Ready for our Close-up: Ferrets in Film and TV
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BUD...WEIS...ERR...iiiieeeee!!! Flashing lights, smoke on the water, and flying amphibians -- and we see the joyful glee of a lizard on his branch. Oh no!!! Is this the end of the beloved frogs? Who would be so diabolic? Wait a minute -- who is that furry young creature, grinning from ear to ear? It’s the ferret, and it seems that he’s trying to end the successful career of our dear green friends.

Anybody who watched the Super Bowl that year probably remembers falling off the couch from laughing so hard. Louie the lizard was the initial comic relief of that commercial, but it was the ferret that eventually stole our hearts.

In the beginning, Beastmaster was the only film that people remembered seeing ferrets in. Kodo and Podo are not the only ferrets taking roles in films now. Paying close attention, a viewer can catch these furry animals in such films as The Big Lebowski and Dr. Doolittle II.

  
 
While the rise in their appearances proves that ferrets are becoming more popular, there are still many misconceptions and myths being perpetuated by these appearances. The biggest misunderstanding is that ferrets are wild creatures. Actually, ferrets have been domestic for over 2000 years. The only non-domestic ferrets that exist are their cousin, the black-footed ferret. In fact, the black-footed ferrets were nearly extinct until they were saved by the efforts of a conservatory group that took them into captivity in the late 1980s. Now they can be seen in parts of Wyoming and South Dakota.

In The Big Lebowski, the ferrets were portrayed as aggressive and mean animals. There is a brief scene where they are lead in on leashes, and then they are sent in to a room to torture someone. While we do not see the attack, we hear someone’s horrified screams. Even though ferrets can nip hard, it’s doubtful that they could actually be trained to attack someone.

In Dr. Doolittle II, the ferret is referred to as a weasel. While both are part of the Mustelidae family, most people commonly mistake the ferret to be a rodent. The ferret is actually related to weasels, skunks, minks, badgers, and even the polecat.

Today, there are a lot of films that offer cameos of the ferret, including Starship Troopers, Mars Attacks, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. But the appearance in Kindergarten Cop really shows how appealing a ferret can be. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character brings a ferret into the classroom as a teaching aid. The scene shows how calm the ferret is as the kids pet him and ask questions about him.

So the next time you’re watching that popular Verizon Wireless commercial -- the one with the man and the ferret exchanging raspberries -- just remember that the ferret is merely playing a role. It ‘s very unlikely that sticking your tongue out at a ferret will cause it to launch and latch itself to your face.

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