Ferret Legging – A Truly Bizarre Animal Sport

Most people couldn’t stand something as small as a cockroach up their trousers. And then there are the brave ferret leggers who endure not one, but two fully grown adult ferrets trapped in their pants. The weird sport, called Ferret Legging, is a test of endurance or just the ability to “have your tool bitten and not care”.

Also known as ferret-down-trousers and put ‘em down, the rules of the sport are pretty tight. Competitors have two ferrets placed inside their trousers, which are tied firmly at the ankles and belted up at the waist, thereby eliminating any point of escape for the furry creatures. The competitor then stands before judges, enduring the misery of the razor-sharp claws and teeth of the ferrets. Other rules state that competitors cannot be drunk and the ferrets must not be sedated. Also, the ferrets must have a full set of teeth that have not been blunted or filed. The man who stands the longest, wins.

Sounds gruesome, doesn’t it? Well, get this – they aren’t even allowed to put on underwear, so as to allow free access to the ferrets from one leg to the other. Understandably, the participants are only male. A female version of the sport called ferret busting was introduced a while ago, but it never caught on. It isn’t very hard to imagine why. There are several theories about the origin of the sport, many say that it started centuries ago in the public houses of England and was popularized by the coal miners of Yorkshire, England in the 1970s.

Reg Mellor, a retired miner from South Yorkshire, is a popular name among ferret legging circles.  After all, at a time when ferret leggers could endure only a few minutes worth of clawing, he created a new world record time of 5 hours and 26 minutes in 1981. Incidentally, Mellor had practiced the sport since he was young, when he hunted with ferrets and kept them warm and dry in his trousers during the rain.


Most people describe ferrets as harmless and fun-loving creatures that do not tend to bite the contestants, most of them getting away with just scratches. Mellor however, has a more disturbing view of things. He says that at their very worst, ferrets are feared by all other animals, as they can be “cannibals, things that live only to kill, that’ll eat your eyes out to get at your brain.” Mellor is currently credited as the world champion of ferret legging. As if this wasn’t enough, he even started the practice of wearing white pants to competitions, to better display the blood from all the wounds.

Ferret legging has been held as a national event, every year since 2003 in Richmond, Virginia.

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