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Muskrat Love 

Beneath the skin of FURRY

SAT 9/27

First of all, they're not rodents. So don't go looking at a ferret and shrieking "ugh, a giant rat!" and running away.

Ferrets are related to weasels, skunks, minks, otters and mongooses, explains Laura Hamlett, an active member of FURRY (Ferrets Underfoot Running 'Round You), a St. Louis club for ferrets and their owners. Ferrets, she says, are loveable pets, but they're also crafty creatures who enjoy manipulating their owners. They have been known to "bump" people when they want attention and to steal things (as you were aware, no doubt, if you've seen the Beastmaster films).

FURRY is a group that has experienced remarkable success in spreading ferret-love. According to their Web site, www.furryferrets.org, the organization has joined more than 750 ferrets and owners. They sponsor picnics, parties, fundraisers and adoption events, such as the one coming up at the St. Charles Humane Society (10 a.m.-4 p.m., 1099 Pralle Lane, 314-638-5756). At the adoption events, you can pet, hold and adopt ferrets, and learn how you can help volunteer at the FURRY shelter.

At the parties, folks often bring their leashed ferrets. The ferrets might then enjoy a rousing game of tip-the-can or escape-from-the-paper-bag, or a feast of raisins. Back in their homes, the ferrets enjoy romping through long Habitrail tubes and napping in sock drawers. -- Byron Kerman

Safety First
Bike smarter, cowboy

SUN 9/28

Back in the day, a kid's bike rodeo meant some poor li'l hombre was going to take a handlebar to the guts, or maybe have the Schwinn knocked out from underneath him during the tricycle roping event. Nowadays, bike rodeos are all about safety: Everybody wears a helmet, they keep their chainguard on, and they don't sharpen the tip of their kickstand. Progress. Give us the open range and a chopped Mongoose any day. But not today, because this is the Kids Safety Fair and Bicycle Rodeo at Queeny Park (550 Weidman Road, 636-391-0900). Bring a bike and a helmet, and leave the John Wayne attitude at home, because you're here to play it safe. The rodeo is free, open to elementary school kids only and runs from 1-4 p.m. -- Paul Friswold

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