Mustela putorius furo

the weaselsYes, they smell. Yes, they nip. Yes, they can get into anything. I repeat – anything.

But they grow on you.

I’m technically not a ferret owner myself. That honour belongs to my first-born, who’d wanted one since she was about 10 or so. The ex and I relented when she turned 16 and appeared to have acheived enough maturity to care for one. This was of course before we discovered that owning ferrets means a whole new level of commitment, pain and expense.

The ferrets themselves cost nothing much. $30 or so and you get the pick of a litter. Then you find out that there aren’t many vets who can “do” ferrets. And ferrets need a lot of “doing” indeed. Expensive doing.

The jills (males are “hobs”) have to be desexed before they first go on heat unless they’re breeders, or they die from hormone overload. They have to be given distemper shots, too.

Worse, they’re fragile animals for something that’s basically an inbred domesticated weasel. They have no sense of danger and their eyesight is very poor. So they’re forever climbing and falling off things. They will chew and eat entirely inappropriate items such as power cables and foam rubber. Intestinal blockages and electrocution are leading causes of ferret mortality. My daughters first ferret ate a foam earplug and suddenly died of the blockage some weeks later.

Ferrets are cold weather animals and will die if overheated. It’s been 40 degrees (Celcius) here a lot this summer. We have a special ferret “ice cave”.
Now we have two desexed jills, “Cambridge” and “Snuffles”. So far we’ve managed to keep them alive for a year.

And we all smell a bit funny.

J.

PS: a random quote from the net:

“A ferret’s favorite place to be is ‘there’ and favorite direction is ‘up’. No ferret has ever been ‘there’, but they keep trying.

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2 Responses to “Mustela putorius furo”


  1. 1 Doug January 25, 2007 at 11:25 am

    They certainly have no sense of danger, and they cannot, cannot, cannot fend for themselves. We had two jills, Charlotte and Emily (for the Bronte sisters), and Emily escaped one day while I was doing a bit of cleaning. Never saw her again — I presume a cat got her. Charlotte is alive and well, at least three years old, I think. Very pleasant animal. She only bites if she’s out playing and I’m trying to get her back into her cage, and she’s not ready.

  2. 2 microsoar January 25, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    The Original Ferret who Ate Something Inappropriate and Died (Fidget), escaped twice. The first time, we despaired of her return, but we left food in her outdoor cage and the door open – and she turned up three days later, ravenous and very thin indeed.

    The second time was only for a few hours, and I constructed a baited “ferret trap” beside the hole in the fence she’d presumably exited. And we caught her. My daughter snuck up on her as Fidget was trying unsuccessfully to figure out how to get into the trap. I thought the “tunnel” would have been irresistable. Never underestimate the stupidity of a weasel.

    As for nipping, well, we have a “good” and a “bad” ferret. Snuffles is a model of civility. *If* she does nip, just playing, it won’t be a skin-breaker. But Cambridge is prone to random fits of orneriness, at which point ankles and available digits are prone to blood-letting.


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