CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIZE CARRIER FOR YOUR FERRET!

Congratulations. You are on your way to pick out your baby ferret. You will need to invest in a carrier to bring your baby ferret home. Ferrets grow very fast and that baby ferret at 6 or 7 weeks will be full grown size wise by 16 weeks or 4 months! So plan ahead and purchase a carrier that will be suitable for your full grown fuzzbutt!

Some carriers are not suitable even for a baby ferret of 6 or 7 weeks. There is not enough floor space and very poor ventilation.

Only 6 inches in width

So, now you know not to purchase this carrier. If you have one or two ferrets but NO MORE than 2 ferrets the next carrier would be very suitable. Good floor space and best of all great ventilation!

You will notice I have not shown carriers made of cloth with plastic mesh. We have found ferret owners complain that the cloth carriers do not retain their shape. Worst of all, a bored ferret can easily chew the plastic mesh and escape into the car.

Bottom line is that you want the largest carrier possible so that your ferrets have plenty of ventilation and will not overheat.

FERRETS AND THE HEAT

Many ferret owners do not realize that their ferret cannot handle temperatures over 24 or 25 degrees Celsius. Ferrets do not have sweat glands and can not cool their body temperature down by panting like dogs do. As a matter of fact if you see your ferret panting, your ferret is in heat distress and in danger of dying from heat stroke!

So, first lets talk about how you can keep your ferrets cool (and thereby safe)! If you have central air in our home or a window air conditioner in their room; you have things covered at home.

If your window air conditioner does not really cool their room but you have access to your basement, most likely it will be a nice cool space to move the cage to for the duration of the heat wave.

If you drive a car with air conditioning you are covered when out to the vets. You shouldn’t be taking your ferret for a car ride on high temperature days. What would you do if your car died or you were in a minor accident and had to wait on the side of the road for help.

Please don’t take your ferrets to the beach. Parking them in the shade will not keep them cool.

Please don’t take your ferrets to the cabin unless you have air conditioning at the cabin. Remember a fan flowing on the cage will not cool your ferrets down.

Do not to leave your cage or carrier in front of a window. That sun beaming through the window can still overheat your ferret. I have had my forearm sunburn through the car window in an air conditioned car.

For those of you without air conditioning of any kind there are still some ways to protect your ferret. You can add water to an empty plastic soda or pop bottle and freeze it. The empty miki bottle from the liquor store is flat and is perfect for your ferret to drape himself/herself over. You can pick up a couple of ceramic tiles from the ReFit store and pop them in the freezer. You can even use those gel packs but only if you are sure your ferret won’t chew on them as the liquid is toxic. Remember to put the frozen container in a pillow case or wrap in a light towel so that your ferret isn’t lying directly on the frozen container.

You can also move your ferret into the bathroom, placing his blanket, food and water in the bathtub. We all know how cool that porcelain feels. Don’t close the bathroom door as this small space could heat up. And it goes without saying that your should make sure the bathroom is 100% ferret proofed just in case they can jump out of the tub. You don’t want to loose your ferret under the tub or in the walls from the sink cabinet.

Last but not least, you can fashion a simple air conditioner by soaking a bed sheet in water and then draping the wet bed sheet over the cage. Place frozen 4 litre milk jugs inside the cage as well. Place an oscillating fan in front of the cage. The fan blowing on the wet bedsheet will bring down the temperature inside the cage. This only works until the bedsheet is dry. So constant supervision is required.

A FAN BLOWING ON THE CAGE; MOVING THE HOT AIR AROUND THE ROOM WILL NOT COOL YOUR FERRET DOWN.

You could even invest in a small portable cube air conditioner available most hardware stores or on line.

I THINK MY FERRET IS OVERHEATING, HELP!

So let’s talk about the worst case scenario; and you come across your ferret and you think he/she is overheating!

Your ferret is overheating if: it is limp, and lethargic and the temperature in that room is above 25 degrees Celsius /

your ferret is laying there with it’s mouth open and seems to be panting (this is a crisis). This is a life threatening situation and your ferret will die if immediate action is not taken.

Immediately immerse your ferret in a sink or container of tepid water. NOT COLD WATER, you will shock his body if you do so. Test with your elbow. It should feel like room temperature. Cup handfuls of water and pour over the back of the head and body. Have your partner calling your vet to tell them you have a ferret emergency and you need to bring in your ferret for fluids due to heat exhaustion.

If you have caught the heat exhaustion in the early onset stage, your ferret will start wiggling and being himself/herself after 5 minutes or so. Offer him/her water to drink and move to your ferret to a cool location. If you aren’t sure your ferret has fully recovered, please bring him immediately to your vet. Don’t second guess. Your ferret may need fluids to properly recover.

You may not have to bring your ferret to the vet if caught early enough and you are absolutely sure he/she has recovered. Remember if you can’t transport your ferret to the vet in an air conditioned car, your ferret is still in danger of overheating again on the drive over.

So your ferret is out of immediate danger, but you must still rectify the housing situation that allowed him/her to overheat in the first place. Act on the suggestions listed above.

If your ferret is not responding to the tepid bath, warp your ferret loosely in a wet towel and rush him to the vet. The hope is that the vet will be able to administer fluids plus continue with procedures to cool your ferrets body temperature down.

By the way, did you know that putting a single ferret or a pair of ferrets in a pet carrier that is too small will cause them to overheat. Their bodies crammed together will increase their core temperature and overheat them. I know this from personal experience of 2 ferrets coming into the shelter from an air conditioned car. They were 2 fully grown ferrets crammed in a hamster carrier for the 20 minute car ride to my place. It was enough time for them to arrive limp and panting. By the grace of god, they must have just gone into heat exhaustion and the tepid bath was enough to bring them back from the brink of death. I then administered sub-q fluids. It took 30 minutes of working on them to save them. I was 10 minutes away from my vet clinic but they would not have made the trip. Had they been in the carrier another 5 minutes; it would have been too late.

Have I scared you! I hope so! A ferret overheating is a life and death situation. My hope is that you read this and take measures to prevent this ever happening.

Grooming

While you may see your ferret grooming itself, that doesn’t let you off the hook! There are a few things you need to do as a responsible ferret owner to keep your ferret looking, feeling and smelling good!

Bathing

The most important part of your ferret’s bathing routine is to not over do it, ferrets that bath too often end up with a stronger odor. Over bathing can wash away the oils from your ferret’s fur, which in turn will dry their skin out. When a ferret’s skin dries out it over-produces the oils and the poor ferret gets itchy, which all adds up to one stinky fuzzbutt.

Basically you should only be washing your babies  at most twice a year.  Bath your ferret in the Spring when he starts shedding his winter coat and in the Fall when he is shedding his summer coat. Your ferret can  splash a round in the tub or water dish every day so long as there is no soap involved.

To keep smells down make sure the ferret’s environment is nice and clean; scoop litter daily, dump litter weekly, change the  bedding every second or third day  and clean entire cage monthly (or as needed, my boys are slightly messier so I do more often). Washing down your cage floors with a vinegar solution helps deodorize and sanitize.

Shampoo options vary, there are even quite a few ferret specific shampoos. Although baby shampoo works most shampoos meant for adults aren’t pH balanced properly for ferrets. Conditioners are not required but they can help the ferret’s skin from drying out, a good option is to use conditioner  in winter.

Tips for ferret bath time; make sure water is just over room temperature (or slightly warmer), a ferret’s body temperature is ~ 102 degrees Celsius. At room temperature the ferret will find it cold.  Some ferrets enjoy a bath full of water, others like to be able to walk in the tub and some others like ‘showers.’

Ear Cleaning

Much of the odor on a ferret is actually their ear wax, you should clean a ferrets ears every two weeks. Ear wax is red, brown or gold in colour, if you see something else contact your vet (black ear wax can be a sign of ear mites).

To clean your ferret’s ear;

1. Warm the solution

There are many different options for ear cleaning ‘solutions’ including oils or liquid (I’m not sure on the oil option as they generally say to stay away from oils for ferrets). Purchase the alcohol free ear cleaning solution from your vet as your best choice.

2. Scruff

Scruffing a ferret is identical to scruffing a dog or cat – the extra skin on the animal’s neck behind their head where a mommy or daddy would use to carry their babies. Generally this will make your ferret yawn – which is pretty adorable.

3. Put a few drops of solution into the ferret’s ear

This will help loosen the ear wax

4. Gently massage the base of the ferret’s ear

This is to work the solution inside the ferrets ear

5. Moisten a cotton swab with more solution and clean the outer ear by beginning at the base of the ear

A ferret’s ear canal is shaped like an L.

6. Continue using a moistened cotton swab until the ear wax is gone, then switch to a dry swab to dry the ear out

7. Follow up with a treat

Left untreated ear mites can cause many health issues including deafness

Here are some more step-by-step guides; WikihowWeaselWords, FerretNews

Nail Trimming

It is very important to keep on top of trimming your monster’s nails – when they become too long they can catch on things. Sometimes in an attempt to pull the nail free, your ferret can pull it’s nail right off! Needless to say that is extremely painful and bloody!I have seen my ferrets get their nails caught then go straight into the alligator roll – this can actually cause a ferret to sprain something.

Tools to clipping nails;

1. Small kitten sized nail clippers

Human nail clippers will not work, ferrets have very small nails that can easily be cut too short, they are also thin enough that you can crush the nail if the blade is not sharp enough.

2. Corn starch or Styptic powder

Accidents happen so be prepared for such. The benefit of purchasing Styptic powder is you know it is sterile, but if you are worried about costs Corn starch works just as well to stop bleeding when nails are clipped too short. Styptic powder will sting, while the cornstarch doesn’t and is what the shelter uses with very good results.

3. Ferret Lax (hair ball remedy) or Salmon Oil/Olive Oil/Flax Oil/Canola Oil -which ever oil product you are using.

These are used to distract the ferret while you clip their nails. I generally place my ferret on their back on my lap, put the Ferret Lax or Oil on their tummy and clip their nails while they lick away.

Where to clip: if you look at a ferret’s nail it has a small red dot called the quick and from there out is clear or cloudy (rarely do they have dark nails, often they are dirty though). It’s best to cut as close as you can to the quick, for stronger nails this is easier, for softer you might have to keep a little more room between.

If you find your ferret absolutely hates having their nails being cut there are a few options; my youngest, Radish, I cut two toes at a time. Sometimes that means he goes first, he takes a break while I cut the other ferret’s toes and finish him off at the end. At times Radish cannot stand even that so his back legs I have to do the next day.

Another option for the difficult ferrets is wrapping them in a towel to keep them stationary without hurting or causing more stress. The towel method works by rolling it around the ferret’s body, keeping one paw and their head loose, while a helper distracts your ferret with their oil treat. *This only works on one ferret in a thousand!

Brushing Teeth

This takes getting used to, be gentle and remember this will probably not be your best bonding moment. You can always ease into this by scruffing and touching your ferret’s teeth for a few seconds. Here’s some general steps to follow, but the best is to figure out what works for each of your little monsters;

1. Wet the baby toothbrush or a baby washcloth  and apply a small amount of paste (pet toothpaste, not human)

2. Scruff your ferret

3. Gently brush their teeth, strokes going with the teeth (i.e. top brush down, bottom brush up). Pay special attention to their back teeth as food can get stuck there and they might not notice it.

4. Ending with a treat, this helps with bitter feelings.

5. Now that StrixNB for dogs can be used off label for ferrets. Simply half the dosage. Offer your ferret one dish with regular water and one with the Strix added.

Other links describing teeth maintenance; PetFinderPetsDotCom.

Ferrets that receive lots of soft treats (i.e. baby food, soft diets and duck soup) should have their teeth brushed weekly. For others generally twice a month is good.

You can also take ferrets to the vet – if you start to see greyish green spots this is a good indication that it is time to do this. Taking your ferret to the vet for a full cleaning (dental prophylaxis) should only be done every 2-3 years.

Ferrets and COVID-19

Ferret-World has published an excellent article relating to the dangers of our pet ferrets and their risk of getting COVID-19.

Spoiler alert!  I was very relieved to find out that our pet ferrets are at low risk of catching the coronavirus from an infected human in their family and likewise an infected pet ferret is at very low risk of passing the virus to their humans.

So please take the time to read this wonderful article.

https://ferret-world.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f77ce765a71963a4d82f138ea&id=18aaba099f&e=f7eb15fbc6

2017 Spring Frolic was a Torrential Blast!

pop goes the weasel

love the play on words in the title.  Once again our Annual Spring Frolic had major rainfall and this year it decided to be bitterly cold too! Some folks came out in winter jackets!

It always amazes me how hardy Winnipegers are and Winnipeg ferret owners are the best of them!  What a nice turnout on such a rainy day.  I drove Fred (our President) crazy worrying about the chance of rain. Every day he got a phone call from me lamenting the forecast! I am a certified worry wort! Inherited it when I married into the Kelley family!  I was more my mother in law Mumsee’s daughter than her daughters lol.  I totally got it when she worried out loud! She would be proud of my worry wort status!

So, back to our frolic.  When I realized that we were going to have rain, I quickly dragged out our indoor games to bring to the frolic.  I must say the rain stopped long enough to host the Great Tube Race and Sail Boat Race.  We had 12 ferrets ready to race through the tubes. Dieter’s ferret Gus was the first to completely exit his tube followed closely by Tia’s Banjo and Colleen old 14 year old ferret Tank!

The Sail Boat Race had 9 ferret competitors.  Each sail boat had a 1/4 teaspoon of Ferretone to entice the ferret to stay in the sail boat while their owner pulled it along the wet grass to the finish line.  Airel’s Jack beat Dee’s Nibbler  by a nose! There was one ferret (sorry but I didn’t get the name) who absolutely refused to stay in the sail boat Ferretone or not!

We also had the Great Paper Sack Escape.  I don’t have the notes on this one but I do know that several ferrets thought it was time for a nap.  One ferret was determined to wake said sleepyheads up and tried to drag a ferret out of his paper sack.  I hope I am right to say that Ariel’s Kazooie popped out first with Dieter’s Gus a close second!

The last ferret game was Pop Goes the Weasel.  We had a longish box with 3 round holes cut out in it.  The ferret owner had to choose which hole the ferret would exit.  We had 12 ferret owners betting that they could tell which hole their ferret would pop out of.  The first one up was Kyle with Serenity.  Now, Kyle is a first time ferret owner who had just recently adopted his girls from the shelter. Yup, you guessed it. He went first with Serenity. He chose #3 and his girl lovingly popped out of #3.  I hope she got extra treats for that one!  No one else’s ferret would listen and choose the right number.  One beautiful silver ferret really played games by teasing.  The furry would half pop out of the chosen hole, go back in, half pop out of a different number. Repeat several times until the furry exited the wrong number!  Lots of laughter during  those antics!

We have lots of great pictures on our Flckr account. Go to our website yo view them!

Looking forward to next year’s event! hopefully without the rain!