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A domestic ferret in mid-leap.

In colloquial language, the weasel war dance is a behavior of excited ferrets and other weasels. It is speculated that, in the wild, the dance is used to confuse or disorient prey.[1] In domestic ferrets the war dance usually follows play or the successful capture of a toy or a stolen object and is commonly held to mean that the ferret is thoroughly enjoying itself.[citation needed] It 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 in their surroundings during their dance and will often collide with or fall over objects and furniture.[2]

The war dance usually includes a clucking vocalization, known among domestic ferret owners as "dooking". It normally indicates happiness. Although the weasel war dance may make a ferret appear frightened or angry, they are often just excited and are generally harmless to humans.

The stoat (also known as the ermine or the short-tailed weasel) often employs a "war dance" when attacking rabbits.


  1. ^ King, Carolyn M. et al The Natural History of Weasels and Stoats [1], P. 120
  2. ^ Balmain, David (2008). Ferret. O'Reilly Media, Inc. p. 101. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 

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