Ferret-Adoption Time – Ferret Shelters Filling Up

This time of year, ferret shelters are filling up, which puts a strain on limited resources. So if you’re thinking about a first or another pet ferret, now is a great time to consider ferret adoption. Below is an excerpt from a news piece that proves the point . . .

As usually happens, the Greater Chicago Ferret Association (GCFA) finds itself with an oversupply of ferrets by November (currently, 93 in a shelter that considers its cages full at 60). This overpopulation of mustelids puts a stress on all the shelter’s resources: volunteers; funds for medical needs, food and litter; and time: time for ferrets to get out for play as well as volunteers to cover giving basic food and cage-cleaning care.

Why the fall surge? Some surrenders come from students going away to school and unable to bring their pets along or people that suffer sudden allergy onset with the closing up of homes in cold weather.

The continued economic downturn, with its job losses, foreclosures, and moves to no-ferret housing account for many others. Sadly, a large number of ferrets come in as “no longer wanted” pets; from people “upgrading” to prettier and younger pets; or as strays, dumps and “trash can ferrets.” Yes, people dump live animals in dumpsters. Sometimes tied in plastic garbage bags!

So, to give the shelter’s ferrets reason to be thankful by the upcoming holidays, GCFA offers a combined membership and adoption incentive this month of November. With the tagline of “Don’t just buy a ferret, adopt some love,” GCFA offers a members-only Free Adoption Event this month.

Read more here.

Making Sure Ferret Toys are Safe

Pet ferrets, of course, love their sleep time, but play time is what really makes them light up. And that means ferret toys – and lots of ‘em. But you need to make sure the toys you get forA Collection of Ferret Toys your favorite fuzzies are truly ferret safe.

Below are a few guidelines for making sure your ferret’s toys are suitable and safe:

  1. Make sure the ferret toys you purchase are specifically designed for ferrets. Ferrets can chew through dog or cat toys in seconds, thanks to their sharp teeth and strong jaws. This means it’s possible for them chew off and ingest small bits of these toys and ingest – which can lead to choking and/or intestinal blockage.
  2. Ensure that the toys are free of small decorations that can be chewed off and swallowed. This includes ribbons, bows, jingle bells, buttons, etc. As a general rule, ferret toys and toy attachments should be at least two inches square to avoid the possibility of  the toys or their parts being swallowed.
  3. Make sure all ferret tunnels and nesting holes are at least four inches in diameter so your ferret won’t get stuck.
  4. Likewise, make sure all ball toys are at least two inches in diameter so your ferret won’t choke on them.
  5. Avoid toys made of cardboard, rubber, foam, plastic, Styrofoam, and wood chips. Also avoid easily chewable fabric, including socks, hosiery, drawstrings, etc. Use only the starch packing peanuts – and NOT Styrofoam packing peanuts – if you want a ferret dig box.
  6. Carefully examine your ferret’s toys at least once a week. Replace any loose stuffing, and repair any torn seams. Discard any plastic toys that have cracked or have loose parts. Clean any toys that have become stained, and use plain water so your ferret won’t ingest anything toxic.

Also, if your pet ferret seems to have lost interest in a favorite toy that is still in good shape, clean it and then put it aside in a hidden place for a few weeks. When you bring it out again, your ferret is likely to see it as a brand new toy.

Ferret Training – Harness Training Your Pet Ferret

Just like our human children, our fuzzy kids need fresh air and sunshine to be in their best health. It’s a good idea, then, to get your pet ferret outdoors as often as you can. But keep in mind that ferret SAFETY comes first. And a good way to ensure your ferret’s safety when Panda Ferret Playing in Ferret Toy Tunnelshe’s outdoors is by keeping her on a harness and leash. This will allow her freedom of movement while still keeping her close enough for you to ensure safety.

In the beginning, though, ferrets dislike wearing a harness because it is unfamiliar to them. But, still, that harness is important for them to wear whenever you take them outside. So you need to train them to accept and wear. Here’s how:

  1. Start when your ferret is very young (around 10 weeks old).
  2. Put the harness on your ferret. (Offer a treat if he doesn’t keep still while you put the harness on.)
  3. Let your ferret wear the harness for five minutes or so. Offer a treat and then remove the harness.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 every day until your ferret starts to feel comfortable in the harness. Gradually increase the amount of time he wears the harness.
  5. When your ferret seems to be comfortable with the harness, attach the leash (lead).
  6. Let your ferret run around the house freely with the harness and lead for a few minutes each day (similar to Steps 2-4). Monitor your ferret to be sure the leash does not get caught in furniture, doors, etc.
  7. When your ferret seems comfortable with the lead, hold the lead but let the ferret lead you.
  8. Gradually, start to use the leash to guide your ferret where you want him to go. Offer a treat each time he follows your guidance.
  9. When your ferret seems comfortable with a leash and harness, take him outdoors for short walks. Allow your ferret to explore safely, using the leash to direct him away from dangers. Lengthen your walks and extend your ferret’s range as appropriate.

Note: Always bring water and treats with you when going outside with your ferret. Make sure all your ferret’s vaccines are up to date, and do not take your ferret outside in temperatures below 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) or above 78 degrees F (26 degrees C). Most ferrets enjoy playing in snow, but if you let them do so, be sure you can rescue them from deep drifts.

Ferret Odor Revisited

If you’ve owned a pet ferret for any length of time, then you’re no doubt acquainted with your pet’s distinctive, um, ferret odor. A ferret’s unique scent can sometimes be a problem for new owners of pet ferrets. Fortunately, you have a few options if you dislike having a “stinky Ferret Odor Solutionslinky.”

First, keep in mind that a ferret’s scent is simply a natural part of its existence. Ferrets, being related to skunks, have scent glands located near the anus (although a pet ferret doesn’t use her glands for defense the way a skunk does). Usually, these glands are removed when the ferret is quite young (generally at the same time it is being spayed or neutered). And if you got your ferret from a pet store it has most likely been “de-scented.”

But in some countries removing the scent glands is considered to be abusive and therefore not performed. If you are adopting a pet ferret from outside the US, be sure to find out whether the animal has been de-scented.

If your pet has not been de-scented, he may release a distinctive (and pretty strong) musk-like odor when excited, afraid, or angry. But once your ferret has calmed down, the smell usually dissipates fairly quickly.

Removing the scent glands will eliminate most of the musky ferret odor. It may recur, however, if you don’t take care of your ferret properly. And this happens because ferrets have oil glands that also emit a musky odor.

While it may seem counterintuitive, you should NOT bath your ferret frequently to control this ferret odor. Too much bathing will actually make the problem worse because frequent baths will wash away the natural oils that actually help protect your fuzzy’s health. Bathe your ferret no more than about once a month.

(Also be aware that a persistent, strong ferret smell could signal that its teeth and/or ears could use some cleaning.  If the problem persists after you’ve thoroughly cleaned these areas, you should take your pet ferret see her vet.)

Now, while most ferret owners adjust to their fuzzies’ unique “odor,” other members of the family often do not. Family (and friends) may complain about this smell. But not to worry – this ferret odor can be controlled (though not eliminated entirely) quite easily.

You can control pet ferret odor with a product called GoodBye Odor for Ferrets. I use it because it works – and I wouldn’t be without it.

Feeding Your Pet Ferret and Ferret Food

Ferrets are carnivores and need diets high in protein and low in fat. And that means meat,Pet Ferret and Puppy Eating Ferret Food fish, and poultry.

Also, just as humans should avoid sugar and non-nutritious food, ferrets must avoid them as well. Formerly, ferret experts recommended such ferret treats s raisins, cereal, and ice cream, but they have since learned that these are not ideal and should be given to pet ferret only very infrequently if at all.

Ferrets digest their food amazingly fast, with the food traveling through  a ferret’s digestive tract in about four hours. That’s not enough time to break down vegetables (i.e., fiber). Ferrets are thus prone to bacterial infections since they cannot use fiber to push such bacteria out of the system.

In addition, you may be surprised to know that some foods can easily get stuck inside ferret intestines, which are narrower than a standard drinking straw.

Meat Protein
Generally, ferrets need a diet of 35% to 40% percent meat/animal protein. (Those with kidney or liver problems need a little less. In such cases, consult a veterinarian for the proper amount.)

As you may know, protein can come from plant or meat sources. Ferrets need meat. In fact, if you are using pre-packaged ferret food, make sure at least one to two items in the top five ingredients are meat, rather than a plant protein, grain, or sugar.

Acceptable meat protein sources are chicken, turkey, fish, egg, egg product, liver, lamb, venison, and beef. Some ferret owners claim pork products cause digestive problems.

Fat
OK, so if protein makes up 40% of the ferret diet, what about the other 60%? About half of that remainder should be fat. However, this amount varies by the age of the ferret – active kits need more, and sedentary, older ferrets need less (only about 18%).

Other foods
The remaining 30% or so of a ferret’s diet may include plant products, including plant protein (which is indeed different from meat protein). Plant protein and other fibers help to bind food together so it is less crumbly. This is where the occasional treat comes in. Good choices include soft fruits (such as apples and melons), soft vegetables (such as cucumbers), and cheese. However, these should be rare treats, indeed, never more that a ¼ teaspoon every third day or so.

Now that you know what a ferret should eat, you should also know what foods it shouldn’t eat. These include carbohydrates and sugars. Do not give your ferret dried, hard-fleshed, or sugary fruit or hard vegetables as they can block the digestive tract.

Also, avoid giving your ferret ice cream or milk as they can upset a ferret’s digestive system. Ferrets have lower levels of lactase – the enzyme that digests dairy products – than humans have.

You may think it’s cute to give your ferret “people food” like cereal, chocolate, or raisins. While in the past these were encouraged, recent studies have shown that these are not good for ferrets.

Which foods to use
There are several ferret-food options. You can use dried or canned food made especially for ferrets. You can follow a whole-prey diet or a raw-food diet, or you can use a combination of these.  Here’s what you need to know.

There is no hard and fast rule as to whether pre-packaged, raw, or whole-prey foods are best for your ferret. However, if your ferret has been eating solely a pre-packaged diet, it may be a challenge to introduce raw or whole-prey foods at first. Many owners find that combining the raw or whole-prey with the pre-packaged food acclimates their fuzzies to their new diet fairly easily.

Prepackaged foods
While it’s true that many ferret owners consider pre-processed food less expensive and easier to manage, it’s important to remember that ferret foods are not all the same. The cheaper brands may have fillers like grains and sugars that are not good for your ferret. In fact, they could cause digestive problems such as gastroenteritis, insulinomas, and digestive stones. These will not only harm your ferret; they will also lead to more veterinary visits and thus cost you more money in the long run.

Here are some widely recommended ferret-food companies:

These companies and their products are readily found online and at major pet-supply stores.

If you decide to try dry ferret food, look for a pure meat kibble – no corn, vegetables, sugars, or anything else.  Sprinkle a few drops of water on the dry kibble and heat it in the microwave for a few seconds. This will make it easier for your ferret to chew and possibly prevent a choking hazard.

Wet (canned) ferret food is usually a better option because it is easier for your ferret to eat. It also comes in different flavors – so if your fuzzy doesn’t like one type, try another the next time. However, many owners find that canned food contains so much water that their ferrets eat more of it, thus costing more in the long run. And the fuzzies may become overweight into the bargain.

Don’t think you can cheat by using food designed for cats, dogs, or other critters either. EachMarshall Premium Ferret Diet species has its own nutritional needs. Dog food was designed for dogs, cat food for cats, and so on.  A ferret needs food created for ferrets. (However, if you’re completely out of ferret food and the pet store is temporarily out of stock, you could use a very high-quality cat food for a short time. But return to ferret food as soon as possible.)

You don’t need to leave a huge amount of food in the cage. Ferrets are usually pretty good about eating only when they are hungry. Always leave some food in the cage to be ready when that hunger strikes, but check it often throughout the day.

Are You Right for a Pet Ferret?

Friends and acquaintances often ask me about getting a pet ferret. I tell them, of course, that ferrets make great pets – and then I give them my standard caveat. And that is that ferrets are high-maintenance pets and require commitment, both financially and time-wise. But as Pet Ferrets Sleeping in Laundry Basketyou suspect or maybe know already, it’s all worth it.

A prospective or new ferret owner, then, needs to determine whether he or she is the right person to own a ferret? Below are a few questions you can ask yourself to find out whether a ferret is right for you and whether you are right for a ferret.

Can I afford a pet ferret?
Buying or adopting a ferret begins at around $140. Then there is the additional $100-$200 for supplies, another $50 or so for food, and probably $300-$400 in vet bills for the first year alone. (And don’t forget various supplies and accessories like toys, litter pans, water bottles, toys, bedding, vitamins, and, of course, toys.) If you add these numbers up, you’ll see that, as with any other member of your family, there is a definite financial commitment involved.

Do I have the necessary time?
To be and remain healthy and happy, a pet ferret needs to spend a minimum of two hours each day outside the cage. They need some freedom and lots of playtime, as well as some fresh air and sunshine. And because ferrets are notorious for hiding in the most unusual places, it’s better and safer if you spend that free time with them. Also, the whole purpose of having a pet is companionship. Does your schedule permit this kind of time commitment?

Do I have the space?
A quality ferret cage is a necessary ferret accessory. Most ferret cages measure at least 18 inches high by 18 inches wide by 30 inches deep (the absolute minimum amount of space for a single ferret). Do you have a place in your home big enough to hold the cage and other accessories (for example, toys, extra bedding, litter, food, and so on)? Is that space in a separate room that can be closed off when needed (because, as mentioned above, pet ferrets need a safe play area)?

Am I tolerant and willing to adjust?
If you’ve never owned a ferret before, you may be surprised at the number of adjustments you and your family will have to make. For one thing, ferrets are very active. If you aren’t used to the sounds of animals running around like mad at seemingly all hours, your ferret may drive you crazy. Ferrets are also notorious thieves – which means you will need to be prepared to frequently retrieve small items (such as shoes and brushes) from under your bed and/or dresser. For another thing, ferrets have a distinctive musky scent, and although there are quality ferret products that help control this scent, it is still something that may take some getting used to.

Am I diligent and able to commit to a daily care regimen?
Ferrets, like all creatures, need the right kind of care in order to thrive. Otherwise, they can become sick and even die – domesticated ferrets are prone to several health issues that require constant vigilance on you part. Will you be able to keep up with a ferret’s food, water, exercise, cleaning, vitamins, supplements, vaccinations, and veterinarian visits?

Am I willing to adopt more than one ferret?
Ferrets are very social creatures and do not do well alone. That’s why many people who buy or adopt one ferret often wind up bringing in another one soon after. To be truly happy, a pet ferret needs ferret companionship (as well as your companionship, of course). So if you’ve already answered “Yes” to the first five questions, it may be a good idea to multiply those answers by at least two.

Is it legal to own a ferret in my area?
This may seem obvious, but we often forget to check such things beforehand. So keep in mind that a few states and some municipalities have banned ferrets as pets (often as a result of merely being inadequately informed about ferrets). Make sure, then, before you adopt a pet ferret, that it legal for you to do so where you live. You can find a listing of places (both states and cities) where ferrets are illegal here.

So there ya go. Now you know whether you are right for a pet ferret. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t really ever own pet ferrets – you just share your home with them. Just make sure you have plenty of ferret toys on hand to keep them occupied and happy.

Another New Ferret Story

Everyone loves a story with children and animals – especially when it has an ending that New Story for Ferret Loversmakes you smile. And that pretty well describes in broad strokes our new short story titled “Danny and Oliver: A Ferret-Rescue Tale.”

Here’s what our blurb says:

Twelve-year-old Danny McGuire loves his pet ferret, Oliver – but Danny’s parents don’t. They also think he should do more of the things “normal boys” do.

Still, Danny manages to remain fairly cheerful and keep his grades up. Oliver consoles him, his mountain-bike rides bring him solace, and his best friend Mike offers some hard-won advice.  It all works out, for the most part, until . . . things go terribly wrong.

But, then, it pays to remember that a rescue ferret can sometimes “rescue” a bad situation.

Strictly speaking “Danny and Oliver: A Ferret-Rescue Tale” is a children’s story. But it is also a story that, we think, will please ferret lovers of all ages.

How to Photograph Your Pet Ferrets

If you’re a proud ferret parent, you’re undoubtedly eager to show off your fuzzy kid(s). In addition, getting some good photos of your ferret can be a great way to track its growth and development. If you want your pet-ferret photos to look as good as those you see inPanda Ferret ferret books, magazines, and websites, here are some tips.

First of all, remember that ferrets are very active. They won’t sit still for an elegant portrait, so there is no point in trying to pose them. You’ll just have to shoot fast – and probably quite a bit – and cull the good pictures from the not-so-good.

Also, try to get your pictures without your fuzzy subjects being aware of it. You may want to time your portrait session when your ferret is just waking up, so it will be relatively calm and still.

Lighting is important, and natural lighting is usually best for pet photography. If you want to pick up the feeling of your ferret’s soft fur, try to brush his coat thoroughly right before your photo session and position lighting so that it comes from the side. Position your pet ferret near a window so the light captures the contrasting colors in the fur.

If possible, have the camera at your ferret’s eye level, rather than shooting from above. This adds immediacy to the photograph and is generally more pleasing to the viewer. Offer your ferret a favorite treat or toy and make your usual noises to attract her attention.

If possible, keep the background plain and uncluttered. A blank wall makes the best back drop.

Have someone else hold the ferret while you take the picture. Show them interacting with each other. Remember, kids and animals are always winners when it comes to photography subjects. (However, use caution if the child is not familiar with handling ferrets. Always supervise and remove the ferret if either becomes anxious or aggressive.)

There are many cute ferret costumes and hats and shirts available. Try one on your ferret and place her in an appropriate setting that matches the outfit.

Beware of flash photography – the bright light could frighten or startle your ferret.

Once you have a photo you like, you may be able to use scrapbooking accessories to create a cute montage. Consider adding cartoon “thought balloons” to add a humorous or sweet touch.

Set some photographs aside that are dated and show important characteristics of your pet ferret (unique colorings, etc.). Compare them over time and alert your vet to any changes you notice (unusual growths, drastic changes in weight, etc.). These photographs can be invaluable in diagnosing your ferret.

Photographing your pet ferrets is a great way to bond with your fuzzy and create lasting mementos. If you get what you consider to be a great shot, why not enter it in a photography contest or submit it to a ferret publication? You and your fuzzy could become famous.

Donna Cartwright – An Artist from Wales and Her Pet-Ferret Paintings

Okay, so we all know ferret lovers are a little “crazy” when it comes to our fuzzy friends. We do many things the outside world just can’t seem to understand – like having ferret pictures painted on a custom-made wooden chair.

I’ve seen a lot of searches lately for ferret gifts for humans. Well, now, I have a great idea for all the ferret lovers who visit this site . . .

Donna Cartwright, an artist from Wales – yep, that’s the UK Wales, land of unpronounceable names and misty mysterious legends – recently contacted me. She explained her work and told me about how she had been commissioned by a woman to paint ferrets on a . . . chair.

When Donna contacted me, I immediately went to her website – Ferret Paintings on Chairwww.donnacartwrightcreates.com – to look at her artwork. At the time, the ferret art wasn’t done, but I totally fell in love with her other work, especially the painted vases.

When she got the ferret-painting-adorned chair finished, Donna sent me pictures of it. I loved it!

Now, I want a chair with my fuzzies painted on it. I told my husband, and, of course, he said, “No.” But I’m still working on him. I’m the type who doesn’t really take “No” for an answer.

I encourage you to go to Donna’s site – www.donnacartwrightcreates.com – and take a look at her very impressive painting. You will love her work!

You can also contact Donna Cartwright here. I’ll keep you posted about Donna’s work (hopefully, more ferret stuff) as information and pictures become available.

Ferret Rescue Centers and Ferret Shelters for Ferret Adoption

As I’ve mentioned before, my first ferret was a “rescue” ferret. I found Rikki curled up beside myAlbino Ferret Playing truck at work on a cold, rainy night. So, with this in mind, I decided to investigate ferret rescue centers and ferret shelters. And, boy, did I get the shock of my life!

I was amazed to find out that there is at least one shelter in almost every state. There are only 6 states without any kind of rescue center or shelter. And that means there are 44 states that have them, with 1 to 15 in each of those states.

If I counted correctly, there are a total of 185 rescue centers and shelters in the US. What does that tell you about responsible ferret owners? If there are that many ferret shelters, then there are far more people who do not want to be responsible ferret lovers like us.

But if you are ready to be a responsible ferret owner and are looking for a pet ferret, I have a suggestion. I would recommend that, instead of buying a ferret at your local pet store, you check out the ferret rescue shelters in your state and adopt a ferret from one of them. There are a lot of homeless babies in need of a good home.

If you noticed, I did not say “unloved babies.” That’s because the 185 ferret shelters indicate a lot of people who love ferrets so much they are devoting their time, energy, and money to these abandoned, abused, and neglected little fuzzies.

And if you live in Canada, you’ll find 7 ferret rescue centers/shelters in your country. I also found one in New Zealand. I don’t know about other countries yet, but I’m still looking.

So . . . here’s a great big THANK YOU to all the people at those 185 ferret rescue centers/shelters – people who are giving a lot of love and care to so many fuzzy babies. Also, and especially, from Rikki Tikki Tavi and Awesome Possum (my two ferrets): “Thank You!”

Go here to see a pretty extensive list (by state) of ferret rescue centers and ferret shelters in the US.