The Argentinian Pet

I guess it's possible that con artists down in Argentina are giving ferrets steroids to increase their size, then fluffing up their fur and selling them as toy poodles, but as many people have already pointed out, this sounds an awful lot like a variant of the "Mexican pet" legend.

Man gets shock of his life when he buys two toy poodles for $150 only to be told by a vet that they are actually GIANT RODENTS pumped up with steroids to look like dogs
Daily Mail

Gullible bargain hunters at Argentina's largest bazaar are forking out hundreds of dollars for what they think are gorgeous toy poodles, only to discover that their cute pooch is in fact a ferret pumped up on steroids. One retired man from Catamarca, duped by the knock-down price for a pedigree dog, became suspicious he had bought what Argentinians call a 'Brazilian rat' and when he returned home took the 'dogs' to a vet for their vaccinations. Imagine his surprise when his suspicious were confirmed - he had in fact purchased two ferrets that had been given steroids at birth to increase their size and then had some extra grooming to make their coats resemble a fluffy toy poodle.

Animals Urban Legends

Posted on Thu Apr 11, 2013


I've seen this passed off as truth several times but would regular steroids even work for a ferret?

Ferrets are related to skunks and supposedly giving a skunk a vaccination against distemper made for a dog will kill it.

Also you can get a dog, even a pure-bred, from a pound a lot easier than buying a super-sized ferret.
Posted by Mark  in  Cincinnati  on  Thu Apr 11, 2013  at  09:51 AM
Well, the ferret IS awfully cute though!
Posted by hulitoons  in  Abingdon, Maryland  on  Thu Apr 11, 2013  at  10:20 AM
Well, there is an error in the article. Ferrets are not rodents; they are mustelids like otters, badgers, and weasels. I don't think the daily mail would have made a mistake like that. Also, I think someone would have to be pretty dumb to mistake a ferret for a dog, because ferrets have a long body with short legs like an otter.
Posted by alexarose  in  denver  on  Thu Apr 11, 2013  at  10:54 AM
It's the Daily Mail. Are you even considering taking it seriously?

Note that ferrets are not rodents. They're weasels.
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Thu Apr 11, 2013  at  05:40 PM
A dog by any other name...
In dutch ferrets are sometimes called 'mousedog' (muishond). Also in southafrican (muishonde) but referring to mongoose.
Posted by Gerard  on  Fri Apr 19, 2013  at  03:21 AM
Mark, there isn't really such a thing as "regular steroids". Every species has a large number of naturally-occurring steroids that do things in their bodies, many of which are unique to that particular species or its close relatives, so some types of steroids would have an affect on ferrets while others wouldn't.

If you were to give a ferret some sort of anabolic ferret steroids, then you could perhaps get it to grow up a bit bigger and stockier than it otherwise would have been. The same goes for if you were to give it extra doses of ferret growth hormone (which might be but probably is not a steroid; my off-the-cuff knowledge of the chemical structure of ferret hormones is somewhat limited, strangely enough. . .). But those would only make the ferrets a few percentage points larger at best, especially when it comes to the body's internal support structure (that's why we aren't seeing many eight-foot-tall weightlifters). You can't just pump anabolic hormones into a ferret and magically produce significantly giant ferrets, unless there is something incredibly quirky about ferret biology that I've not heard of before.

So a ferret on steroids would essentially look not much different from a fat ferret that isn't dosed up on steroids. You'd have to not know much about either ferrets or poodles to pick one up and not realise that there was something significantly amiss.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon Apr 22, 2013  at  10:06 AM
Alexarose, a lot of news outlets (including my own AOL home page) *did* make the mistake of calling ferrets rodents. These people probably think that bats are flying mice. It is pretty irritating.
Posted by Red  on  Mon May 06, 2013  at  11:06 PM
People thinking ferrets are rodents may have overgeneralised from other small mammals kept as pets. Otherwise they can't be familiar with any typical members of the weasel or mongoose families. Ferrets are so obviously similar the these people would naturally place them in the same mental category. Actually, the the similarities between these two families are due to convergent evolution. Weasels are evolutionary closer to dogs while mongooses are closer to cats. This might be most clearly visible in their claws which are retractable in mongooses.

The person writing “general steroids” may have thought about anabolic steroids. These may be confused with growth hormone. (I think I made this mistake myself as a teenager.) If a ferret is given anabolic steroids it will develop significantly larger muscles. If given growth hormone as a pup it will become significantly larger and possibly develop longer legs. But even with both its body proportions will be unlike any poodle pup. Furthermore, ferrets behave nothing like dogs. Moreover, giving anabolic steroids would probably make it more aggressive. This would in turn make it more likely to react violently to being treated as a dog. So I find it highly unlikely for such a forgery to ever have succeeded.
Posted by Lena Synnerholm  in  Märsta, Sweden.  on  Wed May 15, 2013  at  10:19 AM
The fluffiness of the ferret can be explained by its variety. Angora ferrets have been selectively bred for long, fluffy hair. I'm 95% sure that is one in the photo, so the steroid thing is pretty much bunk.
Posted by Hayley  in  UK  on  Thu Jun 06, 2013  at  06:07 PM
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