[YouTube Clip, the fun starts at 1:30]
What do coal miners do for fun in Yorkshire, England? They partake in a sport that involves these three things: trousers, a ferret, and the ability to endure a fully fanged ferret shoved inside one's trousers.
The sport is surprisingly simple: contestants tie their trousers at the ankles, then drop two ferrets inside and fasten their belts to prevent the animals from escaping. The man that lasts the longest wins.
Lest they have sneaky contestants, judges make sure that the ferrets aren't sedated and the contestants aren't drunk. The ferrets must have a mouth's full of teeth - unfiled or otherwise blunted. Their nails mustn't have been clipped. Oh, and in case anyone asks: no underwear, please. The trousers must be loose so the ferret can move from ankle to ankle.
The sport involves little innate talent, except for the ability of ignoring a nasty bite to one's ... um, well, you get the picture. Reg Mellor, the past world record holder for this bizarre sport said in an interview:
"The world record was sixty seconds. Sixty seconds! I can stick a ferret up me ass for longer than that."
So, at age sixty-nine, Reg Mellor found his game. As he stood in front of me now, naked from the waist down, Reg looked every bit a champion.
"So look close," he said again.
I did look, at an incredible tattoo of a zaftig woman on Reg's thigh. His legs appeared crosshatched with scars. But I refused to "look close."
"Come on, Reg," I said. "Do they bite your -- you know?"
"Do they!" he thundered with irritation as he pulled up his pants. "Why, I've had 'em hangin' from me tool for hours an' hours an' hours! Two at a time -- one on each side. I been swelled up big as that!" Reg pointed to a five-pound can of instant coffee.
Indeed, before entering a competition, males "whose families are not yet complete" are required to have written permissions from their partners.
So. How long do you think people last with ferrets rummaging around in their trousers? A couple of seconds? A few minutes? Try 5 hours and 30 minutes, set by retired school teacher Frank Bartlett.
Today, you don't have to trek to the coal country of Yorkshire, England to find the sport of ferret legging. It is played annually at the Celtic Festival in Richmond, Virginia.
Do you think it's animal abuse? Or is it actually human abuse?