New “2 in 1 Ferret Book”

A New Ferret Book that Includes Both Getting Started with Pet Ferrets and Ferret Toys – With Updated Information and New Material

New Ferret BookHere’s a brief description:

So you finally got that pet ferret you’ve been wanting. But now what?

Ferrets do make great pets. They are fun, quirky, lovable, playful, mischievous, and entertaining little critters. But they also require a commitment on your part. You will need to invest time, money, and energy to take care of your woozles properly. Reading our 2 in 1 Ferret Book will aid you in preparing and getting outfitted for your ferret journey – especially the ferret-cage and ferret-readiness checklists.

And then there are the toys – most likely lots of them. Just as we do for our human children, we want the best, most-stimulating toys we can afford for our pet ferrets. But how do we wade through the thousands of choices and the many manufacturers. And where is the best place to get ferret toys? And what about homemade toys?

This book contains our two top-selling ferret books with new additional material. 

Our new 2 in 1 Ferret Book will give you the basics of ferret care and the low-down on ferret toys. It’ll also save you some money – always a good thing this time of year.

Happy Holidays!

 

Ferret Proofing Your Home – Keeping Your Pet Ferrets Safe

Okay, so you’ve purchased, adopted, or rescued your first pet ferret(s). You’ve also gathered and/or purchased all the ferret cage(s), supplies, accessories, and ferret toys you think you and your new fuzzy will need. But your job isn’t finished yet.

Ferrets are surprisingly agile and nimble, and they love to burrow and tunnel into everything – Panda Ferret in Laundry Basketyes, everything. They can flatten out and crawl through cracks and into spaces (e.g., under doors, between cushions, around barriers) that seem impossibly narrow. So, if your home isn’t ready, your ferret and your possessions could be at risk.

Here, then, are a few tips to help you prepare a safe haven for your fuzzy.

  • Crawl around your ferret’s space and try your best to get a ferret’s-eye view of your home. What attractive nuisances do you see? Look for holes in the walls and in furniture cushions – a ferret can squeeze into a remarkably small space – tall cabinets from which they could fall, easily opened and entered drawers, electrical cords and drapery pulls that look like tempting chew items, climbable trash cans, and accessible toxic plants. Plug up any holes and cracks you may find, install child-proof latches and outlet covers, and put away delicate knick-knacks – anything you can do to make the place ferret safe.
  • Keep trash cans out of your ferret’s room if at all possible. If you really do need a trash can in the ferret’s space, choose one that can be sealed tightly. Trash cans not only carry germ-laden materials, but they can trap an exploring ferret inside.
  • If you plan to allow your ferret free run of the house (and, of course, you would allow this only when you or a responsible person is present), keep the bathroom door closed. Seal off the bottom as well if your fuzzy could crawl under it. As a precaution, put away all cosmetics, medications, and toiletries. If possible, install a shower door rather than using a shower curtain. Keep the toilet lid down and/or install a child-proof latch.
  • Likewise, seal off your kitchen when your ferrets are loose because they could become trapped in or around appliances or get burned when exploring the stove. As a precaution, put all food items away, including condiments.
  • Do not allow your ferrets on or near upholstered furniture. They could chew on the stuffing and fabric, which could be a choking hazard (in addition to damaging an expensive piece of furniture). They could also become trapped in reclining-chair mechanisms.
  • Also, close off your laundry area. Don’t ever let your ferret take a ride in the laundry basket on your way to doing the wash. Too many ferrets have gone through the washer and dryer cycle, unbeknownst to their owners, with tragic results.
  • Keep all chemicals, fragile items, and valuables out of the reach of your ferrets at all times.

Once your ferret is home, get into the habit of watching out for her. Carefully inspect your couch or recliner before you sit down. Close all doors slowly, including refrigerator and cabinet doors. Check your washer, dryer, and laundry basket before you do a new load. Put away all hazardous chemicals. Avoid carrying large or awkward loads if there’s a chance of stumbling over your ferret.

(N.B.: Sometimes, veterinarians will allow you to quarantine your new ferret in their offices for a week or two. Not only is this an excellent way to be sure your ferret is healthy and disease free, but it also buys you some time to prepare your home.)

For more tips on ferret safety and ferret care, see Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Training Pet Ferrets

Here is an excerpt from our book on ferret care titled Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Playtime is fun, of course, but it can also be educational. You can use playtime to teach your ferret many useful skills. Start by teaching it to come when called. It’s really easy, especially if you make the effort to say the ferret’s name often when you’re playing together: (“Hi Fuzzball!” “You like that, Fuzzball?” “What are you doing there, Fuzzball?”)

Soon, you’ll be able to call its name while offering a treat. (“Hey Fuzzball! Look what IFerret Care and Ferret Training Book have for you!”) Of course, give the treat when it comes promptly. Keep repeating this game until it has learned to associate its name with a treat. Start to withhold the treat if it seems to ignore you. Your ferret will soon get the idea that it’s better to come quickly.

Teaching your ferret to come when called makes it easier to stop bad behavior.  Say its name and a firm “No!” when it nips or bites or starts to dig somewhere it shouldn’t.

Once your pet responds its name, you can start teaching it to walk on a leash.  (See below.)

These are just some of the basic skills ferrets can learn. You’re sure to develop your own games and ferret skills over time so you’ll enjoy your pet even more.

For the more important behaviors (using the litter box, bite prevention, leash training), it’s best to start as soon as possible. Habits (both bad and good ones) start at a young age and are more easily learned or broken early.

No matter what you are trying to train your ferret to do, remember to be patient. You had to learn to crawl before you could walk. Your ferret will likewise have to learn step by step.

You also need to be consistent. Remember Pavlov’s dogs from your high-school psychology class (the ones who eventually learned to salivate at the ringing of a bell)? Your ferrets can also be conditioned to do certain things at specific times of the day. They can also be conditioned away from bad behaviors (for example, associating biting with an inevitable firm slap on the backside and a loud “NO!”), as long as they receive the same consequences EVERY time the bad behavior happens.

Consistency also helps in understanding your ferret’s personality. For instance, litter training works best when you know your ferret’s toileting pattern. Likewise, if your ferret tends to nip when you are playing a certain way, you’ll know to be watchful for it and take steps to prevent it.

Be kind also. In your rush to make your ferret the most talented animal on the block, it’s easy to be impatient. Unfortunately, your ferret will sense that impatience by your harsh tones and behavior, which will make it less willing to learn. As the saying goes, you’ll collect more flies with honey than with vinegar.

It’s also kinder to ease up on training if your ferret seems tired or sick. If it seems to be acting unusually, check to see if it has been injured or is ill. If not, then consider whether there has been any major changes in your ferret’s life lately (new member of the family, new home, missing family member).There’s no sense in putting a ferret through its paces if it is not up to it. Tomorrow is another day, after all.

Make it fun – for both of you. Remember when you were in school? Which teachers did you like best? They were probably the ones who made learning a game. Your ferret is no different. Make the learning process fun for your ferret by offering treats and by taking time out for play time together. You’re likely to find you are having more fun teaching your ferret.

If you are having trouble with any aspect of training, don’t go it alone. Look for expert help wherever you can find it. There are plenty of ferret websites that offer great tips. Your veterinarian will also have many resources, as will ferret organizations, pet stores, and animal-rescue groups. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

We hope it’s obvious that you should never resort to abusing your ferret when you are training it. It’s never right to give more than a firm-but-very-gentle swat on the behind. It’s never right to withhold food, water, or medicines or to confine your ferret to a cage for lengthy periods as punishment.

Leash Training
Taking your ferret for a walk is fun. Your ferret will have fun exploring the great outdoors, and you’ll get a chance to meet new people who are curious about your fuzzy. First, though, you’ll need to get your ferret used to wearing a harness.

To do so, have your ferret come to you and sit on your lap while you get the harness on. Harnesses and leashes are available at most pet-supply stores. You may need to try several styles to find the right one for your ferret, but generally leather collars and H-style harnesses work the best for ferrets. Plastic ones can be chewed through too easily, and stretchy ones can quickly become misshapen and useless.

At first, the ferret may balk at wearing such an ungainly contraption, but if you offer a favorite toy or treat when it’s wearing the harness, it will soon become second nature.

Once the ferret seems accustomed to the harness, you can attach the leash. Hold on to the leash and walk a few steps forward. Offer the treat and let the ferret come to you.  Walk a few more steps and offer another treat. Keep this up, and your ferret will soon be very eager for a daily walk (or run).

Never leave your ferret harnessed, leashed, or tied to a pole untended. It will try to escape and could be an easy mark for predators.

Don’t let the leash get tangled in tall grass, shrubs, or other obstacles.

If your ferret gets away from you, do your best to find it quickly. Ferrets have been domesticated for so long they could not survive long in the wild on their own.

Getting Started with Pet Ferrets is a book designed to aid new ferret owners with the basics of ferret care and ferret training.

Choosing a Vet for the Best Ferret Care

Guest Post by Michael Hearing

Ferrets make great pets, but, as we’ve mentioned before, pet ferrets are fairly high-maintenance critters. Part of that maintenance involves frequent vet visits becauseFerrets Playing ferrets are prone to several health issues. It is very important, then, that you choose a vet who is knowledgeable about, experienced in, and equipped for proper ferret care.

Here, for example, is what happened the first time Karen took her fuzzy kids, Rikki and Possum, to the vet.

We called a trusted vet we had used several times before with our dogs and cats and made an appointment. But when we (and Karen’s woozles) arrived at the vet’s office, we didn’t get to see Dr. M. Instead, we saw a young woman who was just six months out of vet school.

Now, she was friendly, easy to talk to, and generally knowledgeable about veterinarian matters, and she was a pleasure to deal with. But she had very little experience with ferrets – which she was up front about. This brand-new vet couldn’t answer many of our questions about ferret health. So Rikki and Possum got a general exam and their vaccinations and no more. We went home to research answers to our questions on ferret care and ferret health on our own.

In Ferrets for Dummies (which we consult often) Kim Schilling emphasizes the need to ask a lot of questions before you choose a vet – and not to just assume they know about ferret care, as we did. Schilling says: “Questions are your best tools. A good, professional veterinarian and staff will recognize your valid concerns and won’t hesitate to answer your questions as completely as possible.”

Schilling recommends that you ask at least a few basic questions before choosing a vet so that you can find out:

  • How long the vet has been practicing ferret medicine and how many pet ferrets he or she generally treats in typical day, week, or month
  • The vet’s experience with diagnosing and treating common ferret diseases
  • Whether the clinic stocks plenty of ferret vaccinations (e.g., USDA-approved rabies vaccine)
  • Fees for check-ups, examinations, and vaccinations
  • Whether the facility is equipped to house (overnight or even longer) ferrets that may require hospitalization
  • The vet’s level of experience in handling both routine surgeries (such as spaying and neutering) and more involved surgeries (such as tumor removal and adrenal-related surgeries)
  • What kind of continuing education the vet uses to stay abreast of recent developments in ferret medicine and the latest in surgical techniques

So, choose a vet for you fuzzy kids wisely. You wouldn’t take your other children to just any old doctor, would you?

For more information on ferret health and ferret care, see Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Ferret Health-Care Products – What Do Your Pet Ferrets Really Need?

If you’ve owned a ferret for even a short length of time, you’re probably aware that there are countless products touted as essential for ferret health. But you have to keep in mind that every ferret has his own unique needs and that no one product is suitable for allPet Ferrets Peeking Out of Ferret Cage ferrets.  So here is a breakdown of what’s available and why you should (or shouldn’t) consider these ferret-health products for your fuzzy.

Ferret Health-Maintenance Products – As you can imagine, there are many ferret-health medications. Most of them are best used under a veterinarian’s direction because improper use may mask a serious medical condition or even cause a new problem.

  • Dental-care products include tooth-cleaning gels and chewable tartar-control treats. Look for products specifically made for ferrets because treats made for dogs or other animals may break off and cause digestive problems for your pet ferrets.
  • Ear-cleaning solutions remove wax and other debris from your ferret’s ears, prevent infestation by mites, and also help cut down that distinctive ferret odor.
  • Eye solutions are excellent to apply before you shampoo your ferret. The solution forms a temporary barrier against liquid irritants, thus making bath time much more enjoyable for both you and your ferret.
  • Hairball treatments include gel formulas that act as a laxative. The gel coats hair and other small debris in the digestive tract to make it easier for your ferret to expel.

Odor-Control Products – There are many of these products that can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Odor-eliminator sprays, which can be used for a variety of animals including ferrets, neutralize the scent of urine, stools, and vomit. These products are used when the scent is already present, and typically they can be used in the air, on furniture, in the washing machine, and even in the vacuum cleaner.
  • Other sprays are available that can be applied directly onto your ferret to eliminate her distinctive scent. These can also be sprayed into the litter pan or in the cage, once daily or several times a day, to keep all odors down to a minimum.
  • There are also food and water additives that can be used to cut down on your ferret’s natural musky scent. The best of these ferret odor-control products can go a long way toward greatly reducing ferret odor.

Skin and Coat Treatments – Everyone loves a ferret with a shiny, luxurious coat. A healthy coat is a sign of a healthy ferret. There are many products available to help you keep your ferret looking good.

  • Ferret treats that include such nutrients as Omega 3, B-12 (or brewer’s yeast), fatty acids, and of course, protein, will help your fuzzy have a healthy coat.
  • Ferret shampoos and rinses clean your ferret without stripping its protective oils. Some products provide a protective coating of lanolin to prevent dryness.
  • Styptic products can be used to heal minor cuts and wounds. They are ideal for wounds that occur during nail clipping.

Vitamins and Supplements – Just as there are countless vitamins and supplements for humans, there are many varieties available for ferrets. They are available as chewable treats, liquids and sprays, and in single- or multi-nutrient forms.

  • To prevent or treat digestive problems such as Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis (ECE), diarrhea, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) look for products with protein, fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
  • High-calorie supplements should be used only for ferrets recovering from illness or surgery or otherwise very underweight. That’s because these supplements often contain sugar, which is generally not healthy for ferrets. Give such supplements only on the advice of a veterinarian and never to a ferret that has insulinoma, because of the sugar content.
  • Generally, ferrets need the following for good health: Vitamin A, Vitamin D or D3, Vitamin E, and fatty acids. Look for multivitamin supplements made specifically for ferrets and that are oil- rather than sugar-based.

Most of these health-care products supplements for pet ferrets are readily available online or at your local pet store. Follow the package directions and store them in a clean, dry location away from children and pets. Consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or problems.

So learn all you can about ferret health and ferret care to ensure healthy, happy ferrets. Ferret-health products can add many years to your pet’s life if they are used carefully. Consider which products your pet needs and start using them today.

Adrenal Gland Disease in Pet Ferrets – Be Aware

Ferrets, as you probably know if you’ve been privileged to be associated with them for any length of time, are high-maintenance pets. And one area where that high maintenance is most pronounced is ferret health. Pet ferrets, unfortunately, are prone to several health issues that you need to be aware of. A vet visit early on can often mean a longer, healthier life for your favorite fuzzies.

A fairly common health problem in older ferrets is cancer stemming from adrenal disease.Panda Ferret and Albino Ferret Playing The good news is that this condition isn’t always fatal and is in many cases treatable or at least manageable. But early detection and diagnosis and proper treatment and medical intervention are crucial.

So let’s take a look at adrenal gland disease in pet ferrets.

Adrenal glands in ferrets, just as in humans, are small endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys. (They are, of course, the glands from whose name we get the term “adrenaline.”) These glands produce important steroid hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone, and testosterone, as well as epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones play a vital role in several health areas: regulating blood glucose and electrolyte levels, increasing musculature, effective stress-related responses, and proper sexual functioning, for example. Problems arise when these glands produce either too much or too little of one or some these critical hormones.

While adrenal gland disease is fairly common in ferrets (usually ferrets three years old and older), the exact reasons why still haven’t been determined. Some of the possible causes that have been put forward by ferret experts are:

  • Prolonged and excessive stress – When animals (or people) encounter a stressful situation, the adrenal glands release adrenaline in preparation for fight or flight. When this happens too often and for long periods, adrenaline gland disease may result—just as people who are adrenaline junkies and engage in activities that bring on the fight-or-flight response often experience health issues later in life.
  • Early neutering – When pet ferrets are neutered before puberty/sexual development hormonal imbalances can result and lead to adrenal disease.
  • Unnatural light cycles – Pet ferrets living indoors are often subjected to light cycles that are far different from what they would experience in the wild. It has been suggested that this could also be a cause of adrenal gland disease.

Adrenal disease could also be the result of a combination of all three factors listed above. In any case, the main thing is to recognize the signs/symptoms of the disease early on and then take the necessary medical steps.

The signs of adrenal disease can vary depending on specific hormones involved, ferret’s sex, and stage of disease, but here are the most common:

  • Hair loss – Probably the number-one sign of adrenal disease is hair loss on the ferret’s tail, the body, or both. (Be aware, though, that hair loss doesn’t always accompany adrenal disease, and it can be intermittent and sporadic.) This characteristic hair loss usually begins at the tail and then moves up the body.
  • Muscle loss, weakness, and swollen abdomen
  • Excessive itching (perhaps accompanied by redness or flaking on the skin)
  • Unusual aggressiveness (both toward owners and other ferrets)

Further, females may display signs of anemia, and spayed females may have swollen vulva. Males may have difficulty urinating (owing to a swollen prostate), and neutered males may even display aggressive mating behavior.

The good news here is that many times diagnosing adrenal disease isn’t all that difficult. So as soon as you see any of the tell-tale signs of this disease, get you ferret to the vet as soon as possible. The possibility of adrenal gland disease is also a good reason to schedule regular vet visits.

There are several treatment options for adrenal gland disease. The best option for you and your fuzzy will be determined in large part by your ferret’s age and health and financial considerations. These treatment options range from surgery to alternative medical options such as medication (lupron, for instance), suprelorin implants, and melatonin supplementation (orally or implanted).

The main thing, though, is to understand the signs of adrenal gland disease and always be on the lookout for them. If anything seems amiss, get you ferret to the vet as soon as possible. Your fuzzy kids deserve the best care you can provide.

Check out our new book with extensive sections on ferret health and ferret care.

Pet Ferrets and . . . Warts!?

Here’s a new one for you ferret lovers. Someone recently asked me this question: “DoFerret Playing in Tube System ferrets cause warts?”

No, my friend, ferrets do not cause warts. But – and this is something a lot of people don’t know – ferrets can get warts. And through some research, I found that ferrets cannot pass warts to humans.

Warts on a human are skin growths caused by a virus in the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) family. This virus causes rapid growth of a hard protein (called keratin) in the top layer of skin, which then results in warts.

After doing some research and talking to veterinarians, I found that the “warts” on our little fuzzies are actually Subaceous Epitheliomas, wart-like tumors that are usually benign. If your woozle has anything like these, you should take your fuzzy to the vet. You should never take a chance with your fuzzy baby!

So, the answer to the original question is: “No, pet ferrets cannot pass warts to us, their human parents.”

Find out much more about ferret health and ferret care in Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

 

Inexpensive and Homemade Ferret Toys as Ferret Gifts for Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching. And if you’re like us, you’ve barely begun your shopping. When it comes to your pet ferrets, though, Christmas gift shopping gets a whole lot easier. Ferret toys for Christmas can be very inexpensive and easy to find. You may already have many of these ferret gifts lying around your house. If your ferrets can play with it, they willPanda Ferret Playing like it – and they can play with just about anything.

Here are a few ideas for ferret toys for your fuzzies’ Christmas that won’t break the bank.

  1. Christmas stocking. A Christmas stocking makes a perfect sleep sack for your fuzzy. Your ferrets will immediately climb in and make it a holiday home. Of course, the stocking needs to be big enough for your ferret to get inside easily. Also, make sure it is securely made with no jingle bells, bows, pompons, or other items that could be choking hazards.
  2. Squeaky toys. Remember that your ferret, as cute and cuddly as she is, is a predator by nature. So your carpet shark would probably love to find a toy or two that can she can attack. Just be sure that these ferret toys are made of really solid materials – those teeth were meant to gnaw, and a flimsy plastic toy won’t last through Christmas morning. (By the way, you may want to keep out of the way when your fuzzy is playing with his new toy – in its frenzy, he could mistake your toes as part of the toy.)
  3. A pan for splashing or rummaging in. You already know that your fuzzies like to dig in their litter pans, so a low pan, like a dish pan or a kitty litter pan, would be ideal. Maybe you can use the pan to wrap other toys in. When your ferrets tear through the wrapping to open their gift, they’ll find a lot of fun inside. They may have so much fun that the rest of your household can go and open their gifts in relative peace.
  4. Cat-scratching posts. Those carpeted platforms-with-columns are not just for kitty. Put one in a large, sturdy crate and snake some ferret-tunnel tubing around it. It will take only a few minutes to create a wonderland for your ferret. Best of all, when your ferret goes back in its cage, you can disassemble the playground and set it up a different way tomorrow.
  5. Cardboard boxes. Remember when your kids were small? You’d find the perfect (albeit very expensive) electronic learning toy for them, but they ended up having more fun with the box it came in. Ferrets are the same. Give them a box (perhaps the ones from your human family’s gifts), and they’ll be quite content.
  6. Plastic bags. Just as cardboard boxes make perfect toys for kids and ferrets, paper or plastic bags also work well – as long as you remove or cut off the handle portion, which could be a choking hazard. Ferrets love making noise with the crinkly material and exploring the interior.
  7. Medicine bottles. Those child-safe containers left over from prescription or over-the-counter medications are perfect. Clean them out thoroughly (and that means VERY thoroughly), dry them out, and then fill them with whatever small noisemakers you have on hand – rice, popcorn, jingle bells, etc. The child-proof caps will hold the items securely inside while your ferrets play.

For more ferret-toy ideas and recommendations take a look at Getting Started with Pet Ferrets. You can sample our new book on ferret care and ferret health at both Amazon and Smashwords.

Ferrets as Pets – Be Prepared for the Commitment

I took my fuzzy babies to the vet yesterday for a check-up and vaccinations. Boy, was it ever an ordeal for them! I think they’re still mad at me.

At one point, I was explaining to the doc how I found Rikki. And it got me reflecting later on finding this poor little creature out in the wet and cold. At the time, I was sure someone was frantic about losing their baby – until no one claimed this beautiful little animal. I checked everywhere I could think of to find her owner: pet store, vets, SPCA, ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation), and so on.

What I found out in the process was quite a shock to me.

I was informed that a lot of people buy ferrets on impulse because they are cute and Ferret Playingentertaining little animals. But then these people realize how much money and time is involved in taking care of them properly. So they just toss their ferrets outside to fend for themselves.

I can’t stress strongly enough that ferrets have been domesticated for so long, they hardly ever make it on their own.

In fact, I was shocked to find out that there are rescue foundations for ferrets just as for dogs and cats. I have a hard time thinking there are people in this world who would abandon any animal – let alone a small defenseless animal like a ferret.

What it amounts to is this. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in these sweet, adorable, funny, and loveable pets, then don’t get one.

Also, if you have young children who just have to have a pet ferret, keep in mind that, more than likely, a large share of the ferret-care burden will fall on your shoulders. Ferrets as pets take a real commitment that many children just aren’t prepared for.

So . . . make sure you are prepared for the commitment it takes to be a responsible ferret owner. For there may not someone around to take home your burdensome Mitzi or Rudy or Bella.