Wednesday, March 31, 2010

National Ferret Day

 dancingferret     National Ferret Day is April 2 and falls on Friday. No one is sure who started National Ferret Day and it has been in the National Special Events Registry since 1995.

     Ferret owners spoil their fur children by buying them new toys, clothing, and/or cages. Some ferret owners make this the day to take their ferrets to the vet for yearly check ups and vaccinations. 

     Having a day just for ferrets allows their owners an opportunity to take them out into public and showing their ferrets off.

     Toys are a ferret owner’s greatest pleasure. Finding one that appeals to their ferret is satisfying. Many toys are made for infants and can hold up to a ferret’s no holds style of play.

     Other toys are made for dogs and cats and on occasion, a toy specially made for ferrets is found at a price a pet parent is willing to pay.

     There is a variety of clothing options for the fashionable ferret. These can range from a cool tee shirt to formal wear.

     Collars are in this category and can be anything from the simple band of color to one that has many shiny stones on it. Clothing can range from a couple of dollars to a hundred or more.

     Housing for a ferret depends on the owner and the number of ferrets he/she has. Some cages are a single level and are generally best for one or two ferrets. 

     There are homes called mansions that can be six levels or higher and can house several ferrets. Most of these larger cages are mounted on wheels and are easy to move about.

 dvm3    Seeing the vet for yearly check ups and vaccinations helps to catch diseases before they are life-threatening Having an annual blood chemistry test done also helps to spot changes that could be easily over looked as some conditions have no outward signs.

     I celebrate ferret day with new toys and collars. This year I have a new addition to the ferret clan thanks to my roommate, Judy.

     She brought home this little scrappy guy who thinks he is the boss of his new brothers. Both have put him in his place with well placed nips to his ears and scruff.


     I did have to break it up between him and Lance as he can’t hear him squealing when he bit a little too hard.

     New addition is named ManChester and has several nicknames now. Those are Manny, Chester, Chestnut, and squirm. He is a dark sable and will be three months old on 10 April.



Monday, March 29, 2010

Tag You're It!

     I was tagged by DogThunder Dog Thunder in a game of photo tag.

     The rules:

1. Go to your first photo folder/file

2. Count to the tenth photo

3. Post it to your blog and write a story about it.

4. Tag five other blogs

     So this is my tenth photo in my photo folder.

kodak 021

     This picture was taken in September of 2009. Lance and Gweny were playing follow the leader. Gweny was the leader like always and as you can see they were in motion.

     Blogs I've tagged are:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Feeding the Ferret: The Ugly

     Humans are able to eat almost all foods without giving it much though but we must be aware of what we can give our pets without dire consequences.

 begloopan     We know better than to give our pets even a tiny taste of some foods but we may not know the dangers of other foods until it is too late.

     Pet owners should know that chocolate is toxic to animals. The compound responsible for the toxicity is Theobromine. According to Vet Medicine, the toxic dosage for a dog is between 100-200 mg. It would take less to kill a ferret.

     Everyday in America new sugarless products emerge. These products contain the ingredient Xylitol. The most used item containing Xylitol is chewing gum. Chewing gum is a problem for ferrets in that they don’t know not to eat it. It can cause obstructions that can be fatal to a ferret. The Xylitol in sugarless gum has been linked to hypoglycemia better known as low blood sugar in animals. Ferrets with insulinoma are at higher risk.

     While not a lot is known about ferrets and how they do react to certain foods there have been incidents where a ferret has had a food allergy and like humans, it can be fatal.

     Peanuts may seem harmless but in reality, the hardness and small size can cause a host of problems including but not limited to intestinal blockage, choking, and seizures from allergic reaction.

     Popcorn may not seem like it could cause a problem but kernels that haven’t popped can choke a ferret. The soft part of the kernel once ingested can swell and cause blockages. Most popcorn is salted and buttered and this can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

     Seeds aren’t digestible and could cause blockages along with the possibility of choking.

     Avocados are poisonous to cats and with ferrets being even smaller; I would personally avoid giving any to a ferret.

     Onions contain disulphide that could lead to anemia.

     Corn is a plant material that isn’t digestible and passes though the intestinal system whole and can cause the soft lining to protrude though the anus. Known as a prolapsed rectum.

     Vegan pet food is on this list because of the controversy about how beneficial it is to animals such as cats, dogs, and ferrets. Which are carnivores and need meat in their diet to have proper nutrition.

     Sugar laden things such as candy, soda pop, energy drinks, and alcohol can cause blood sugar related problems along with tooth decay.

     Black licorice interferes with blood sugar levels. Which could be problematic to a ferret with insulinoma.

     Candy is known as lick and sticks in our house because my fur children don’t eat it. They will lick a pilfered piece until it is sticky and then leave it where I will usually step on it in my bare feet.

      Energy drinks have been linked to impaired adrenal responses in humans. Along with the adrenal interference, the sugar content would cause problems with a ferret that also has insulinoma.

     Alcoholic drinks convert into sugars and should never be given to animals.

     Dog food should never be given to a ferret as source of food because it lacks an amino acid called Taurine. An absence of taurine can result in eye problems that could eventually lead to blindness, hair loss, and tooth decay. It could also cause an enlargement of the heart in cats and possibly in ferrets.

     The ASPCA now has an Animal Poison Control Center that is open 24/7 year round. You can find some information on their site at or if it is an emergency you can call (888) 426-4435. There could be a charge of $65 to your credit card for the use of the service. I didn’t find any information about ferrets so I am doubtful of how much knowledge they have about them.

     I hope you have found this series informational and given you some new information about giving our furry friends foods.

     Any remarks, thoughts, ideas, links to other blogs or websites are welcomed and appreciated.


     Please visit these places as they are great sources of information.

Veterinary Medicine


Monday, March 22, 2010

Feeding the Ferret: The Bad

     These foods are considered bad foods because they aren’t part of a ferret’s natural diet. Given in moderation they won’t kill a ferret.

     Ferrets are like small children in that everything goes into their mouths and need to be monitored about what goes into their little mouths.

     Ferrets are determined little animals and will demand what you are eating just because they see it going into your mouth.

Dairy Products:

     Ferrets are lactose intolerant meaning that any milk-based product is going to give them diarrhea. Although you can give them a baby spoon taste of what you are eating.

     By using a baby spoon accomplishes two things. It allows you to control how much a ferret is getting and it teaches them that if it is on the spoon they are allowed a taste.

     It should be noted here and will be again in the next post. Chocolate should never be given to a ferret or any other animal, as it is toxic to ALL animals.

Fruit and Vegetables:

     Ferrets lack a cecum (1) to process fruits and vegetables. They gain no nutritional value out of these items and are hard to digest. Knowing this you can allow a ferret a taste occasionally but no more than once or twice a month. There are exceptions of course.

     Raisins can be given but no more than ten a day and be sure they are being eaten and not stashed away for later.

     Baby carrots cut lengthwise and into thin strips. My boys like to chew on them until they are mushy then they are done with them.

     Celery cut into the size of baby carrots and cut the same way. Removing as much of the stringy part as you can.

     Strawberries only a small bite.

Nuts and Grains:

     Cheerios out of the box and only 10 a day. You can alternate this with raisins. Again, be sure they are actually eating them.

     Bread either can be out of the wrapper or toasted. Only a nibble now and then otherwise a ferret will try to eat your sandwich out of your hand.

     Peanut Butter no more than once a month and use the baby spoon leveled off. Peanut Butter is a good emergency laxative if you are out ferret lax.


     These treats are made for animals but not for ferrets.

     Treats for cats: These include Pounce®, Greenies for Cats® pretty much any of the hard cat treats. If the serving says, five pieces a day only give one or two to a ferret.

     There are treats on the market for ferrets and are reasonable in price but I have found that not all ferrets share the same tastes and will turn their noses up at treats designed for them.

     Have lived with eight ferrets at one time you find that they can be demanding and will keep after something until either it is out of their sight or you let them have some.

     Galahad was a prime example of this. He loved coffee and would hunt down my coffee cup so he could have a drink. After losing three keyboards to ferret spilled coffee, I bought a doll’s tea set and gave him one of the cups.

     I would fill his cup with a small amount of my coffee. This did two things it kept him off my desk an away from my coffee and it allowed him to have some. He also knew that he only got one cup a day and would bring me his cup when he was ready for it.

     I don’t recommend giving ferrets coffee but I wanted to illustrate just how persistent they can be and one of the solutions I came up with.

     The last post in this series will cover the foods you should never give a ferret and the reasons why.

     I hope you have found these first two posts informational. Any feedback, comment, links to other blogs is encouraged and welcomed.


     1. Cecum or caecum comes from the Latin caecus meaning blind. It is a pouch that connects the ileum with the ascending colon of the large intestines. Herbivores have a relatively large cecum that host bacteria that helps to break down plant materials. 

     Obligatory carnivores whose diet contains little or no plant material have a reduced cecum that is either partially or completely replaced by the vermiform appendix(2)

     2.Vermiform appendix is a blind-ended tube connected to the cecum. Vermiform comes from Latin and means worm-shaped.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feeding the Ferret: The Good

     Trying to find the right food to feed your ferret can be overwhelming. Knowing what they need to have nutritionally helps in the decision making process.

Fact: It takes about three hours for food to travel through a ferret’s digestive tract.

     This short time span for digestion means that a ferret needs to have a protein source that breaks down quickly along with a high fat content to meet their body’s needs.

     Ferrets are carnivores meaning that they are meat eaters and should be fed foods that are high in animal proteins and fats. Reading labels will help you to decide what food is best for your ferret.

     While a ferret can eat cat food this isn’t a good choice as most cat/kitten chow is formulated from corn meal or some other corn by product.

     The first ingredient of specially formulated ferret food should be some kind of animal protein such as chicken or turkey. To help less the musky odor of a ferret foods that have fish or herring meal should be avoided.

     One the package should be a mandated chart by the American Animal Feed Control Office (AAFCO) that has the percentages of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture.

     Crude Protein estimates the total protein content in foods designed for animals. This includes true proteins and other nitrogen containing substances such as amino acids and nitrates.

     These act as both an energy source and tissue builder. Crude Protein should not be less that 40% the higher the percentage the better.

     Crude Fat includes all the fat in the diet from plant to animal sources. While the plant source may be good for cats and dogs. Ferrets need mainly animal fat sources. Crude Fat should not be less than 20%.

     Crude Fiber is a rough indicator of energy level and crude fiber for ferrets should not exceed 2%.

     Moisture is how much water or liquid is in the food. In ferret food it should not be greater than 10%.

     These numbers are based on commercially produced foods that can come in canned or dry forms. There is a growing trend of feeding a ferret a more natural or raw diet.

     While the Guaranteed Analysis in many cases is higher one must realize that a raw diet can be open to problems that most commercially produced foods aren’t affected by. These can include the food spoiling quickly to harmful bacterial growth.

     Ferret food can be expensive. A 4 pound bag can cost anywhere from 9 to 22 dollars. This varies from brand to brand and store to store.

     Some brands are made in a single shape or pellet and others have several shapes to challenge a ferret’s inquisitive nature. Some ferrets will eat the same brand all the time and others will eat several because of their finicky nature.

     James and Lance like Zupreem® the best of all the brands I have offered them but it has to be mixed with 9lives Growing Years ® Kitten food for 0-3 years. It gives them several shapes to pick up and eat. Lance eats his food in a very distinct pattern of shapes.

     The second part of this series will be the bad foods. This covers what treats are considered bad for a ferret and the reasons why. Along with what human foods can be given but are not necessarily a good thing to allow.

     What do you consider a treat for your pet? What human foods would you allow your pet to eat and why?

     All comments, answers, and links to other blogs are welcomed and encouraged.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Preview of the coming Posts

     Can a ferret eat cat food? Are raisins and peanuts good for treats? Is gum dangerous for my ferret?


     Our pets depend on us to feed them appropriate foods depending on their species and other requirements. We also like to give them bits of our own foods when we think no one else is looking. We are bombard with ads from a number of sources on what to feed our pets. Each product trying to get our money by telling us how great their food is for our pets.

     Dog and cat food commercials flood the television and other media platforms along with advice on what to not to let them eat and the reasons whys.

     Ferret owners have to look for advice on what foods are good and which can be detrimental to a ferret’s health.


     In the coming three part series I will answer the three questions at the beginning of this post along with talking about the foods that a ferret should eat, that they really shouldn’t have but in extreme moderation isn’t bad, and the foods you should never let a ferret. Much like the Clint Eastwood movie titled The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

     What foods do you consider good, bad, or ugly for pets in general? All remarks, topic ideas, answers, and links to other blogs are appreciated.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Litter Box Training the Ferret

     Like a human baby, ferrets aren’t potty trained and need to be taught how to use the potty. Many pet retailers will tell you that a ferret will instinctually use a litter pan but this isn’t true. Ferrets are considered latrine animals meaning that they have a bathroom spot away from their food and sleeping areas.

     While it is easier to train a younger ferret to use the litter box an older ferret can also be taught to use one it just takes time and a lot of patience.

Things you will need:

A litter box:

hicornerlitterpan starterpan

coveredlitterpan disposablelitterpan


Non-clumping litter:

bedding_litter critterliiter ferretlitter


Some kind of treat or reward:

feratone    cat


Bitter Apple® or equivalent

Cleaning supplies:

cornerlitterscooper Highguardscoop  paper towels, pet accident cleaner, non-scented dish soap.

     The first thing to remember is that every ferret is different and not all techniques will work all ferrets.

     The second thing is not to expect a ferret to use a litter box 100% of the time. Ferrets are in constant motion and the need to stop doing something to go find the bathroom is equal to the small child too engrossed in playing to realize just what that feeling is until it is too late.

The Litter Box:

     When buying a litter box you need to consider several things from the size of your ferret. Males can end up weighing anywhere from 4 to 5 pounds and most females can top the scale at 3 pounds. Boys can be a lot longer than girls can.

     How many ferrets will be sharing the litter box? The more ferrets using one box increases the frequency that you will need to change the litter.

     Is your ferret finicky about others using the same box?

     Does he/she like snorkeling in the litter?

     Depending on the pet retailer, the types of litter pans maybe limited to starter pan kits and cat pans. The starter kit is all right for when the ferret is still a kit but they can quickly outgrow it.

     Other options are the pans made for rabbits and because of their shape fit nicely into a corner of the cage. Cat pans are good for the younger and healthy ferrets who are able to jump over the high side of the pan. You can buy litter boxes that are covered giving privacy.

     I personally would stay away from the motorized self-cleaning litter boxes because of a ferret’s need to investigate everything that piques their curiosity.

     While almost all litter boxes are made of plastic and are easy to clean. There are disposable ones on the market that are made from cardboard and are made to put into the corner of a room. A litter box should be made available outside the cage and in their play area.

The Litter:

     There are several types of litter on the market now. These range from the traditional cat litter made from unscented grey clay granules to litter made for specific species. You don’t want to use clumping litter or wood shavings.

     Clumping litter may make for easy clean up but it can be problematic to a ferret that ingests some of it. Clumping litter absorbs liquid swelling and this can cause an obstruction in a ferret any where from the throat all the way to the end of the line.

     Wood shaving can cause respiratory distress and skin irritations from the oils that are present in the shavings. Cedar and pine shavings can also cause other problems if ingested.

     I have used torn up newspaper as litter but if you have a paper-loving ferret expect a lot of it to be all over the cage. Lance likes the feel of the torn strips and will take pieces out litter box before it has been used and will create a two-inch high pile to play with.

     Lance and James both like digging in a clean litter box until one corner is empty and piled beside the litter box. Some ferrets won’t use a litter box another ferret has used.

     Gweny was one such ferret and would relieve herself next to her litter box until it was changed. The boys don’t seem to care. I have been told that ferrets won’t use a litter box that a cat has used but I don’t have any first hand knowledge if it is true or not.

The Training:

     The main objective is to get the ferret to realize that the litter box is the bathroom and not some nice corner. This can be achieved by rewards, being persistent, and patient. Again, a ferret will not use a litter box 100% of the time.

     The first technique is just getting your ferret to recognize that the litter box is the place to go to the bathroom. This can be achieved by confining the ferret in a smaller cage with the litter pan on one side his bedding in the middle and food and water on the other side.

     Unless a ferret is injured or sick it will not normally defecate on it’s bedding or near its food. A ferret will use the litter box upon waking. Once he gets used to using the box you can move him to a larger cage and he should use the litter box.

     The second technique is the reward system. Every time you see your ferret use the litter box you reward him/her with a treat. Ferretone® is a good choice in that most ferrets are addicted to the taste and will do almost anything for it.

     Ferrets are intelligent and will try to psych you into thinking that they have gone in the litter box just to get the Ferretone® or let out of the cage. Once out they will scurry to their favorite corner and go.

     Being aware of what your ferret is doing outside of his/her cage you can re-enforce where the appropriate place to go to the bathroom is. Most ferrets need the litter box when they wake up, an hour after eating, and about ten to fifteen minutes once out of their cage.

     Watching for signs that a ferret is looking for a likely place to go include sniffing around corners, racing from on corner to another, and backing up into a corner with his/her tail arched over his/her back and squatting.

     If you see your ferret doing this pick him/her up and put him/her in the nearest litter box. Some will jump right out of it because their attention span is short they may think they have already gone. Put the ferret back in the box and keep doing it until they go. Once he/she has gone in the litter box give the ferret lots of praise and a treat to re-enforce that's the proper place to go is.

The Clean-up/Use of Deterrent

     The litter box needs to be scooped out daily and the litter changed every two to three days. This depends on the number of ferrets using the box and if a ferret has decided the box is too dirty to use.

     The litter box should be scrubbed with weekly with regular non-scented dish soap and water letting it air dry or drying it with a towel before refilling with litter.

     Accidents will happen even with the best trained ferret. Ferret poop is easily cleaned up with a paper towel and the area should be cleaned with a cleaning agent made especially for pet accidents.

     A ferret has exceptional smell and will be able to sniff out where another ferret has gone and will think that it where the bathroom is.

     If a ferret insists on going in the same area repeatedly you can either put a litter pan there or if the spot is inconvenient you can spray the area with a deterrent such as Bitter Apple® or the equivalence.

     All comments are welcomed and appreciated. What other subjects would you like to know about?


Monday, March 8, 2010

The Ferret and the Disposable Diaper

james_of_jessie1      Most of you by now know that James has a plastic bag addiction and has to be in any kind of plastic bag and will work hard at removing what is in the plastic bag. This last week was a scary one for me.

     Disposable diapers come in plastic wrapping that has a perforated area to open it. Which would have been all right if that is what James had used to enter into the bag. He didn’t he chewed his way in and in the process ingested bits of the diapers he tried to remove from the bag. It may be that he only got small amounts of the fluff in his intestinal tract that kept him from needing surgery.

     James wasn’t acting like his normal self but didn’t seem to be sick or hurt. Picking him up to give him some loving I noticed that he had a slight bulge on one side. It wasn’t hard and he didn’t seem to be in pain and being the weekend I had to wait for Monday to take him to his vet. I would’ve normally given him some Ferret Lax® to help him pass whatever he had ingested but I was out of it and on Sundays there isn’t  much open around here.

     Thankfully, I remembered that  Kevin Fitzgerald of Animal Planet's Emergency Vets used a small amount of peanut butter with a ferret that had ingested an eraser with good results. I gave James a small amount of peanut butter that he licked off the spoon.

     I watched him and made sure he was eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom. He did all of this with no problems. The only thing that he didn’t want to do was run around too much. I kept checking to see where the bulge was. The first one moved through his intestines but was soon followed by several others.

     I was glad when Monday finally got here and was able to take him to the vet. An ultrasound revealed that he had several small blockages that were moving towards the rear.

     Because he was eating, drinking, pooping it was decided that he would come home and see if whatever it was would pass on its own in a day along with giving him an inch ribbon of Ferret Lax® twice a day. By Monday night, James had passed a large amount of shiny stool with granules in it. I recognized the granules as gel from the fluff of disposable diapers.

    I don’t know what the fluff is made of but it seems to be non-toxic and James has passed almost all of it out of his system. I am grateful that this ended in the best way and reminded me just how determined a ferret can be about getting into something.

     Needless to say diaper bags, disposable diapers, and any other type of bag plastic or not is not allowed on the floor where James can get to it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Wednesday Poll

Now I would like you to answer some question related to the poll. Please leave your answers in the comment section of the blog and not on the poll.

1. What type of pet do you have?

2. Do you know what types of foods aren't safe for your pet?

3. What kind of treats do you give your pet?

4. How often do you give your pet treats? If you don't give treats why not?

5. Do you find these polls interesting?



Monday, March 1, 2010

Mischievous Ferrets

     Ferrets can be a source of entertainment and for many a great stress reliever but they also are capable of getting into a lot of mischief. James and Lance are very much like the old Wriggly® double mint gum commercial where they say, “Double your fun” but with these two it’s double the mischief.

     They seem to have several methods of being able to get into trouble or more like getting away with something. Some of these include: Mom look at me while the other takes something, Divide and conquer, Hide and seek. There are others but these three have been the focus this weekend.

  kodak 038     Many of you know that James and Lance are caged because of the bloodhound, Trixie, due to her prey instincts although I do let them out occasionally while she is still in the room. They all are fascinated by the other but it would only take Trixie stomping her huge paw on one of the boys to end his life so I am super vigilant when she is in the room.

     However, most times the room is emptied of the other critters and the boys are given free access to it. Depending on the time of day and how bored they are the mischief doesn’t start until about ten minutes out of the cage.

     I think part of it is that they have to see what all has changed in the room once the inspection is done all is fair game for the ferret games.

   james_of_jessie1   James has this fascination for plastic bags and climbs inside them no matter if it is empty or full. If empty, he does the dance of joy in them until Lance comes and sees what is going on and wants to join James in the bag. Where weasel wrestling commences until James gets tired and leaves the bag.

    Lance1 Lance then will make sure I am looking at him being cute. This weekend while I was distracted by Lance’s cute play James got my pocket calculator and took off with it. Only reason I knew he had was that he ran past Lance and I to get to his hidey-hole. What James doesn’t know is that I have already retrieved it.

     Divide and conquer is the newest strategy in collecting the most loot. I know something is up when they both go into a corner and look like two kids discussing something in secret. When they come out of the corner they waddle calmly to the center of the floor and they spilt off in opposite direction at a full trot.

     Only reason I know something is being swiped is that it makes noise. James’s attempts at things included my dice box of 80 dice and miniatures, the keychain bumble ball, car keys, my wallet, my wireless mouse for my net book, dog’s squeaky toy, and I am sure he got several other things but hidey-hole cleaning day isn’t until Tuesday.

     Lance’s haul would have included 4 forks, bottle of pain relieve, my jump drive, alarm clock, pencil bag, my journalism bag which contains 3 notepads, assortment of pens and pencils, business cards, headphones, camera, digital recorder, replacement batteries, mini flashlight, and a change purse. I am sure that he made off with several socks and at least two small stuffed animals. Both boys tried to take my cell phone but the charger cord stopped that from happening.

     Lance’s love for socks has grown into an obsession. No sock is now safe from his addiction. I fold laundry while the boys are out and haven’t rolled a pair of socks into the balls I used to for some time now but because both boys will climb into the basket while I am folding the clean laundry I have a small pile of old clothes on the floor for them to play hide and seek in.

     Lance made great use of the game by making sure I would see him climb into a shirtsleeve, disappear into the pile, and then stick his nose out to show where he was at before pulling it back in. What I didn’t realize was that the other sleeve of the shirt came out behind the basket.

     Lance would wait until I would hang an unmated sock over the side of the basket until I found the mate. Only problem was when I thought I found the mate the other sock was gone. At first I thought it was because it had fallen back into the basket and I had just picked up the same sock then as I went to place the sock over the edge of the basket Lance came out of his hiding place and grabbed the sock. Lance’s game collected him 15 socks all hidden in the pile.

     These two little guys have lived up to their Latin name of little thief quite well this weekend along with making me laugh at their antics. Any and all comments are welcomed.