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Animal Species: Rodents / Small Pets

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      14.12.2012 21:58
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      My Furry Friend The Ferret

      I have kept ferrets since 2006 when I got my two boys, who are brothers, Bailiey and Diego. I thought I would share a little bit about these gorgeous creatures for anyone who may be interested.

      History Of The Ferret
      A ferret is basically a tame version of the European Polecat. Despite what many people think, they do not belong to the rodent family, they actually belong to the mustelid family which includes animals like badgers, otters, weasels and skunks.
      Ferrets have been kept as pets since about the 1960's although before then, they had many uses such as controlling the rodent and rabbit population.
      Today, ferrets are extremely popular as pets and come in a very large range of colours.

      Housing
      There are two ways which you can house your ferrets, indoors and outdoors.

      Indoors
      Despite what people think, ferrets are extremely clean animals and can be trained to use a litter tray. If you decide to keep your ferrets indoors then you will have to have an indoor cage. The rule with cages are basically the bigger the better as thee guys love to run around and play. The reason you are unable to leave your ferrets running loose in the house is because they are amazing escape artists and you will never find then again if you leave them alone in the house.
      It is possible to keep a ferret by itself but most people that I have spoken to advise to keep two ferrets together as they are extremely sociable animals and will enjoy the company.
      Your hutch will need to be big enough to house two ferrets and they should also have a bad area where they can escape to when they want a nap - which is often - they can sleep for 16 hours a day!
      Keeping ferrets in the house will not suit everyone, just like other pets, they can be demanding and destructive, especially as youngsters.
      This is something you need to be aware of before deciding to keep a ferret indoors.
      Indoor cages can be bought in many pet shops and some people use rabbit hutches as indoor cages so there are plenty of styles to choose from.

      Outdoors
      Your ferrets can live in a hutch in the garden with suitable shelter, such as an enclosed bedded area, as well as a run to allow exercise.
      With this option, you can enjoy watching your ferrets behave in a natural way and you also have a bit more room to play with (in my case anyway!)
      Personally my ferrets house is in the garden as I had more room to accommodate them. They have a secure area indoors in which they play in when they come inside and I get them out several times a day because they really do love to be sociable.

      The House
      There are many popular hutches both indoor and outdoor that are designed for ferrets. I wanted a hutch that was quite large so my boyfriend built one for me which is about 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide and about 3 feet deep with various layers inside the cage for them to climb tunnels and run through tubes to make sure they do not get bored.
      In my opinion, if you are keeping your ferrets outdoors, then hutches made of wood are best for keeping your ferrets warm and dry.

      The hutch should be weatherproof but at the same time, well ventilated. If the hutch is outside as opposed to indoors, extra weatherproofing is necessary, such as a cover for the front of the hutch after dark and during wet weather.
      My hutch is made from wood on the back and side and then mesh across the front.
      Whatever you choose as a ferret house, it should be divided into four areas; the nest box (sleeping area), the feeding area, the litter tray and a large open space which they can use for playing in. The ferret nest box needs to be at least about the size of a an A4 piece of paper and at least 5 inches deep. Obviously you will need either one edge open or a door to enable your ferret to get in. This can be made out of ply wood (as mine is) or even cardboard.
      Any entrances to the hutch should have hinged or lift off doors, to enable you easy access to handle your pet, change their food and water and for cleaning purposes.

      Bedding
      I don't use any material as flooring for my cage as it was built on concrete slabs which is fine. Some people like to use lino and a flooring to the cage as it is easy to clean.
      Ferrets love to sleep and they really throw their bedding around until the are comfortable. You can use all sort of materials for bedding such as old clothes, cloth material (with no frayed ends so they don't catch their claws) soft hay or shredded paper. I have several old tea towels and a piece of fleece material which these use as bedding.

      Buying A Ferret
      When buying a ferret you have a choice of going to a pet shop or locating a reputable breeder who will be able to give you advice about your ferret and hopefully show you the Mum and Dad of the babies.
      Another choice you have is whether you want an adult or a baby. I opted for babies as I enjoy taming them and watching them grow up.
      Wherever you get your ferret you can be sure that with care, love and respect your ferret will become a faithful and entertaining friend and member of your family.

      Choosing A Ferret
      There are three main places where you can get your ferrets: Pet Shop, Private Breeders and Rescue Centres depending on what sort of age you are looking for (although you can still get very young ferrets at rescue centres)
      When choosing a ferret, visit the breeder / pet shop and if possible, ask to see the kits parents (baby ferrets are called Kits), which is a good way of seeing how big your ferret will be once he matures.
      Always monitor the ferrets behaviour; you want a ferret that is alert and not too nervous with nice bright eyes.

      Vaccinations
      Many people recommend getting your ferrets vaccinated against canine distemper.

      Cost Of Keeping A Ferret
      Ferrets themselves are usually inexpensive to buy. I bought mine from a private breeder and they cost £2 each so you can see my point. Some of the rescue centres offer adult ferrets which have been micro chipped and neutered for £20 which is very reasonable considering that neutering alone costs around £30.
      The main cost of keeping a ferret is the equipment you will need for your ferret. Building a safe, attractive outdoor enclosure and indoor cages will be the main cost. Then there are the extra bits you will needs such as food bowls, water bottles, food etc. Your ferret will need regular supplies of a quality ferret food and bedding throughout its life.

      Food Dish
      A heavy ceramic dish is the popular choice as ferrets will try and play with their food bowl. At least with a heavy ceramic bowl they will not be able to tip it up and the food wont end up all over the floor.

      Water Drinking Bottle
      You will need a water bottle with a drip feed. Again this is better than a water dish as they will just splash the water everywhere and it also prevents the water dish being used as a second litter tray! My ferrets drinks so much so you will always need to check that they have plenty of water.

      Toys
      Ferrets love toys! At present mine have a small ball and a fluffy squeaky toy that they pick up and carry around. As they get older they will become more playful and I will get them more toys.
      You can also place items such as tubing and rope bridges in their hutch for them to play on.

      Food
      There are excellent complete ferret foods available in most pet shops. If you feed them a complete ferret food then they do not need any other food although odd treats can be fed but only very small pieces as too much can give them a funny tummy. Ferrets should not be fed vegetables as they can't digest them.
      Ferret food is fairly cheap and costs us no more than £10 a month at the very most.

      Litter Tray
      Most people provide their ferret with a litter tray
      The ferret litter tray tends to be out in one corner of the cage. Ferrets tend to go to the toilet in the same place so this makes cleaning out much easier as you only need to change the litter tray every day. If your ferrets don't understand that they are meant to be using their tray then you can place their poo in the litter tray and eventually they will realise that they are meant to use the tray. The litter tray should be placed as far away as possible from their food.

      Cleaning Out
      You must ensure that their cage is kept clean, the litter tray will have to be cleaned out daily, and bedding should be changed at least weekly (I wash my bedding once a week as I use material for their bedding). You should thoroughly clean the hutch out once a week.

      Treats
      You can treat your ferrets with various items such as egg, white fish and meat but as I already mentioned, don't feed them too much as it will give them a funny tummy.

      Lifespan
      The average life span of a ferret is 8-12 years, remember this when you buy your ferret, you will need to provide love and care for possibly over a decade.

      Exercise
      Ferrets love exercise, and more importantly they love to play. They can be very time consuming. They will always want to be played with and the more attention you give them, the happier they will be.
      Ferrets require looking after 365 days a year so you will need someone you can trust to look after them when you go on holiday.
      Ferrets are not really cage animals but are fine to be kept in cages as long as you understand that you will need to get your ferret out every day for 'play' time. You can have an area indoors which is 'ferret proof' and leave you little friends to run off some energy!

      Common Misconceptions
      So many people have misconceptions about ferrets, that they are vicious and they smell. They are just like other animals, with the wrong treatment they will bite but as long as you give them lots of gentle handling and lot of love they will learn to be very affectionate and will certainly not bite you.
      Also, despite what people think, they do not smell, yes they have an odour to them but it is not unpleasant, it is more musky and to be honest I don't mind the smell at all.

      Summary
      I think ferrets make excellent pets. They are great to interact with and are such time wasters. I must admit that it does annoy me when people think they are dirty because they are far from it. They are intelligent and extremely sociable and can be a great addition to any family.

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        11.12.2011 10:55

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        Good pets if you do your research

        Yes, this is going to be all about Ferrets.
        I've read a few of the reviews on here and some seem good...

        I'm sure you all know by now that Ferrets are decendants from the Polecat and were first domesticated almost 200 years ago for hunting purposes. They are fast, slender, intelligent and cute animals and do make some of the best pets.

        Many people believe them to be vicious, biting, smelly animals but I have 6 that prove otherwise.
        A recent study showed that hunting fererts (yes, ones that kill those cute bunny rabbits) are less likely to bite than your common pet ferret as generally a hunting ferret is handled a lot more than a pet one.

        Ferrets are classed as an exotic pet here in the UK and very few vets have knowledge of them - So do some hunting for a 'ferret savvy' vet. (visit www.britishferretclub.org.uk for a list of ferret savvy vets all around the UK) Ferrets do get Canine Distemper, and don't think that because you don't have a dog your ferret wont get it. It will as Canine Distemper can be transmitted on your clothes, shoes etc. Although vaccination is advised, some ferrets do have reactions as the vaccine used in the UK is not designed for ferrets - its designed for dogs and a recent outbreak of the Canine Distemper Virus proved that this unlicenced one does not protect ferrets. (A ferret rescue center lost 210 ferrets in the period of 3 weeks to a Canine Distemper outbreak) A good vet would try to import a vaccine from the USA to use on your ferret although this will cost you more - their is less chance of the ferret having an allergic reaction and more chance of it actually being protected.

        Please do not impulse buy a ferret.... they require a lot of attention especially if living alone. (This is how I got 5 of mine and two were given to me at just 2 weeks old because the owner decided it would be a good idea to breed her jill not knowing how many ferret kits she would have)

        If you really want a ferret - go to a re-homing or rescue center where you'll be able to find a ferret that suits you perfectly. Well tamed, litter trained etc. And if you are a first time owner - They'll be able to give you a lot of information.

        If not and you'd like some inso on different ferret diseases, illnesses, general health care etc you can email me your questions at: townsend.nadine@live.co.uk

        I'm a ferret owner of 6, work with a further 56, training to be a vet that specialises in ferrets and I'm a student vet nurse.

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        09.07.2009 20:56
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        Ferrets make better pets than cats, dogs, goldfish, budgies, hamsters, gerbils etc. etc.etc

        If you want to keep a pet, traditionally bad press that these charming little animals have received aside, ferrets must come pretty high up on any rational person's list of ideal companion animals.

        They are easily tamed and affectionate creatures, very playful, and will engage their owners in all sorts of amusing antics. Ferrets actually make a funny little 'chuckling' noise while at play, a really nice, idiosyncratic quirk which - since everyone seems obsessed with the stereotypical and usually false image of a ferret biting and hanging on - for some reason, you very rarely hear about.

        Their housing requirements are very flexible; they can be kept loose in the house like a domestic cat or dog, the only slight drawback to 'free-range' indoor ferrets being their small size; though ferrets are sexually dimorphic, with males being up a third larger than the smaller females, even the biggest of males isn't likely to exceed more than a couple of kilogrammes in weight. Being relatively small ferrets are vulnerable to be trod on or shut in closing doors. If given several hours of exercise out of the cage each day, in the house or garden or even taken for a walk on a leash, ferrets can be housed in indoor or outdoor hutches. While they can spend a large proportion of each day asleep, it is preferable to keep them in a cage with an attached outdoor run - some ferret keepers use a sturdily-built avairy set-up to give their pets lots of opportunities for exercise. Any housing for ferrets needs to be thoroughly escape-proof; these animals have long, narrow bodies and can fit themselves through surprisingly small gaps. Escaped ferrets unfortunately have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever, and if they get out tend to wander off in a straight line, without ever turning back. A lot of these animals end up at RSPCA and PDSA animal shelters (especially during the summer); this is always a potential source of pet ferrets if you are having trouble locating one.

        They are naturally house-trained; being animals that use 'latrines' ferrets alway defecate and urinate in the same site - a corner of the cage for hutch-kept animals, or a secluded spot in the house if indoors. Once your ferret has 'selected' its own latrine site it's easy enough to put old newspaper or a cat litter tray there for it to use. The droppings of a healthy ferret are produced in compact black, twisted pellets and have a faint musky odour. The infamous 'bad smell' of a ferret may refer to a defensive technique they have at their disposal: like the North American skunk, ferrets can produce an unpleasant acrid odour from their anal glands, which when directed at a predator is intended to dissuade the larger animal from attack. The smell of this secretion is a bit like badly burnt toast, and unlike the skunk smell, it soon disappates. Personally I kept ferrets for years and only encountered this defence mechanism on a handful of occasions - when our ferrets were threatened by our neighbour's dogs.

        It is sadly true that ferrets do possess a noticeable body odour, which will tend to linger on the animals themselves, their bedding and on the clothing of any person who's had prolonged ferret-contact. Some people find this quite offensive; others liken it to a musky or even honey-like aroma. The smell is much stronger in males than it is in females. When stale, and at its worst, I would liken this odour to the smell of dried-out sweaty socks, but even then it's not especially overpowering, and it's certainly no worse than (and I would say, orders of magnitude preferable to) the smell of a unwashed dirty dog. I have heard of people bathing their pet ferrets - which does remove the odour temporarily, but because this is the natural smell of a ferret, and something you can't get away from, this is only works as a short-term solution.

        The major problem with keeping ferrets relates to the female animals - called 'jills'. Ferrets have a slightly unusual quirk of the female reproduction system - an arrangement that presumably works very well for their wild ancestor the European polecat, a solitary animal that lives at low population densities in the wild. Female ferrets (and polecats) are so-called 'induced ovulators;' that is they come into mating condition (oestrus) in late summer / early spring but don't release an egg until the time of mating. This ensures that in widely-spaced populations, the chances of an egg being fertilized are maximised. The problem with this is that unmated female ferrets remain in oestrous condition all through the summer till decreasing day length (or increasing night length) gives them the cue, in autumn, to come out of reproductive condition again. A prolonged oestrous period has a number of health problems for jills associated with it; firstly the risk of bacterial infection of the female reproductive tract (a female ferret's external genitalia swell to an alarming size during oestrus, and produce various secretions that are an ideal medium for bacterial growth at this time), and secondly there is a risk of unmated females being affected by a form of leukaemia, brought on by prolonged exposure to female reproductive hormones at the time of oestrus.

        The most straight-forward solution to this health problem, assuming you have a pet female ferret and don't want her to breed every year, is to have her spayed. Alternatively there is a hormone injection that can be administered by vets that will end oestrus - this may cause the ferret to experience a 'phantom pregnancy' but though her behaviour may become a little altered during this time, she will soon recover.

        The problem with both these potential solutions I've found myself is that very few British vets have any experience whatsoever in treating ferrets. These animals seem traditionally to have been regarded effectively as 'disposable' by a substantial proportion of ferret keepers, which means that vet fees are seen as a waste of money, and thus, though ferrets are very widely kept in Britain, surprisingly few vets ever encounter them. With the slowly increasing popularity of ferrets as pet animals this situation may happily be changing, however.

        The hormone injection vets commonly give to female dogs to bring them out of oestrus absolutely isn't suitable for ferrets: it may work on ferrets temporarily but the effect soon wears off and oestrus - which if prolonged still carries its associated health risks - will be resumed. If you are lucky enough to find a vet who is familiar with ferrets or similar mustelids (a local vet we eventually found who knew his stuff regarding ferrets got his experience from treating American mink, a similar species, at a fur farm) there is a suitable hormone or cocktail of hormones that can be supplied once a year to bring females out of oestrus effectively.

        In terms of necessary vaccinations, ferrets are also highly susceptible to (amongst other diseases) canine distemper, often lethal to ferrets, which they can catch from contact with unvaccinated dogs and dog faeces. Ferrets that are likely to come into contact with dogs or dog excrement should thus be immunized against the disease. Again, there is a vaccine that can be administered to ferrets to protect them from canine distemper, but once again, the form of vaccine given to dogs CANNOT be used on ferrets (the vaccine given to dogs is produced from ferret bodily fluids and while non-dangerous to dogs, a ferret-body-fluid-based vaccine will infect ferrets with the very disease the immunization seeks to prevent).

        There is an excellent book - 'The Complete Book of Ferrets' by Val Porter and Nick Brown that you should look out for if you want to learn more about keeping ferrets. I haven't really addressed their recommended diet (meat-based for preference) at all or nearly all of the health and housing issues in this brief review. The Porter & Brown book is a comprehensive, sensible and very well written guide, packed with useful as well as some slightly more technical information on ferret-keeping, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

        As to ferrets 'in the family' I've noted two basic responses that people have to them: either they like them immediately from the outset (as I think any sensible person would) or - they just (perhaps irrationally) don't. My sister, for example had next to no truck with the ferrets I kept during my teens, while my mother became - quite unexpectedly - an avid fan from the first moment they arrived. I saw these differing attitudes replicated by many of the friends and neighbours of ours who encountered them. Regarding ferrets as potential pets for children, I'd have no hesitation in recommending a tame ferret as a pet for any responsible child or young adult. In fact the first pet animal my own daughter encountered at about nine months old was a tame ferret at a country fair.

        As for the biting thing - while it is true that ferrets are physiologically capable of 'locking' their jaws when they bite down so that they can't be dislodged, I have never, ever, seen this for myself, and I kept pet ferrets - one of them a 'rescue' animal who hadn't even been tamed by me - for years. Admittedly I did get the odd slashing scratch (after all, these animals don't possess retractable claws) and minor nip, but nothing at all, compared to what a pet cat intent on scratching you could inflict; and if we're discussing potentially dangerous pets, while I imagine being seriously bitten by a ferret would certainly be unpleasant, I would doubt that even the most damage-intent ferret is really capable of inflicting anyone with more than one (or at worst, a series of) very nasty bites, due to the small size of these animals in the first place.

        What can I say. I think they're great, and get my 'best pet ever' vote any day.

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          13.06.2009 02:15
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          A great pet

          Ferrets are part of the mustelid or weasel family, their origins are unknown but it is believed they originated in North Africa and were bought to this country by the Normans, along with the rabbit. Traditionally used to hunt rabbits and rats ferrets have got somewhat of a bad reputation for being smelly and biting.

          Ferrets are socialable animals and should be kept in pairs at least. They are playful, inquisitive and full of energy throughout their lives, ferrets live on average 6 - 8 years.

          If ferrets are handled and kept in clean living accomadation then they don't bite or smell. I have kept 4 ferrets and was never bitten apart from the odd nip before I had tamed them. I would recommend that you start of with young kits (the young are called kits, females are jills and males are hobs) about 8 weeks old, you can then handle the ferret and after a couple of days handling there should be no problems with biting. One method is to force your index finger into the ferrets mouth, the ferret finds this unpleasant and learns not to bite. If you are bitten then ferrets can hold on like a vice, it is advised to put the ferret on something, if it is in the air it won't let go as it wouldn't know how far it would fall. Then pinch the ferrets back foot, this makes it open it's mouth. The signs of a potential: look out for are the hairs standing up on the tail like a bottle brush, this means the ferret is excited or angry and is more likely to bite so if you see this then give the ferret a minute to calm down.

          Ferrets are clean animals, they always go to the same corner to go to the toilet well away from there sleeping quarters. They should be cleaned out 2 - 3 times a week. I kept mine in hutches and preferred to use wheat straw in the run and the bedding area, barley straw was abit dusty and hay was to warm for the sleeping quarters and often caused condensation inside the hutch, however these are just my observations. Shredded paper would be good in the run area although I am not sure it would be warm enough in the sleeping area in winter. Ferrets do take food and store it within the sleeping quarters, be aware of this as if left will attract flies and will go off and smell.

          Ferrets are carnivoures and should be fed on meat, the traditional food of bread and milk gives the ferrets diarrhoea, which is why they have a reputation of being smelly. There are dried foods especially for ferrets, these are good in the summer when flies can be a problem when feeding fresh meat. I fed dried food in the moring and fresh meat or tinned cat food in the evening.

          I would recommend having jills spayed unless you intend to breed from them. When a jill comes on heat the vulva swells and remains like this until they are mated, if they are not mated then they stay like this for months and are likely to pick up infections which can be fatal. If you would like to breed from them in the future then a way round this is to use a vasectomised hob (sometimes called a hoblet, a hoble is a castrated hob) as he will mate with the jill to bring her off heat but she won't have any young.

          I would recommend buying your ferrets direct from a breeder rather than a pet shop as you will be able to see the mum and judge how well she is looked after. If you are not happy then walk away.

          I would recommend ferrets as pets.

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            21.05.2009 16:39
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            excellent pet

            if you want a fun, excitable loving new pet then go for a ferret. i have 2. an albino boy called coco and a sandy female called katie. i did alot of research before taking the plunge as i had never seen a ferret up close before. there is a wealth of information on the internet for first time buyers. when i got coco i instantly fell in love with him and it wasnt long before i got him a loving friend in katie. watching them play together is a great deal of fun. the rumours about ferrets are in my opinion completely incorrect. people say they stink and are vicious. they have an aroma like me, you and every other animal on the planet. they are in fact a very clean animal and i didnt find the smell off putting at all. it can be a pleasant smell for some. as far as being vicious any animal can be vicious but its how you treat the animal. my ferrets have never bit me simply because they dont feel threatened. i also have a 2 year old around them and again they have never bitten him. im not saying they will never bite because you cant be certain, the same as it is for dogs etc. they do not cost alot and i would say if you are thinking of getting one please look into buying from a ferret rescue or animal rescue. they cost about £30 and if bought from a rescue this includes injections and spaying. coco which i actually bought from a shop cost me £15 but then £70 in vet bills. they do not take much looking after clean water, food and cleaning out a few times a week. they can be litter trained and many people let them loose about the hiouse. i personally keep mine outside in a suitably large cage. they live for about 10 years and are brilliant to watch and play with. i will never tire of them and if you went for one two you will love them

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              11.02.2009 19:01
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              Stupendicus Ferretus Marvellousis...a much better name than smelly Fur thief!

              I've heard from various different sources about what the ferrets latin name (Mustela Putorius Furo) actually means in latin. Some of the translations include:

              Smelly furry thief
              Stinky mouse carrying thief
              Stinky weasel

              Notice the common theme. Ferrets are not known for smelling like roses, seem to be seen as tricksters and thiefs (which isnt very far from the truth), and sadly there are a lot of other myths about them, people seem to think they are vicious. Some of this is true, but fortunately not all of it!


              My home is home to three jill (female) polecat ferrets, and I am soon to be rehoming a sandy hob (male) and a silver jill. I am absolutely enamoured with them. They would never be a lot of people's first choice of pet, and I'm here to tell you that is a shame. Ferrets are unusual, fun, charming, cute, hilariously funny, friendly and all-around fantastic pets! But before we get into that, here's a bit about keeping ferrets as pets.


              Ferrets are obligate carnivores, like cats, thus must have a meat based diet. The best food you can feed them is the Bones and Raw Food diet, or BARF (charming). This means feeding them things like rats and mice (from your local reptile shop), chicks, turkey necks, rabbits and so on and so forth...with bones, fur and feathers intact. They can also eat the occasional egg and a few other bits and pieces.This diet is known to cause reduced instances of adrenal disease, a common problem in ferrets. However ferrets have very short digestive tracts and really need to eat every few hours, so this option is out for most people. The next best option is a high quality ferret kibble...the Ferret Society recommends Vitalin ferret food as having the best protein, fat and oil levels for a ferret. Some people feed kitten food, but ferret food is so available now (and cheaper than high quality cat food) that it is best to feed that. Dog and adult cat foods are not high protein enough for ferrets. For treats you can buy special ferret treats or feed small pieces of cooked poultry or game meat, and VERY occasional small amounts of banana (like fingernail size, no more than once a week). You can get oil-based vitamin supplements for ferrets which they absolutely ADORE, these make great treats. Some different brands are Ferretone, Furotone, and Ferretvite.

              Ferrets are not really cage animals and do best left to roam in a designated ferret proof room, but if you insist on caging them the cage should be at least a metre long, two feet deep and as tall as possible with lots of levels (but not allow the ferrets to fall from top to bottom). They can be litter trained, so soft bedding is best, but shredded paper, recycled cardboard and Easibed can also be used (NOT shavings). They should have several litter trays filled with paper based or wood based cat litter, not clumping litter. Although ferrets are best kept in a room rather than a cage, you cannot let your ferret have the run of the house, they are just too curious and can get into lots of trouble...and sooner or later you'll probably stand on one! You can also keep ferrets outdoors, but its best to buy the biggest hutch you can lay your hands on, ferret proof your garden so they can get out lots, and bring them into the house for extra attention when its cold and wet and you dont want to go out to see them.

              Ferrets will happily play with cat toys, and dog ones too, but they shouldnt have anything made of rubber...even toys designed for them. I gave my ferrets a ferret Kong and they ripped it to shreds...I'm lucky they didnt appear to eat any of it!

              Ferrets need vaccinations against canine distemper, and female ferrets MUST be spayed or given a hormone injection called the jill jab if you are not planning on breeding every year (and you shouldnt, because there are millions of ferrets already looking for homes). Male ferrets smell less if neutered, and are also less aggressive so can be kept with other ferrets, but it is not a necessity.

              Ferrets need stimulation and human company...they need at least four hours out of their enclosure or room every day to play and bond with their people. It is also best to have two or more ferrets, they get very lonely alone, and watching two or more play is twice (or thrice) the fun anyway!

              So thats a very short introduction to ferret care, although it gets far more complex!


              So, here's some downsides to keeping ferrets. Firstly, that oft stated rumour is true...ferrets are a bit stinky. I keep mine indoors and there is a distinct odour to them. You can buy gimmicky products which are supposed to reduce the smell but I never found them very effective. The smell is in the glands, and when you have held a ferret you can smell it on your hands. However, if you clean up your ferrets litter tray twice daily, there neednt be a smell in your home, the vast majority of the smell comes from the poo. I find the smell of ferret less unpleasant than a doggy or catty odour, and it is something you'll get used to, but visitors will notice if you keep them indoors!

              Ferrets also tend to nip as babies. However their viciousness is far exaggerated...they nip in play, not to be vicious, and it is fairly easy to train them to stop. You will still get the odd playful "mouth" when they are bite trained, but it wont hurt, and the vicious bites you hear of are pretty unusual in a well socialised ferret. Most of these bites probably come from animals kept in hutches, never let out except to hunt and not properly socialised.

              Ferrets are time consuming...four hours of daily play, then on top of that there's the cleaning up to do, and ferrets are messy animals. However if you love them like I do, you wont see that as a chore, and will enjoy watching them go about their ferrety ways.

              Most of the information you find on keeping ferrets will be American...the ferret has exploded in popularity and is apparently now the third most popular pet in America. So a lot of the products you will hear about will be irrelevant to British ferrets, as will rabies vaccines. it is also customary to descent (remove the scent glands, this is illegal in the UK) and spay or neuter ferrets at very young ages in America, but not here.

              As they get older, ferrets can prove costly in terms of veterinary fees. British ferrets are not as inbred as American ferrets, and a lot of the fancy colour patterns (which are sometimes the result of inbreeding) so they tend to be healthier and longer lived than their US counterparts, however they are still prone to a lot of cancers as they get older. So you need to have a bit saved up for your fuzzies when they get older.

              Ferrets are also expensive to set up, especially if you want to cage them. You will need the cage, bedding, litter trays, toys, plus you will need to ferret proof (long story) the room you want to keep them in, which might involve DIY materials. Then there is the vaccinations and spaying of females!

              Ferrets are surprisingly complicated and you need some knowledge on them before jumping in to keeping them. They have a lot of different problems, behaviours and illnesses unique to their species, so much research is essential!


              However, on the other hand ferrets are fantastic pets! First, they are hilariously funny. They are full of odd little habits and characteristics that will have you giggling at them day after day. They are so daft and do such silly things, they really will make you giggle! If you've had a bad day, a ferret will make it disappear better than a double vodka. Their habits are so strange and curious, and just watching them play is fascinating, especially if you keep two or more of them.

              They are also very interactive pets...you get a lot out of them. They will come to know you, some will learn their names and simple tricks, and they are very friendly. This is something you dont get from most small caged pets. They are not particularly cuddly creatures but they will enjoy curling up on your knee when they are exhausted from their travels.

              You can play with ferrets in a similar way to cats...they will chase teaser toys and jingling bell balls, and leap and pounce just like a cat! Unlike cats however, ferrets remain like kittens for their whole lives, they always want to play, play play! Its like having a kitten that lives 8 years! And yet, like a dog, you can walk them if you want to...but they dont need it, which means rainy, cold days are not a problem if you want to stay in! Just make sure if your ferret gets outside you use an H-harness and lead designed for ferrets, NOT a collar (they can slip out of them), and have your ferret microchipped. You should also be ready to pick your ferret up if any dogs head your way, and worm your ferret every six weeks if they get outdoors.

              Ferrets usually get on fine with dogs and cats (although they should always be introduced slowly and watched when they are together), because ferrets are fearless and think they can beat up things bigger than them. Dont believe me? Type ferret and lion cub into Youtube and watch what comes up! Obviously, ferrets will try and eat your small fluffy things like rabbits so keep them WELL out of the way!

              If it werent for the smell, ferrets would be absolutely perfect flat pets. A lot of people feel they must be hunting and outdoors to be happy, but this is not the case. So long as you give them plenty to do indoors they will be just as happy in a third floor flat. They can be litter trained, they dont need walking, they are quiet, can be confined in a cage when you have people round, and are suitable for 9-5 workers, because they sleep about 16 hours a day and will tailor their sleeping habits to your working hours! A ferret is ALWAYS ready to play! If you think you have the time and can get used to the stink, they really are perfect pets!

              They are cute. I know a lot of people find them weird with the long bodies...but just forget about that and look at the face of a ferret. Little stubby bear cub ears, round, intelligent black beady eyes, a neat little cat like chin and a little pink sniffy nose. Sorry, they're damned adorable, no matter what anyone says!


              Some amusing ferret habits:

              Carpet-sharking: Pedalling along the carpet with their back legs, whilst their front legs lie flat down facing their bums.
              Snorkelling: See above, but through thick pile carpet, their litter trays, snow, water bowls, other interesting surface.
              Dooking: The noise you might hear your ferrets make when they are having fun...it sounds like an excited giggle or chattering sound.
              The Weasel War Dance: Skipping about sideways, backwards and forwards, back arched, teeth chattering. Usually they have no awareness of where they are going when they do this and it usually ends with them banging into something of falling off something.
              The Bottle Brush: When their tail goes all poofy like a cats: may happen around bath time.
              Backpedalling: Running in reverse when they realise they are going back to their pen!
              Speedbump: They lie down on the floor and flatten their bodies right out as if they are trying to hide. Often accompanies a telling off for doing something naughty!
              Playing possum: When ferrets sleep, they sleep so heavily you can hardly see them breathe, and so sound that you can pick them up, and they will remain asleep. Tickle their noses and toesies, and they will sleep on! Its very sweet.

              Some weird names people have for their ferrets:

              Woozel, Speedbumps, Squeezils, Carpet Shark, Toe Shark, Furkid, Furbaby, Baby, Fert, Ferret, Smushies, Furritos, Weasel, Fuzzy, Fuzzbutt, Fuzzits, Sock puppets, Little bandits, Dookers, Dancing dookers, Stinkminks.


              Personally, I like to call mine Long-longs. They are absolutely my favourite pet in the world, and believe me, I love animals. A lot of people think of them as creepy, evil and vicious, but it could not be further from the truth! They are delightfully funny, strange, sweet and adorable little animals who deserve just as much appreciation as cats and dogs!

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                27.04.2008 19:17
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                I've been converted!

                Ferrets are strange little animals- and you normally either love them, or can't stand them. Admittedly I've never been keen on them myself- I thought they were smelly, nippy and generally nasty little critters! But that was until I acquired, through no choice of my own!, three of the little horrors, and my mind began to change instantly.

                *Purchasing a Ferret*
                Ferrets are generally quite hard animals to find, very few pet shops tend to stock them but if you can manage to find one that does (some of the larger Pets At Home stores perhaps), it's a very good place to buy them from, as you can be pretty confident that they are healthy, hand feared ferrets from well managed and legally imported stocks. But as always, rescue centres are another option, lots of people buy ferrets without knowing the full knowledge involved in keeping them and end up not being able to cope, and the poor little animals end up in rescue. Expect to pay between £50-£100 for a young ferret or 'kit'.
                I ended up with my three in the most unusual way. Just pulling off my drive to leave for work one day I see a cardboard box with a note attached, on closer inspection the note reads- 'They'll have a better life with you', and upon opening the box I see three ferrety faces peering back at me. Even after weeks of detective FourPaws, I never did manage to get to the bottom of it and I can only presume someone knew of my love of animals (its hardly a secret!), had these three ferrets they no longer wanted and abandoned them purposely outside my house for me to find. So here was me left with three animals I didn't even particularly like, but as anyone who knows me will understand- I can't turn away an animal in need, if a lion turned up on my doorstep I'd more than likely take it in, so these little guys joined the ever growing clan.

                *Appearance*
                Ferrets are very close domesticated relatives to the pole cat, they have elongated bodies, around 20inches long with a 5inch tail once fully grown and weigh in at around 1kg, with the males (Hobs) being slightly larger than the females (Jills), they have powerful jaws with razor sharp teeth, small widely set apart erect ears and sharp claws- Ferrets have an average life expectancy of 7 to 10 years. Like most animals, the Ferret comes in a wide range of colours:
                - Polecat/Sable: These range from dark brown to black with light cream underbellies and jet black masks around the eyes.
                - Black Sable: Very dark brown/black bodies with a pure white underbelly.
                - Albino: Gorgeous pure white coats, with pink eyes.
                - Dark Eyed: Pure white coats, but with dark brown eyes instead of the pink eyes seen in the albino.
                - Blue: Blue colouring all over with lighter underbellies.
                - Cinnamon: Reddish brown, or even blonde, with red or black eyes.
                - Chocolate: Chocolate brown all over, with a lighter cream underbelly.
                - Silver: Light to dark grey coats with silvery markings around the eyes.

                And also several types of marking too:
                - Siamese: Have rings around their eyes and a dark line of fur running along their underbellies.
                - Mitts: All four paws are pure white.
                - Panda: Have white belly, head and feet with black markings around the eyes and ears.
                - Hooded: Have a band of colour around their eyes which continues down their backs.

                I have two females- Skittle and Squiggle who are both Polecat/Sables and a male Scampi, who is an Albino.

                *Temperaments*
                Although they can be quite hard to initially tame, and bite an awful lot while they are young, well handled adult Ferrets are extremely affectionate and love nothing more than spending time with their owners, due to the fact that they do bite a lot whilst young (or untrained) Ferrets are not suitable pets for young children (a Ferrets bite is as strong as a cats) but can make fantastic playmates for older children who are respectful of animals, they love testing out 'adventure playgrounds' that children make for them with tunnels ect and enjoy being handled, just make sure children and Ferrets are always supervised together (just like every other animal). They are very social animals and you should ideally keep Ferrets in pairs or small groups- get them all neutered and males and females will live quite happily together.

                *Housing*
                There are two ways in which Ferrets can be housed, firstly is indoors in a specially designed Ferret cage, which should be at least 4ft x 2ft made from metal, raised off the floor to protect from draughts and ideally be multi-storey which allows your Ferret more levels to explore and climb on. And secondly, is in a hutch outside, Ferrets are hardy animals and as long as the hutch is cat and fox proof they can live quite happily outside all year round. Both forms of housing should have the following:
                - A Nest box: Every creature enjoys a cosy place to sleep and a Ferret is no exception, you can purchase plastic nesting boxes from pet shops which are easy to keep clean but often get chewed up, or you can quite easily make your own wooden one, which are hardier than the plastic ones but can be harder to clean. The nesting box should be filled with bedding- either hay or shredded newspaper which can be replaced regularly or pieces of old cloth/blankets which will need to be washed weekly.
                - Toilet area: Ferrets are clean animals and will only use one area of their cage to toilet in. Providing a little tray just makes cleaning easier for you as it allows you to simply remove the soiled litter from the tray and refill everyday. You can use a shallow cat litter box, or even ones designed for Ferrets and fill it with cat litter, children's play sand or sawdust.
                - Food & Water bowls: I've found that metal bowls in holders are best for Ferrets are they can't be thrown around the cage or chewed up.

                I keep my Ferrets outside in their own shed, 6ft sq. which gives them plenty of room to play- I'm sure I had just as much fun kitting their shed out with all different levels, ladders, tunnels, rope bridges ect as they do actually playing on it!, and they have access to an outside area during the day for fresh air. They're kept outside for a couple of reasons- firstly, I just don't have enough room left in my house to give them the space they need, and secondly- they flipping STINK! Ferrets give off a musty aroma which is really quite foul, although this can be reduced by up to 75% if your Ferret is neutered, mine are- but hey, they still stink.

                *Feeding*
                Ferrets are carnivores and require a meat based diet- this can be achieved either by feeding a complete Ferret food supplemented with meat and extras or feeding a completely raw diet of mice, chicks and bones. My three have James Wellbeloved dry Ferret food as the base of their diet, and boiled chicken, cooked vegetables, raw egg yolks, tinned cat food and chicken/turkey bones make up the rest of their diet. As with all animals, fresh water is essential and should be available at all times.

                *Playtime!*
                There is nothing a Ferret enjoys more than playing, and as I mentioned before, they are the most playful animals I have ever owned. A Ferrets cage needs to be furnished with large amounts of toys and equipment to keep them occupied: tunnels, hammocks, rope bridges, old Wellington boots/trainers, Kongs, ping pong balls, empty shoe/cereal boxes with holes cut out, dog treat releasing balls, small animal wooden chews, 'Wildtail' cat toy, squeaky dog toys and an old bunch of keys are all hugely popular with my three. Most Ferrets, including my own, love water and I often fill an empty cat litter tray up with water for them to splash about in, although they should never be left unsupervised with 'paddling pools' to avoid drowning. I can quite easily kill a few hours sitting in my Ferrets shed with them watching them all play- running after one another, play wrestling, 'chattering' and 'barking' together. Hutch or cage kept Ferrets should be allowed at least an hour a day outside of their house to run about and exercise, either in a play pen or supervised in a room.

                *Health Care*
                - All pet Ferrets should be vaccinated yearly for Canine Distemper, even if you don't have dogs in the house they still *need* this vaccine, it's a common and deadly disease but can be easily avoided.
                - Ferrets can catch fleas and worms very easily, especially if you have cats and dogs in the house. These can prevent prevented or treated with medicines from the vets, you shouldn't use products intended for use on cats or dogs.
                - Adrenal Disease: This is a growth of the Adrenal Glands, and can be either benign or cancerous. Signs to look out for are hair loss, increased aggression or difficulty going to the toilet. Whether cancerous or not, the growths are always best removed as they can cause hormonal imbalance problems.
                - Insulinoma: Ferrets are prone to this, cancer of the pancreas. This often causes too much insulin to be produced which will cause the Ferrets blood sugar levels to drop resulting in seizures and often death unless treated.

                Its quite easy to keep your Ferret in good health- feeding chicken or turkey bones or providing cuttlefish will help keep teeth clean and is good condition and regular grooming with keep the fur clean and stimulate the natural oils in your pets coat this is especially important during the Ferrets twice yearly moult, Ferrets can be bathed in warm water and a gentle shampoo if needed. Get to know what is normal for your pet- how much they normally eat and drink in a day, what their faeces is normally like (charming I know), how much they sleep on average and what the condition of their fur is generally like. This allows you to spot signs of illness quicker and easier.

                *Conclusion*
                I judged Ferrets on what I'd heard from over people, and I never use to think much of them but I have well and truly been converted and now they are a pet I will always own. They are hilariously funny to watch, great fun to play with, they love their cuddles and attention and are such characters. As with all animals, they won't appeal to some people- they do smell (a lot!), if they bite it's very painful and although the Ferrets themselves are not too expensive their cage and equipment costs a lot and their diet needs careful planning and a fair bit of preparation. If you get the chance to meet a Ferret- then do so! Although think very carefully before purchasing one.

                Please note it's illegal to keep Ferrets as pets in New Zealand, Iceland, Portugal and some parts of the United States of America and Australia as they can interfere with wildlife.

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                  27.01.2008 22:31
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                  probably not the greatest pet out there

                  One of my friends has a ferret and I personally cannot stand the animals. To me it was a strange choice of pet for him as he is quite a clean and tidy person which seems to go against what I have seen and heard of ferrets.

                  Now im not saying you should not keep ferrets but from what I understand the only reason people kept them was for hunting rabbits and hares and were very much a working animal.

                  The only reason I can see for anyone keeping a ferret would be as a working animals because I cant see anything pet like about them.

                  First of all they really stink, and I mean stink. My mates ferret is kept in a hutch in his garage and whenever you go in there you can smell it straight away which is pretty unpleasant.

                  They also make a lot of mess, they seem to investigate everything and often rip up anything that is put in a cage and their inquisitive nature doesn't stop at inanimate objects I have been bitten on several occasions and has now got to the point where I refuse to have it anywhere near me.

                  They do however seem pretty easy to care for. They don't need a great deal of room and my mate lets his run around in a specially built run, but a secure garden would be adequate if you cant afford a run.

                  They eat cat or dog food which is extremely easy to come by and they will happily live in a rabbit hutch and will be happy sleeping in a bed of straw or newspaper.

                  I personally cannot stand these creatures but I can kind of see why you might want one as they are a little different to cats and dogs and probably don't take quite as much looking after.

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                    03.04.2007 19:48
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                    A wonderful animal that will give its owners hours of joy

                    Ah, ferrets. What an amazing, unusual, intelligent, curious, playful creature. I am truly blessed to have ferrets in my life. However, if considering one as a pet there are some things to keep in mind.

                    As other reviewers have mentioned, Ferrets are kleptos. I have had my keys, wallet, check book, and food, stolen and hidden away in their private stash many a time.

                    They are also high maintenance in that they require human interaction for several hours each day. Yes, they sleep most of the day...but they are not cage animals. They are not hamsters and will become sick and depressed if not given the proper exercise.

                    Ferrets do very well in pairs or even trios (like my Boomer, Tristan and Tyr) and keep in mind that even if you start out with one, they are as addictive as potatoe chips and you are very likely to end up with more.

                    These little clowns can also rack up quite the vet bills! They may encounter a host of medical issues, certainly as they grow older and sometimes even as kits. They are considered exotic animals by most vets and you will be charged accordingly. It is advisable to have an emergency fund in case surgery is necessary as one may run you as much as 1200 dollars.

                    If you are a first time ferret owner, research is essential. They have very unusual ways of expressing themselves. Their hisses aren't quite the same as a cats hiss and can mean several different things. Their 'dance of joy' has terrified many unknowing humans who think their ferret is either attacking them or is suffering from rabbies. Patience is required. If you are training a baby, you will most likely have to teach it not to nip, just as you would a puppy. Our little girl never broke the skin or hurt us, but she did have to learn that she couldn't play as rough with me as she could with other ferrets.

                    Despite the fact that they are demanding pets, I really can't picture my life without them. They come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns. The males are generally twice as big as the females, though there are exceptions to every rule, my tiny Tristan being the prime example. They can be litter box trained, learn their names and several tricks, and will become quite attached to their humans in a matter of days.

                    Tip: Kits, baby ferrets, can run you as much as $150 in a pet store. Adoption is a wonderful option. You may be getting a slightly older animal, but chances are it is already litter box and nip trained and the shelter will have a sense of its personality.

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                      11.01.2005 12:59
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                      Did you know that the word ferret means “little thief” in Latin? Any ferret owners on here will instantly know what I mean. Pet ferrets love to steal your wallet, purse, keys, anything they can get their teeth on.

                      Did you also know that pet ferrets are rapidly becoming one of the most popular small pets in the US?

                      Ferrets have a bit of a bad rap here and in the US. In the US they are banned in many states as being dangerous wild animals, and often they are accused of having rabies. In many states over there, if a pet ferret bites someone, the authorities can seize it and check it out for rabies (just so you know that involves killing it and then studying its brain tissue), and over here they are generally denounced as smelly and vicious. Ferrets are no more likely to have rabies than any other animal.

                      None of the above need be true of pet ferrets. Ferrets are not “wild animals”. They are a domesticated form of weasel (specifically, polecat), and they’ve been domesticated for thousands of years. Just as with dogs, they have evolved into a whole new species. A domesticated ferret isn’t semi-wild like people believe, if you let a pet ferret go wild it would probably die pretty quickly of starvation or being preyed on.

                      As for ferrets biting, that myth comes from the ferrets people keep for rabbiting, and animals like weasels being mistake for ferrets. These are a whole different ball game to a pet ferret, as I found out when I rescued a family of five of them. Pet ferrets and rabbiting ferrets are quite different animals. A properly trained ferret of either type wont bite, but house ferrets tend to be more docile and friendly, and also come in a dazzling array of colours and patterns (the cutest being ferrets with “mitts” or little white socks). Obviously a ferret used to slaughter rabbits is going to be a nippy little bugger. Baby ferrets will nip, but they are very intelligent and quick learners, and if you tell them off for nipping they will soon stop.

                      Ferrets, like skunks, have “stink glands” they can let off when you are annoying them. This is where the smelly ferret myth comes from, along with the fact that unneutered ferrets, especially hobs (boys) stink. House ferrets are usually neutered and are tame enough to not musk you with their scent (and if they do the scent doesnt last long). Some vets will remove their stink glands, a process called "descenting" but it is frowned upon in the UK.

                      A bit about ferrets

                      Ferrets are members of the mustelid family. Other members include weasels, mink stoats, otters, skunks, badgers and the largest member of the family is the ferocious wolverine. Ferrets are essentially tame weasels-they are believed to be descendents of the European polecat. Its no surprise that they have such a bad reputation…mink, stoats and otters are reputed to have an ill temperament and a bite that can cut through sheet metal, and if you ever run into a wolverine…I’ll pray for you. Taxonomically, mustelids are somewhere between cats and dogs, being a little closer to dogs. Pet ferrets have both cat and dog-like qualities. They will come when you call them, fetch and follow you around like a dog, but they are very inquisitive and intelligent like a cat, and they have “kittenish” playing behaviour…they love pouncing and batting things.

                      Basic ferret Care

                      A note about vets, vaccinations and neutering

                      If you have a pet ferret you MUST get a vet that has experience dealing with them, you cant just go to a vet who is used to to dealing with dogs and cats. Pet ferrets arent so common in the UK, so you might have to do some looking around. You may find country vets more likely to have ferret experience, as people might keep them outside of towns for rabbiting. Ferrets get some very ferret-specific diseases, its also important your vet knows how to neuter them and which vaccinations to give them, otherwise your pet could get very ill.

                      Ferrets must be vaccinated against canine distemper. This is totally fatal to ferrets as well as dogs, so this is vital. Shots against feline distemper and parvo are not necessary.

                      If you don’t plan to breed your ferret, get it neutered. In females, this is a life or death requirement. Female ferrets come into season at about seven months old, and they STAY in season until they are bred. If they arent bred, then they can often die of aplasmic anaemia…the risks of having a permanent period are obvious. Neutering ferrets also makes them much tamer and less likely to bite, and stops them smelling bad.

                      Ferret housing

                      Ferrets can be kept outdoor in hutches, but if your ferret is to be a pet, there is really little point. If you want a tame ferret it needs to be around people as often as possible, so an indoor cage in a busy part of the house is better for them, they are not shy animals! A minimum floor space for two ferrets would be six foot…three foot long by two foot wide or similar. Better would be nine foot of floor space…three foot by three foot. I currently have a six ferret family in a six-by-two foot cage with five storeys. However, ferrets love to climb and utilising space is a great idea…a multi-storey cage with a smaller “foot print” (base size) is completely acceptable also. Cages are best constructed of wire with a plastic base, or wood back and sides and a wire front. Mostly plastic cages or glass ones aren’t good for ferrets as they need a lot of ventilation.

                      Food bowls should be the heavy stoneware type, although this usually doesn’t stop the ferrets tipping them up, and water should be provided in a vertical drop-feeder similar to the kind used for rabbits.

                      Ferrets will learn to go in a litter box, placing it on one side of the cage is usually enough encouragement for them to go. It can be filled with regular cat litter. This is important as you cant really use wood shaving as bedding for ferrets, it contains toxins that are very bad for them. Most people use old carpet, towels or bits of rug to floor their ferret cage, so the litter pan is of obvious importance! Straw or hay could be used, but it gets dusty, also it stinks when wet. Another item used is corn-cob granules. They have the benefit of being good for the environment, dust-free and biological. However, if swallowed they swell in the gut, so this has to be kept in mind.

                      Ferrets are playful creatures and toys in the cage are a must. Cloth tunnels are a favourite with ferrets. You can make them by cutting the arm of an old sweater, or buying swanky ones from the shops. They also love hammocks suspended from the roof of the cage, and will often use this as their bed. A great toy to have in the cage is a box filled with sand or chinchilla dust. Ferrets love to dig and will have great fun with this…it will make a terrible mess of the cage though. Small tug ropes of the kind used for dogs will be enjoyed, as will bells.

                      Ferret feeding

                      Most of the commercial ferret food on the market has actually been designed with fur animals in mind…i.e mink. However, because its quite hard to get hold of ferret food, they will overprice the stuff even though it isn’t designed with ferrets in mind. As a result, some people prefer to feed their ferrets on high quality cat food. Dog food is NOT suitable for ferrets, it isn’t high enough in animal protein. Ferrets need a minimum of 34% protein and 22% fat, they also need taurine, which isn‘t found in dog food…cat food is better in this respect.. So a lot of pet owners will feed their weasels on Iams or something similar (if you like animals, I suggest you steer clear of Iams though, because they aren’t above torturing cats and dogs to develop new products). I personally feed mine Burns cat food, which is quite easy to get hold of and seems to fit their nutritional requirements fine, and has the bonus of being a lot healthier than most mass-produced pet food.

                      The bulk of a ferrets food should be dry…its better for their teeth and wet food decomposes quickly, making it not a very good choice for caged pet ferrets (they should always have food available).

                      For treats, ferrets will eat pretty much anything! Steer clear of chocolate, and don’t feed nuts (they impact in the gut) and you should be fine. A little sugar is OK for ferrets, just don’t go overboard. Some fave ferret treats include small pieces of cooked meat, banana, raisins (only one or two), peanut butter, bits of pear, some cat or dog treats, rice cakes and wheat crackers. Try your ferret with a bit of everything, they are total gut buckets. Ferrets love dairy, but it gives them diarrhoea so only give them a tiny lick of milk or ice cream (yes, they love ice cream!). They also cant take too much fibre, so avoid feeding them lots of grains or fruit n veg. Obviously keep sugar to a minimum. Ferrets love the fake fruity red liquorice you get in sweet shops, and a little taste wont do them any harm. A great ferret treat is a liquid vitamin supplement formulated specially for ferrets, Ferretone and Ferretvite are examples. Ferrets LOVE the taste of this stuff, and it makes a great training tool.

                      Ferret training

                      Ferret kits naturally play fight each other. Ferrets don’t realise that your skin is thicker than theirs, and that a bite can cut to the bone. If a baby ferret bites you, its only in play, and as ferrets are so easy to train, they quickly grow out of it. “Scruffing” a ferret (picking it up by the scruff of the neck, but not so its feet come off the ground), and making hissing noises and saying no loudly, works well, as its similar to what the ferrets mother would do. Other techniques involve flicking the ferrets nose, not too hard, but this will just encourage some to bite more, or squirting them with water or bitter apple from a spray bottle (ferrets arent so fond of water, so this one works well). Another favourite is putting the ferret back in the cage when he misbehaves. Ferrets love to explore, so this is the ultimate punishment. Of course, mistreated ferrets will bite out of fear, and this is much harder to fix. As always, positive reinforcement (rewards) work much better than punishment. A food treat, a lick of Ferretvite or a cuddle or play when the ferret behaves well is good practise.

                      Ferret-proofing

                      As I’ve mentioned, ferrets shouldn’t be kept in cages all the time. Ferrets need at least three to four hours of out-of-cage time a day, and some of this should be left to exploring. Ferrets are agile, fast and very clever, and they are also the most accident prone animal you are EVER likely to meet.

                      Firstly, they will eat ANYTHING. Carpets, shoes, washing up liquid and detergent included. Ferrets love to eat rubber and foam, and anything else with a springy texture, it is one of their favourite pastimes. It blocks their intestines and can result in death, or at least very expensive vets fees. You have to remove anything that contains rubber and foam when allowing your ferrets free-roaming time, or keep a very close eye on them. They will eat the rubbery backing on some carpets and rugs, the plasticity/rubbery coating on electrical wires, the buttons of the remote control, the soles of shoes, pencil erasers, condoms, anything they can get their little teeth on. They also, for some insane reason, love the taste of soap. A little lick of soap will do a ferret no more harm than diarrhoea, but a few bites could be fatal to them.

                      Secondly, they can get inside everything. That means up the back of washing machines, tumble dryer pipes, into the back of sofas and recliners, into ovens and dishwashers, into cabinets and fridges, baths and toilets, you name it. Its best to keep ferrets out of living rooms and kitchens if there is lots of stuff for them to get into. If a ferret gets into the spring-lining of a sofa or a bed, its very dangerous, especially if you come and sit on the bed. Recliners are worse. You cannot have a recliner if you have a ferret, simple as that…they WILL climb into the mechanism and get crushed. I have had one ferret die this way, known two others personally to die from it, and heard countless stories about it.

                      Thirdly, they like to dig. This may include house plants and your carpet and doors. Be warned.

                      Toys for ferrets have to be designed in mind with their incredibly sharp teeth in mind. They will tear most rubber to bits and eat it.

                      You can ferret-proof and make certain parts of your home ferret-safe, it involves getting a book on ferrets and making a LOT of changes in the area your ferrets will occupy when they are free-roaming.

                      One or more ferrets?

                      A ferret can live happily on its own given plenty of love and attention. However two or more will keep each other company and be more fun. They’re also double the cost of vaccinations, neutering and a bigger cage, and double the trouble. Two or more ferrets can prove costly in time, patience and money.

                      Boys or girls?

                      If they are neutered it doesn’t matter, both have similar temperament and you can keep both sexes in the same cage. Boys are bigger (they can weigh twice as much) and they have a wider, more cat-like face. But there is little difference temperament-wise.

                      My ferrets

                      My first ferrets came from a horrible local boy who kept ferrets for rabbiting. He didn’t realise he had two of the opposite sex in the same hutch, and they had five babies. I learned about this, and also learned that his dad had insisted that he drown the ferrets, rather than finding them a good home, and naturally this disgusted me. I offered to buy them instead. (the buggers charged me £40 for them, even though they were going to kill them otherwise anyway) . Because they are from working stock they have proved a bit harder to tame than ferrets from a strain of pets. There was two jills (female ferrets), who were both albinos, and three hobs (boys) who were all polecat coloured. I called them Dweezil, Moon Unit (after Frank Zappa’s kids), Frank, Pogo and Bandit. That was four years ago. Bandit died a year ago unfortunately (the incident with the recliner), and Frank had to be put to sleep, the rest are still happy and healthy, and barring complications (or eating things that are bad for them) will live another four or six years, I’ve also taken on two more babies, Gogo, a silver mitt, and Nala, a chamagne (ferrets come in a variety of colours just like other pets).

                      Why ferrets rock as pets

                      I’d got as far as saying that ferrets are probably one of the best pets you can have. They are easily as intelligent as dogs and cats, but don’t require as much space or care are dogs. They have the benefits of being able to be kept in a cage, like small pets (although they need plenty of play-time outside the cage). But ferrets are way smarter than small pets like rabbits.

                      A ferrets intelligence is one of the best things about it. They are amazing agile, smart and amusing little companion animals. I have seen ferrets pull off amazing feats for animals of their size and supposed intelligence level. I once watched Dweezil trying to get into our full-size bin in the kitchen. When he realised he was too short, he proceeded to push the bin over to the dining table, jump on one of the chairs, jump on the table and then jump into the bin! Ferrets can also learn to open bottle tops and zippers (a friend of mine had his camera pinched by one of my ferrets) and pull open cabinets. They excel at finding routes to high places (shelves and cabinets) in your house that will absolutely amaze you. They are literally like little monkeys. Watching them ferret around makes them one of the most interesting house-pets you could possibly have!

                      Secondly, they are absolutely hilarious little creatures. They have a curious little habit affectionately known as “the Ferret War-Dance”. They bounce about, often just with their front teeth, with their back arched, head swinging about and mouth wide open, sometimes hissing and chirping. it’s the funniest thing ever and its there way of saying “I want to play”. There is also the “flat ferret” in which the ferret flattens himself on the floor like a miniature speedbump…its his way of saying “cuddle me”. A third funny behaviour is their sleeping habits. Ferrets are incredibly deep sleepers, to the point where you can pick them up without waking them up…many a ferret owner has rushed his or her pet to the vet to find out whats wrong, only to find the little monster awake on arrival. The mishaps and adventures a pet ferret gets into make them an absolute riot as a pet, as do their funny little behaviours, if you are fit enough to chase after them and get them out of trouble, and you have a good sense of humour.

                      Thirdly, if you want a pet you can play with, look no further. Ferrets are like kittens with their play behaviour, unlike kittens, however, they never get tired of it. Ferrets are more play pets than cuddling pets, they would much rather be off sniffing around than sitting on your lap like a cat, and if that’s what you want in a pet, look no further. There is an amazing multitude of games you can play with a ferret, which I don’t have room to go into here, but everything from tug-of-war to playing with remote controlled cars is ferret-related fun. You need a lot of energy to be able to keep up with them, but they really are incredibly fun.

                      Ferrets are also amazingly easy to train. They learn quicker than either cats and dogs, and they can learn to do tricks, although I feel its rather degrading to train an animal as if it were a circus pet. Either way, this means they will soon learn to come when called and learn litter training habits quite quickly.

                      They just seem to be much more appealing to me than more commonly kept small pets like rabbits. Rabbits seem to learn to tolerate people, but they just don’t form the bond that a ferret will with you. Ferrets are really happy in captivity given plenty of care and time. Once its well trained, a ferret will happily sit on your shoulder for hours, or sit in a pocket while you go for a walk. I cant imagine any house rabbit doing that, nor most other small pets like hamsters or guinea pigs. The possible exception would be pet rats, and I find that ferrets have a lot of similarities with them, they are both amazingly intelligent and agile little animals that bond with their owners in a similar way to a cat or dog. Ferrets, along with rats, really are the best pet I think you could have if you want a pet to love you like a dog does, but simply don’t have the room for one.

                      They are also nocturnal, so good for people who work all day. They will also tailor themselves to your habits…if you are most active when you get in from work, they will be the same. If you are more active later in the night, they will be too. They may sleep up to 18 hours in a day, like cats, so as long as you give them a few hours of play time, they will probably sleep the rest of the time.

                      Lastly, they have the benefits of many unusual pets. People are often interested in learning about them and their habits, and they can make an interesting talking point. I like having pets that are a little on the less ordinary side, so long as they can adequately be cared for in captivity.

                      Now the bad bits…

                      In my opinion, if you are responsible, have the time, and want an interesting pet that you can both watch and cuddle, then you cannot do better than a ferret. There are some major drawbacks to owning them however.

                      Firstly, they need more time and care than cats. A lot of people choose small pets because they are convenient and don’t need much care, but that sort of defeats the purpose if you ask me. What is the point in getting a pet if you don’t want to interact with it, or at least watch its natural behaviours. However the fact remains that ferrets are quite high-maintenance pets. If you have more than one ferret, the price can mount up very, very quickly. They don’t eat much, but they combine the costs of companion pets like dogs and cage pets, as they require vaccinations and neutering as well as cages.

                      In the same vein, if you don’t give a ferret plenty of time and attention, then you will end up with a vicious little monster. Ferrets are not cage-pets and need at least three hours out of their cage. Left in their cage they will develop serious mental problems. While this is true of all caged pets, leaving a rabbit caged all the time will result in stereotyped behaviour (a sign of mental disturbance), in a ferret these problems could cost you a finger or an eye. An unhappy ferret will bite you.

                      Moreover, ferrets and children do not mix. A lot of American ferret authors give information on how to make sure ferret snd children coexist peacefully, but my advise is, if you have a kid under 13, do NOT get a ferret. Ferrets will not tolerate rough handling as a more patient dog might, they are delicate and if hurt or scared they WILL bite. And ferret bites really are as painful as they say. Ferrets also arent too great with other pets. Cats and dogs might be OK, with supervision, and they may even become great friends. However, any other house pets, including rabbits, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, lizards, small snakes, even fish, are what a ferret will consider dinner. You can keep ferrets with these pets, so long as the ferrets are never allowed access to their rooms, as just the smell of the ferrets will terrorise them.

                      This is more the owner than the ferrets fault, but ferrets accident-prone nature means things can end in tears. If you don’t take suitable precautions your ferret could end up crushed in bed-springs or recliners, swallowing something that is fatal to it, escaping and getting lost, drowning in your toilet, or meet many other nasty fates.

                      The only other real disadvantage to keeping ferrets are peoples prejudice about them. They are reputed as smelly and vicious, and no matter how cute your critter is, you keep ferrets away from people who think this. There are many people who will claim a ferret bit them and try to have them put down…this has happened to me in the past with a ferret who has never bitten anyone.

                      In conclusion, ferrets get a bit of an unfair deal from word-of-mouth. Ferrets are no more vicious than dogs are cats, they take up less space and are just as loving and smart. If you want an unusual pet that will still learn to love you, and you’re willing to donate the time and money proper ferret care needs, you can’t really get any better than these cute little weasels.




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                        18.09.2002 19:08
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                        Hey folks, I’ve been a bit absent of late, due to not attending college, getting very drunk and cutting my fingers on guitar strings. Why do the damn things have to be made of metal, I ask you? I've been writing so many ops on music of late that I thought it was time for a change of pace. And what is one of my biggest loves in life besides indie music, indie boys, Wicca and generally anything weird? Animals of course! When it comes to pets you can't really surprise me. They know me by name at all the local animal shelters (I never buy from pet shops, its financing a trade I have no interest in financing) and I've kept mice, rats, chinchillas, chipmunks (for a brief spell), rabbits, dogs, a cat, even a pony at one point. The weirdest thing I've ever kept was looking after a mates’ Chilean rose tarantula while he was on holiday- not an experience I am keen to repeat, I hate spiders. Almost as much as I hate wasps. When I went to an animal shelter with the intention of getting a kitten, and then came back with three kits (a kit is a baby ferret) my dad went absolutely berserk. However, once they were tamed, he warmed to them considerably. Ferrets reputation precedes them. While I’m not going to lie, a nasty ferret bite can cut to the bone, they can become as tame and sweet natured as dogs. And they don’t smell any worse than your average caged animal, so long as they are neutered, descented (a process where their scent glands are removed), cleaned regularly, and food isn’t left in the cage to rot. A bit about the ferret The ferret is the tame form of the European polecat, which is a wild creature by nature (bear this in mind when bringing a kit home). They belong to the mustelid family, which is a canine group that includes otters, mink, weasels, and skunks, with the biggest member of the family being the wolverine. Mustelids are typically long-bodied and slinky, have a
                        curious elastic gait and VERY sharp teeth, and cute faces with big dark eyes. Apparently there are around 100'000 domesticated ferrets in the UK. Ferrets are the only members of the mustelid family to become tame on the whole. I hear from time to time of people keeping mink as pets. I assume mink are essentially the same to care for, but I doubt very much if they can be tamed to the degree of a ferret. Although I’d rather see a mink in a pet cage than in a fur farm cage. And of course, the Americans, being American, have been known to keep otters and, get this, SKUNKS!!!! Anyway, moving on, this isn’t a review of the animal family in general. I won't go into working ferrets as this review is about ferrets as pets. But because of the nature of a ferrets 'work' coupled with wild animal instincts (never forget, ferrets are not cats or dogs who have been kept in captivity for thousands of years. You should treat a strange ferret as you might treat a tiger-it can probably cause you just as much pain ;-) they can be very wild to start out with. Why the HELL would you want a ferret? They’re dirty, stinky, and vicious animals that can never be tamed properly. Right? Wrong. If handled well as babies, then a kit will probably be half tamed by the time it reaches your house. It will already know that biting is a no-no (although it may well still need to be encouraged to not nip), and that wriggling won’t get it what it wants. If a ferret is from a working family, then it probably won’t be so tame, but taming a ferret is easy, they seem to enjoy human company. Ferrets are very clean, like cats they wash themselves regularly. Like cats, they also get hairballs, more on that later. An un-neutered ferret stinks to high heaven, and they have scent glands, which can be removed painlessly. Once a ferret is neutered and descented, then it is no smellier than your average small caged anima
                        l. <b r> In North America, ferrets are statistically third most popular pet in the country. They can’t all be wrong! Ferrets are very cute, with little raccoon faces and pouty chins. The white ones are particularly appealing. They’re endlessly playful, and can tailor their lifestyle to suit yours (sleeping while you work, ready to play when you come home). They are less demanding than dogs or cats, but just as loving, and they get to know you better than most small pets (with the exception of chinchillas perhaps). They never grow up, a dog grows out of its playful puppy stage, but a ferret stays just as playful throughout its lifetime. Its likely to live to about eight or so years, so you can bond with it. Also, ferrets are fascinating to watch and keep. They have several odd habits (you could set off a firework beside a ferrets cage while its asleep and it wouldn’t wake up), they’re play routines are often hilarious, and they can be incredibly endearing. Why wouldn’t you want a ferret? Like I’ve said, a tame ferret will never bite, unless under extreme circumstances. And if those arise, it can bite you right through to the bone. And if it isn’t tamed properly, you’re screwed, because it will probably bite freely. A ferret needs a lot of handling and free time to run around out of its cage (under supervision), probably at least two hours a day. If you leave a ferret in a cage, even a big one, all the time, it will end up either listless or completely insane. Or both. Just because a ferret needs to be caged, don’t think of it as in the ‘small animal’ category with rabbits and hamsters. They are more like companion animals, such as dogs and cats. And dont think a ferret can run free in your house either, they are just too delicate and inquisitive. It is very very difficult to litter train a ferret to the degree a cat reaches. There may well be occasi
                        onal accidents during out of cage-playtime. Like dogs, they need jabs against distemper. They also have a lot of possible health problems. They can develop allergies to vaccinations, they can catch common col ds, and unsprayed, unmated jills (girl ferrets) can develop internal bleeding. They need regular doses of hairball medicine and regular checkups. A ferret cage should be as large as you can possibly allow, nothing less than 90cm X 60cm X 60cm, and that will only keep two ferrets at a push. If you plan to let your ferret have plenty of playtime, a cage of this size is acceptable. Do you have room for something this size? When you shouldn’t keep a ferret When you have children under double figures. As well meaning as they might be, they can be unintentionally rough and lose a finger for their trouble. When you want something that doesn’t need much care. They aren’t really that hard to look after, but there is a lot of risk for injury (their favourite foods include rubber and sponge and they enjoy sleeping in washing machines hoses and dishwashers), and like I said, they need a lot of handling. Think twice if you have other small furries of the vegetarian kind, or herps. These are a ferret’s natural prey, and they might be trained to not eat them, but your small animals will never be safe. So if you keep rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, rats, snakes, lizards or other small creatures, keep them in a different room from the ferret (even the ferret smell will probably terrorize the small animal, and the small animal smell will drive the ferret nuts). Also consider putting foolproof locks, even padlocks, on the small animal cages, because ferrets are like monkeys. They always find a way out of anywhere and into anywhere. If you are timid around animals. Ferrets need firm, confident handling from the start. If your nervous and jumpy ferrets will see your fingers as very funny
                        looking mice (like those hairless ones!) Weighed up the pros and cons? Here’s how to get a ferret. Where to buy it- to start off with, pet shops are probably out. Even the big ones like PetsMart don’t seem to stock ferrets, and besides, (if you manage to fin d a pet shop ferret) like other animals from these places, they aren’t well handled and are usually very stressed and wild. Which is OK if your buying a fairly harmless animal like a hamster, but ferrets are potentially dangerous animals. Breeders may well be your best bet. You can get pretty colours if you look around long enough (white ferrets make very popular pets and are adorable, but you can get silver ferrets, sandy ferrets, and butterscotch ferrets, You can get them unmarked, or with mitts- white feet, panda and badger markings), the ferret is likely to handled all of its life, and so will be ridiculously tame, and perhaps will already be neutered, descented and had its first round of jabs. You can also get kits easily from dealers, and he or she will be happy to advise you about care of the ferret, Think twice about buying a ferret from working stock. These aren’t usually as well handled, or gently handled, and may have a fear of humans. Also, because they are from working stock, the tendancy to bite will be bred into them. If you fall in love with a working ferret kit, by all means take it home, but an adult working ferret is a different matter, as not only will it seldom make a good pet, its unlikely be to neutered and moreover, will probably never be a happy pet, having been used to lots of running around after rabbits. However, finding a ferret breeder is not an easy task. Animal shelters don’t often carry animals like ferrets, at least not in the UK, and when they do, they are likely to be older animals, however I think there are a few ferret specific shelters in the South of England. If you do manage to find a shelter ferret t
                        hough, it will probably be very tame, and the staff will probably know its personality very well. Also, your helping out a good cause, and homing a healthy animal that may well have been put down otherwise. When choosing your ferret, all the usual signs of healthy animals should apply . Eyes should be clear and bright, eyes, ears, tail area, and mouth should all be clean and free of discharge. Teeth and claws should not be broken or deformed. There should be no bald spots or major lumps or bumps on the body, Don’t worry if your chosen ferret is shivering in the corner of its cage, ferrets shiver when excited and when they first wake up. The body should be long, slender and agile. Apart from this, whether you choose a dozey, sleepy one or a little firecracker is entirely up to you. Male or female? Neutered ferrets of either sex make great pets. Male ferrets are called hobs (neutered ones gibs) and are usually a bit bigger, and may be a little more boisterous. Female ferrets are called jills, or, delightfully, if spayed, sprites. In short, a neutered ferret of either sex will be a good pet. Kit or adult? I always preferred baby ferrets because they bond to you better. Get a single ferret and it will become your best mate for life, get two or more and they’ll be best mates, but will happily include you in the gang. You can also train a kit ferret to your preferences, and will have its full five to eight year lifespan to spend with it. However, a well-trained adult won’t require any kind of training, will already have gone through its mad stage (kit ferrets go through a stage of being little monsters, unlike kids they grow out of it) and will be a little calmer. However, an ill-trained grown ferret will be a nightmare to coax out of bad habits, and it is harder to introduce two or more grown ferrets in the same cage, whereas kits will usually learn to love or tolerate each other. One or more? Because ferrets love human company so much, a lone ferret will do fine as long as it is getting sufficient attention from its owner, and maximum out of cage playtime, and lots of toys. If you’re out most of the day, don’t sweat it. Ferrets sleep 14-18 hours a day anyway, and it c an tailor its habits to your coming and goings. If you want two or more ferrets, your best bet is either to choose from the same litter, or to introduce them as kits, its usually very easy. Two or more adult ferrets is a different matter altogether. They must be kept in separate cages at first and then slowly introduced. Keep in mind a pack of ferrets isn’t just multiple caging, multiple food and multiple space and time. Its multiple vets jabs, multiple checkups, and multiple treatment should they catch something or have a rubber eating fest (ferrets eat ANYTHING). Colour coding The most common ferret colour is sable, known in the UK as polecat colouring. The undercoat is creamy-white to yellow, and the guard hairs are a warm, dark brown, like dark chocolate. Polecats usually have a very distinctive raccoon-like mask. The eyes tend to be black or dark brown, and the nose pink, mottled, brown or black. You can also get black sables and chocolate sables (who are milk chocolate coloured). Cinnamon ferrets are real redheads, they can be dull reddish-brown, or ever the beautiful bright colour of an Irish setter dog (these are pretty damn rare though). The undercoat is usually gold and the mask is pale or non-existent. Albino and white ferrets are common as pets. The whites can sometimes be more creamy-yellow, especially unneutered animals. True albinos have pink paw pads, noses, and eyes. They are very appealing and cuddly looking. Silver and Pewter ferrets are, like you might imagine, grey, pewter is darker, often a gun-metal colour Butterscotch ferrets are very, very beautiful, and are a kind of fudgey-tof
                        fee colour, or sometimes honey or gold, the colour in them may vary, while champagnes are tan/beige coloured. Mitted ferrets have white socks, and can occur in any colour. Butterscotch and silver mitts are particularly beautiful. Badger ferrets have white blazes on the face, and panda ferrets are white from nose to shoulder and a white bibs, fully dressed pandas also have four white socks and a white tail tip. Unfortunately, beautiful as badgers and pandas are, they are genetically prone to deafness. You can also get Siamese marked ferrets, Dalmatian marked ferrets and roan ferrets (these are far more common in the US and hard to find over here). If you’re after a pet colour isn’t all that important, and it shouldn’t matter if your pewter mitt is missing a white sock. The important part is the personality. Also, be careful when setting your sights on a particular colour. Whites, silver and butterscotches aren’t too hard to find, neither are mitts, but badgers, pandas, and the other colour markings can be very hard to find in the UK. And here are the basics of looking after one- The cage- As I mentioned, a cage should be no smaller than 90CM X 60Cm X 60CM. Multi level cages are best, they allow room for running around and climbing. You can buy a cage off the net; ferretstore does some good ones of all sizes, including five-foot penthouses! One of those decent sized chinchilla or chipmunk cages will also do, remember chinchillas don’t climb as much as ferrets however, and taller is better. If you can’t find or afford one, making your own is a viable alternative. Nowadays you can also get those rotastak systems for ferrets (you know, all the interconnecting tubes and stuff) and with a little imagination you can create a veritable ferret wonderland. Ferrets can also be kept outside, but these are usually working varieties. If you do choose to keep an outdoors ferret, remember it will nev
                        er be as tame as a house ferret, and also single level hutches aren’t as good as two or even three level ones, and a run makes life better still for the animal. For those on a budget and not too good with the DIY, some online places (ferretstore again) do building block cages, in which you buy a level at a time. A ferret cage needs a nice, enclosed nest box (ferrets are burrowers and enjoy sleeping in cosy places), and plenty to keep it occupied while in its cage. Being burrowers, ferrets adore tubes. You can make these out of the legs of old trousers, or buy proper plastic ones. A ball will also go a long way in a ferret cage. Avoid foamy or spongey ones, ferrets love to eat these, and eating them can lead to death. For the same reason rubber, even the hard kind dog balls are made of, are out of bounds. Ping pong balls are the best bet, their nice and small. When they dent or tear, bin them instantly, as ferrets will eat these too. Solid plastic cat balls with bells inside are also a good idea, and tennis balls make good play toys outside of the cage. Put a couple of ferret hammocks in the cage too, ferrets love curling up and jumping on these. Small stuffed toys (with button eyes and other chewables removed) are well loved too, as well as those rope tug toys for dogs. Glass or plastic jars are another ferret favourite. If your cage allows room for a sandbox for digging, your fuzzy will love you for it. Bedding A lot of owners use old carpet in ferret cages, but I find this gets smelly quickly and easily, especially if the ferret isn’t litter trained, so I tend to stick with the old small animal favourite of wood shavings or perhaps hay (although the latter gets smelly too). It should be fairly thickly laid too. The carpet approach does have its advantages however, ferrets have delicate feet. If the upper shelves and ladders on the cage are made of metal wire, then it’s a good idea to cover it in carpet materi
                        al (football socks work great on ladders). Feeding bowls As with all animals, the vertical hopper drinkers are the best way for ferrets. If however, you use carpet in your cage, heavy earthenware water bowls are a good idea (because there isn't any bedding to scatter into the bowl). The same goes for the food bowl, it must be as heavy as possible. Feeding It is fairly easy nowadays to get specialised ferret food, so there is no need to feed dry cat food, although good quality stuff can be used in a pinch. A ferrets diet should be made up of 22-28% animal protein, while the fat content should be 18-22%. The main ingredients should be from poultry or fish. You may need to mail order ferret food unless you live near a big superstore like PetsMart. Dry food should be the staple of the caged ferret. Using its teeth in this way keeps them clean and strong, ferrets on canned food or meat diets tend to have poor teeth, and also, it makes their toilet a lot smellier. Canned food is a nice treat, but dry food is the best way to go, especially since there should always be food available in the cage as ferrets eat about every four hours, and obviously this isn’t hygienic with canned food. Good treats for ferrets- Liquid skin and coat supplements- not only are these good for your ferrets appearances, they absolutely adore the stuff. Ferretone is the most available one I believe. Don’t go overboard with these, as they can be bad for the ferret in excess, but they make great training aids. Specialised ferret treats- not so available in the UK, but keep an eye out anyway. Small chunks of cooked meat- chicken; liver, fish and boneless meat are ferret faves. Meat-based baby foods. Small pieces of fruit and veg- although strictly carnivorous, ferrets do enjoy a bit of veg, just not too often. Faves include peppers, cucumbers, cooked peas, kiwi, apple and banana. Raisins are a big favourite with ferre
                        ts, along with dried fruits, but feed these sparingly as they are high in sugar. Little bits of toast, pasta or cereal. Don’t go overboard with this, it isn’t good for them. Bad treats for ferrets- Sugar, cake, chocolate, etc. Ferrets are mad for red liquorice. Breaking my own rules here, the odd tiny bit wont do them much harm and they’ll love you for it. But as a rule, steer clear. Steer clear of salty foods. Avoid dairy, except maybe a lick off a creamy or milky finger. Again, they adore it, but it gives them diarrhoea. Ferret handling- If your unsure of a new ferrets temperament, it might be a good idea to invest in a pair of thick gloves for the first few handlings. Better still, if you can get hold of bitter apple or lemon from a pet store (a pet deterrent) then the ferret probably wont bite you. Move slowly and confidently. When picking a ferret up simply lift it just behind its front legs out of the cage, and them cradle it, or if it’s wriggly, sit it in your lap and keep one hand around its middle. If the ferret is very stiff, then rub its back and head very gently, or massage the top of its front paws, this seems to relax them totally. The ferretone or another treat will come in handy here, and then the ferret will associate handling with pleasure. Simply place a few drops on a spoon. The more often you handle your fuzzy, the sooner it will tame. And don’t be afraid to pick it up when its sleeping, ferrets are completely dead to the world when handled and wont wake up even if you take them out of the cage. Carrying the pet around the house in a bag will get it used to you quicker too. In the case of a wriggling ferret, hold it for a minute or two before you put it back in its cage, so it doesn’t think wriggling will mean it gets its own way. But remember, a very wriggly ferret might need the toilet, so place it in its litter tray, then pick it
                        up again after. Nippers- Most kits ‘mouth’ their owners’ fingers at first. This should be gently discouraged using bitter apple or lemon, or vinegar if you can’t get hold of either. Never punish a ferret for mouthing or you might scare it into biting. Some ferrets like the taste of soap, so try using unscented stuff to discourage your fuzzy from biting. Never hit a ferret, they are far too delicate. There are several ways to discourage the ferret from biting. Saying “no” loudly and then putting the ferret in its cage might work; the other way is to scruff the ferret. Lift the ferret by the scruff on its neck (not right off the ground though, make sure its hind legs are still on terra firma) and then say “NO” very loudly and firmly. Hissing at the ferret might work too, as this is what its mother will have done. Keep your face well away from the ferret at first, just in case, and don't let children near it until it is thoroughly tame. Ferrets also seem partial to toes, so the bitter spray is the best way to go with this, combined with the above methods. Avoid wearing tights around ferrets, they love them. Playtime Ferrets should never have the free run of the house. They aren’t like dogs and cats, which learn better than to chew wires, too much can go wrong if they have the free run of the house. The best way to allow a ferret playtime is to designate it a large room or a few rooms and make sure it stays in them. First you have to ferret proof them Ferret proofing in a nutshell- Remove all potentially fatal edibles- anything made of foam, rubber, latex and sponge. Keep an eye out for cables, rubber-bottomed shoes, sink plugs, pencils with erasers, disposable cups and plates. Once again, I mention tights, as a friends dog ate a pair and he ended up having to be put to sleep. Cupboards- the best way is to tape them shut or install
                        a ferret proof catch. Sofas and chairs- Ferrets love to rip the soft backing off, and will always find a way to wriggle among the springs, which could result in them getting stuck or squashed. The best thing to do is block off access to the front and back with pieces of wood or Perspex whenever the ferret is out of its cage. Doors- er, keep them closed! A ferret loose about the house is an absolute nightmare. If your ferret scratches at the wood, repeat the wood or Perspex trick. Electric stuff- try and keep all appliances unplugged and the wires out of the way when the ferret is loose. You could try bitter apple if you can get it. Ferrets aren’t lik e puppies, which soon learn that rubber doesn’t taste particularly nice; also their teeth are sharper, so your ferret could have a punk hairstyle a’la electric shock if your not careful. Rooms to keep the ferret out of- kids rooms. All the stuffed animals, rubber and foam things are a ferret trap. Same goes for bathrooms, because of sponges, and ferrets have been known to lick soap or end up in toilet bowls. Kitchens aren’t the best of ideas either, given all the electrical appliances, and the tendancy of ferrets to fall asleep in washing machines and cookers. Keeping tabs on your fuzzy- fit it with a special H harness; you can get these at big pet stores. You may have to adjust one for a kitten if you can’t find a ferret specific one. Avoid ones made for rabbits, full-size cats or toy dogs; they are too big or wide. Some harnesses come with a bell, others, you may have to attach one. Its an easy way to be sure where the ferret it, and not step on it or lose it. Collars are another option, but if the ferret gets caught on something, then it could choke. In short, ferrets make absolutely delightful pets. Their antics will keep you amused for hours, and for some people they are the perfect pet, being the perfect pet for someone who wants something more respon
                        sive than a rabbits but less complicated to keep than a dog. Ferrets can be a major nuisance when it comes to eating things they shouldn’t and hiding places they shouldn’t, they really can be worth the effort. They are like endlessly playful puppies, and it only takes three simple steps to rid a ferret of its two main problems- viciousness and odour. As long as it is neutered, descented and well socialised, it will become as tame as a dog. People might be a bit repulsed by them for some odd reason, but don’t knock them til you’ve tried them!

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                          24.10.2001 08:36

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                          ARE THEY As cunning as a cunning fox that studies the history and arts of slyness and cunning in the world’s most sly, mischievous university of cunning, without anyone even knowing about the scheming his cunning has got him into, and how cunningly deceptive he would be without recognition into a legion of cunning. Ferrets are even more cunning than that. As a ferret owner, for some reason I am increasingly finding myself being outsmarted by the little rogue, and as I sit here, watching England play the Albanians, I think to myself – I bet my Ferret could outsmart their defence, beat the offside trap and score a hat trick, but then he’s not quite big enough for the England shirt. Anyway, I would say that Ferrets are wonderful pets to own, for any age – they’re fantastic to have running around the house and occasionally mine has sat watching me write opinions!! Ferrets are easy to look after, they’re easy to handle, although do be careful about leaving them with young children – ferrets DO bite, but you CAN house train them and teach them to be gentle, but as the ferret is really just a member of the family, I let him train himself. Well, my brothers train him… Ferrets are unusual pets to own, but they’re fast becoming ever so popular – Jonathon Ross has many, he thinks they’re great and so do I. Ferrets are smallish, like weasels, but the best thing is they will act as security for they can be ferocious – keeping the foxes out of my garden, and away from the chickens, therefore owning a ferret if you eat your own eggs from your own chickens, is a very wise decision. Ferrets will eat fruit, bread, many other things but – seek advice from your pet store, but if you’re thinking of getting a pet for a child to look after, don’t get a Ferret. Get them a rabbit or hamster or something easier to look after – ferrets are becoming the new cats
                          – perhaps not dogs, as I rarely take my pet ferret for walks, but I would strongly suggest that you enquire about this fantastic creatures – they’re inquisitive and so very loveable and they don’t mess in the corner of the room like cats do. They’re almost as good as monkeys, something I would rarely state, as monkeys are amazing, but ferrets – they’re just comedy. 5 star pets – sleep them in a large run, enclosed area outdoors – not in a hutch or cage.

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                          22.09.2001 05:47
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                          Foxes are cunning, but… Cunning eh? As cunning as a cunning fox that studies the history and arts of slyness and cunning in the world’s most sly, mischievous university of cunning, without anyone even knowing about the scheming his cunning has got him into, and how cunningly deceptive he would be without recognition into a legion of cunning. Ferrets are even more cunning than that. As a ferret owner, for some reason I am increasingly finding myself being outsmarted by the little rogue, and as I sit here, watching England play the Albanians, I think to myself – I bet my Ferret could outsmart their defence, beat the offside trap and score a hat trick, but then he’s not quite big enough for the England shirt. Anyway, I would say that Ferrets are wonderful pets to own, for any age – they’re fantastic to have running around the house and occasionally mine has sat watching me write opinions!! Ferrets are easy to look after, they’re easy to handle, although do be careful about leaving them with young children – ferrets DO bite, but you CAN house train them and teach them to be gentle, but as the ferret is really just a member of the family, I let him train himself. Well, my brothers train him… Ferrets are unusual pets to own, but they’re fast becoming ever so popular – Jonathon Ross has many, he thinks they’re great and so do I. Ferrets are smallish, like weasels, but the best thing is they will act as security for they can be ferocious – keeping the foxes out of my garden, and away from the chickens, therefore owning a ferret if you eat your own eggs from your own chickens, is a very wise decision. Ferrets will eat fruit, bread, many other things but – seek advice from your pet store, but if you’re thinking of getting a pet for a child to look after, don’t get a Ferret. Get them a rabbit or hamster or something easier to look a
                          fter – ferrets are becoming the new cats – perhaps not dogs, as I rarely take my pet ferret for walks, but I would strongly suggest that you enquire about this fantastic creatures – they’re inquisitive and so very loveable and they don’t mess in the corner of the room like cats do. They’re almost as good as monkeys, something I would rarely state, as monkeys are amazing, but ferrets – they’re just comedy. 5 star pets – sleep them in a large run, enclosed area outdoors – not in a hutch or cage.

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                            06.09.2001 03:32
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                            Foxes are cunning, but… Cunning eh? As cunning as a cunning fox that studies the history and arts of slyness and cunning in the world’s most sly, mischievous university of cunning, without anyone even knowing about the scheming his cunning has got him into, and how cunningly deceptive he would be without recognition into a legion of cunning. Ferrets are even more cunning than that. As a ferret owner, for some reason I am increasingly finding myself being outsmarted by the little rogue, and as I sit here, watching England play the Albanians, I think to myself – I bet my Ferret could outsmart their defence, beat the offside trap and score a hat trick, but then he’s not quite big enough for the England shirt. Anyway, I would say that Ferrets are wonderful pets to own, for any age – they’re fantastic to have running around the house and occasionally mine has sat watching me write opinions!! Ferrets are easy to look after, they’re easy to handle, although do be careful about leaving them with young children – ferrets DO bite, but you CAN house train them and teach them to be gentle, but as the ferret is really just a member of the family, I let him train himself. Well, my brothers train him… Ferrets are unusual pets to own, but they’re fast becoming ever so popular – Jonathon Ross has many, he thinks they’re great and so do I. Ferrets are smallish, like weasels, but the best thing is they will act as security for they can be ferocious – keeping the foxes out of my garden, and away from the chickens, therefore owning a ferret if you eat your own eggs from your own chickens, is a very wise decision. Ferrets will eat fruit, bread, many other things but – seek advice from your pet store, but if you’re thinking of getting a pet for a child to look after, don’t get a Ferret. Get them a rabbit or hamster or something easier to look a
                            fter – ferrets are becoming the new cats – perhaps not dogs, as I rarely take my pet ferret for walks, but I would strongly suggest that you enquire about this fantastic creatures – they’re inquisitive and so very loveable and they don’t mess in the corner of the room like cats do. They’re almost as good as monkeys, something I would rarely state, as monkeys are amazing, but ferrets – they’re just comedy. 5 star pets – sleep them in a large run, enclosed area outdoors – not in a hutch or cage.

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                              25.07.2001 01:02
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                              This is my first op, so here goes… I am a great animal lover and not scared of the wide variety of creatures in the world apart from moths and Crane flies (Daddy long legs to most people). So I’m not afraid to own, a somewhat stranger animal than usual. So when I heard a friend of the family was giving ferrets out to good homes, I thought I give it a try. Receiving little Rosie (“My baby girl”) in July last year, I didn’t know what to expect. I went through a lot with her when I first got her though (she was aged 6 weeks at this point). She was really quite a vicious thing when I got home. But later found out that she couldn’t eat problem due to the fact she was the runt of the litter, so she didn’t get the access to the food as the others did. So each day I would get up at all hours to syringe feed her and tend for her. She was only tiny and quite defenceless against the huge world. However she had grew up always biting people and nobody dared hold her in case they lost a finger, so I considered giving up (that made me so upset ‘cause the only person she trusted was me and the feeling was mutual). Being the person I am, I’m not at all frightened of being bitten and scratched!!! I decided I was going to keep her, so the next important part in her life was to have her sterilised, which would stop her from acquiring a virus which would kill her. The operation was quite risky due to the fact she was still small and the smaller animals lose their body heat so quickly. I was so scared of losing her. But the procedure when fine, the only thing was she was bald on her tummy (but it’s grown back now). After the operation she calmed down a lot. She wasn’t so hyperactive and would actually let other new people hold her. Now she isn’t fussy at all who holds her and pets her, as long as she’s getting the attention she isn&#
                              8217;t bothered. Apart from my brother, you know him on here as hotmail_ptj, she still absolutely detests him and chases him, which is highly amusing and brings the family great hours on fun! The only thing I hate is when people ask me what pets I have at home and I mention the word ferrets or rats (which I used to keep) they automatically jump to the conclusion that they are dirty and nasty. No one seems to give them a chance and hear all these “horror stories” on them and take a one-sided opinion, which is unfair. I think my purpose on earth was to prove these “theories” wrong . So far I have done this. Rosie is definitely a character. She’s extremely cuddly and fun loving and enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of behind the washing machine in the kitchen. Owning a ferret has opened my eyes to the wider world of household pets you can get. I don’t think any of my family can remember live without Rosie roaming the house and chasing their feet. She is loved as part of the family and cared for as more than just a pet. I think ferrets are great pets for all ages because they are extremely playful and loving. They are non-nocturnal, so they sleep when us humans do, which is always a bonus. I think you have to be careful because they are mischievous and will go to all length to explore (She when on holiday to my auntie’s house and got her head stuck in a hole in the wall!). You have to treat them as small children and tell them off if they do something inappropriate e.g. biting = punishment is a tap on the nose and being told sternly “NO”! They will learn and once they do, you’ll have a friend for a long time, just like me!!!

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