Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs


Aspects of the aboveground ethology and activity patterns of the black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigipes) are described for a population in northwestern Wyoming as a first step in building a descriptive ethogram and quantification of activity patterns. We observed at least 237 individual ferrets for 208 hr on 441 occasions from 2 December 1981 through 25 September 1984. Mainenance behaviors (locomotion, alert, grooming, and sunning, defecation and urination, digging, and predation) and social behavior (reproduction, ontogeny, maternal, play, agonistic) are described as well as some ferret-human interactions. Ferret vocalizations are subjectively described. We located ferrets during most months including winter, but found that they were easiest to locate in summer. Ferrets were active at -38 C, in snow, in rain, and in winds to 50 kph.