I want one! And not just because they've
become the new "let's carry it round
in a handbag" Chihuahua, I've
always wanted one!

Ferret ownership is now higher in
the south-east than the north
according to a new study.

Possession of the mammals used to be
synonymous with the north where 'ferret legging'
(an endurance test or stunt in which ferrets
are trapped in pants worn by a participant)
became popular, particularly among miners.

But celebrity owners, such as Hilton, Madonna
and Jonathan Ross have now made ferrets
fashionable in the affluent south.

Retired miner Reg Mellor, from Barnsley, set
the world record time of five hours and
twenty-six minutes at the age of 66 on 5
July 1981 at the Annual Pennine Show
at Holmfirth, Yorkshire.

Mellor, who had hunted with ferrets in the dales
outside of Barnsley for many years, had grown
accustomed to keeping them in his trousers
to keep them warm and dry when out working
in the rain. His "trick" was to ensure that
the ferrets were well-fed before they
were inserted into his trousers.

The decline of the need for poaching with
ferrets to feed families in the north has also
contributed, according to the survey by

Ferret Education and Research Trust.
The report found owners in the affluent
south-east, including London, account
for 27% of the pet ferret population.

The North of England's three regions account
for 24% between them. Yorkshire manages
just seven per cent. Typically lovers
of the species keep two animals,
with the record being 160.

Steve Shillitoe, one of the north's remaining
enthusiasts, said there had been a"rebranding
of the ferret from a working animal owned by
a Yorkshire man in a flat cap to a companion
animal for a young Essex woman".

The pet's renaissance in the South
will be celebrated on National
Ferret Day on May 5.

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