Monday, June 29, 2009

Thinking about getting a Ferret


     Are you thinking about getting a ferret for a pet? There are many things to consider before you take that last step and get one.

1.   GavelAnimated Are ferrets legal where you live? In the United States, ferrets are legal in 48 of the 50 states. California and Hawaii do not allow ferrets. California has ferrets classified as a wild animal. Hawaii may have them classified as the same thing but it is more likely that they have imposed the ban on ferrets for the same reason they are illegal in New Zealand.

     Trained hunting ferrets were introduced into New Zealand as a control for rabbits. Only there were no natural predators to eliminate the ferret. Flightless bird species fell victim to lost and hungry hunting ferrets.

     New York City also has regulations about having a ferret.

 blkfootedferret The only feral colony of ferrets in the United States is the Black footed ferret. A distant relative to the domestic ferret and are on the endangered species list.

2.      What kind of household would you be bringing a ferret? Is it full of other pets or small children under five? Do you live in an apartment or a house?

     A household that has other pets needs to look at the types of pets and how they would interact with a ferret. Cats for the most part will find higher ground or another place to be when a ferret is out. Some cats like to play with the ferret but supervision of both is needed for the ferret and cat’s sake as one or both could get hurt. Ferrets will go after birds and fish as a tasty snack. Depending on the dog’s breed, you could lose your ferret to prey instinct.

  children7 Small children don’t understand that ferrets are fragile and cannot be squeezed like their teddy bear. Ferrets have sharp feline teeth and will use them if frightened or hurt.

     Some apartments don’t allow ferrets because they do dig and will tear up the carpet. There is also the chance of a ferret escaping through a hole or vent and ending up in someone else's apartment. Think how you would feel to wake up to something you have never seen nibbling at your toes?

     A house is better in that you can dedicate a single room for your ferret or incorporate one into a room in a way that you are both happy.

3.   ani-Hour_Glass Do you have time for a ferret? Ferrets require a minimum of 30 minutes a day out of their cage. Ferrets enjoy exploring their surroundings and are happy to be out of their cage. Ferrets love to interact with you and will pout if they feel they are being ignored.

      If you are some one who travels a lot or would rather spend time away from home then a ferret is not for you. Ferrets are also a long term commitment as they can live up to 10 years. Ferrets that have a disability need more time to learn things than ferrets without a problem.

4.   dvm3 ani-100_dollar_bill Can you afford having a ferret? This means above the basics. Food and housing are a given but can you afford vet care if the need arises? Some states require shots every year. There are also times when a ferret will get into trouble and need a doctor’s care. Adrenal surgery can cost up to or above 2,000 dollars.

5.  What is the reason you want a ferret? If the only reason is “Because they are cute.” Then you need to reevaluate getting a ferret. Ferrets loose the cuteness as they grow up and become who they are. Gweny is a prime example of not being cute. She has an attitude towards smokers and lets it be known with a hard bite. I wouldn’t trade her for the world but I also make it known to my friends that smoke not to get near her because of her attitude. She is cute to look at but her attitude isn’t. Attitudes and dispositions are not apparent when a ferret is still a baby.

     Finally, don’t just go to the local pet store and buy a ferret. See if there is a local ferret rescue near you and visit. Maybe volunteer if you have time. It could be that one of these unwanted creatures might be the one that steals your heart and will give you an idea of why you should really think about the reason for the top five. If there isn’t a local ferret rescue near you. See if the pet store where you are thinking about buying your fuzzy will allow you to interact with the ferret in a playroom.

Not all pet stores will do this.

Note: if you have a cold or the flu don’t go near any ferret. They are highly susceptible and can quickly turn into pneumonia, which can kill a ferret in a matter of hours.

I hope this helps you to decide if a ferret is a good addition to your home.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Waardenburg Syndrome and Ferrets

Waardenburg’s (Vah-den-bergz) Syndrome is an inherited form of deafness accompanied by characteristic markings and eye coloring. It is inherited as an autosomal[1] dominant disease, although severity is variable. It is named for the Dutch ophthalmologist Petrus Johannes Waardenburg (1886-1979) who identified it in 1951.

In the human world Waardenburg Syndrome accounts for approximately 20% of genetic hearing loss. In the ferret world it is believed that 3/4ths of the distinctive fur patterning are deaf.[2]

Waardenburg’s Syndrome affects other animals as well. Certain breeds of dogs and cats are more susceptible to the syndrome such as the Dalmatian along with bright blue-eyed white furred cats. Both of these animals were bred for their coat color and no consideration was given to the possible side effects of such breeding. Both animals and humans with two different colored eyes have a chance of having Waardenburg's Syndrome.

Some of the characteristics of Waardenburg’s Syndrome in ferrets are a more tapered head, almond shaped eyes, and different coat patterns. These coat patterns include badger, panda, blaze, and dark eyed white.

clip_image001 Badger coloration so named for the markings making the ferret look like a miniature badger.

clip_image002 Blaze Coloration james_of_jessie1 You can see the slight almond shape to Lance’s eyes and the white stripe down the back of his head. You can also see how Lance's face comes more to a point than James's.

clip_image003 Dark Eyed White also know as DEW. Looks like an albino but with black eyes.

clip_image004 Panda coloration. Makes the ferret look like it is dressed in a tuxedo.

While I didn't have a clue to Lance's handicap at the time. I am grateful to have the little fuzz butt as a pet. Lance's handicap doesn't slow him down and gives him a better reason to ignore me than his brother James or his sister Gwenny.


[1] Autosomal n. [Auto + (chromo)some] Any chromosome that is not a sex chromosome. Webster’s New World Dictionary 2nd college edition 1968


Wednesday, June 24, 2009



     There are rules to follow when having ferrets in your home. Most are simple and easy to understand but there are two sets of rules those of human beings and those of ferrets. These are some of the rules at our house.

Human rules:

1. Feeding time is at set times and only specific foods  will be given.

2. Water dishes are full at all times.

3. Because of other pets, playtime will be restricted to one room for the duration of 2 –3 hours.

4. All playtime will have supervision.

5. Ferret proofing is rechecked weekly and all new ways of getting into small spaces fixed.

6. Litter boxes are in the corner of the cage and cleaned regularly.

7. Each ferret gets equal amounts of one on one attention.

8. Expensive toys are purchased for fuzzy butts to play with.

9. Feratone is up high where fur kids cannot get it.

10. Will not freak out with the Dead Ferret Sleep.

Ferret rules:

 begloopan Feeding time is whenever I want it, I will eat what I want, and I want what you’re eating. Yes, I want to have your sandwich and a drink of your coffee. I don’t care that it isn’t good for me. Your eating it so it has to be good. What missing candy?

dancingferret Water dishes are to be over turned and rolled from place to place. Therefore, I can demand more water to play in.

dancingferret Any other pet in the room during playtime is considered a plaything. I will play ride em cowboy with unsuspecting cats. I will make the big brown thing jump and run away.

dancingferret You cannot supervise us all at the same time because we will go in several directions. Splitting your attention means, we can have contact with FLO.

bootan Ferret proofing is a myth. FLO (Ferret Liberation Operators) are always finding new and innovating ways for us to get out of designated rooms, cages, and carriers. FLO meets with us daily.

dancingferret Clean litter boxes are for snorkeling, digging in, sleeping in. If we don’t like where you put them. We will move them. We might use them 80% of the time if you reward us with our favorite treats. Feratone is a great motivator.

begloopan There is no such thing as equal amounts of attention. We will demand more and more until we have gotten enough from you until we see some one else in your lap then we will nip you to get more attention.

bootan Expensive toys are okay. Give us a bag, and empty box, your desktop. These are the best toys. Your desk being the best because of all the things you keep saying, “No you can’t have that.”

 bootan There is no place you can hide the Feratone. We will find it and take it to our hidey-hole to enjoy at our leisure. Locking it up won’t work either, as FLO will help us.

hanginganferret Our favorite game is to see how long it will take you to freak out over us sleeping so soundly that we seem dead.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Domestication of Mustela purtorius furo

The family of Mustelidae consists of animals that have a musky scent. These include otters, minks, weasels, polecats, martens, badgers, wolverines, and used to include skunks until DNA testing put them in a different family the Mephitedae.    


  It is believed that the domestic ferret has been domesticated for over 2000 years and is a descendant of the Western European polecat and came from Libya where they bred them to hunt rabbits. It is unclear of how the domestic ferret ended up in England but wherever rabbits were introduced, the ferret wasn’t far behind.

     The domestic ferret was introduced to the United States in 1875 as a form of rodent control. Ferrets were often used on ships to keep the rat and mouse populations down. The USDA promoted the use of ferrets as rodent control until chemical rodenticides were developed then the practice died out. Hunting with ferrets was made illegal in most states in the Twentieth century and ferret fur farms never took hold in the United States.

     In the mid twentieth century saw the ferrets embraced as companion animals and are ranked as the third most popular pet to own. First and second are the dog and cat. Ferrets have held a number of jobs from hunting to running telephone and electrical line.

     Large scale of breeding facilities can produce healthy ferrets in large numbers is the reason ferrets are used in Biomedical research. One of the first uses was with the study of the human influenza virus, because of their susceptibility to it. Ferrets are also used in the study of virology, toxicology, pharmacology, reproductive physiology, endocrinology, physiology, teratology, and anatomy.

These studies have helped us get a better understanding of the ferrets anatomy, physiology, and ferret disease. It is these same facilities that also produce the pet ferrets.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Welcome to Enlightened Ferret

     A trio of Mustela purtoius furo better known as the domestic ferret owns me. There is no such thing as mastership with ferrets.
     Ferrets will let you think that you are the master until something attracts their interest then all bets are off. Let me introduce my crew and give a brief mention of the others that are a part of our lives.
Lance1 Sir Lancelot is a blaze. Lance as he is better known is deaf. He has the classic signs of Waarenburg Syndrome. He has a white streak down the back of his head. Eyes that are more almond shaped than his brother or sister. Lance knows several signs of American Sign Language and does respond to them. Lance got his name because he used to bite hard when he was little drawing blood. Lance a lot became his name by default. Lance’s favorite pastimes are hiding rolled up socks. Bouncing like a spring with a ferrety smile of joy. Sleeping and getting hugs.

james_of_jessie1 Sir James of Jessie is a silver mitt. James is the true thief of the bunch. My roommate Judy wouldn’t let me call him Jessie James because it conflicted with our bunch of Renaissance named ferrets so I twisted it around making it sound more knightly. If James wants something and he knows it isn't his he will go out of his way to distract your attention before taking the item. At this moment, his item of choice is Trixie the bloodhound’s dog food. He takes one piece at a time to hide away in his hidey-hole. James’s favorite pastimes are stealing pens, erasers, dog food, wallets, cat tails (no not the plant kind), playing ride em cowboy with Richard the long haired orange tabby, digging in the cleaned litter box, and flinging food out of his food dish.

gweny1 Genevieve is a sable. Gweny or Precious (said like golem from the Hobbit when she is being a brat) is defiantly the Matriarch of the bunch. She is also the escape artist. If there is a way out, she will be the one to find it. She also refuses to reside in the same cage as the boys. Not that I can blame her. The boys are a bit messy and she is a little fussbudget when it comes to her space. After I have cleaned her cage and put the things back in she will go through it and move things around until they are where she thinks they should be. Gweny doesn’t care for smokers and is sure to let them know with a good hard chomp to whatever exposed skin there is. Gweny also likes to make Judy scream. Once she has done that she will leave Judy alone until she gets bored. Needless to say, Gweny doesn’t get time out of her cage when Judy is in the room. Gweny’s favorite pastimes are stealing shoes and it doesn’t matter if they are on your feet. Sleeping in desk drawers, finding dolls and hiding them behind the couch. Making Judy scream, and escaping from confinement.
     Those waiting at the Rainbow bridge and probably will get mentioned off and on are:
bummersBandit bum a sable male who passed away in his sleep  in March of 2008. 

ashes1 Ashes a silver mitt who passed shortly afterwards in the same manner.

Blizzard1 Blizzard an albino who passed in may of 2008 from an infection.

mouseBubba Mouse a silver mitt with ADHD who passed in June of 2008 of undiagnosed insulinoma and grief over his buddy Blizzard.
RCA camera pics 131Sir Galahad a chocolate who lost his fight with Adrenal Disease in April of 2009.

     Each passing tore a hole in my heart that can never be replaced I still miss them.
     My crew is the best antidepressant I could have. No matter how bad things seem these lively springs covered in fur are able to make me smile and laugh. I am their hooman and that is all that really counts in the ferret world.
     I hope you will continue to read about these wonderful little critters and the different aspects of their lives and mine. I also hope that with each entry you will take a new piece of knowledge with you about ferrets.


 Waarenburg Syndrome To understand a little bit more about Lance click on the link.