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

Ferret In Hand or………….. In Cage or……………………….

There has been a rule at my home for many years. Ferrets in hand or ferrets in cage before any outside door is ever opened.  Never assume your ferret is still asleep under the bed or behind the TV when you open your door to the outside world to bring in the newspaper, put the garbage out…… whatever!!!

We implemented this rule after one of our shelter ferrets did a walk about without our knowledge! In other words he escaped the house!  My hubby Guy had let our 225 pound English Mastiff outside to go potty and right back in. One Eyed Jack was supposedly asleep behind the TV. We had both giggled as he dragged a stuffy with him to sleep with behind the TV.

One Eyed Jack was a stray found by the river and brought to us.  He had tangled with something and his one eyed was beyond saving.  We patched him up and he became part of our shelter family.  Now he had escaped from his original owners so we should have known he had a bit of the wonderlust in him!

So, Ari went potty and came right back in. We all settled down to continue watching TV. Guy heard this scratching sound.  I didn’t hear anything. Ari was doing what mastiffs do best, snoring up a storm. Guy muted the TV and insisted he heard scratching. He got up and went to the front door.(We had not installed a second door – screen door at that time).  He opened it and in waltzes One Eyed Jack!

OMG and other assorted expletives.  It seems One Eyed Jack had snuck out with the dog. He had his little walk about in the back yard, then went under the gate, up the driveway, up the sidewalk, up 4 very high cement steps and was scratching on the door to be let in.  We hadn’t realized he was out. Had he not scratched to be let back in, it would have been at least an hour when our show ended before we would have realized he was missing. If our screen door had been added back then, would Guy have heard the scratching?

We dodged a bullet that day.  Today I dodged another bullet.  I had Zipper, Zora and Tank out playing in the bedroom.  They spent some time playing in the bedroom, then I was giving them a little free range time before I put them to bed. I looked out the living room window to see two crows sizing up my small  birds at the feeder.  Yes the law of nature is eat or be eaten but not on my watch and not today when I was already not having the best of days.  I quickly opened the front door and the screen door, stepped out on to the front steps  and shooed  the crows away.  I closed the screen door; remembered my rule and looked out the screen door window to make sure no ferrets were dancing on the steps. All clear. Good! I closed the screen door and the front door. It’s cold today!

About fifteen minutes later I decided to round up the 3 furries and put them back to bed. Tank was sleeping in the sleep sack back in the bedroom.  Zipper was sleeping in the ladybug back in the bedroom .  I can’t find Zorra in the bedroom sleep areas.  I start with the bedroom and start looking. No Zora. I close the bedroom door and move on to the shelter room.  I checked everywhere in the shelter, no Zora. I then checked their cage. Yes, sometimes, she puts herself back to bed and maybe I am panicking for nothing. Nope, not in the cage.

Oh God, I opened the front door to shoo the crows away. My mind screams no way  she  got out! She is not in the house, so yeah, she has to be outside. Great! 30 minutes head start at least! Where to even start!  I am ferret sitting these three; what will Colleen say when I tell her I’ve lost her little girl!  By now I am in tears and fighting a panic attack.  Find ferret and then have your damn melt down!

With squeak toy in hand I opened my front door.  Did I mention that I have a screen door and then my front door. I look down as I reach for the screen door handle and there she is! Zora was huddled in that small gap between the front door and screen door.

Relief flooded over me. Thank god she was tiny enough that I hadn’t squashed her between the doors.  I guess when I peered through the screen door to see if any ferrets had gotten out on to the steps Zora must have been right at my feet.  I didn’t see ferrets on the front step, so I closed the front door without looking down.

Zora washed my face with kisses and I snuggled her so hard her eyes could have popped.  No bad news to give Colleen.  My world righted itself once again.  Now that the crisis is over, let me share my rule with all you ferret owners who think it can’t happen to me because I’m always careful- yes it can happen to you! I have run the main shelter for 20 years and you’d think I would be smarter!……………………FERRET IN HAND OR FERRET IN CAGE BEFORE OPENING ANY DOORS TO THE OUTSIDE!

By the way, just so you all know, a stray ferret was surrendered to our shelter on Saturday evening. The ferret was found wandering a rural property and has yet to be claimed! Now this is Easter weekend with many family gatherings that started on Good Friday right through to Easter Monday. Lots of get togethers, people coming and going! Somebody out there is bawling their eyes out while searching for their ferret.  I just hope they call.

Deb, shamed ferret mom

 

Garret Looses the “Urge”

I have been running the Main shelter for 18 years and Garret’s medical problem was a first for the MFA!  Garret’s mom and dad were at their wits end when they called me.  Their handsome boy who was a year and a half had become very aggressive with their female ferret Luna and also their cat.  Garret was “mounting” them incessantly. Garret had also become really really stinky! They were trying to juggle 2 separate ferret play times, hide the cat and look after a new baby.  They felt that Garret was not happy and needed a different playmate. Luna and the cat were so stressed out.

Now I love, love, love the way ferrets smell, but Garret was way over the top! He smelled just like a whole male ferret! Actually, it’s a little strong, but, I didn’t mind it! Sidebar, if you don’t change your clothes after handling said ferret, people at the store give you peculiar looks when you walk by them!

Now years ago we had a young dark eyed white male ferret, approximately 2 and 1/2 years old that was surrendered because he was stinky.  A trip to the vet and follow up surgery revealed a huge tumor on his left adrenal gland.

Off to the vet’s we went with Garret.  My guess was adrenal tumor or maybe incomplete neuter.  I have had female ferrets in with incomplete spay but never an incomplete neuter. Dr. Singh was 95% sure that Garret had a undescended testicle.  Dr. Singh had time that very day to do the surgery. So, before I had time to worry about Garret and the anesthetic be was whisked away.

Garret sporting stitches aftr having a testicle removed. Notice how long he is!

Garret sporting stitches after having a testicle removed. Notice how long he is!

Garret was awake and ready to party when I picked him up 4 hours later.  I was told to keep him quiet for a few days-right! Garret did 36 hours in the hospital cage and then made it clear he was going crazy being confined.

 

I want to thank Garret for his donation to our Show and Tell Kit for the Second year students at Red River College.  I have a Cordoma tumor, a spleen and now a testicle!

Garret's testicle

Garret’s testicle

Garret back to his old self

Garret back to his old self

 

Human Proofing!

Tuesdays are litter box cleaning days here at the shelter.  Our garbage is picked up on Wednesday mornings and I like to get the stinky dirty litter gone from my side driveway!

I’m having a slow start this morning. Opened the bedroom drapes to more #$%^$# snow on the ground!  I am so sick of snow! But no, I did not crawl back under the covers.

Got through my breakfast and duck soupies for the old ladies. Made the bed and had my back decide to be a bully today. it sent me a message “You move-I spasm!” More bad words.

I have 18 litter boxes to empty, wash, dry and re-fill.  Doing good considering my sore back.  Going up and down the stairs was getting a bit much.  I am going to cheat and carry up 3 clean litter boxes at one time!  Now a year ago I could carry 4 litter boxes up no problem. But since I put my back out, I can do 3 at a time. This morning I was down to 2 litter boxes at a time, but, this was taking too long! Yeah right!

Coming up the stairs with my 3 clean litter boxes and wham! How the hell do you miss a step going UP!! I did try really hard not to drop the litter boxes! I saved two but the bottom litter box …… well, see for yourself!

This is what happens when you fall UP the stairs with 3 litter boxes in your hands!

This is what happens when you fall UP the stairs with 3 litter boxes in your hands!

the 2 litter boxes at the top of the stairs and the lip of the spilled box 2 steps down!

the 2 litter boxes at the top of the stairs and the lip of the spilled box 2 steps down!

So much for saving time! The good thing (I always try to find a positive) is that this was a clean litter box and all I had to do was put the litter box under each step and with my hands sweep the clean litter back into the litter box.  Did you know Wood pellets scatter real well?!

I am not picking the dog hairs from the steps out of the litter box. I have a miniature Eskimo and Miki is shedding like crazy right now! Whichever  cage gets this litter box, well I’ll tell them there’s a little extra to make their pooping experience softer and more enjoyable!

I’m taking a long coffee break before I continue on!