In Ohio, Ferrets On Parade This Weekend

The Ferret Buckeye Bash this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, is the largest ferret show and competition in the country. Scarlett Gray-Saling, coordinator of the Ferret Buckeye Bash, says the ferrets are judged at the show much like dogs and cats are at shows for those animals.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

This weekend, as people in Columbus, Ohio, count down one last week until the start of the Ohio State football season, they might consider another spectator event in their city: the largest ferret show in the U.S., the Ferret Buckeye Bash. It is, we are told, even bigger than next month's Inland Northwest Championship Ferret Show in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and even bigger than the Fall Ferret Fandango in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania.

Scarlett Gray-Saling is the coordinator of the Ferret Buckeye Bash, and she joins us now from member station WCBE. Welcome.

Ms. SCARLETT GRAY-SALING (Coordinator, Ferret Buckeye Bash): Thank you. I'm enjoying being here.

SIEGEL: And you have some company there with you in the studio.

Ms. GRAY-SALING: I do, one of my ferrets. Her name is Jeremiah's Frog Grog Ale. That is her show name. I just call her Froggie, though.

SIEGEL: Okay. What happens at a ferret bash?

Ms. GRAY-SALING: Well, it's a championship ferret show. The ferrets are actually judged much like any dog or cat show. They're judged for conformation, maintenance, disposition. You bite the judge, you get disqualified. And there's fun events, were the tube racing, the best dressed, vendors galore. It keeps people busy all day.

SIEGEL: But when you say you judge them on conformation, that is conformation to standards. At a dog show, a - you know, a Golden Retriever should be between so many inches tall at the withers and - if it's a male and so much for a female, and you penalize them if they're not. Are there such standards for ferrets?

Ms. GRAY-SALING: There are set standards by the American Ferret Association. They set the standards for what we are judging for. The head needs to be a certain width and depth. There needs to have a certain amount of bone density. Their coat has to be in good condition, and then their maintenance and disposition.

SIEGEL: One of the competitions at the ferret show in Columbus this weekend is best dressed.

Ms. GRAY-SALING: Yes. We dress them in costumes, much to their horror, put little outfits on them and parade them up for the judges, and they decide which one has got the cutest costume on.

SIEGEL: Well, what are some of the most creative ones that you've seen?

Ms. GRAY-SALING: I saw one a couple of years ago where they were a hula dancer. They had the little grass skirt, a little lei on, and a coconut bra that existed of six little coconuts.

SIEGEL: How many ferrets do you own, or how many have you owned?

Ms. GRAY-SALING: I've currently - since it's breeding season and I'm also a breeder - I have a little over 100 ferrets right now.

SIEGEL: A little over 100 ferrets. Where do you keep that many ferrets?

Ms. GRAY-SALING: My basement is specifically set up just for the ferrets with cages and playpens, and they use litter boxes.

SIEGEL: Do they eat you out of house and home?

Ms. GRAY-SALING: They do a pretty good job of that. I think they eat better than my husband and I do.

SIEGEL: Now, I read something about domestic ferrets, which I really found quite extraordinary, that it says that ferrets will answer to their names.

Ms. GRAY-SALING: Oh, yes, they all know their names.

SIEGEL: Well, we didn't even mention her name, and she's at it right there.

Ms. GRAY-SALING: Yes, she's got an itch. She'll go right back to sleep in a minute.

SIEGEL: I'm at a disadvantage here because you're in Columbus, Ohio, but what is she doing exactly to make that noise right now?

Ms. GRAY-SALING: She's in her litter box scratching. She's got an itch.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Seems to have calmed down right now.

Ms. GRAY-SALING: Yeah, she's gone back to sleep.

SIEGEL: Oh, good. Well, I'm glad we didn't disturb her too much by doing the interview. And thank you very much for coming in to member station WCBE.

Ms. GRAY-SALING: Well, thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: That's Scarlett Gray-Saling, who is coordinator of the Ferret Buckeye Bash, what we're told is the biggest ferret show in the country. It starts tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio.

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