During Pharaoh’s day – a Ferret or not a Ferret? [c 2686 BC – 1070 BC]

There seem to be a number of people who maintain that ferrets were first kept in Egypt as rat catchers but I have been unable to verify this as fact.

Strabo talks about the ichneumon being an animal peculiar to Egypt in Augustus’ time.

This animal was a member of the Viverridae family (other animals of the same family being the mongoose, meerkat, genet, civet), and which used to attack snakes and eat crocodile eggs.

There was a legend about the ichneumon that said it crept into the mouths of crocodiles when they gaped and ate out their bowels!

This animal, also called “Pharaoh’s rat,” has a grey coat with black tail tufts and could easily have been mistaken for a ferret or weasel on ancient drawings or statues.

Both the ichneumon and the shrewmouse were associated with the sun god and were honored, particularly during the late Greco-Roman periods, with burial and a small bronze statuary.

So, sadly I must deduct that there were no ferrets during Pharaoh’s day – boo! :'(

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