Jan 5 2010


Sweet Wilbo

Sweet Wilbo

Ferret.  What did you just think of when you read that?  For some it’s an image of a weasel, for others “furry snake-like thingies”, or as my mother would lovingly put it, “Ew”.  For most people, ferrets don’t exactly fit the description of something pleasant.  But for others, when we hear the word ferret, we think about our social little one at home.  Ferrets get a bad rap, mostly from people who hear myths or from people who had an experience with an irresponsible ferret owner.  So let’s sort a few things out.

Ferrets do not smell nearly as bad as they are made out to.  If you’ve read that you can “de-scent” a ferret so they will no longer smell, that is false.  While you can “de-scent” a ferret, it’s a very painful process and ferrets only use their scent glands if they get frightened or scared.  The oils in their skin naturally give off a musty smell and the more you bathe a ferret the stronger that musty scent will be.  If the owner is vigilant and dedicated to cleaning their ferrets litter box (yes, that’s right, they can use a litter box) and routinely wash their bedding then there shouldn’t be any unpleasant odors.

Have you ever heard that ferrets will steal and hide anything they can find and carry?  If you have, that’s true.  My ferret, Wilbo, particularly likes pens.  If there are any pens on the floor she will do the one-two-three maneuver: run away with it, hide it, and scrounge for more.  There have been stories of people not being able to find their keys because their beloved little rascal has hidden them.  If you’re worried about losing your keys or belongings to your furry kleptomaniac, the answer is simple: don’t leave valuables on the floor where she or he can steal them.  You can also stalk your ferret and find out where their hiding spots are (like under the bed, or in the corner of the closet).

Ferrets do better in pairs rather than flying solo.  But even if they do have a playmate they need one-on-one time with their owner.  It’s essential to their growth and development.  You can play all kinds of games with your little one!  Wilbo’s favorite is when I get down on the floor with her and act like I am trying to catch her.  She jumps around, makes squeaky noises and chases me around.  She also likes when I snatch her and scratch her belly.  Although ferrets are always on the go they do love to be cuddled.  Wilbo (when she’s not climbing in to dressers and squeezing under doors) like to be cradled in both arms.  It’s a sweet moment and a bonding exercise for us both.

There are many horror stories of ferrets getting lost within the house, or in household furniture.  To ensure that I never lose my baby girl, I keep a collar on her whenever she is outside of her cage.  I know, I know, “Really?  A collar? You keep a collar on your ferret?!”  If a ferret can fit their head through an object they can fit their entire body.  The ferret collars have a bell on them so you can easily locate your ferret-unless they have fallen asleep in the warmth of your clean clothes, but that is another story!

Whether you are new to ferrets or you have owned them for years, you will quickly find that they are wonderful companions and playful creatures.  If you do your research and are dedicated to the care of your ferret then you both will live in peaceful harmony.  Like other pets make sure you can care for and house a ferret for many years to come, as they can live up to 15 years.  If you are in the market for a ferret to add to your family, check your local shelters and rescues before even considering going to a pet store.  From there on, sit back and enjoy the laughs and love that come from watching your ferret explore and play!

Written by Alyssa Willet
Puppy Nursery Caretaker at Wayside Waifs

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