by: CLIFF NEWELL - Making up the Lake Oswego Ferret Watch patrol are, in front, Will Spangler and Sydney Arceneaux, and, in back, David Regan, Alicia Lopez and Peri SUBMITTED PHOTO - The little white blur at the back is the ferret that apparently has been running wild near Southwood Drive in Lake Oswego.Halloween week had a special treat for the residents of Southwood Drive in Lake Oswego. Or maybe a trick.

A ferret suddenly appeared and began darting all over the yards, causing all kinds of reactions among adults and children in the Westlake area.

“It’s creepy,” said Teresa Spangler.

“It’s cute,” said Sarah Rumpakis.

“I don’t think it’s really a ferret,” said Wally Arceneaux.

But whether they are pro-ferret, anti-ferret or unconvinced-it-is-a-ferret, the neighbors are all fascinated by the ferret. They now can talk about almost nothing else but the ferret, and they wonder how they can capture the elusive little animal. Everyone is keeping a sharp eye out so they can spot it again.

Only one photo of the ferret has been taken, and it shows a small white blur at the back of the frame.

“But if you look at it closely you can tell it’s a ferret,” Spangler said.

Ferrets, and similar creatures, fill Spangler with revulsion.

“I don’t want it crawling up my leg,” she said.

“I thought it was funny when you stood on the porch screaming,” said her good friend Rumpakis.

Yet Spangler cannot help but be caught up in the ferret fervor of her neighborhood, so much so that she was compelled to do some deep research on the animals. So she called up “The Ferret Lady,” Chris Mathis, of the Oregon Ferret Shelter in Oregon City.

Surprisingly, perhaps, ferrets are the third most popular pet after dogs and cats. Also somewhat surprisingly, ferret owners quickly become disenchanted with the pets because they cost so much to feed. And there’s one other factor.

“They stink,” Spangler said.

This being the case, the Oregon Ferret Shelter has housed up to 300 ferrets at one time.

But occasionally they are let loose by owners — a thought that pains Rumpakis, who is “pro anything; I am pro animal” — or they escape.

In this case the ferret on the loose caused a sensation on Southwood Drive, partly because its pure-white color caused it to resemble a tiny ghost. Although the ferret has been elusive, Arceneaux has closely observed the little mammal (not a rodent) and found it extremely interesting.

“It doesn’t run. It kind of bounces,” Arceneaux said. “It always has this hump on its back no matter what.”

Spangler said, “I think this one was a pet, because it doesn’t really run away from you when you approach.”

Arceneaux and his 8-year-old daughter Sydney even tracked the ferret for up to 15 minutes, and other neighborhood children have followed the ferret around until it again vanished.

Spangler has even provided a cat carrier in case residents can catch the ferret.

“It’s sort of like the rabbit in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’” said Spangler.

Southwood Drive residents are definitely watching. While the discussion about the ferret was still going strong, a woman in a station wagon drove by, lowered her window and yelled, “Have, you caught it yet?”

For ferret facts or to report a missing ferret, call the Oregon Ferret Shelter at 503-557-8369.

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