Justin sent me an email this morning with the subject line “CRITICAL INFORMATION” that just contained a link to this story of a pipe-cleaning ferret named Felicia from Fermilab. 

Back in the ’70s, the scientists at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory were looking for a way to clear the tubes of their newly built particle accelerator of the bits of dust that could derail a high-energy beam of particles whipping around at the speed of light.

Some ingenious scientist remembered that ferrets were used on English estates to go down rabbit burrows and scare the critters out (hence the phrase “ferret out”) and so, Felicia the ferret was employed by Fermilab to clean out the atom smasher. They tied a piece of string with a cotton swab to her tail, set her in the tubes, and then banked on her natural curiosity to lead her around the four-mile particle collider.

Felicia is now officially my favorite animal in science history. 

via @raffertybaker

Yesterday, my wife received a text message. Someone had found two ferrets locked in a cage in an abandoned apartment. The owner had moved out two days earlier. They hadn’t bothered taking the ferrets with them. Today, they were rescued, assessed, and put into the care of a volunteer.

In spring of this year, she drove halfway to Quesnel. She was picking up a ferret who was underweight, partially blind, unable to walk, and had a burn on her. At the vet, it was discovered that the ferret had likely ingested rat poison. The burn? Probably from a cigarette.

We recently lost one of our fosters. When we got him, he wasn’t very well adjusted. He had a fear of dogs— one that previous owners had tried to counteract by tying him to a dog. He acted out when things changed. By giving him a stable environment and lots of attention, he had worked out most of these personality issues and was a happy, healthy guy until the last weeks of his life.

It is these sorts of situations that my wife and her small group of volunteers are trying to help out in. While I goof around on the computer, she’s coordinating rescue efforts. Yes, there’s lots of other problems out there. But these are problems, too. It sucks when animals are poisoned, kicked, starved, and abandoned. And I’m glad they’re doing something about it. 

Believe it or not, there’s not a lot of money to be made rescuing ferrets. It’s less than a dozen people, donating time, resources, food, and vet bills. 

You don’t have to— but if you’d like to support these efforts, in a small way, there’s this calendar. It’s twelve months of fuzz and fur with all proceeds going to helping animals who can’t help themselves. I know there are a lot of other charitable organizations out there, and it’s up to you which ones you support. But if you’d like to choose this one, I know a few fuzzy little guys who’d certainly be grateful.

Note: if you’d rather donate without purchasing a calendar, you can do so here.