Frequently Asked Questions

Basic

Just What Is A Ferret A ferret is a one to three pound ball of energy, which plays almost up to the day it dies. In a pet store, they steal hearts where many are bought without people finding out what they are or how to take care of them. What A Ferret Is NOT The first and most important thing is a ferret is not a caged animal such as gerbils or hamsters. They don't do well in cages for days on end. They are super intelligent and to be locked in a cage with nothing new to explore or play with will change their whole personality..........just because they sell fancy cages, doesn't mean a ferret has to stay in it all the time anymore than a person who has a fancy home has to stay in it all the time. Ferrets have personalities. They are little thinking machines that figure things out. Example: A dog will jump up and down wanting to get to something he can't reach - a ferret is going to do that once or twice, then look around the room, figure out if he gets on that stool, he can get on the arm of the chair to the back, from there on the shelf that goes to the chest and from there.........With a mind like that, how cruel to keep them caged all the time. Now when company comes or people are in and out the doors that is when they should be caged for their own protection. To cage them while you are gone is safer too, they will sleep until you get home but then it should be a fun time for all. What A Ferret Needs A ferret needs love and companionship. They do their fair share of both. They are funny, they are stress relievers, they are cute, they make you laugh when you just don't want to, and they warm your heart. To do your share, they must have at least 4 hours of out time a day, easily broken up into different segments, as they don't play 4 hours straight. They sleep a lot and thus make good pets for people who work. But they do expect and demand your attention; you were put here for that purpose. A ferret proofed room (if a ferret can get its head through, the rest of its body goes with it ) with toys and things to explore will keep your ferret friendly and healthy. But better than that is to learn games to play with them and they get so tickled at you, you will laugh with them. A caged ferret who is not allowed out will entertain himself by turning potty boxes upside down, dig in food dishes and water bowls, bite the cage and a lot of other stuff to gain attention, biting you is one of them, anything for your attention. Some also become over hyper when they finally do come out. Others will instead withdraw, get stressed out and become sick. They know depression big time, if their heart hurts, they certainly are not good companions. One, which is allowed out a lot, will soon stop most of those bad habits and put all his energy into entertaining you. Some of the fun things ferrets do with their people: chase and be chased, they love it if you drag a towel around where they can jump on and off and/or ride around the room. Oh and to be thrown in a paper bag, rolled around, and then dumped out, they'll leap for joy, circle you and jump back into the bag for you to do it again. Fun things they do with other ferrets: they wrestle and roll across the room, they race each other in tunnels, they steal together - if one can't drag something off, then two get together in team work and then they steal from each other, hilarious to watch them raid each others hidey box. Can you really keep a ferret in a cage all the time with that type of personality? Ferrets know when you are upset and may come perch on you to stare at you trying to figure out what is wrong..........but they can't stop playing long enough to cuddle cause they are very busy; very, very busy. Thus they start their fun and games and you will feel yourself getting into the mood too. Their toys need to be rotated so they have something they THINK is new, thus keeping the boredom from seeping in. They know when you are carrying in sacks of stuff, beware it is supposed to go through their "customs" before going into a room they can't go into. They love purses cause there is all sorts of fun things to drag out, either run off with or go in for another choice, so you do have to watch where you leave it laying around. And you certainly don't want to end up in a restaurant and find you have carried a ferret in with you. Personally, its a good idea to hang a birdbath dish from the ceiling to put all the TV remote controls in because it is one of their favorite toys, those little rubber buttons are delicious. If you want to drink while you watch TV, get glasses with tops on for ferrets check to see what is in the glass, best way to do that is to tip the glass over and let it all run out. Refer to their above weight and then the weight of what is in the glass and see which you think remains standing after their inspection. Ferrets are grand little animals and can bring out the protectiveness in you like no other animal seems to do. Yet they are not for everyone, as they always need interaction with humans. Do not adopt a ferret if you can't give your heart and time to them. They become very bonded and it is very painful when you become bored and give them away. It's heartbreaking to them. They have a life span of 6 to 8 years and they do a lot of interacting in that time. It's not fair to play with them when they are new to you, then let them live in a cage and finally when they get old, give them away. You are cheating them and yourself of a really good time. But if you do find you have made a mistake in obtaining a ferret, remember there are good people out here who will give them the home they need. That is what we are here for, to help find homes for ferrets.
Your house should be ferret proofed which is more intense that child proofing. You need to look for small holes. Anything the size of 1 square inch or larger is a hazard to a ferret. Run your hand along the underside of all your kick boards of your cabinets. My first ferret found holes at the connection points. I managed to get him before he got all the way in. I duck-taped it closed, thankfully no one can see it. Make sure a ferret can not get behind the refrigerator/stove/dishwasher/washing machine or dryer. And, make sure they are not stuck inside one of these machines. They don't come out the same way they went in... *shudder* They can go under doors that have a half inch space and if they think they can make a hole big enough, they will dig through your carpet to give them extra space.
It's easy to trim their nails, just put a few drops of Ferretone on their bellies and they will lick it up while you trim. Our shelter director will show you, just remember to remind her if she forgets. Cleaning their ears is not easy but only needs to be done when they look dirty. Do not give your ferret a bath unless it's gotten into something that can't be brushed off. The more you bathe them, the more they stink. Bathing dries out their fur, causing them to produce more of their body oils (musk) to try to keep the dryness from bothering them. You can safely bathe them once every 3-4 months without any negative side effects. If their smell gets strong, wash their hammocks and change their litter. I wash all ferret laundry once a week and completely change their litter every other day. I scoop solids from their litter boxes daily. They are not 100% litter box trainable. Some do really well, but others are never on target.
Ferrets can not tolerate the Texas heat. They must be kept inside and when not attended, they should be caged. They will get into things that you can't possibly imagine. One of mine jumped up onto the kitchen chair, then tried to go through the slats at the opening at the top back to a shelf. He didn't jump far enough and ended up sliding down through the slats and getting stuck half way. Luckily it squeezed him below the ribs and I was here to hear him scream. He had no long term injuries, but had I not been here it would have been much, much worse. Also, you should keep ferrets caged when you have visitors. One, the visitor may not be used to small animals at their feet and they probably won't watch the door when they come and go. Ferrets will hide at the door waiting for an opportunity to explore new areas. They don't come back on their own.
Ferrets need A LOT of ATTENTION! They love their humans and want to play with them. My guys love to ride on a towel as I drag it down the hallway. They also like it when I flap the towel gently in the air, a little above the floor. They will jump to attack it then tunnel under it when it lands. Ferrets should be allowed out of their cage at least 4 hours each and every day, longer if possible. This can be broken down into 2 hour intervals if needed. If they are caged, day in and day out, they will get bored and become destructive. They can develop a bad habit of biting when they get out, they dump their food, water and litter all over the cage. They soil their blankets and hammocks. And if that doesn't work to get your attention, they will get depressed, stop eating, and die.
All in all, ferrets are great pets, for the right person. If you can't handle little presents in your corners or sometimes in the middle of the hallway or can't handle a warm, musky smell around the house or can't commit to a ferret lifetime of fun, then they are not the right pet for you. As for me, I keep paper towels handy, litter boxes in every corner and make sure I have lots of Downy for my laundry, because to me, they are worth it. I love my ferrets. They are one of the greatest joys in my life.
Ferrets are obligate carnivores. They need high protein and fat, no carbs, so they must be fed a good quality ferret food. There are several on the market that are good including: Totally Ferret, Marshal Farms, and Natural Gold. Our rescue sells Totally Ferret Active, Totally Ferret Venison and Wysong. Do not feed ferrets anything that has sugar in it, including raisins, bananas, Yogi's, ect... A good treat would be Turkey or Chicken and Gravy baby food (Delmonte or Gerber's). Also, Foamy Fries are good too and Ferret N-Bone Chew Treat (great for their teeth).
I have compiled a list of things I recommend for every ferret owner to have in a little medical/travel/emergency kit for ferrets: (by Susan E Jones

Generic famotadine tablets 10mg - mix in 10cc water and give .25mg/kg once a day (human medication of Pepcid) Children's Benadryl liquid - give .5-2mg/kg every 8-12 hours for allergies/itchiness Neomycin ointment Benadryl topical cream for mast cell tumor flares Rescue Remedy for pets - put on pawpads and ear flaps when pet is stressed (all Health Food Stores, Wal-Mart, grocery stores) Pepto Bismol - give .25ml/kg every 4-6 hours for gastrointestinal ulcers and to help prevent Helicobacter bacterial colonization Imodium baby liquid (can use tablets to crush and add to baby food, chicken or turkey and gravy.) Feline Hairball laxatives - give 1-2ml per 48 hours when hairball suspected (can use Vaseline) (Ferret laxatives has too much sugar content) Liquid-Tinic (Pet Tonic) - give .2ml daily for iron/vitamin supplementation 1cc medication syringe and 10cc feeder syringe (you can get syringes at Feed Stores for livestock – or through vet supplies on line) Small butterfly wound closure bandages Gauze bandage rolls Scissors Eyedropper Enzymatic cat toothpaste - use Q-tip or tiny brush for cleaning teeth weekly Q-tips 3% hydrogen peroxide (can be used to induce vomiting if you pet ingests toxins) Betadine Vaseline Eyewash (.9 to .2% boric acid) Nail clippers Syptic powder Karo syrup or Honey Rectal thermometer Chemical ice pack Towels and/or wash cloths and/or baby wipes Powder soup - supplement like Uncle Jim's Duck soup, Poopin Pumpkin Jar of meat only baby food (Chicken & gravy – Turkey & gravy) Baby Pedalyte, preferable non flavored or bubble gum - best to get small bottles as once open only good for 48 hours and more preferable Re-Bound, it will also rehydrate your dehydrated ferret and be good for 30 days (we prefer to freeze half until needed and use the other half) I also recommend Alphatrak 2 blood glucose monitor Braun's infant ear thermometer Zymox enzymatic shampoo for extra itchy coats (like when blowing coat or early ACD) Touch of Mink pet shampoo with mink oil is great at replacing stripped oil for monthly baths Zymox enzymatic ear treatment w/o cortisone for treating bothersome ears Small bottle PickleJuice for a treat to hold ferret's attention while you tend to issues (AGAIN, this is not pickle juice but a high concentrate of beneficial oils for ferrets) Notebook with photo pet ID sheet for each ferret with emergency contact info, including vets. You should also have copies of all vaccinations and health conditions of each pet in here as well
Adrenal disease, which we commonly just refer to it as adrenal is a tumor growing on the adrenal gland. The patatory gland in the brain continues to secret hormones and it accumulates on the adrenal gland. There are two of these, the left and the right. The only cure is surgery but now there are different medications out that will hold this growth in abeyance. a left and a right. The left is usually easily removed, but the right, if let go for long will adhere to the heart, the kidney and such, both pushing the other organs out of position and causing death. It is said over 50 percent of ferrets will develop it in their life time. With the new vaccinations available, it is not the problem it has been in years past. BUT it is very important to be treated or you will lose your ferret much sooner than you would other wise

Signs of adrenal disease

hair loss, either in a symmetrical pattern or patchy with no apparent pattern. This may come and go depending on the season

Hair which pulls out easily not to be confused with shedding season's loss

loss of appetite

lethargy

Papery thin or translucent looking skin, sometimes with sores from scratching

excessive scratching and itchiness, especially between the shoulder blades

increase in musky body odor

excessive grooming of self or other ferrets including ear sucking

Sexual aggression and mating behavior in neutered males - with other ferrets, inanimated objects, etc

swollen vulva in spayed females with or without a mucous discharge

difficulty urinating for males - this is a sign of an enlarged prostate, a condition usually associated with adrenal disease

weakness in back legs - usually seen in advanced or extreme cases

Increased thirst, increased urination

weight loss due to a decrease in muscle mass but with a pot bellied appearance
A lot of times we think our ferret has gotten out when we can't find them in the house/apartment. But indeed they have found their own spot and are unaware you are hunting for them. This is one of the reasons to confine them to an area you are mostly in as they want to spend time with you but when they decide it is nap time, then it is "private" nap time. They can pick a spot you'll never find them in till they are ready to come out. First patrol the area to see if there is a way they could have gotten out. If you find one, then you need to look outside but if you don't, then you put water and food out in the middle of the room where you will be able to tell in an hour or so if they are still around, sometimes it is morning before you see activity. Don't forget to check dryer vents, under kitchen sinks, pipe holes, and anywhere you have items that vent to the outside and where they can be into the walls.

Now for looking outside. Notify animal control in your area immediately as well as any local vets as some people will check with them to see if they know of the ferret’s owner. And post signs. Some suggestion posting the animal has illness and on medication. I don't find that works any better than posting a reward or even with a reward. Of course, the sooner you start looking, the better. If you are a home, you can put out a carrier with some of their used litter. Their sense of smell is their greatest asset and can bring them home. Think like a ferret and you’ll understand why it is so hard for them to find their way home. Their attention span is just about nil. Everything is exciting. They may want to come home but the mind says "OH look at that" "hey over there I gotta see it" "wonder what that is over there". So it is very hard for them to backtrack when they get past the door stop into the forbidden zone. Use a squeaky toy very vigorously, going SLOWLY around the house, hedges and separate sheds. Look behind you often because you are looking everywhere you are going and trying to see as much as possible to sight them. They may hear you, turn it over in their mind and come running - you have already passed still squeaking away, and they are following you but can’t catch up. (Embarrassing but once I was out walking squeaking away and a neighbor asked me what I was doing. I said looking for my ferret – what about that one that is following you !!!.) Best times to look is as soon as you miss them then early mornings and at dusk. For some reason, they are more active at those times. If they have been out awhile, they may be taking a nap and don’t stir till those times. Talking to neighbors, posting signs, getting neighborhood kids to look (pay them $5 if they find the ferret, they'll work their little hearts out for that) and let everyone around you know your ferret is out (even if he is unknown to you snugged in a drawer inside your house). If you have areas they can get under the house, sprinkle flour around that opening (it will tell if they are coming or going - but be aware other animals will walk in it to if they are around). It will alert you activity is going on. The same with any storage building, shed or garage – sprinkle flour to check for activity. Sprinkle USED litter around the house leading to the carrier. You can also place a cage out with a hanging hammock (used unwashed hammock) in it. And one of the big things which usually brings results is posting a reward with a picture. It will alert the neighbors and they'll be keeping an eye peeled subconsciously. A lot of people wouldn't accept the reward if they found the ferret where some would start looking just to get the reward. Here at the rescue, a lot of people calling in say they found a ferret when it came sashshaying into their garage when they opened the door – apparently the sound of the garage door rising attracts them. .

If in an apartment, much of the above applies. You can notify management if you have permission to have the ferret. Even if you don’t have permission, the life of that ferret is at stake and its better to save the life than let it get into danger. They will go up to a snarling dog and ask it to be its best friend, or try to get a drink out of someone's swimming pool, fall in and drown, or get run over by a vehicle, and the worst of all, they can scare some human who thinks they are defending themselves against a vicious animal when it is war dancing and they kill it. You might be able to talk to maintenance and sometimes they will look without telling management. If you are not allowed to have them, its harder to post a sign but you can go door to door, ask for them to keep an eye out, offer a reward or if they have children ask for their help. Kids love to help and love animals (most) - its a break in their routine to get to join the search. If far enough away from Management's office, you can still spread used litter from your door to the hedges that normally surround the apartment complexes. Again the search at dawn and dusk usually are your best bet. You'd be surprised how far the little tykes can travel so if near residential home areas, you can post signs there as well as door to door canvas. Cold weather is good, they can find warm spots even in the very cold but heat, they just can't take degrees of 85 for a length of time, heat stroke is the biggest enemy.

It is dangerous out there so getting the word out this is a pet is so very important. It is very hard to keep a collar on an animal who's head is smaller than its neck so you cannot depend on that. We highly recommend MICROCHIPPING. Even if you think your ferrets stay inside ALL THE TIME, this can be a life saver when against your will, they don’t stay indoors all the time Some animal controls may not check ferrets but most all check dogs and cats so they have the equipment. If you notify them, they’ll usually know it is your ferret they picked up or was brought in but still best to have that chip in there. Also lots of people will check with local vets in your area and they can check for a microchip - good idea to post at their office if they will let you about a lost ferret. Also notify the manufacture of the microchip you used and they will put out notices to those in your area.

Life expectancy of a ferret loose is an average of 3 days. But don’t give up hope if it passes that time. Best wishes to you and your lost ferret.
Because this is the season a lot of ferrets get sick and go off their food, I want to encourage EVERYONE who has a ferret, even one, to make them some soup to have on hand and train them to eat it............you can freeze it, date, it, and keep it even in a little freezer bag if you don't want to keep it in a bowl - enough for about a week. Train your ferret(s) NOW to eat the soup, they have to be trained, usually holding them and dipping your finger in the bowl and sticking up to their mouth works till they finally are licking it off your finger - lower your finger till they start licking it out of the bowl and then when they do get sick, you can just hand them a bowl of soup or hold them while they eat and you will be bookoo steps ahead at saving your ferret. They need a bland diet when they get sick to keep from irritating that stomach. There are a lot of soup receipes out there but the one we use here (most of the time even those on facy soups like ours the best), is simple. Take a 10lb bag of chicken quarters, slow cook for 24 to 36 hours (I keep the slower cooker out on the patio as I can't take the smell as much of this as I have done - 30 lbs at a time which means 4+ days of smelling it 24 hours a day). The quarters run around $6.50 for 10 lbs. After that time, you should be able to squeeze the bones and they turn to mush in your fingers. This makes about 3 blenders full - to each blender I add 2 heaping tablespoons of PURE Pumkin (not pie filling but Pure no sugar pumpkin) and about 6 squirts of Susan's Pickle Juice (by this time we all know Susan's Pickle Juice is not pickle juice). Sometimes I add a raw egg or two to each blender, blend using a lot of juice. I keep out enough for a week and put the rest into containers large enough to last about a week. Freeze it so it stays fresh for when someone gets sick. I can either sit one (bowl, not ferret) out for a couple of hours or defrost in the microwave. It needs to be liquidy not a lump. and its good to heat where it is warm for them. Train them now before they get sick. Then you will have it on hand and be prepared. It'll make life a whole lot easier. AND another good thing is to give them a bowl as a treat ever so often, they learn to love it. Getting them off it is the trick although when they get to feeling better - they start eating their kibble again, they just want their soup too.

Adoption

We do not ship ferrets for a couple of reasons.

1. The ferrets are kept in the bottom of the plane where conditions are not as we would have for them – in the summer it is too hot in the hold so they will only ship them at night. What happens if there is a lay over that puts them in day time shipping. Sure they can unload and keep them cool while waiting to get the plane in order but then the time element plays a big part. What about the handling of bagagge being tossed around, What about all those strangers shuffling them around………….

2. Usually there are other ferret shelters closer in your area with ferrets that need homes just as much as ours. A long drive is worth a life time with a ferret so you can check further out or come to us from far away.

3. The ferrets have already been rehomed and are looking for that forever home – some think the transportation is an adventure, others it is another aspect in their lives to go through not knowing what is happening to them.

And the most important of all

4. Ferrets are animals with feelings and personalities. They are not like buying a piece of furniture or clothes – there needs to be a bonding between human and ferret. Not any ole ferret will fit in every household just as dogs have different personalities, same breed but so totally different in personalities. Since they range from hyper to laid back and anywhere inbetween, some with good habits and some with mischievous ones, one person may love one type, another would find that same one a nuisance. Looks alone won’t make them dear to your heart and my write ups catch some of their personality but adoption cannot be based on that write up alone. Just as one woman won't be compatible with every man she meets and one man won't be compatible with every female he meets - the same goes for picking out a pet you hope will live with you for life.

I do hope you understand our position. Again, there are a lot of rescue groups out there, it is worth having the right ferret for life and going to meet the ferret than just have one shipped to you.
To adopt, go to our application https://www.txferretrescue.org/apply and fill it out. Once you submit it will go to our co-ordinator. She will get back with you and give you the right answers if you got them wrong. We want you to know how to take care of ferrets and at the same time ensure that you have an idea of what you are getting involved in. It usually takes just ½ day to receive a response. If you do not hear from her within that time, you may call (817) 447-0363

Adoption Fees
1 ½ and under are $125
1 ½ to 2 ½ are $110
2 ½ to 3 ½ are $90
Any over 3 ½ are $55

Bonded pairs are discounted depending on their age.

Regardless, all ferrets have their rabies and distemper vaccination, are microchipped, and have had a health exam to check for teeth, heart, or tumor problems. Ferrets are guaranteed for 30 days against illness and 3 months against adrenal tumors. Most ferrets are raised at farms that have them spayed or neutered and scent glands removed when they are 3 to 4 weeks old.
BECAUSE ferrets and little children usually don’t mix well.

Children will be children. They love to hold fluffy cute animals. Ferrets to not like to be held. When they wiggle to get loose, the child usually holds tighter. The ferret strugges harder, the child holds tighter, ferret struggles more - till finally the ferret fears for its life and bites. The child throws the ferret down thinking ferrets are mean and possibly all animals). The ferret thinks this is how you tell a human you want down. Both leave the experience damaged.

Also children of that age do not have their balance. They lift and put their feet down to keep their balance plus they fall a lot. Ferrets run around people’s feet, under rugs or towels or things laying on the floor and they like to get people to chase them thus causing the child to not be in control as much. Therefore, the ferrets get stepped on easily, something their little bones can't tolerate.

Also, ferrets have “accidents” ( not real accidents! It’s intended kinda cause when you gotta go, you gotta go - they play so hard, they wait till the last minute and don’t make it to the potty box in time). Young children put everything into their mouth. Yep, that too.

Also children usually throw their toys back down and do that with animals too, or just drop them when done with them……. We could amaze you with tales of how many ferrets we have had come in with broken backs, jaws and other injuries due to small children. Within a 3 month period, we received three ferrets all from different homes - two paralyzed in the rear end because of young children – one we hope the acupuncture at $100 a session will help, the other had been let go too long before brought to us - we can do nothing for her but find a home that will bath her 4 or 5 times a day because she has no sensation going to the bathroom. Both are under 1 year of age. The third one received a broken jaw bad enough the bone by passed itself and had to be surgically wired back. The wire was thicker than the bone and kept loosening up where her jaw healed out of alignment. After the wire was removed, she had to have two teeth sawed off and two pulled to keep her from puncturing her gums when she ate. She still will not eat kibble, just soups. We also have many ferrets turned in (#2 cause) because it was too much work for children with ferrets. Usually the ferret is left in the cage all the time. Its hard to let the ferret out with the child because if you have to leave the room such as going to the bathroom, do you search out and put the ferret(s) up or take the child with you while you use the bathroom. It just doesn’t work.

It is a bad situation no matter how well you think your child behaves with animals. It is best to wait till they are mature enough to understand animal feel just as they do, they hurt too and also to a time when they child doesn't take up as much time as an infant does. It doesn't matter where you get the ferret from, a store, a rescue, Craig's List or a friend, all these things come into play one way or the other.
ABSOLUTELY.............We would want to make it clear to her the ferret will need her for its life time. Should she get involved in a job in a couple of years, or extra activities at school, or go to college away from home, or whatever that takes a lot of her time, her ferret will still need her. We are talking 6 to 8 years at least for the life time of the ferret if not more. They will need at least 4 hours a day of out time of playing and they need their human to play with regardless of how many ferrets she will get.

We are also here for first timers. We teach how to do nails, clean ears, best ways to play with ferrets, diseases to watch for, and generally how a ferret thinks (if anyone can tell. This is followed up with brochures for her to take home to fall back on. We also have a huge support system on Facebook where she can turn to for advice (which she may get a large variety of answers as ferret owners are very opinionated). Our Facebook is for all ferret owners regardless of where they get their ferret from. Plus, I am here if she needs to call me for an emergency or to bounce something off the wall.

I think she would also enjoy the family relationship of the group. We share pictures, tales of what our ferrets do, information on what is good and what isn't to buy for your ferret, foods and how to prepare them, and much much more. We also share each others grief when we lose our best friends. Again, it does not matter where she gets her ferret(s) from, but will say ours are completely vetted (lot of time the pet stores do not tell you it cost as much to vet them as it does to buy them) and we do stand behind our ferrets with guarantees.

Surrender

When ferrets come into our shelter, there is a specific procedure that is followed:

1. They are given a physical exam, nails trimmed, coat checked, teeth, and for any medical problems.

2. The owners are given a form to complete which goes into as much detail as they can answer.

3. We complete an ID sheet which includes the ferret’s markings, sex, age, personality, history, bonding, medical problems and places for dates of vaccinations and microchipping

4. The ferrets are given a distemper shot and are microchipped at this time.

5. Then they usually go into a playpen where there is food and fresh water. If they have been on a food not in our mixture, we add some of what they have been onto ours. Here they get to explore the toys, get used to smells and noises, and have a chance to unwind from their trip. Also, I will be able to observe them to see if their behavior is normal or if they have some maneuvering problem. When I agree to take in the ferrets, I usually ask for some bedding item of theirs not to be washed but brought where it will have their familiar smell and I’ll put this into the playpen and later into the cage they will be put in.

6. They are quarantined until the next Tues after their arrival. After the vet visit, they will get out time. We will look to see If they are loners or if they seem comfortable, will try to mix them with mild mannered ferrets in the playpen. This will tell me if they are social, or afraid, or aggressive with other ferrets. Also this tells me a lot if they have come in as a pair or more whether they are truly bonded. If they hang out with their buddies and then take naps with them, I figure them to be bonded, if they go off with another and take naps with them, then that is a sign they were only “bonded” because they had no other choice. Some come in and there is no question they are bonded, others it just takes time to observe what they are doing.

7. Behavioral problems are addressed, whether litter trained, destructive, nippers or whatever. We work with these problems and try to solve it OR we make notes on the ID sheets to notify any potention adoptor of same.

8. Those with medical problems are marked on record for when they do go to the vet. If they aren’t acting right, I will usually do a blood test to see if Insulnomia. If they do have a problem such as adrenal or insulnomia or ???, it is noted on their ID sheet which accompanies them to the vet and a different color cage card is made out on them. They are usually placed in the sick room for observation or to be put on meds.

9. As stated, Tues all new ferrets go to the vet for their rabies vaccination and health exam – the teeth, eyes, ears, heart, temperature, are checked along with any signs of tumors or mass cell tumors.

10. Once home and when I can get the help, will take 4 pictures of each and write a bio from the information the owner gave and my observation to put on FB, Petfinder, and Pet Portal.

11. They are then caged with a tag on their door stating name, microchip #, sex, color, age and date of arrival. If bonded, their names will be on a shingle card, if not, the cards are individual.

12. There are 6 playpens 3 covered for climbers. Knowing personalities, the ferrets are placed in the playpens together with members of other cages and the playpen # is placed on their cages so they are returned to the same cage. They are usually out for play time for at least 3 or 4 hours. Sometimes several cage groups can be placed into one playpen, sometimes they have to be singular or just the cage mates in one playpen due to socializing problems. They are rotated each time out to different playpens so they have different toys to play. It is NOT enough time I would like for them to have but with so many, we are limited. We depend on their getting into their forever home to have that needed time out.

The screening process for potential adoptors is to complete a form on line. It is reviewed by our Application Co-ordinator. We do not adopt to everyone and have certain rules to follow. She screens the appliers answers and checks on whether they are in an apartment or a home, if they are owner or what. If not the owner, we ask for a letter from the management or owner they are allowed to have ferrets. (If caught with ferrets in an apartment, they normally give only 24 hours to get rid of the pet). She also follows up with the vets when the adoptors have other pets to see if they are up to date on vaccinations and HW care. If they don’t take care of the animals they have, they won’t take care of the ferrets either.

Once approved, the adoptor calls for an appointment as I am a home, not a store. When we meet, they are allowed to see the ferrets in the cages and pick out the ones they are interested in. They are put in playpens (the ferrets, not the adoptors) and the adoptors get to see them unwind. They are encouraged to take them out and interact with them, play with them, get to know them till finally a match is made. They have a contract to sign which states we are not responsible if the ferrets bites, that if they do have to rehome them for any reason, they are to bring the ferret back to us, and last to let us know how they have adapted to the match within 30 days. When they are ready to leave with their ferret(s), they are given a copy of the contract which also shows date of rabies vaccine with the vets certificate and tag, the date of distemper, sticker of the brand of vaccine, the microchip tag, two extra stickers with the michrochip # plus one on the bottom of the sheet. This goes into a folder containing much information such as the Kroger sign up, the how to recognize adrenal tumors, soup recipes, vet print out on what you need to tell the vet and what to ask the vet if your ferret gets sick, as well as other brochures.
First call local ferret resources to arrange for a transfer or pickup: Tx Ferret Rescue 972 286 5778 or Nadine 214 407 7543

In the meantime provide a quiet place for the ferret.

Temperature Control: Ferrets should not be kept outdoors. They begin showing signs of heat stress/stroke at 80 to 85 degrees and cannot tolerate tempatures over 85 degrees. Ferrets are most comfortable at 65-70 degrees and should not be placed in direct sunlight or drafts from the a/c or heating facilities.

Cage or Carrier: Ferrets are “escape artists” –make sure they are secure in a cage or carrier with grid openings no larger than a quarter. If possible, do not place them in an aquarium or other unventilated container.

Water: Ferrets Need 24 hour access to water. Some ferrets will not drink water from unfamiliar containers. If they ignore a water bottle, place a weighted bowl in the cage with them (they have a tendency to turn light weights over or if they just want to play in the bowl of water) and try to place it where it can't be turned over. Taking a disposable bowl, cutting two holds and tying it to the side of the cage, add water and cut a hole in the lid where they can get just their head in to drink - that'll keep them from playing in the water and splashing it out. maybe

Food: Ferrets need 24-hour access to food as they have a very high metabolic rate (digestive transit is 3 to 4 hours). Ferrets require high animal protein and fat contents in their food. A high quality ferret diet is best but will eat cat food or kitten food (kitten is best as usually higher in protein). DO NOT feed dog foods, raw meat or bones, vegetables, milk or other dairy products. If you are holding them a short time, regular cat food will do but if for a length of time, best to give them ferret food: refer to the food chart.

Bedding: Give the ferret materials to sleep IN. Old towels, t-shirts, sweats, pillow cases are fine. Ferrets are prone to intestinal blockages commonly caused by ingestion of rubber, Styrofoam, cloth, latex, or hairballs and can die quickly without vet intervention. Keep those materials out of their reach, no foam back rugs or anything with rubber. You can't avoid the cloth but watch to see if they are chewing on it. Do NOT place them in cedar shavings.

Litter box: Ferrets prefer not to soil their bedding or food/water areas. Provide a litter box for their use or line a corner with newspaper or puppy pads.

Other Animals: Canine distemper is fatal to ferrets. Keep them away from unvaccinated dogs and wash hands in-between handling the dogs and ferrets. Ferrets LOVE dogs and cats, so it will depend on how yours like them. Human colds and flu are transmissible to ferrets. They may instinctively hunt snakes, lizards, rabbits rodents and birds so keep them separate if you have same.

Bite/Scratch Cases: The Texas Department of Health includes ferrets in the same 10 day quarantine policy as cats and dogs. Ferrets do not easily catch or transmit rabies - studies have established the viral shedding period in ferrets.

Normal Behaviors: Some everyday ferret behaviors might be misinterpreted as illness or aggression. It is normal for a ferret shake or shiver after waking. Some ferrets sleep quite deeply and may have to be handled for several minutes to respond. AN excited ferret may careen about his cage, bouncing off walls, thrashing about or wagging his head with or without an open mouth - even panting a “heh heh heh” or "doak doak doak" sound. This is simply an expression of normal exuberance and an invitation to play. They prefer a playmat whether it is a dog, cat, human or another ferret.

Signs of Illness: Some symptoms requiring immediate vet care include grinding of teeth, staring into space or salivating heavily, lethargy, dark tarry stools, bleeding of any kind, or heavily crusty or weeping eyes and nose with a chin or belly rash. Most can be successfully treated but may be emergencies to save their lives. In case of the last set of symptoms, suspect canine distemper and isolate accordingly.

About Ferrets: Ferrets are NOT wild animals. They cannot survive on their own in the wild or just outdoors. Do not confuse domestic ferrets with endangered American Black-footed Ferrets or minks. Ferrets are affectionate, friendly creatures by nature but any frightened or hungry animal should be treated with caution. Expected life span is about 8 years. Ferrets require love and attention and are social play oriented creatures. They have a playful kitten-like personality that is up till they die unless they get a disease that causes them to waste away. They do require some special care and so are not the perfect pets for everyone.

Training

First test your ferrets to see if they are deaf or blind. Both of these medical challenges are very common in ferrets. (we aren't talking about the ferret with "selective" hearing). To test for deafness, have someone hold the ferret, get behind them with a squeaky toy, make sure when you squeak it, it doesn't blow air on them. A hearing ferret will turn to see where the noise is coming from, a deaf one will continue to look around to judge what he can get into next. To test for sight you will need to have a vet look into their eyes, usually that is a quick thing and is just an office call charge. It's important for both for reasons on how to handle them.

With either "defect", make sure not to grab them up from above or behind or real quickly. Take a bottle of preferably Pickle Juice, (which is NOT pickle juice but a scrumptious oil based goody ferrets go wild about once they learn to like it). Stick the dropper near their mouth as you are picking them up, approaching from the front, not the back. Stick your hands out towards them for the deaf one to see to climb aboard or be picked up. With a blind one, slowly touch them from the front where they can smell you first. In time, they will no longer be frightened of anyone picking them but instead will welcome the attention. With the treat, they will learn hands are good things, especially if it puts them up high where they can see from a different angle.

Now for the trouble ones, pick them up, hiss in their face ( too close they'll lash out and get your nose) (this is ferret talk, mama does this) then get them to do whatever they did again. If so, repeat PLUS put them in a carrier with nothing else in there for 5 to 8 minutes NO LONGER. Let them out. Try to get them to do it again. If so repeat above. Rarely do you have to do it a third time because this is all together and they absolutely HATE time out, worse than children do. They can mentally link what happened to cause them to be put in time out, and that is a more lasting and kinder way of saying their behavior is not acceptable. Much much better than thumping them on the nose as some store clerks will tell you to do - a thump on the noise is an invite to play even if it is a hard thump. If the time out is separated by time in-between, it may take a few more times of doing this. Patience and you will win the battle AND the war.
Most generally it is natural for a ferret to use a potty box. BUT, young ferrets are very very concerned with play and when you gotta go, you gotta go. To begin with, a young ferret just out on its own away from its siblings and mom and the pet store............they are too excited when they realize they are getting out of their cage for free time. Before you let them out, you need to place them into the potty box,inside the cage (hopefully with a little something in there reminding them what that box is for). But watch out, they can fake it. They will squat like they are doing something and then race for the gate. Check that box - they are not dumb animals. If they finally wear you down where they just aren't going to go and you have only so much time to put into this session, then let them out but follow them or stay close. It won't be long at all before they "gotta go" right after they get out. You will learn the signals and have enough time to grab them up and take them to the potty box. (if your ferret is blind or deaf, do not grab them but show your hands to them, reaching from their front - they will be able to smell you). You need to have a couple of areas in the room ready for out time. You do not have to take them back to the cage to go. For one thing, they are like 4 year old children, so intent on play, it comes to them at the last minute and they don't have time to think and/or they hold it putting off an interruption in their play. Now the big lesson for the human is, you do not decide where to put the potty box.........they decide that and they probably will pick a very nice corner or area you would prefer they didn't. IF a box won't fit there, lay a sheet of newspaper down or puppy pad. If not carpeted, you might want to put a little tape on it to hold it down should they pick in front of the door as the ideal spot. If the door is near a corner, you can gradually move that paper or pad more into the corner and then just open the door wide enough to get through so as not to smear what they have done across the floor.

Now for the little tyke that goes beside the potty box. First the cage. DO NOT use the bottom floor as a potty box either with litter or paper. This only trains them it is OK to go anywhere. They need to have a real potty box which is where there is still space to have a choice. If they are stubborn about it, you need to be more stubborn. Take out the shelves or block off the majority of the cage where they have just one floor for food, water, potty box and sleeping headquarters. They do not like to do this job near those other articles and in time will start to get into the box. If the little soandso still is going next to the box or in their bedding after making this arrangement, then take some of their mishaps and put it into the potty box. make it smelly. We, of course, want to keep the potty box as clean as possible but they need to get the idea first that that box is not for digging or storing their toys. In 2 days, if they are using the potty box, you can keep it cleaner. Then give them a good week of one floor and plenty of time in the cage before feeling you won.. This is not to say they can have no out time but you must limit their space even outside the cage where you can "catch" them in the act. It does take time on some to get the point across but if you are consistent, it isn't worth their time to cross you. They will start a habitwhich will reward you for the rest of their life.

Now for the older ferret that has already got the idea a potty box is not worth their time...........This is far more difficult. You have to start all over from scratch and they know most of the routine. Start with the suggestions above. In other words, go back to basics. Follow them around and/or keep your eye on them when they are out, catch them as soon as they start backing and holding that tail up. Praise them for using the box when they do but don't over do it or they'll be so excited at the praise, they'll forget that it wasn't for their being funny, cute and playful. A little reward (PIckle Juice) will also go a long way in the training - but again, watch it, for once they are addicted to Pickle Juice, they will go to their box and fake it just to get another helping. (If you read other posts, you know Pickle Juice is a special blend of oils without preservatives so very healthy for your ferrets - they do become addicts to where they can hear you when you unscrew the eye dropper).

As with any animal, human or 4 legged, the magic is the persistence, the continuing to follow up with training, never getting angry at them. The one big problem, of course, is if you let your ferret free roam the house, they will get more and more reckless and not trustworthy. We highly recommend retaining them in the room you are spending the most of your time in or be very much in attendance when they are out of their cage.

Happy training, it will work.

Basic

Miscellaneous

Appeared in our Ferret Footnotes November 1997

We all know how important it is to make arrangements for your family in the event of your death. This is especially true for those of you who are the primary care givers or providers for the 4 legged animals. Most people have legal wills to address most issues for their family but have you thought about protecting ALL your loved ones…….including your ferrets.

We operate a ferret shelter where we typically have between 25 to 50 ferrets at any given time. It is evident to me it is very important to protect our ferrets if I should die. Here are some factors for you to think about:

Is there someone you could trust to leave your ferrets to? Have they shown an interest in your ferrets and are they proven, successful pet owners. Do they have enough time and money to properly care for them? Do you have children involved who may keep them without you or would they turn them into animal control. (note from Millie: I have walked 2 city animal controls for 8 years twice a week. I was appalled at the number of dogs and cats that were turned in because the parents had passed and the children didn't want them). Finding someone to take care of the ferrets maybe near to impossible if you don’t have other ferret friends to turn to for help. It is better to search for them now than wait till things may turn critical or leave it to someone else to take care of once you are gone.

If you don’t know someone who wants them, is there someone who can temporarily take care of them until a proper home is found? Do you have a list of “qualifications” they can follow to help find the right home?.

These are simple things you should consider before creating or changing your will. Is there a ferret shelter near enough to you you can contact and talk about such a problem? Will they be willing to take your ferrets regardless of how full they may be at the time. Are they a no kill shelter and have the guidelines you feel is necessary for your ferrets. In addition to this, because shelters operate on a limited income, can you designate in your will XX dollars per ferret per month as long as they are at the shelter, or give a lump sum which should see the ferrets through their holding time? Also, important is sending all records and supplies to the shelter as well as any equipment and supplies you have such as cages, carriers, medicines, tools, etc.

It is important to make certain your will specifies where your ferrets and other pets should go after you pass or instructions if you become incapacitated. It is equally important to keep papers and records in your safety deposit box that explains how to properly handle everything. It would be good to keep an “Information Sheet” in sight explaining where everything is kept plus outlining daily care for those on meds or needing special care. That sheet should be kept in sight so if things are sudden, the caretakers won’t be lost until they can locate it in a drawer or cabinet or bookcase somewhere.

Please take the time to review your existing will and your set up to make certain it contains provisions for your ferrets and pets. If you don’t have a will, consider doing one. It is so easy now with the internet. And you don’t have to own a lot of real estate and stocks and bonds and have a huge savings. Little things are just as important or even more so than those things (with tongue in cheek, people will fight over those assets but rarely do they fight to keep your pets). Take the time now when you are in relatively good health and sound mind to talk about these things and make it easier on others when you are gone.

Adopt A Ferret!