Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A ferret-able feast of stories

Business has been brisk at the Tavern following the big race – which is no bad thing, since a certain member of the family came close to losing his shirt.

Perhaps he should have put his money on the runners at Bosworth Heritage Centre, venue for the alternative sporting event that is the Ferret Grand National.

In fact, ferrets have been making the news a lot recently, what with the street brawl in Stirling, the intrepid wee beastie found in an Edinburgh station and the plans to eliminate all ferrets from Rathlin Island where, in time-honoured tradition, they were originally introduced to keep rabbits under control.

And that’s not all; according to BBC news, the home village of the ubiquitous Kate Middleton is unaccountably celebrating her nuptials with a two foot high cake and a ferret race (which is just too Ambridge for words).

By coincidence, I read this week about a not unrelated scientific experiment from 2004. Every now and then, some scientist lights on a particularly fascinating method of research – hands up those who remember the scientists feeding marijuana and coffee to spiders, or the spaced-out levitating mice.

This time, it was a group of researchers in New York who decided to assess the ‘modulation of ongoing cortical dynamics by sensory input during natural vision’. And how did they do that? By sitting twelve ferrets down in a row and showing them ‘The Matrix’.

Somehow I can’t get away from the image of them holding miniature tubs of popcorn in their little ferrety paws. And if you thought that was weird...

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