Saturday, February 26, 2011

On the Topic of Ferrets as Pets; not to be Confused with the Topic of "Familiars".

Before my first child was born, I had two ferrets. They make great pets. I like running a dog, so I hestitate to say they are the best, nothing beats a dog.

Things you should know about Ferrets:

They are explorers and are able to get into the oddest places. You won't be able to figure out HOW they got into them, so you need to ferret-proof the rooms where they are going to be released. They also like chewing on things, like wires, so you have to keep those away from the ferrets as part of your ferret proofing. Interestingly, they use ferrets to wire airplanes because their natural inclination is to go into tunnels. When you see a ferret running into a pipe in a movie, it is not because anyone trained them to go in there, it is because they LIKE to go into tubes, so your cage or room in which the ferret will live needs to be a mini jungle gym for ferrets. Your daughter will really enjoy "building" this space because the funkier it is, the better the ferret will like it. I'll explain why... Ferrets have two speeds... asleep and whirling dervish. There is nooooo middle ground. When they are awake, if there is no-one around, they will play with their environment. Kinda like giant gerbils or mice. Probably why people think they are rodents, but they aren't.

Ferrets, like cats or dogs, need to have shots and be spayed or neutered. The male is much larger than the female of the species and because they are pack animals, are better happier pets if they are part of a pack. In other words, get two ferrets or become an alpha ferret. You can get a ferret manual at the local library or on Amazon. I recommend DD read a couple before becoming the mama ferret. But, it sounds like this is right up her alley if she really likes animals.

Ferrets eat like cats, so feeding a cat is the same as feeding a ferret, EXCEPT, you have to feed it ferret food or ASH-FREE cat food, because the ash in dried cat food is bad for ferrets; it's probably bad for cats too, but it expressly causes respiratory problems in ferrets. You can purchase the food directly through your vet, they get good discounts. If you buy the food in bulk, it's cheaper. Btw, there is a small-animal vet that will have better knowledge of ferrets than other vets, so choose carefully. Ferrets are like cats in that they like to poop in the same place all the time. So they will tell you where to put the litter box once they've explored the room. Btw, the bigger the area, the more litter boxes you will need. They don't like to travel very far when they want to poop. Like cats they like to cuddle and need to wear a harness if you're going to walk them outdoors on a leash. Like cats, who also like to explore on a leash, they are freaking lazy, so don't expect long walks... but more on that in the "like a dog section".

Ferrets are like dogs, so you can train them to do things, like come when they are called and they are fun to play with. Please know though that you do not need to train them to do what they do in the movies, because those things are just things that the ferret will do naturally, they are highly inquisitive and really intelligent little buggers. They're FUN! Now, as lazy as ferrets are, they "tunnel" when they do not want to be awake anymore too, so they will cozy up inside your jacket or wrap themselves around your neck like a fur stole or even curl up in the inside pocket of the carrying purse you bought for just such purposes and it will hang out of the back content to let you do the walking while its nose explores the environment where you take it. Then, when you stop, they love to sniff around the ground exploring wherever you've stopped until you're ready to go again, so they're fun to putter around with. Much better animals for talking for walks and chillaxin the way teens do than cats who mostly don't like to be carried for long.

Ferrets need to have their talons clipped (or sanded down) regularly, (I walked my ferrets on pavement, we lived in the city, so that took care of a lot of the talons, but I still had to clip them once a month. That is like one would do with a dog. You can use one of those teeny buzz sanders made for manicures to do it yourself.

Ferrets are blind as bats like moles but not quite so bad because they are diurnal (I think that's the right word) -- they are mostly day creatures, when they're awake. Because they don't see very well, you never want to move really quickly near their faces, they will bite out of instinct.

Ferrets sleep 17-20 hours a day, so they need a nice safe dark place to go to during the day, that's where their cage comes in. My ferrets had their own room, rather than a cage, and that room had shelves and ramps and ladders that the ferrets could climb and play on. They love to jump and play.

The hammock is just another playplace for the ferret, they might even sleep in it. They are community-oriented, social animals who like to sleep in a lump, so they are accustomed to sleeping in a pile. The hammocks are simply unnecessary, but make for a comfy place for the ferret to nap. (Did I mention, they sleep a lot!).

Ferrets are great pets for high school kids because they'll curl up in your lap while you study or play video games, and when you want to be interested in them, they're totally ready to play.

Ferrets are mustilidae (sp?) like skunks or weasels, they are NOT rodents, so they have to be de-scented. You get the ferret de-scented BEFORE its first heat, which is also when you will get the ferret fixed. You have to fix them. I recommend getting all domesticated pets fixed though. It's hard to be natural and wild when you are a pet so hormones are not good for it.

If you've ever got into any video game for any reason, you are going to LOVE your daughter's ferrets. They really do make great family pets, and they will make a point of sleeping when there is no-one around to play with.

Oh, and did I mention, they make GREAT pets!