YOUR OTHERWISE EXCELlent article on pot-bellied pigs (“Pigstown,” 7/21) states that pigs “need sanctuaries…just like the ferrets, ostriches, and Angora rabbits before them.” This statement implies that ferrets, like pigs and ostriches, are exotic, incorrigibly obnoxious, and unsuitable pets for the average urbanite. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I lived with my roommate’s four ferrets for nearly two years, and found them to be adorable pets. To illustrate, let me briefly compare ferrets and pigs:

PIGS: Grow to 200 pounds.

FERRETS: Grow to 8 pounds; could be tossed around without great danger to owner (though with great danger to ferret).

PIGS: Armed with razor-sharp tusks.

FERRETS: Armed with no tusks whatsoever.

PIGS: Fiercely territorial; will bite, charge, and head-butt everyone.

FERRETS: Have no territory except cage, which they will be glad to leave now and then. The ferrets did bite occasionally, but not hard. Ferret bites hardly ever draw blood, unlike dog bites.

PIGS: Eat clothes, kitchen floors, and drywall.

FERRETS: Will not eat anything bigger than Friskies, and will not destroy exterior of furniture. In fact, I let them play inside my briefcase and laundry bags. (They do, however, eat soap if you let them; I do not recommend allowing this because soap tends to give them diarrhea.)

PIGS: If stressed out, will emit 100-decibel wail.

FERRETS: Never make noise unless accidentally stepped on. Even then, I’m sure their “wail” hardly reaches 100 decibels.

PIGS: Will excrete everywhere.

FERRETS: Easily trained to use litter box. (Although ferrets do make mistakes, ferret feces are small and dry quickly, so they are not the disaster that dog/pig feces might be.) If de-scented in their youth, they smell better than dogs (OK, that’s not saying much).

In sum, a gentle ferret is a joy to live with, and even the angriest ferret on Earth is far less of a problem than a bad-tempered dog or cat.

Bethesda, Md.

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