Saturday, February 11, 2006

Guest Posting on Ferret Legging

You all thought I was crazy when I shared my tale of Ferret Legging, I began to doubt myself. I googled and found this gem of an article.Not only did I to need prove to myself I was not a nut, I really felt compelled to share this knowledge, knowledge is good as you may well know. JW

King of the Ferret-Leggers

-- by Don Katz, from November 1992 Harper's.

Mr. Reg Mellor, the "king of the ferret-leggers," paced across his tiny Yorkshire miner's cottage as he explained the rules of the English sport that he has come to dominate rather late in life. "Ay, lad," said the seventy-two-year-old champion, "no jockstraps allowed. No underpants -- nothin` whatsoever. And it's nogood with tight trousers, mind ye. Little bah-stards have to be able to move around inside there from ankle to ankle."

Basically, ferret-legging involves the tying of a competitor's trousers at the ankles and the insertion into those trousers of a couple of peculiarly vicious fur-coated, foot-long carnivores called ferrets. The brave contestant's belt is then pulled tight, and he proceeds to stand there in front of the judges as long as he can, while animals with claws like hypodermic needles and teeth like number 16 carpet tacks try their damnedest to get out.

From a dark and obscure past, the sport has made an astonishing comeback in recent years. When I first heard about ferret-legging, in 1972, the world record stood at forty painful seconds of "keepin' 'em down," as they say in ferret-legging circles. A few years later the dreaded one-minute mark was finally surpassed. The current record -- implausible as it may seem -- now stands at an awesome five hours and twenty-six minutes, a mark reached last year by the gaudily tattooed little Yorkshireman with the waxed military mustache who now stood two feet away from me explaining the technicalities of this burgeoning sport.

"The ferrets must have a full mouth o' teeth," Reg Mellor said as he fiddled with his belt., "No filing of the teeth; no clipping. No dope for you or the ferrets. You must be sober, and the ferrets must be hungry -- though any ferret'll eat yer eyes out even if he isn't hungry. So then, lad. Any more questions 'fore I poot a few down for ye?"

"Yes, Reg."

"Ay, whoot then?"

"Well, Reg," I said. "I think people in America will want to know. Well -- since you don't wear any protection -- and, well, I've heard a ferret can bite your thumb off. Do they ever -- you know?"

Reg's stiff mustache arched toward the ceiling under a sly grin. "You really want to know what they get up to down there, eh?" Reg said, looking for all the world like some workingman's Long John Silver. "Well, take a good look." Then Reg Mellor let his trousers fall around his ankles.

A short digression: a word is in order concerning ferrets, a weasel-like animal well known to Europeans but, because of the near extinction of the black-footed variety in the American West, not widely known in the United States. Alternatively referred to by professional ferret handlers as "shark-of-the-land," a "piranha with feet," "fur-coated evil," and "the only four-legged creature in existence that kills just for kicks," the common domesticated ferret -- Mustela putorius -- has the spinal flexibility of a snake and the jaw musculature of a pit bull.

Rabbits, rats, and even frogs run screaming from hiding places when confronted by a ferret.

Ferreters -- those who hunt with ferrets, as opposed to putting them in their pants -- tell tales of rabbits running toward hunters to surrender after gazing into the torch-red eyes of an oncoming ferret.

Loyal to nothing that lives, the ferret has only one characteristic that might be deemed positive -- a tenacious, single-minded belief in finishing whatever it starts. That usually entails biting off whatever it bites. The rules of ferret-legging do allow the leggers to try to knock the ferret off a spot it's biting (from outside the trousers only), but that is no small matter, as ferrets never let go. No less a source than the Encyclopedia Britannica suggests that you can get a ferret to let go by pressing a certain spot over its eye, but Mellor and the other ferret specialists I talked to say that is absurd. Reg favors a large screwdriver to get a ferret off his finger. Another ferret legger told me that a ferret that had almost dislodged his left thumb let go only after the ferret and the man's thumb were held under scalding tap water -- for ten minutes.

Reg Mellor, a man who has been more intimate with ferrets than many men have been with their wives, calls ferrets "cannibals, things that live only to kill, that'll eat your eyes out to get at your brain" at their worst and "untrustworthy" at their very best.

Reg says he observed with wonder the growing popularity of ferret-legging throughout the '70s. He had been hunting with ferrets in the verdant moors and dales outside of Barnsley for much of a century. Since a cold and wet ferret exterminates with a little less enthusiasm than a dry one, Reg used to keep his ferrets in his pants for hours when he hunted in the rain -- and it always rained where he hunted.

"The world record was sixty seconds. Sixty seconds! I can stick a ferret up me ass for longer than that."

So, at age sixty-nine, Reg Mellor found his game. As he stood in front of me now, naked from the waist down, Reg looked every bit a champion.

"So look close," he said again.

I did look, at an incredible tattoo of a zaftig woman on Reg's thigh. His legs appeared crosshatched with scars. But I refused to "look close."

"Come on, Reg," I said. "Do they bite your -- you know?"

"Do they!" he thundered with irritation as he pulled up his pants. "Why, I've had 'em hangin' from me tool for hours an' hours an' hours! Two at a time -- one on each side. I been swelled up big as that!" Reg pointed to a five-pound can of instant coffee.

I then made the mistake of asking Reg Mellor if his age allowed him the impunity to be the most daring ferret legger in the world. "And what do ye mean by that?" he said.

"Well, I thought since you probably aren't going to have any more children --"

"Are you sayin' I ain't pokin' 'em no more?" Reg growled with menace. "Is that your meaning? 'Cause I am pokin' 'em for sure."

A small red hut sits in an overgrown yard outside Reg Mellor's door. "Come outta there, ye bah-stards," Reg yelled as he flailed around the inside of the hut looking for some ferrets that had just arrived a few hours earlier. He emerged with two dirty white animals, which he held quite firmly by their necks. They both had fearsome unblinking eyes as hard and red as rubies.

A young man named Malcolm, with a punk haircut, came into the yard on a motorcycle. "You puttin' 'em down again, Reg?" Malcolm asked.

Reg took one of the ferrets and stuck the beasts head deep into his mouth.

"Oh yuk, Reg," said Malcolm.

Reg pulled the now quite embittered-looking ferret out of his mouth and stuffed it and another ferret into his pants. He cinched his belt tight, clenched his fists at his sides, and gazed up into the gray Yorkshire firmament in what I guessed could only be a gesture of prayer. Claws and teeth now protruded all over Reg's hyperactive trousers. The two bulges circled round and round one leg, getting higher and higher, and finally...they went up over to the other leg.

"Thank God, " I said.

"Yuk, Reg," said Malcolm.

"The claws," I managed. "Aren't they sharp, Reg?"

"Ay," said Reg, laconically. "Ay."

Facts:The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is the most endangered mammal in North America. It is a member of a large group of mammals known as mustelids, or musk-producing animals. Sixty-four species of mustelids live throughout the world (except on the continents of Australia and Antarctica) and range in size from the least weasel, which weighs barely 1-2 ounces, to the sea otter, which may weigh over 100 pounds. Most mustelids have long bodies and short legs, well-developed claws, short, rounded ears, and scent glands under the tail. Their large skulls and strong jaws and teeth are adapted for eating meat. Some well-known members of the mustelid family include mink, skunks, badgers, martens, fishers, weasels, stoats, polecats, wolverines, and the European, or domestic ferret, sold in pet stores.

The black-footed ferret is 18 to 24 inches long, including a 5 to 6 inch tail. It weighs only one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half pounds, with males slightly larger than females. The black-footed ferret is well adapted to its prairie environment. Its color and markings blend so well with grassland soils and plants, that it is hard to detect until it moves. It is a slender, wiry animal with a black face mask, black feet, and a black-tipped tail. The rest of its short, sleek fur is a yellow-buff color, lighter on the belly and nearly white on the forehead, muzzle, and throat. It has short legs with large front paws and claws developed for digging. The ferret's large ears and eyes suggest it has acute hearing and sight, but smell is probably its most important sense for hunting prey underground in the dark.
Black-footed Ferrets. Loss of habitat is the primary reason black-footed ferrets remain near the brink of extinction. Conversion of grasslands to agricultural uses, widespread prairie dog eradication programs and plague have reduced ferret habitat to less than 2 percent of what once existed. Remaining habitat is now fragmented, with prairie dog towns separated by great expanses of cropland and human development. Many other sensitive species such as burrowing owls, mountain plovers, golden eagles, swift fox, and ferruginous hawks are strongly linked to this habitat for their survival. Many of these species are following the ferret's fate, and may soon require further conservation efforts to ensure their survival.


At 5:42 PM , Blogger MOM! Toilets Blogged! said...

I got a red eye'd deamon in my pants.

At 6:07 PM , Blogger josh williams said...

Anoymous: If you had the courage to post with your real name I might respond with more words. However you did not, so I will not dignify your comment other than with a short two or three word response. Count yourself lucky. JW

At 9:55 PM , Blogger matty said...

Well, Josh what was I doing the other day? I can't remember what it was called, but I do hope you can offer guidance on how to remove that blood stain from my pair of flovots! If that wasn't Ferret Legging what were those creatures from which I was running to beat to the meat sticks? Perhaps now you understand why I've not blogged about this. I guess the accident had just traumatized me. I need to lay down now.

At 12:21 AM , Blogger ing said...

Okay, Matty, back on your feet. We need to help ensure that the noble ferret survives, which means you'll need to get over your coffee-can swellings and help me to resow the grasslands. Onward!

Josh, that piece contains a very well-timed digression! You've inspired me to post, though now that I've posted I'm afraid mine lacks the suspense, the drama, the intrigue of ferret legging. It brings to mind the old Tom Waits song about military moustaches . . . you know the one.

Thanks for getting me back on track and for saving the black-footed ferret.

At 6:08 AM , Blogger josh williams said...

Matt: ing is right, get over your fear and pack your pants with ice and out to the grasslands.
ing: Thanks for your efforts. Donation to the society of Josh saves the Ferrets can be made to me. I'll save those bastards cause they hate mole people maybe even more than I do...Now I have to get back to work...

At 6:27 AM , Blogger ing said...

Alas, I have no money to donate. Will my good wishes save your hard-biting friends?

May you always be safe (esp. in your pants). [That's an ancient Hindu blessing I found in the Upanishads.]

At 7:36 AM , Blogger josh williams said...

ing: dont sweat the money and I am flattered for your blessing found in sacred texts. Kind Regards JW

At 6:36 PM , Blogger matty said...

Ok. ...but I'm still a bit confused about what it was I was doing. However, I am ready to do all I can to help the ferrets! I guess it doesn't matter that my flovots are stained, but as a dandy boy it is difficult.

...and, I know I just need to get a grip,but what do I do with these meat sticks?

You know I had a friend back in boston who had a ferret for a pet. His name was David. ...the friend. ...not the ferret. ...I can't remember the ferret's name. It didn't like me. Nor did David in the end.

I think I might have issues around this whole ferreting experience. But, I will do all I can.

At 6:56 PM , Blogger josh williams said...

Matt: This is not about you or I it is about endangered Ferrets and the sport of sports... Ferret Legging. Your doing just fine, you have recognized a problem and you can and will recover, just like we can save the Ferrets. This could be a sport if we get in on the ground floor, it will explode and make the NFL and NBA look like highschool pastimes. Strong work, we are all so proud! JW

At 10:18 PM , Blogger ing said...

Knock, knock.

Who's there?


Josh who?

Does this ring a bell?: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Oh, that guy. Someone poke him and tell him to turn over.

[Poke, poke.]


Jaysus, he turned over, but it's no good. My ears are starting to ring!

Here, stick a ferret in his mouth.

[Stick, stick.]

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz. . . . . . .

Hey, I think it worked!

G'night, black-footed ferret.


Awww, he squeaked at me!

Shhhh! I'm trying to sleep!

At 6:31 AM , Blogger Bloodgood said...

Do people pay money to see this?
I would like to start a ferret ranch and then used the money from ferret legging to breed more ferrets. Then I will put it on paypreview where I can make a fortune. THen the demand for the little critters will bring them out of near extinction.
"Save Ferrets"

At 7:14 AM , Blogger josh williams said...

ing: I'm awake but my mouth taastes of ferret?

Blood: Splendid idea.The article I read first in Outside magazine had them gathering in pubs and when Reg came in they eventually grew bored and left or he would have continued to keep the little buggers down his pants. Now I first read about Reg in Outside Magazine sometime in the mid 80's I was heartbroken when I lost the copy and finally did an search on Ferret Legging and came upon this article. Then I did Outside magazine Ferret Legging and I kept getting the same author and ferret legging was referanced but could not find the issue. What has happened is by Don Katz, rewrote his story from Outside and sold it to November Harper's 1992.Its hard to remember the original version I thought Randy Wayne White had written it but now I realize DK had and was making money years after his visit with Reg. For all we know Reg was dead in 92.
My Mule super detective JW

At 7:58 AM , Blogger crabcake said...

E and GADS!

Ah, ferrets. I hate the little bastards. We had weird friends in Cleveland who kept the miserable little buggers. They were always encouraging people to pet them.

My advice, never pet a ferret. they are evil little, razor-toothed, demons from hell.

Ferret Legging. (shiver) Did this originate in Scotland? It's sounds like something my people would begin after a long day at the pub.

PS. I do fancy the, "I got a red eye'd demon in my pants." ahhhhhhhhhhhh ha ha ha ha ha!

I think we must do a movie on ferret legging. I'll need a couple of volunteers. anyone? anyone?

At 10:54 AM , Blogger jungle jane said...

Josh are you SURE they aren't squirrels??

At 11:26 AM , Blogger josh williams said...

Crabby: Great idea, I volunteer toilet, hes a great actor.

JJ:What kind of bone head would tick a csquirrel down his pants? No thems ferrets!

At 11:49 AM , Blogger MOM! Toilets Blogged! said...

I'll have to check my dates, I am on deck to play Ignatius in the Confederancy of Dunces, I have all the atributes needed for that role. To be honest, there is not alot of room in my pants for any more red eye'd deamons

At 12:40 PM , Blogger josh williams said...

Toilet: Lets put crabs agent intouch with your agent. We really want you for the part.

At 2:00 PM , Blogger MOM! Toilets Blogged! said...

Josh, you know I would like to get in touch with Crab's agent, if that's what she wants to call it!

At 2:55 PM , Blogger Calzone said...

You crazy bastard. I'm a little scared of you

At 3:18 PM , Blogger crabcake said...

My agents number 1-800-ten-cent.

He works really cheap.

At 3:56 PM , Blogger josh williams said...

toilet crabby: Sounds like ya got a deal!

Calzone: I am not crazy. Trust me.

At 7:18 PM , Blogger ing said...

You crazy to the nth! I say that because you'd have to be crazy to pass up some squirrel action.

--Notorious I.N.G.

At 7:19 PM , Blogger ing said...


Hi, mom.

At 7:21 PM , Blogger jungle jane said...

Ing, be a darling will you and pass me the brown squirrel when you are done? keep your voice down though, will you - poor josh is on some "these are definitely ferrets" headtrip...

Josh, do you have some ground coffee i could borrow dude? i'm all out...

At 7:25 PM , Blogger josh williams said...

NT I.N.G.: Thems Ferrets!

JJ: Thems Ferrets!

At 2:55 AM , Blogger Calzone said...

look dude, do I have to change me phone number????

I will

At 5:22 AM , Blogger matty said...

Oh, Jesus! Don't tell me that this is squirrel's blood on my flovots?!?!?! I mean it was bad enough thinking I injured a ferret, but a squirrle!?!?

Commander Josh, say it ain't so.

Already crumpling under the pressure of a lonely Valentines Day --- how can one cope with this added news.

Tho, I don't care much for flying squirrels' -- they freak me out and bring bats to mind. I could go for some bat bashing if I had a suit of armour.

At 5:22 AM , Blogger josh williams said...

Cal: So how many 900#'s will that be then. 15? 20? Change it I'm not bothered at all, nothing bothers we. I repeat I am not crazy! I am and never have been crazy! I think my posts and comments speak for themselves, case closed. Cal you are going to be levied a huge fine for wasting the courts time. As sane as day JWW

At 6:29 AM , Blogger kellywalters said...


I think I could get into this ferret legging shit.. you know.. they would just sence the evil ozzing off of me and rest at the bottom of my tied pants.

They would just circle there and sleep like lovely living ankle warmers. I have no fear of getting bitten.. or scratched.

They would be dead with one fell swipe of my massive fist if they dared to bite, and if that didnt work.. the poison running through my veins would kill them for sure..

I would love to be in the documentary

At 6:45 AM , Blogger Captain Carl said...

ARRR.....can ay be playin the part of a Ferret Smuggler...............

At 8:36 AM , Blogger crabcake said...

What if we invented a shrinking machine and we shrunk me down, pretended I was a ferret and dropped me in Mel Gibson's pants?

That could work out, right?

At 10:32 AM , Blogger ing said...

Mel Gibson?! Ewww!

Now this is more like it! Yowsa!

At 11:10 AM , Blogger MOM! Toilets Blogged! said...

Comment deleted in the spirit of good taste, not that it tastes good.

At 11:34 AM , Blogger ing said...


Stop deleting my comments, man! I have great taste!

At 11:44 AM , Blogger josh williams said...

Roxi: You can be the female Ferret Legger in the movie.Send money.

Action: Sure, we will have to build a false hull in your deck and I cant pay you anything but of course you knew that, just the spirit of helping out, dang Action your good people.

CC: Mel Gibson is the size of Captain Carl, I dont have any shrinking machines (sans a cold shower). It would cost a fortune to buy one but if you front me the money I can get the job done , just keep in mind do you really want to be the size of fly? Just to be dropped near Mr. Gibsons fly.

ing: Whoever you chose over Mel did not show when I clicked your highlight. Which is fine, I got a mirror thats all the hunk I need to see.

Toilet: Thanks, your catching on fast.

At 12:14 PM , Blogger ing said...

I guess Beck is too hot for your hard drive. Ah, well.

At 4:20 PM , Blogger MOM! Toilets Blogged! said...

Hell, Yani is too hot for Joshie's hard drive, how about a little pan flute?
MTB not MIBTT Thanks

At 6:45 PM , Blogger josh williams said...

ing: Becks cool, but you have to realize my computer has been cobbled to together from a variety of TV remotes I stole form behind the cushions of friends couch's. So I work with what I gotz...

Toilet: You aint nuthin but a boiled turd trying to pass himself off as a stir fried chunk of shite. (no offense intended) Peace Trails

At 9:09 PM , Blogger jungle jane said...

Josh i can see you have a lot on your plate, but are you nearly done inventing me that cocaine tablet? i'm getting a bit edgy over this side...

At 5:19 AM , Blogger josh williams said...

JJ: Hold onto your hat! Take a tums and open the sushi I sent you express mail. I think you will find the wasabi is the least potent ingredient.

At 5:12 PM , Blogger jungle jane said...

fuck. i thought it was sushi. i fed it to the cat...


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