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.
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.
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 HOTAIR 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.
This is never a pleasant topic of discussion. What would happen to my beloved ferrets (really all your pets) if something happened to me? Well my spouse or partner would take over! But what if both of you are involved in the same accident and pass away? Well my adult children would take them! Are you sure? It’s nice to think that our immediate or extended family would jump in and take our pets but life isn’t always fair. Our family may not like our ferrets, may have pets that would not get along with your pets or maybe they just don’t have the room to take in anymore.
My son and his wife went to Grand Forks for the weekend. I went over each day to feed and play with my two grand cats. Now I love these two cats. We had cats when my sons were growing up. However, if something happened to the both of them; what happens to their cats. As much as I love them; they would not fit well in my home. My dog Miki would not be impressed and of course Raven and Salem would most definitely be scare of the dog. Then of course I have many fostered and personal ferrets in my home. Again, Raven and Salem would not be impressed by being chased around the house by my furries. Perhaps my daughter in laws parents would take them but, I don’t think they are cat people. Now who would take their cats? I know how much they love them and I would never place them in a shelter but what would I do? I guess I would be down to seeing if any of their friends would take them and hope that I am doing the right thing.
Two years ago Helen, our Winnipeg Beach Shelter Mom was killed on her way home from work. When family called to come get her ferrets it was a nightmare. Helen had not gotten around to hanging the pictures with documentation on the 5 different cages. In my shock, I did not grab my back up shelter documentation book. Jeanne and I spent an hour trying to match ferrets with their names and documentation. We even forgot one ferret whom Helen had left out to play while she was at work. Fortunately we hadn’t gone too far before family called to say a ferret had appeared at their feet. We were carrying pet carriers and food and stuff out of the house. We were not watching for loose ferrets. Thank goodness she didn’t escape outside or worse left behind with no food or water.
Helen also had a dog named Dudley. He was a goofy mutt who loved the ferrets and that is why Helen tolerated his accidents in the house. I knew I couldn’t take him as I had two dogs at home at that time. I loved Dudley and was so worried what would happen to him. Her family were not pet people and I knew they wouldn’t want him. Thank goodness a neighbor stepped up and took him. He would have ended up in a shelter and euthanized as he wasn’t completely housebroken. That would have broken Helen’s heart!
The lesson I learnt was thank goodness I was an “organized freek” because if the roles had been reversed, family and friends would have had no trouble knowing which ferrets belonged to me personally and which ferrets had to be re-homed within the shelter community. All my cages are labelled. I have their picture and on the backside are a the most important details. I even have a copy of their latest vaccinations.
Several months ago, our former webmaster Teraysa passed away suddenly. Family called us. She had one ferret in the top cage and two in the bottom half. A huge bucket of food and treats nearby. Taking the ferrets wasn’t a problem. Trying to figure out their names and ages was something else. I had to scan through all her pictures that she had posted on her Face Book page. Thank goodness she loved to post pictures of her pets. The one ferret I thought I knew wasn’t. That ferret had passed away about a year prior. Thank goodness she had posted a RIP for that ferret and then pictures of the new baby! We had their names but no information on when their vaccines were done. We never did get any documentation from her family as they sorted through her stuff.
Besides my ferrets, I have a miniature Eskimo dog, 10 years old now. If something should happen to me, I have plans in place for her to be taken care of. I have not left that burden to my family, none of whom could take her.
Years ago, we developed a short check list for our members so that they could plan and organize responsibility for their ferrets and other pets. The hand out was given to all new ferret owners but as it is a sensitive topic I am sure it was quickly misplaced. I went looking for my hand out and found it in my files. I have revised it a bit and I am posting it below so anybody with pets will be reminded that they should make plans for their pets in case something happens!
Assigning Responsibility for your Pets
It is important to make arrangements for the care of your ferret in case you are incapacitated through illness or injury or in the event of your untimely death.
Have written instruction as to whom you wish to have look after your ferret . Have the document witnessed by two independent people of good character. You may even want to include the assignment of your pets in your will. Consider allocating a sum of monies for their continued care.
Prepare an information sheet for each ferret:
Description of each including special markings /annual photo
Location and description of each cage
Details of what brand of foods – where to purchase their food
Details of what litter you use , how often to change it and where to purchase
List of favorite treats, and how often they are given
Details of bathing, toe-nail clipping and ear cleaning
Details of favorite play times, toys, and behaviour
Details of socialization with other types of pets such as cats or dogs
Details of any current medical conditions and med regime
Name, Address of Vet
General information on personality of the ferret
Leave a copy of your instructions with a reliable family member or friend who can speak on your behalf immediately. If the only copy is in the safety deposit box at the bank, by the time the document is located, your ferret may have already been disposed of unintentionally. Make sure your family is aware of your wishes and will not dispute your request.
Make sure you review and update this information on an annual basis.
At the shelter, on the back of each picture of the ferret is the date of surrender. We also list Gender, Age, Color type, and then there are several lines for notes such as: climber, best friend is……..
Your family may remember that you have a banditt and a Loki but these names are not gender specific and they will not remember who is who! The more info you can provide the better your ferrets and or other pets will be cared for.
Lulu is a tiny sable female that was surrendered to the main shelter in 2016. I think her young owner did not understand how important it is to handle baby ferrets and to teach them not to bite. So at eighteen months when Lulu arrived; she bit hard enough to still draw blood and she was afraid of hands.
After a few months Lulu had learnt not to bite Mommy. Unfortunately, she bonded to Mommy and did not trust other hands. We are still working on this issue by having a couple of volunteers coming in and handling the ferrets including Lulu to get them used to/trust all hands.
Lulu was moved into the the youngsters cage. This cage has Corky, Pepsi, Cola, and Mouse. Corky, Cola and Mouse have no issue with Lulu and play or snuggle with her. Miss Pepsi is another matter. She intermittently takes a round out of poor Lulu! There is much screaming and such when this happens. I don’t want to put her by herself because she has fun with the other three. I correct Pepsi every time I hear her picking on Lulu. However, there are enough times (I am out of the house or asleep) that Pepsi gets away with it, and so she continues. Pepsi and Cola came in together and I will not take her away from her sister. Corky and Mouse love them all. What a dilemma.
I found a small hanging sleep sack (surrendered with another ferret years ago) and decided to put it in their cage for Lulu. If she climbed inside maybe she would feel safer from Pepsi and could defend her “space”. Eureka! Lulu made a beeline for this sleep sack and claimed it. I only hear some squawking now when Pepsi tries to climb into Lulu’s sack.
I only had this one hanging sleep sack and this made things difficult for Lulu when it was in the wash. Adrienne, the shelter’s ferret Oma got busy and made Lulu several hanging sleep sacks just for her. Now I can have two hanging on the bars of the cage and two in the wash.
It was cage cleaning today, so I got busy and hung up the new sleep sack. Lulu and crew were running around but somehow Lulu seemed to know what I was up to. Or maybe seeing the dirty one on the floor she was worrying about what she would sleep in? All I know is that she climbed into the cage over my shoulder to check things out. I had my cell phone in my pocket (not a normal thing for me which is why I miss so many good shots). I took a few quick pictures; no time for posing!
Lulu climbed into the new hanging sleep sack. Sniffed around I assume and then peeked out at me. I think she was tickled pink to have this slightly larger, softer hanging sleep sack. I took Lulu out so that she could finish her play time. When they all went back to bed Lulu jumped into her sleep sack and no one went near her sack. She must have had a few words with her sisters about who “owned” the new sleep sack Mommy hung in the cage. All is peaceful FOR NOW. Pepsi can be stubborn and she is an alpha girl………………….. so I hung two so they both could “claim” a hanging sleep sack.
I had my three old ladies out playing on Sunday morning. I was changing some litter boxes in the shelter room and these scrawny ferts can fill a litter box quicker than any other cage so I was doing their cage! Mariko, Finni and Rosie will tootle about for about 45 minutes before finding a nest box to crash in. It had been an hour and I knew it was time for them to go back to bed.
Rosie – you can’t see me!
Finni- I smell something!
Mariko-This is my best smile!
My nine year old grandson, Holden arrived early for his bi-weekly Sunday visit with me. I normally have all the ferrets back to bed before he arrives. This is not a safety issue from me but from the “powers that be”. Of all the ferrets in the house, these three, if given the chance might “gum” you to death! I follow the rules and the ferrets are locked up.
I needed to put the girls to bed because it was time for their duck soup and because my grandson is not used to watching where he walks (has not learnt the ferret shuffle). Of course also for the above stated reason.
Rosie and Mariko were curled up in the nest box behind the TV and I put them back in their cage. I couldn’t find Finni! I knew that she hadn’t gotten out when Holden came in the front door, but, where the heck had she gotten to? Holden was told to play in his bedroom with the door closed while I looked. I checked all the usual sleepy spots without any luck. Then, I went by the front door to check the bed in the closet. Holden’s boots lay where he had taken them off – in the way – right in front of the front door! I bent down to move the boots to the boot rack and I little face peeked out. I ran for the camera but by the time I came back, she was almost out of the boot.
I called Holden to come see. We both laughed and I grabbed the opportunity as a “teaching moment” . Now Holden understands even more why the furries have to be back in their cages because they can choose the silliest places to sleep and might get hurt!