Ferrets are regarded as fierce creatures whose demeanour indicates a pent-up aggression towards everything, most of all towards their prey. Whilst this is true of almost all ferrets, there is one honourable exception, the Andalusian or Moorish Ferret.
According to the natural histories of Northern Africa, the Andalusian Ferrets, owned by the Moorish aristocracy, were interbred with members of the weasel family during the 7th and 8th centuries AD and acquired the cunning and intelligent characteristics of these animals. During the following centuries after the Moors settled in Spain, the Andalusian Ferret was influenced by the early forms of flamenco, these sounds being part of its everyday environment. The ferret also noticed how captivated people became when watching the Flamenco dancers and particularly their movements. The ferrets decided to apply these subtle, suggestive moves to their hunting technique.
When the Andalusian Ferret observed a rabbit or rat, it didn’t chase after the creature straightaway. Nor did it keep out of sight. Instead, the ferret moved to a place where it could be seen, but made sure it appeared non-threatening to its potential prey. The ferret then proceeded to move around on its hind legs, moving its front legs in time to an imaginary beat known only to the ferret.
These non-threatening movements calmed the rabbit or rat and they became entranced by the rhythmic flow of the ferret’s limbs. Sadly, for the prey, they rarely saw the Andalusian ferret’s accomplice until it was too late to save their lives.
After the Moors left Granada in 1492, the Andalusian ferrets were either left behind to fend for themselves or were taken back to North Africa. The ferrets who were left behind lived chiefly in The Alpujarras in the Sierra Nevada where the local ferrets used less subtle hunting techniques and the Andalusian ferrets had to adapt to survive. The ferrets who went back to North Africa lost their flamenco environment and so the techniques used dissipated through the centuries. To this day, however, ferrets and weasels still do, occasionally, use little dances to captivate their prey and this can be traced back to the Andalusian Ferrets of a thousand years ago.