Weasel war dance
In colloquial language, the weasel war dance is a behavior of excited ferrets and other members of the weasel subfamily. Naturalists speculate that weasels in the wild use the dance to confuse or disorient prey.
Behavior in domestic ferrets
In domestic ferrets the war dance usually follows play or the successful capture of a toy or a stolen object. The war dance is commonly held to mean that the ferret is thoroughly enjoying itself.
The behavior consists of a frenzied series of hops sideways and backwards, often accompanied by an arched back and a frizzed-out tail. Ferrets are notoriously clumsy in their surroundings during their dance and will often collide with or fall over objects and furniture.[better source needed]
The war dance usually includes a clucking vocalization, known among domestic ferret owners as "dooking". It normally indicates happiness. Although the war dance may make a ferret appear frightened or angry, they are often just excited and are generally harmless to humans.
In the wild
The stoat (also known as the ermine or the short-tailed weasel) reputedly mesmerises prey such as rabbits by a "dance" (sometimes called the weasel war dance), though this behaviour could be linked to Skrjabingylus infections.
- Ferret doing war dance in snow (video) – via YouTube.
- Pet weasel doing war dance against fur garment (video) – via YouTube.
- Wild stoat performing a war dance while hunting rabbits (video). National Geographic Society.