Thursday, July 30, 2009

When Ferrets Attack

     In my house you never know what is going to happen next. This is especially true when it comes to the critters. When it is time for my fur kids to have their time out of their cages I have to herd the two cats (Richard and Majic), and Trixie out of the room closing the door behind them.

     gweny1 Gweny gets let out first for two reasons. One girls first and second if I let her out last I get reminded that she is the Queen. Needle sharp teeth make an impression and I don’t just mean in the memory.

    thegibboys While the boys are out of their cage I restore some order to it so that I don’t have a huge clean up at the end of the week. This includes sweeping up the food James has flung out of the feeder while he was getting to that one special piece at the bottom and at least once a week Lance spills the water dish so he can jump in the puddles. If the boys notice I am still at their cage they will take turns nipping at my toes and ankles until I move away from it. After all it is their bacholar pad and it has really cool things.

     Gweny is defiantly the fussbudget when it comes to her place. She knows when one thing is a fraction out of place and will make a racket while fixing it herself.

     Once play time is over and I have put my kids back in their cages the other critters are allowed back in the room. Trixie response is to scent the room finding every where my kids have been. Richard returns to his throne on the back of the recliner.

     Majic makes his way over to the boy’s cage and sits there for a while before sticking his paw in through the bars and scooping up a pawfull of ferret food. Guess it tastes better than his cat food. This has been going on for a while and the boys let him…that is until lastnight.

     Now you have to understand the set up of the boy’s cage. It is a medium size dog crate. On one end is the litter pan with newspaper under it to make cleaning up the sprayed litter, more on that in another post, and on the other end is their hammock, food troughfoodtray , water dish, and James decided about a week ago that he was going to claim an empty soda box to sleep in.

     Lance has taken to sitting on top of the food trough looking like snoopy™ doing the impression of a vulture.linusSnoopy_vulture He has just been watching Majic take a pawfull after pawfull of food for about a week.

     James in the last day or so has moved his box from one side of the hammock to the other with the opening near the tray of the food trough. I was working at the computer when I hear the cage rattle. I turned around to see Majic shaking his paw and Lance doing the vulture. Thought for a moment that Lance had bitten him.

     While I was watching Majic sticks his paw back in to get another pawfull of food when out of the box James strikes with the quickness of a snake biting Majic before disappearing back into the box. You would think after two bites he’d get the message. But I guess he thought somehow Lance had done it because he watched Lance and not where his paw was going.   

     James tagged him a third time. Majic must equate the food trough with pain because he hasn’t taken any food since.

     Majic did try a couple of times to take Gweny’s food but her answer was to remove her dish from the side of the cage and put it in the center next to her santa hat sleeping sack.

     Majic isn’t stupid enough to take on Gweny because she would bite and not let go until I rescued him. Richard was the one that found that out the hard way.

blackchromesmallpaws

 sock-r-ball It seems than there is a slight miss understanding about what a super pet sock-r-ball is and who it is for. The Sock-r-ball is for pets. It comes apart to hold either a sock or treats. Lance likes it when I pull parts of the sock out enough for him to carry it around.

     Again the rules are comment on the blog no pick me/I would love to win this type of comments and/or refer someone else to the blog. A winner will be picked on August 8th and posted on the blog.

 

Jo

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Black-footed Ferret

blkfootedferret2

There are three classifications for animal species in danger of becoming extinct.

  1. Endangered. Species require direct human protection for survival.
  2. Threatened. Species also referred to as vulnerable. They are abundant in some areas, but their numbers are decreasing or they face serious dangers.
  3. Rare. Species either have small populations within a narrow geographic area or are thinly scattered throughout a wider range.

Many factors contribute to an animal’s endangerment. These include but are not limited to the destruction of habitat, disease, and pollution, trade in animal products, overhunting, and the growing human population.

The Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes) might have slipped into extinction without notice had it not been for John James Audubon and Reverend John Bachmman, who described a specimen they had found near the lower Platte River in Nebraska in Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America published in 1851.

The elusiveness of the Black-footed Ferret (BFF) and the fact that the original specimen disappeared sparked controversy over its existence. In 1874, Dr. Elliot Coues made a request for specimens through the American Sportsman magazine and received several specimens in response.

The BFF is an obligate carnivore meaning that they have one main food source and 90% of that is the prairie dog. Not only is the prairie dog the Black-footed ferret’s food it’s burrow provides the ferret with shelter and a home.

The Black-footed Ferret's territory started diminishing in the late 1800’s as farmers actively killed prairie dogs that competed with livestock for the grasslands. By the 1950’s, the BFFs were thought to occur in low density throughout most of their historical range.

historical BFF territory1

The U.S. Fish and Game Commission put the BFF on the endangered list in 1967. A small colony in South West South Dakota was found and was studied from 1964 until its disappearance in 1974.

Biologists feared that the BFFs had lost their fight with humankind and no longer existed. The BFF was placed on the extinct list in 1978.

Three years later in a North West Wyoming town, a rancher’s dog killed and brought home a strange animal that the owner had not seen before. He took it to the local taxidermist who identified it as a Black-footed Ferret and called the wildlife professionals.

A colony of 120 BFFs was found near Meeteetse, Wyoming and was studied. An outbreak of canine distemper killed all but 18 ferrets by 1985. The remaining BFFs were captured and taken to the Sybille Wildlife Research and Conservation Education Unit.

Seven of the captured ferrets reproduced in 1986 and all black-footed ferrets are related to those offspring. A recovery program was developed with the goal of getting the Black-footed Ferret off the endangered list and back into the wilds.

Reintroduction began in 1991 in Shirly Basin, Wyoming with 228 released over a four-year period. There are eight release sites in five states: Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, along with Mexico. blackfooted release areas

The recovery plan was to have a minimum of 1500 Black-footed ferrets back in the wild with 30 breeding pairs per site by the year 2010.

All Black-footed ferrets released into the wild carry a passive integrated transmitter (PIT) PIT inserted under the skin. This transmitter is like the chip we use for our pets. When located in the wild a transponder ring is placed around the prairie dog hole so that when the ferret pops his head up it will read the PIT and record the number. Any wild born BFFs are captured using a specialized trap and a PIT is inserted this takes approximately 30 minutes.

PIT is used in conjunction with geographic information systems (GIS). This is the process of taking information, like topographical maps, and over laying them. This helps to calculate or correlate things.

BFFs are fed prey (prairie dogs) to imprint on that food source. They are also preconditioned (i.e. BFF School) for 45 days in outdoor pens where they live in dirt burrows and learn how to kill prairie dogs before being released into the wild. This gives them a better chance of survival. The life span for a BFF in the wild is 2 years although there was one Old girl that made it long enough to have five litters.

The recovery goal is being hampered by the outbreak of Sylvatic plague, which is similar to the human black plague, and canine distemper in many of the release sites. BFFs are vaccinated against distemper before being released. In hope of controlling the Sylvatic plague, crews are dusting prairie dog town with a product called DeltaDust as a way to kill fleas and in the past, it has been effective in halting the plague. A vaccine has been developed by the U.S. Army and 216 BFFs have been vaccinated by November 2008. The recovery goal is being revised and the date maybe pushed back to 2020.

It is believed that they are a quarter of the way towards the goal, which is a lot more than the 18 BFFs rescued in 1985.

Thank you Travis M. Livieri of Prairie Wildlife Research for the use of the PIT picture and for answering my questions.

Adopt a Black-footed Ferret

Travis Livieri's Blog

BFFs Facts:

Can travel 5-7 miles per hour

First release site was Shirly Basin, Wy

317 kits were born in captivity by June 28 2009

300 BFFs reside in zoos and breeding centers

An average family of four will consume appoxomitely 763 prairie dogs per year

Only one person knows the answer to this question. Is No. 005-041-115 still around or when was the last recorded appearance?

Jo

Monday, July 27, 2009

Manic Monday

I don’t know what I would do without my fur kids. Monday’s are hard on me no matter what is going on in my life. Today was harder than most Monday’s as I didn’t sleep well last night due to pain.

Then my job that went from full time to very part time, partly my request so I didn’t loose my unemployment benefits completely, is now on the verge of being done for the season. Most of the guys are fun to work with. Although lately I am being picked on by this one guy. He is suppose to be a supervisor.

I have borderline personality disorder. Which means I am easily upset by negative remarks and when it is close to that time of the month it get really bad. My self-esteem is low enough I don’t need people comparing me to others that I am nothing like. I almost told Supervisor where to go today.

I don’t know what I did to him to deserve this kind of treatment. Anyways I came home really down and just felt like bawling. I went into the other room to make my coffee and all three of my kids were looking at me like

“Can we play now mom. Huh Huh. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaseeeee.”

It brought a smile to my face and made my day a little bit better. They are playing with my shoes as I write this trying to get them under the desk.

They seem so happy that it makes me realize no matter how bad things look it could always be worse and I should just let go and dance.

Lance cracks me up with his sock fetish and where those socks should be. After each play session I go to the pile of socks by the chair and put them all back in the toy box for the next play session.

First thing Lance does is go to the toy box and rescues all of his socks and puts them right back by the chair. Once in a while he’ll drag one or two under the desk.

For those of you who don’t mind blog contests I am going to give away 1 pet super pet sock-r-ball sock-r-ball and a $5 Wal-Mart gift card.

The contest will run from July 27-August 7.

I know how you hate jumping through hoops to earn an entry so this one will be fairly easy. 2 ways to enter

1. Leave me a comment about the blog on any entry during the contest period. Has to be about the blog no pick me comments.

2. Get someone else to start reading my blog. Have them leave a comment with who referred them.

On August 8th I will pick a winner from all entries by random. I’ll post the winner on August 8th and the winner will have until Wednesday to contact me with their mailing address.

Jo

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It is All in the Word

 

     Sometimes I forget that not everyone knows what I am talking about because of the strange words I have used or might use in my posts.

     With that said here is a short glossary with the word's meaning.

Ferrety world words:

Adrenal-The shortened form of Adrenal Gland Disease

Bitter Apple- A nasty tasting deterrent. Used in eliminating bad behavior. Unless its James who loves the taste.

Bottle Brush-Tail hair standing on end giving it the look of a baby bottle brush

Business-A group of ferrets Mygroup

Butt Drag-How a ferret wipes after going to the bathroom

Carpet Shark-Another name for a ferret

Chitter-A noise a ferret makes

Cleaning The Meat-What Gweny does just before biting

Dead Ferret Sleep- A deep sleep that mimics death. Can last for several minutes to an hour depending on how deeply asleep the ferret is. A ferret won't wake up.hanginganferret

 

De-scented- A ferret that has had it's anal sacs removed.

Dooking-The chortling noise a ferret makes when happy

Drag Racing- Same as butt drag but a lot faster

Ferretone-A skin and coat food supplement. Can be used as a treat.

feratone

Ferrety-All things related to ferrets

Fur Kids- Critters with fur treated like children

Fuzzy/Fuzzies- Another name for ferrets

Gib-An altered male ferret thegibboys

Hooman-How ferret owners think their ferrets say human.children7

Hidey Hole-Where a ferret keeps it's treasures.

Hob-An unaltered male ferret

Insulinoma-Like human diabetes

Jill-An unaltered female ferret

Kit-A baby ferret

Lick, Lick, Lick, Chomp-Another way to describe what Gweny does before biting

Lick and sticks- Candy

Mustela purtoius furo- Scientific name for the domestic ferret

Poof-A musky scent released by a ferret that still has it's anal sacs

Rainbow Bridge-A place where departed ferrets wait for their owners so they can go into heaven together

Scruff-The skin at the back of a ferret's neck

Snaking-What a ferret does on towels after a bath

Snorkeling-What a ferret does when it puts it's head under the water

Sprite-An altered female ferret gweny1

Thief-What a ferret is called while taking off with a personal possession

War Dance/Dance of Joy-A ferret jumping around with it's mouth open, arched back, and stiff legs, sometimes making noises. Wants to playdancingferret

Weasel-A loving remark about ferrets by ferret owners

Friday, July 17, 2009

Toys

     Ferrets love to play and almost anything they can get their little paws on becomes a toy. Some of their favorite playthings are free and already in the house. Games can easily be invented to entertain a ferret. Some of them are:

     Sock tug a war. The ferret grabs the toe of the sock and tries to take off with it. If it is on your foot you can angle your foot upwards making it harder to remove and the tug a war starts. If the sock is already off your foot, it is more of a game of chase and capture. 

     Lance1 Lance’s favorite game is hide the sock. The sock has to be rolled into a ball for him to even be interested in it then he will pick it up and run for his nearest hidey-hole. All the while doing his happy dance.

     Magic carpet ride. Any towel, sheet, or length of fabric will work. Drag it across the floor a couple of times and the ferret will jump on it as it goes by. Some try to climb up the incline to get to the top. Others will do a happy dance while it is moving and some will get underneath and attack it from there.

                                                           dancingferret

     I happen to think that the best toy is the empty box. I believe ferrets have just as vivid as a child does when it comes to play.

james_of_jessie1 James thinks that empty boxes are for hiding things in, or taking naps in. Lance likes it when I pull him around the room in one, gweny1 Gweny makes them her castle, and no boys are allowed.

     I am still like the proud parent that gets the newest toy for her kids but I now realize that the toy may not be the best part of the deal. Although I don’t have to worry about my fur kids demanding the latest video game to play. Their toys can be just as expensive depending on what it is.

Jo

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heart Break City

Birthday_balloon    

      Yesterday was my  birthday and I spent it away from the computer.  One of the places I went to was the new Petco store in Butler. I wasn't very impressed by what I found there.

     The store was set up for cat and dog people. Those of us that have different pets were directed to a small and crowded center island that had different critters. I asked about ferrets and was shown a foot long aisle that had several brands of food and some toys.

     Near the aisle was an octagon glass holding tank. In it were several baby ferrets in in. In the back of the holding tank three ferrets were sleeping but it was hard to tell if they were breathing because thier breaths were so shallow. A very good example of dead ferret sleep which to most can be disturbing even when you know what to look for.

     A young girl came in holding a baby ferret. She had bought him two days before and now had to return him because her landlord wouldn't allow her to keep him. You could tell she had been crying and was heartbroken to have to give this little ball of fluff up.

     Her mother was with her and was not suportive of her daughter at all. She had a bad expirence with the little guy. Ferrets love feet and if you present bare toes you are going to get bit. She wore flip flops over to her daughter's apartment and found out that ferrets do not have chiel teeth like hambsters or rats.

     Her mother's other complaint was his smell. Ferrets are part of the Musk family and they do have an odor. In Pennsylvania all ferrets are descented unless you are a breeder but ferrets still have a slight odor to them. Feeding them foods high in omega oils will increase that smell. There are several products on the market to help reduce the smell if you don't like it.

     The store did this girl a disfavor with inaccuarte information about training him to use a litter box. She had been told that a triangle shaped litter box is no good for ferrets. When in reality it is exactly what you want for a ferret. Ferrets look for corners to back up into before relieving themselves.

     I had to leave the store for several reasons. The main on was I was starting to feel the effects of ferret math. (Its like eating potato chips, you can't jsut have one.) Another was my fur kids wouldn't have been overjoyed to deal with an over active youngster. 

     The other reason was I wanted to find the manager and tell him/her that the display case was ont ideal for the ferrets in it and that several bits of information thy gave that poor girl was incorrect.

     One of the babies had the tell tale blaze on his head. I am sure the store has no clue that he might be deaf and that he will need someone that is understanding of his problem.

     Yesterday showed me just how much you need to research about unique pets before you shell out money for the pet only to find out that you can't deal with it or your landlord is against your pet.

     All critters are cute at first...depending on what you consider cute, but the cuteness can and will wear off as the pet grows into it's personality.

 

Jo

Monday, July 13, 2009

Teaching Lance Signs

Lance1 Lance may have a hearing problem but he makes up for it with his keen eyesight. He seems to know that some thing is from far away unlike his brother and sister who have to be right on top of it. Lance also understands sign language. His vocabulary is about fifteen words. Training him to understand what each word was took some time and a lot of trial and errors on both of our parts.

When I finally realized that Lance was deaf I wasn’t concerned about the problem because I grew up with a deaf brother. I already had the language skills to deal with Lance. Problem was Lance didn’t have any language skills at the time. He didn’t even make the chitter chatter that my other fur kids did.

First on the agenda was to decide what signs I wanted to teach him and how to go about it. I thought about what the first word is we say to our children more than a few times in a day when they start exploring their environment.

Yep the first word he learned was NO! Which at the time was because he would bite and not let go. No is also an easy sign to do. It is like making a wide bird bill and closing and opening it a couple of times. sign4nopt1 sign4nopt2

© Dr. William Vicars

While doing the sign is easy getting Lance to understand it took some time because I didn’t want to reward him for negative behavior. It took some thought and a lot of bitter apple.

Bitter apple is a taste deterrent that discourages negative behavior. It works as long as the ferret doesn’t like bitter tasting things like James. At the time Lance’s biggest problem was biting and to get him use to the sign No and associate it with something yucky tasting was easy.

I’d coat my hands with the bitter apple before I’d handle Lance. He’d grab my hand with his paws so he could get a good grip with his teeth. I’d sign No before he would chomp down on my hand. The taste of the bitter apple made him let go quickly. It only took six times of him repeatedly chomping on my hand. Lance now understands when I sign No he is doing something he isn’t suppose to be doing and like all little kids he hates the word so he usually doesn’t do the behavior to get told no.

The second sign I taught Lance was Play also an easy sign to do. Use both hands and make two Y’s turned sideways that you shake up and down.

playb1 playb2 playb3 playb4 playb5 playb6

© Dr. William Vicars

This was easier to teach Lance because I could use a treat or the fact I let him out of the cage after I signed it. Lance loves his playtime and will greet me at the door of his cage still. I think he also likes the fact I’ll tell him playtime when the other two are asleep. Lance is a lot like my little brother in that he has a lot more energy than the other two and doesn’t sleep as much as they do.

What I have found is that I do the same things I do when I am talking to my little brother, JR, I talk and sign at the same time. So all three of my fuzzies know what I am saying even when I don’t speak.

A really good site that I have found for learning more about American Sign Language is

http://www.lifeprint.com/dictionary.htm

I just recently found the site and it has helped me remember several signs that I had forgotten and helped correct me on the ones I have been doing wrong.

Lance’s list of signs are:

1. No, which is also used with bite.

2. Play

3. Come

4. Eat

5. Water

6. Little time

7. Later

8. Wait

9. Stop

10. What

11. Funny

12. Kiss

13. Love

14. Where

15. Sleep/nap

And the list is stilling growing. While Lance isn’t a chimp it does go to show that any animal given the time and motivation can learn the basic signs so that it is easier to communicate with them.

Last year showed just how well Lance knew his signs. He had to go to the vet for an injury that was painful for him. Normally he would have bitten the vet or the vet tech but I told him no bite and he didn’t bite either one of them. Both were impressed.

Jo

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wild Wednesday

     I have given glimpses of what my fur kids are like throughout my other posts but I haven’t really talked about them. I think part of that is because I can’t take pictures of their actions right at the moment because the camera blew up while I was trying to take a picture of Gweny carrying my tennis shoe by the shoelace to the hidey-hole.

     gweny1 Gweny is about a foot long and very petite but it hasn’t stopped her from taking things bigger than her. My shoe is a size 7 and I take them off in the Computer/Family room. This is the designated playroom for my kids. Gweny grabs the shoe by the lace and straddles it so that it is underneath her body and starts running towards the hidey-hole four feet away.

     She knows that I am going to take the shoe away from her if she gets caught but this time I just watched as she lifted her head and pulled her front feet off the ground leaving them pedaling in the air for a few minutes. Gweny lowers her head a little bit and allows her feet back on the ground. Took her about five minutes to get to the hidey-hole with her prize.

     They have two main hidey-holes. One is behind the couch and the other is under Judy’s desk. The desk has three drawers on the left side that the ferrets can climb up into from underneath. This is Gweny’s queendom. Dragging the shoe by the laces she tries to take it under the desk only the shoe is taller than the opening and it only goes under so far. Tired Gweny takes a break in one of the drawers and leaves the shoe half under the desk.

      James comes along and plays ferret in the shoe. Lance and him both think they can fit their big bodies in my little shoe. After a few minutes, he gets tired of his game and decides it needs to go elsewhere so he grabs it by the laces and drags it under my computer desk.

     About this time, Gweny comes out from under the desk and sees that her shoe is now under my desk and comes over to reclaim it again. Now she tries to pull it under the desk by the side of the shoe without any luck. Again, she leaves it to go do something else.

     Now its Lance’s turn to play ferret in the shoe until he gets tired of the game and he takes it over to the couch and leaves it there. Their hour of fun and escapades are over and I have to round them up and put them back in their cages until later.

Jo

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ferret Care: Nails

 

     Unlike cats a ferret’s nails do not retract and need to be cut regularly to prevent problems. Nails should be trimmed weekly. This can be an exercise in patience and ingenuity as most ferrets want to be down and running around the room.

     Trimming a ferret’s nails can be easily accomplished with the right set up and equipment.

     clippers2 You need nail clippers. Those made for small animals are good if you don’t have large fingers. Most manufactures forget that some fingers are a size 10 or larger. Even I have some trouble with the small animal nail clippers and my fingers are a size 7. You can also use human fingernail clippers but you have to really watch what you are doing.feratone

     You need something to distract the ferret while you are clipping the nails. Ferretone is good or something that the ferret can lick off of it’s belly while you are snipping off the tips of the nail.

      If the ferret isn’t interested in the treat then you will need a second person to scruff the ferret so you can trim it’s nails.

     Okay now you have things assembled where you both can be comfortable its time to do the actual trimming.

     First place the ferret in a sitting position facing away from you on your lap. This allows the ferret to lean against your abdomen giving it support.

     Next pour a dime size amount of Ferretone or other treat on to it's belly.

     While the ferret is distracted gently grasp one paw with your free hand and push on the pad of the paw to help spread the nails out so you can see each one clearly.

     Because a ferret's nails are basically clear, all though there are some exceptions, you can see where the blood vessel is. This makes it easy to see where to cut.  nail cut       

     Clip the nail so that it is parallel to the floor but not so close to the vessel that it bleeds. Accidents do happen and if you do clip to close to the vessel dip the nail into some styptic powder. Corn starch will do in a pinch if you don’t have a styptic pen or powder. Be sure to check the back claws too.

     After you get done with clipping the ferret’s nails give him/her lots of praise and a different treat than the ferretone. With weekly maintenance of the nails it is possible that you can clip the front claws one week and the back claws the next.

     Can ferrets be declawed?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is that to have a ferret declawed is painful for the ferret. It would be like cutting off your fingertips. Many places now offer nail trimming and other options for the ferret owner.

Jo

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ferret Proofing Part II

 

     If you think ferret proofing and child proofing are the same, you’d be half correct. Child proofing is only the start.

Check all appliances before use.

     Ferrets have a knack for getting into small places and places where they should never be able to get into. The refrigerator or a standing freezer are good examples. How many of us stand in front of these two items trying to decide what to eat?

     Ferrets want to know what is inside and because they are small they aren’t often seen getting into these places.

     The refrigerator might give them a better chance of survival because its not as cold as the freezer. Knowing where a ferret is the best prevention.

     Washers and Dryers are also bad places for a ferret to end up. A ferret that ends up in the washing machine tub unnoticed can drown with the laundry.

      Dryers that open in the front are low and easy accessible to a curious ferret. If it isn’t seen when the wet laundry goes in it will become a static free corpse.

Electrical cords and outlets

     Some ferrets love to chew on cords or stick their paws into the tiny slits of outlets to see what is inside them. Child cap the electrical outlets and spray the wires with a thick coating of a bitter tasting agent such as bitter apple unless you have a ferret that likes the taste. I do

james_of_jessie1his name is James. 

 

   

Fans/Heaters

     Ferrets want to catch moving things and you can imagine what a spinning fan blade would do to a ferret in a matter of seconds. Heaters can burn a ferret just as easily as it can a child.

Printers

     I wouldn’t have thought about this one and never have found mention of it on any of the sites I have read.

 Lance1 Lance showed me just how inquisitive a ferret can be. He climbed up to where the paper comes out after it is printed and tried to climb inside through a small opening. I don’t know if he would have made it but I would have been devastated if I had gone to print something and didn’t know he was in there. The printer is now up higher and no other incidents have occurred with the printer.

Vacuum Cleaners

     Some ferrets love to attack vacuum cleaners and others are scared of them. You have to watch where they are while trying to vacuum around them if you don’t put them up. The other problem with vacuum cleaners is the challenge of getting inside them.

Desks

     Take a look at your desk what is on it? If it is anything like mine there are several pens, a bottle of wite-out ®, envelopes, a cup filled with your drink, and maybe some knick knacks, and the cordless phone. There is more on mine but you get the idea. A ferret’s determination to own everything you have touched is overwhelming at times.

     Pens are easily grabbed and taken to the hidey hole not really a problem unless it is one of those pens that have the rubber grip. Ferrets love to eat rubber and it can cause intestinal blockage which is life threatening.

     Some ferrets are adapt at opening bottles. Wite-Out® is poisonous to a ferret.

galahad Galahad would go to great lengths to get my coffee. It isn’t good for them but I found it easier to give Galahad his own cup. I used a doll’s tea cup and he got a cup a day it was better than him spilling mine onto my keyboard.

     Watching a ferret grab the phone from its charger and trying to drag it to the hidey hole is like watching the three stooges in a single body. This is Gweny's favorite game. gweny

     One has to be constantly diligent in watching where and what these amusing little creatures are doing to keep them out of harms way.

 

Jo

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Child Proofing Part 1

     Is just the first steps in ferret proofing the home to keep the perpetual 2 year old safe. Many people do not realize just how determined a ferret can be until its too late.

Ferret Fact: If it can get it’s head through a hole its body will follow.

     With that said most ferrets can squeeze through a hole that is an inch wide. Unless of course it’s name is Gweny then any hole is fair game. The boy’s cage wire is approximately ½ inch. The boy’s can’t get more than their noses through. Gweny on the other had has gotten out and meet me on the front porch where I was washing her cage.

     Any hole no matter how small needs to be blocked up. Ferrets are extremely inquisitive and will let their curiosity get the better of them. I have heard from friends of their ferret finding a hole in a wall and climbing into it and eating through the insulation to see what was beyond it. Unfortunately he didn’t live because of eating the insulation.

Fact: Ferrets love to climb.

     Ferrets have very bad depth perception when it comes to judging just how high up they have climbed. Some will try to jump to the ground unaware of the fact they are six feet in the air. Mouse loved to climb the side of the cages and take a nap on the very top. I am lucky in that he never liked jumping and always yelled for me to get him down. I think maybe he was afraid of heights.

     Another issue with climbing is that a ferret will climb over baby/dog gates to get where they want to go. If you have a designated room for your ferrets you need a solid piece of wood or Plexiglas that is as wide as the doorframe and higher than the ferret can reach. I have read that a minimum of 3ft is good but I have found that a determined ferret can get over that. Lance and Gweny are good examples of that.

     In the summer the room I let them out in gets very hot with the door closed so I leave it open and slide in the board that is now 4ft tall.

     Three summers ago I put in a 3ft board and went downstairs to refill their water bottles. I heard the scratching sound and figured it was just one of my ferrets trying to get my attention.

     I came around the corner from the kitchen in time to see Gweny racing down the stairs. Now Gweny is only about 6ins long not counting her tail and very petite. I couldn’t figure out how she had gotten out. I was still hearing the scratching sound as I scooped her up and carried her and the water bottle up the stairs back to the ferret room and was greeted by Lance trying to get over the board.

     I put Gweny back into the room and climbed over the board. Knowing ferrets don’t give up easily I sat down in my computer chair and watched. Within 5 minutes Lance and Gweny were sniffing at the board to see if any holes had developed I guess. Lance laid down like a speed bump across the length of the board and Gweny climbed on top of him. Lance then stood up boosting Gweny high enough to get a hold of the top of the board and used her back feet to propel her over the top. That was the end of the open door until I got a taller board.

Fact: Ferrets love to dig

     Carpets, couches, box springs, houseplants,drapes, cats, and I am sure a host of other items have been introduced to the ferrets claws. Unlike cats ferret claws do not retract and need to be constantly cut back or they turn into very sharp little knives.

     Some ferrets dig at carpet. I am not sure of the reason but no matter how much prevention you take to protect the carpet a determined ferret will dig a big hole in the carpet. Once there is a hole a ferret will climb under the carpet and tunnel around under it. My ferret’s room has tile floors and a few of those door mat type rugs.

     Couches present verity of problems. I know several free roaming ferret owners that own futons to protect their fur kids. Some of the reasons include a ferret getting caught in the mechanisms of sofa bed/ recliner type couches, digging a hole in the underneath of the couch and climbing up under the cushions and taking a nap, and using the couch for a hidey hole.

     The couch in the ferret’s room isn’t used very much and never while the ferrets are out. Except to be bounced on by the ferrets. Once a month it gets tipped forward and the “treasures” removed.

     Not sure where your favorite pen went, that bottle of sexy red nail polish you paid a handsome price for, paint brush, hair brush, the doll you bought for your niece for Christmas, your roommate’s lighter? This is just a sampling of what I have found under the couch. As I have said before James's newest theft item is dog food and at the end of the month I have a dust pan full.

     House plants have soil and ferrets will empty a pot of dirt in a matter of seconds. Some of the commercial soils have pesticides, fertilizer, and other chemicals toxic to a ferret. Also almost all house plants are toxic to ferrets that might like to take a taste.

     Some cats have forged a unique bond with ferrets and use them as an automatic scratching post. I know this for a fact because Majic will rub up against the boy’s cage and wait for James to claw at his back. Both seem to get enjoyment out it.

Jo