The weasel war dance is a colloquial term for the 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.
In domestic ferrets
This section possibly contains original research. (October 2018)
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 as they 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. In fact, all weasels, e.g., the least weasel, the European polecat, the steppe polecat, the black-footed ferret, etc., dance when they've caught or killed their prey in the wild.
- King, Carolyn M.; Powell, Roger A. (12 October 2006) . The Natural History of Weasels and Stoats. Oxford University Press. p. 120. ISBN 9780198041139 – via Google Books.
- Balmain, David (2008). Ferret. O'Reilly Media. p. 101. ISBN 9780596554712. Retrieved 9 June 2011 – via Google Books.
- Harris, Stephen; Yalden, Derek (2008). Mammals of the British Isles (4th Revised ed.). Mammal Society. p. 463. ISBN 978-0-906282-65-6.
- Ferret doing war dance in snow (video). Archived from the original on 2021-12-12 – via YouTube.
- Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Pet weasel doing war dance against fur garment (video) – via YouTube.
- Wild stoat performing a war dance while hunting rabbits (video). National Geographic Society.