Ferrets Forever!

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
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Location: Yakama, Washington, United States of America

Ferrets Forever!

Post by scootwhoman » Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:15 am

Although I had heard of ferrets, I had never seen one until a friend of mine, (who is subject to whims of fancy,) decided that she just had to have one. Unfortunately, she only had enough money for the ferret, and a carrier. She discovered that the ferret did not consider the carrier a home after a few days, and called me for help. I amazed myself by building a cage in a matter of hours out of hardware cloth (how can you call steel mesh 'cloth'?) and some wood that I had laying around, just before the ferret chewed its way out of the big cardboard box I had put him in.

After working through some issues such as providing drinking water, (this animal had been raised in cages with water bottles, so a bowl of water was something to play with, not to drink,) and preparing the dry food so that the critter would be interested in it, we settled into a peaceful relationship. I actually began to get attatched to the little guy when my friend reluctantly took him back. (I had no place in the house for the huge cage that I had built, and our patio was up around 40 degrees every day by 10:00.) Unfortuately, there was a defect in the design of the cage, and this little ferret went to somewhere else. Oh, well, I thought, chalk that one up to experience.

I was quite surprised when my friend bought another ferret about a year later, as I thought that she had gotten her fill of these creatures. But this ferret turned out to be something very special. For one thing, he was a runt, and quite sickly as a pup. A vet told my friend that the ferret might survive for six months if she was lucky. Well, about two months later, she was again wanting better living quarters for her pet. Because she already had the cage that I had built previously, I took my time building the next one. It was during this period that we discovered the fault with the first one, which made me feel all guilty, because I had been sure that my friend had failed to fasten the door properly, allowing her first ferret to escape.

I delivered the cage to her, and thought nothing more about it, until about a month later, when I was visiting her, and discovered that the cage was shoved into a closet, with the ferret in it, and she had left him there by himself for over a week. I was about to dress her down for leaving a gregarious, social creature like a ferret alone for so long when she informed me that she had just gotten a job with the Forest Service, and would be living in a bunkhouse for the next four or five months, and could I take care of him for her? I live with my mother, and take care of her, and I knew that she would have a fit about having a small, furry creature resembling a large rat in the house, but my friend couldn't think of anyone else she would trust with the ferret, so I reluctantly agreed to babysit him.

Fritz turned out to be a character, very affectionate, playful, and always trying to escape the confines of the room I kept him in. (He did, a couple of times.) He eventually won my mother's heart, and mine, and I often allowed him to roam the house. I discovered that ferrets get lonely if there is no one around to play with, so we got another one, and the two of them would romp around together, wrestling, chasing each other, and having fun.

I found that ferrets are like cats, in that they will use a litter box, are very quiet, and clean themselves. But they have traits like dogs, as well, being very smell oriented, playful, and affectionate. Like dogs, they can be destructive, using their front paws to dig at doors, the soles of shoes, and furniture. Like cats, they sleep a great deal, sometimes 18 to 20 hours a day. They are also nocturnal, but will adjust so that they can play with people. I had to ferret proof the house, closing off all small openings so that the critters wouldn't vanish into the cupboard around the dishwasher, or the openings of the fireplace vents. They also like to take things and hide them, which can be annoying, but funny, as well.

Fritz lasted about 6 years, before having to be put down due to a tumor. That is somewhat better than the 6 months that the vet had forecast when he was a pup. Flower, the female that we got to keep him company, took a while to get used to the idea that he was not around any more, and now she sleeps most of the time. As soon as I can, I want to get another ferret, as I have come to consider them to be excellent pets, superior to both cats and dogs in many ways. But I sure miss Fritz.
If a little is good, more is better, and too much is just right!

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