Dogs tend to get most of the praise when it comes to helping humans get their jobs done, but there's another furry friend to mankind that probably should have formed some kind of workers' union by now: ferrets. In ancient times, Greek society saw the value of ferrets as vermin eradicators, and many ships kept the little creatures on board to get rid of rats -- as did did some farms and factories in more modern times, at least until newer extermination methods were invented. But the real boast that ferrets can make regarding their labor value is as layers of wire. It turns out the tiny mammals are ideal for fitting in small spaces, so they were a natural choice to do the television cable groundwork under Buckingham Palace for the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
They also were called upon at the last minute to place the TV, sound, and lighting cables below London's Greenwich Park for the new millennium's Party in the Park concert. But England doesn't have dibs on the little critters. Boeing, the American multinational company, has been known to call on ferrets to run wires through its planes. In other words, while dogs might still be man's best friend, ferrets have at least some small claim to the title of man's favorite workforce.
Some ferret facts:
- Ferrets have relatively short lifespans -- between 5 and 10 years -- and are generally considered geriatric at 4.
- Playful ferrets are known to do the "weasel war dance," in which they hop sideways, leap about, and even bang into nearby objects.
- Ferret racing, in which the little creatures run through drainpipes, is a popular sport in London.