of furo and prove that furo is albino form of Mustela putorius. At the same time he begin experimental crossing between furo and wild polecats, steppe polecats (Mustela eversmanni) and european minks (Mustela (Lutreola) lutreola). About hybrids you can read in part "Hybrids between Mustelidae. Honoriks".
As a result of crossing between furo and wild polecats he breed 3 colours of ferrets: goldish, perl and pastel (you can see its in Colour chart). In 1977 Soviet fitch farms begin breed these colours for fur.
At the beginning of 1980 ferrets get some popularity as pets, but soviet goverment promulgate a law against keeping and breeding fur-bearing animals by private persons. This law have for an object to prevent illegal small fitch farms. When Perestroika begin the law were canceled and people pay attention to ferrets again.
Till the middle of 1990 a very few people keep ferrets. Sudden increase of popularity ferrets as pets begin in 1999-2003. People buy theirs in fitch farms and in pet market; small breeders is not enough at this time. According to our data by the May 2004 65% of all ferrets were escaped from fitch farms, 35% origin from small breeders (25% in first, 8% in second and 2% - in 3st generation). Overwhelming majority of ferrets owners and small breeders located in Moscow and S.-Petersburg, few located in Kaliningrad, Samara, Khabarovsk, Saratov, Novosibirsk.
Distinction of russian ferrets
In comparison with american and european ferrets, russian ferrets bigger (body weight of male is 1.8-3.2 kg), have more bushy fur and other body proportions. We haven't yet data about life span of our animals, because in general ferrets as pets kept no more than 4-6 years. Also we haven't data about frequency of occurence different diseases, but already it is known that adrenal diseases is very rare in the Russian population.
About keeping ferrets in Russia
About 50% of owners use for feed their ferrets self-made diets, based on natural products (meal, eggs, by-products, rice, sometimes fish, supplements). About 25% of owners use premium cat foods (in general Hill's Kitten and Iams Kitten) or special ferret food ("8 in 1"). A few people (1-2%) feed ferrets with laboratory mouses, rats or chickens. Unfortunately, about 20% give for ferrets unsuitable food such as cheap cat foods, dog foods, sausage, potatoes and other. We note, than we recommend for feeding premium kitten food, because good ferret food is very rare in Russia.
In our opinion, main problem now is incompetence of mayority breeders. Many people who just started keep ferrets want to bred them, at that they sure that it very easy. As a result rickets has become increasingly common in the past 2 years with an increase in novice ferret breeders providing inadequate diets for pregnant and lactating jills and kits.
How in many different countries, in Russia we have a few veterinarians who can sufficiently treat ferrets. Two years ago in International Ferret Newsletter we wrote than in Russia no veterinarians for this animals, but now we have some competent expert in ferrets in Moscow and S.-Petersburg.

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