From the cargo hold of 18th-century naval vessels, to labyrinthine rabbit burrows, to cutting-edge influenza research, few animals have provided as much unheralded contribution to the state of human health as the domestic ferret (Figure 1). The ferret’s prowess as a hunter has been well established for centuries. The ability of this tenacious mustelid to successfully seek out elusive quarry (most notably rabbit and rodent species) under challenging conditions prompted the Royal Navy to christen 15 warships H.M.S. Ferret between 1704 and 1940.1 While ferrets were prized and actively used to mitigate the rodent threat to shipboard food supply, the scientific knowledge of the day would not have permitted a full appreciation of the public health implications of controlling species now known as key reservoirs of zoonotic disease.