How to NOT step on your sleeping ferret

The MFA has a handout “Ferret Proofing” your home.   I wish we could also ferret proof our ferrets! Years ago after a “near Squish” scatter rugs were banned from my house and added to the list under Ferret Proofing.

Carpet runners have crept back into my house now that I have vinyl flooring through out. When the ferrets are out playing I will never step on a bunched up carpet runner.  I know that a silly ferret may be hiding under there.

I hang up wet towels after my bath and my clothes go into the hamper immediately.  I do not give the ferrets  the chance to curl up under these things. One moment of inattention and hurry could lead me to stepping on a sleeping ferret. I have a dozen safe sleeping nest boxes all over the house but we know that the ferret will choose the most dangerous place to sleep if they can. If only I could ferret proof the ferret!

One trick I have learnt over the years is to put a ferret blankie down were a ferret insist on pooping and I don’t want him to; such as behind the bedroom door or even in front of the bedroom door when the Plexiglas partition is in place.

I left Rosie and Finnigan out in the ferret room to play as an overnight treat. These two old ladies do tend to go potty where ever they want, not even in corners!  I put a blankie across the front of the shelter room door hoping to discourage a mess at the door.

This morning it was time to put the old girls back in their cage and let another cage out to play.  I lifted the Plexiglas divider and looked down at the flat blankie.  I gently patted the blankie and sure enough even though it looked flat there was a small warm ripple (couldn’t even really call it a bump because it was so small).

"Flat" blankie in doorway

“Flat” blankie in doorway

A tiny little face poked out of the folds!

Finnegan poking her head out from the blankie on the floor

Finnegan poking her head out from the blankie on the floor

Finnegan is half a pound soaking wet, maybe! She is so tiny.  My miniature Eskimo Miki had wanted to dash past me into the ferret room to “clean” any crumbs up.  Miki weighs 30 pounds; she would have caused a fatal squish had I let her bolt past me into the ferret room.  The reason Miki is so overweight is because of all the ferret food she steals. She is very good at it!

Miki cleaning up ferret "crumbs"

Miki cleaning up ferret “crumbs”

I peeled back the blankie and my sweet Finni was not much interested in leaving her current sleeping spot. Finnegan is the same little girl that hid in my grandson’s boot and had me on a worried hunt for over 30 minutes!

Finni and Rosie were put back to bed in their cage. A kiss on the nose, now safe and snug as a bug in the rug! LOL

Finnegan uncovered and not wanting to move from her blankie in the doorway!

Finnegan uncovered and not wanting to move from her blankie in the doorway!

If you have anything on the floor and you know your ferrets are out; enforce the rule “Never step on anything  a ferret can sleep under or in!

New Hiding Spot

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!

Rosie – you can’t see me!

Finni- I smell something!

Finni- I smell something!

Mariko-This is my best smile!

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!

Finni in Holden's boot

Finni in Holden’s boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden's boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden’s boot

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CHECKED THE TOYS?

A huge thank you to Dan and Melissa for allowing me to share their heartbreak loss of Sara.

Sara passed away at home from what we feel was  an undiagnosed blockage. You see sometimes when a ferret eats something they shouldn’t it causes a partial blockage. The ferret is still eating “sort of” and pooping but not a normal poop, kind of stringy.  When they have the start and stop eating and pooping you can be thrown off thinking it is a flu or tummy upset and not a blockage.

Could we have saved Sara? She was seven years old and getting frail. Would she have survived surgery?  This blog is not about the blockage. It is about checking your ferret’s toys on a WEEKLY basis.

The chewed tennis ball was found the night Sara passed.  Now this tennis ball had been part of her toys for the last six years and she had never chewed on it.  What made her decide to chew on it this time? We will never know. It wasn’t chewed like the picture below, but enough of the fuzz was pulled away from the tennis ball that Dan & Melissa realized that she had been chewing on it.

even the fuzz off the tennis ball can cause a blockage

even the fuzz off the tennis ball can cause a blockage

I know I am on my soap box but if my nagging can help just one family put this safety protocol in place, then Sara has not died in vain.

You see, I have seen this in the shelter over and over.  A stuffy that everyone loves and is carried around but never chewed until it is. A blankie that is dragged into the nest box behind the TV suddenly has chew holes in it!

I have had the stomach churning panic of discovering a chewed stuffie, blanket, even a broken jingle ball without the ball!!!  Years ago after having to hairball 20 ferrets because I did not know which ferret had chewed the stuffie.  All the toys were checked and  any toy that might cause a blockage was thrown out. Out went all the tennis balls. Out went all the stuffies with foam inside. My ferrets were not happy but I had peace of mind.

I have a dedicated play room now  for the fuzzies and after each play time I check the toys and floor for any bits of material. I admit to being paranoid about blockages and yet I still get the occasional scare when I find that blanket with a chew hole in it! grrrrrr

Every Saturday, I throw all the washable toys in the washing machine. I check each item closely and if I see any signs of seams wearing or signs of chewing; the toy is discarded.  The toys are washed with soap and  vinegar so that they are clean and sterilized!  The same goes for all those blankies in all those extra nest boxes all over the house.

The message here is don’t assume that the safe toys will always be safe. Check them weekly for any signs of chewing and of course the toys have to be washed at least every month or every second week.

ROCK HARD BANDITS TREATS

When a ferret is surrendered, I often get a half opened package of Bandits Treats.  Pretty soon my bowl is full of partial bags of treats. Even though the treats don’t last long in this house with so many furries begging at my feet; I still come across the odd bag where the treats have turned rock hard.

Now, some of the furries will still chew away on these little “rock hard” treats, but I have mostly old furries and they have a difficult time with these treats.

Instead of throwing them out, I use a good, old fashioned tip, my family has used since I was a kid.  I cut a piece of apple and put it in the treat bag.  Leave it overnight and then discard.

If the treats are still not as soft as you would like, cut a fresh piece of apple. The moisture from the apple allows the treats to soften naturally. Please note, leaving the apple piece in too long will cause your treats to grow mold or ferment. So, please, do not repeat the apple  more than for 2 days.

When my brown sugar gets hard, I do the same thing. A slice of apple will soften that brown sugar in no time flat.

partially used bag of treats(hard as a rock) surrendered with ferret

partially used bag of treats(hard as a rock) surrendered with ferret

slice of apple softens the treats naturally

slice of apple softens the treats naturally

Scrappy crosses the Rainbow Bridge

Enough time has passed that I can now share with you that Scrappy took a turn for the worse and crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Scrappy had dislocated her shoulder when her front paw was caught in the shelf of her Ferret Nation cage.

She did so well at first. She received four laser treatments and they really helped. I don’t know what happened. She turned her nose up at her duck soup one night. She had a bit of blood in her urine, so I made an appointment to see the vet thinking she had a bladder infection. I started her on amoxi for the weekend till the Monday appointment.

On the Saturday, while doing water therapy she had an episode of trouble breathing but recovered.  Later on I did her massage therapy and again she had an episode of struggling to breath and before I could do anything, she stopped breathing.  I could not bring her back. She died in my arms.

I blamed myself. I thought my massage therapy must of pinched a nerve and stopped her breathing. My vet has spoken with me and feels that she had a sudden brain bleed.  I have to trust he is right because the alternative that I did this is more than I can bear.

She is whole again, chasing her stuffies with her friends at the Rainbow Bridge.  Bee, another very precious old gal passed only a few days before Scrappy, so I know they are together.

All the cages now have the updated SAFE shelving. No other furry will get hurt. That is her legacy.

Scrappy just days before she got her wings

Scrappy just a week or so before she got her wings