Ferret Legging: Not Just for Brits Anymore

Supposedly Sober Competitors Risk Life, Limb and Package to be Crowned “King”


Published: November 20, 2008

Some sports are deemed offensive because the violence involved before, during and after a match is won. Some sports are shocking simply because of the danger they invoke. However, there is one sport that accomplishes all those things while simultaneously bringing shame to PETA, your manhood and your mom.

That sport is ferret legging.

Ferret legging requires two participants, two pairs of pants, rope, two ferrets and an utter lack of common sense. The object of the sport is to keep two angry and clawing ferrets in your pants for as long as your body can handle it. The ankles of your pant legs will be tied tight with the rope as well as belted on top to ensure the ferrets have no method to escape except to claw at your bare thighs.

There are some stipulations, however. Participants will not have the joy of being pleasantly (or sloppily) numb for their moment of hell, since participants must be completely sober. The ferrets must be able to inflict maximum damage with a full set of teeth and sharpened claws. Lastly, any source of protection underneath your trousers is stripped away. Yes, that means leaving your privates for full-on ferret pouncing.

Now, before you start to look on Wikipedia and try to dismiss this as a fictional sport, consider this: there is a world-record holder for enduring your endowment being ripped to shreds. The unofficial record holder was Reg Mellor, a 72-year-old retired miner from Yorkshire, England who was able to bear the wrath of irritated ferrets tearing into his thighs for five hours and 26 minutes. If he has passed away, let’s hope he passed on not by ferret rabies, but by natural causes.

The origins of the sport are as diverse as the injuries endured by its participants. One theory states that poachers who used ferrets to attract hunting game hid their ferrets down their pants so as not to attract negative attention. Another potential origin states that hunters kept their ferrets warm in cold weather using the same technique. Either way, both origins have one common theme: keeping an animal that rabbits, rats and frogs are terrified of in your pants supersedes any thoughts of human welfare.

Yorkshire and Scotland both claim the sport came from their parts, though the understanding for a country or place to claim the ownership of such an absurd sport is beyond comprehension. Though the sport appears to be illegal in Great Britain (thanks to the sanity of some Brits), the sport lives on in stories as well as one or two YouTube video clips.

To truly understand the sanity of some people who still practice the sport is to read a quote from Mellor himself. When Donald Katz of Outdoor Magazine in 1987 asked Mellor about the possibility that a ferret may latch onto his privates with its teeth, Mellor responded with power, “Do they! Why, I’ve had ‘em hangin’ from me tool for hours an’ hours an’ hours! Two at a time—one on each side.”

Yes, they do, Mellor, yes, they do.