MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Rainy days can have even the most creative parent ferreting for activities to keep their children occupied.
Mount Kisco's Westmoreland Sanctuary was the answer for some on Saturday.
A handful of parents and their children came through the rain and fog for the center's ferret parade - an educational assembly led by animal curator Lisa Ricker and supported by resident ferrets Lulu and Lola.
Ricker gave a demonstration about the ferrets, explaining their history as a domestic pet and some of their relatives in the wild, including weasels, minks, mongooses, stoats and the endangered black-footed ferret.
According to Ricker, the domestic ferret's closest relative is the Eurasian polecat.
Children were able to pet the ferrets, but only briefly, as they are somewhat notorious for their nippy play habits.
Ricker then put the twin white ferrets in their harnesses and led them on a walk along the top floor of the nature center, allowing children turns leading the weasels along.
The children giggled and watched as the ferrets dragged their bellies across the rugs and climbed on the furniture.
Ricker explained that ferrets are carnivorous creatures who hunt down smaller rodents and birds in the wild.
"Their instinct is to bite and hold down, which means they aren't ideal for handling unless you do it frequently from an early age," she said.
While ferrets are legally allowed to be kept as pets in Westchester County, Ricker said she would advise against it because of their nippy habits, off-putting odor and escape-artist tendencies.
"You have to be really careful with exotic pets. I tend to discourage them altogether," she said, "Because should enough get out into the wild, they have the ability to cause serious damage. We see it in Florida with the python problem."
However, ferrets can be target trained and used to dig pests out of their burrows.
The Westmoreland Sanctuary puts on events year-round for children and adults alike, many of which involve their resident animals including turtles, frogs, birds and rabbits.
The sanctuary is located at 260 Chestnut Ridge Road in Mount Kisco.
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