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.

Assigning Responsibility for your ferrets

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Updated: June 2017

Ferret Fur Everywhere!

Our ferrets blow their coats twice a year.  Around the end of February into March, ferrets will start shedding that beautiful thick luxurious winter coat.  Your ferret may “blow” his coat in one or two days coating everything in sight with fur or he may decide to spread the shedding over several weeks with tufts of fur left behind in his hammock.

Cheech getting a good brushing from Fred

Ferrets become very itchy when they are shedding.  Using a soft brush on your ferret helps to loosen the fur and give them a good scratch at the same time.  You don’t want your ferret inhaling all this loose fur! Worse, you don’t want your ferret to groom himself and ingest all this loose fur.  If he licks and ingests too much of his own fur, he can give himself a life threatening blockage requiring major surgery and a huge vet bill.

I have tried many types of brushes over the years and thanks to my friend Colleen, I have fallen in love with this round cat brush.  This brush fits nicely in the palm of my hand. Made of soft rubber, it contours the ferrets body nicely. It’s easy to remove the accumulated fur and of course very easy to wash with soap and water. **Don’t leave this soft rubber brush lying around after brushing.  Your ferret may decide to chew on it because it’s soft rubber and give himself a blockage!**

soft rubber brush for short haired cats

I have discovered that this rubber brush is also great for getting that thick mat of fur off the split hammocks. I have already worn out a washer and dryer due to an accumulation of ferret fur that doesn’t seem to get caught by the filter and gets into the guts of the machines.  I had a split hammock that was “loaded” and I certainly didn’t want to spend an hour picking the fur off of it.  One or two swipes with the brush and the hammock was relatively clean of the fur. Wow!

split hammock with “some” fur

excess fur removed prior to washing

condensed mat of Cheech’s fur in the hammock

mat of fur removed from inside split hammock

After using the brush to get as much fur off the hammock; I will wet my hand and pass it over the bedding and get the fine fur that the brush didn’t pick up.

Tiko, a gorgeous sale male came to the shelter in the late fall.  He adjusted to shelter life while he awaited his forever home.  I was getting to know him.  On litter box changing day I inspected his litter box as I do for each and every ferret.  It is the best and quickest way to determine if your ferret is sick.  When I looked into the litter box I immediately saw a strange poop!  Red flag went off.  I removed this poop so that I could examine it in minute detail.  It was not your normal fecal matter.  It was a poop containing nothing but FUR!! Tiko was a ferret that groomed himself lots and seeing as it was shedding season, he had ingested all his loose fur.  I was very lucky that he was able to pass this  blob of fur. He could have died as I would not have suspected a blockage and may not have gotten him to the vet in time!  Tiko could have easily been looking at major surgery to remove a blockage caused by his own fur.  Tiko is a ferret that you cannot forget to give hairball remedy on a weekly basis.  The hairball remedy ensures that his fur is “greased” and can pass easily through his system!

poop made up of ferret fur

poop dissected revealing it’s all fur

Jill – Part 2 – Lies challenged

I’ve blogged  about Jill.  Jill and her bonded partner Jack were adopted by a young lady.  Within a week there were complaints of the ferrets being itchy and possibly having fleas etc etc.  As explained in my previous blog; eventually she called me to tell me that Jill was dying and she needed to surrender her because she couldn’t afford vet bills. She refused to return Jack at the same time.  Jill was not dying; she was blowing her coat and only had her soft undercoat. She was a nice solid weight.  It took some time, but eventually Jill was sent to live at our satellite shelter with Bridget and her new ferret friend China Girl.  Jill had found love again.

jube-jube-aka-jill

Well, there was so much more “dirt” I could have shared but, I took the high road.  Turns out, that the young “lady” has been busy telling “alternate facts” regarding the adoption. How do I know this?  Turns out she began bad mouthing me to a current member of our association telling our member all about this terrible adoption. I was so happy to here that this member defending me and put this young “lady” Kayla in her place.  Our member did not know anything about Jill and Jack, she just knew me and how I conduct the shelter business and it wasn’t adding up! This member uses the services where this young lady Kayla works.  I would sure love to be a little bird watching what happens if she runs into the Kayla now that she has all the facts.

So, let me now share the facts with the corresponding documentation.  We are a non profit charitable organization and so everything is and has to be documented.  It made it so easy for me to challenge her lies!  I have blacked out her last name and address and phone number – if I was a mean person I could let the whole world know what a liar she is. It’s not slander when you have the documents substantiating everything.

Adoption processed May 2, 2017.  Receipt issued. Jack and Jill a bonded pair discounted to the adoption fee of a single ferret – $80.00 plus membership of $35.00 for a total of $115.00.  Received $120.00, and gave her the $5.00 difference. Now most folks have donated that $5.00 to the shelter, but she wanted her change.

Jack & Jill's Adoption Receipt

Jack & Jill’s Adoption Receipt

Jill adoption page 1

Jill adoption page 1

Jill Adoption page 2

Jill Adoption page 2

A week later I received a call from her complaining Jack and Jill were scratching a lot. I made suggestions about changing the laundry soap, using vinegar in the rinse and their cigarette smoking outside away from them. I made my first offer to gave her the adoption fees back and take the ferrets back. Offer declined.

The complaints continued so on May 11th, they met me at our vet clinic.  At our cost, I had the ferrets rechecked by the vet.  Our vet gave them both a clean bill of health except for ear mites.  I paid for Revolution. The vet bill came to $125.55 (with my discount). Do the math.  I am now $5.55 in the hole on this adoption. Not the point because our shelter isn’t about profit but about placing ferrets in good homes. If we break even, we are happy.

Jack & Jill re exam May 11th

Jack & Jill re exam May 11th

Kayla and her mom were not happy with the vet’s assessment.  In front of the vet, I offered to take the ferrets back with me right then and there and refund them their money.  Kayla declined, stating she loved them but she was sure Jill was a sick old lady and no way was she 3 year old. I suggested that they take the ferrets to a vet of their choice for a second opinion.  Kayla and her mom again  refused stating they didn’t have the money to waste on that! They knew what they knew, I had sold them an old and sick ferret. Jack of course was ok.

I let a week or so go by and then I sent off an email asking how things were going and telling them I looked forward to seeing them at the Spring frolic in June.  I watched for them at the frolic but they did not attend.

The next time I heard from Kayla,it was July 7th around mid morning. Kayla was calling me from her doctor’s office .  She was crying and  told me that Jill was very sick.  She had stopped eating.  She couldn’t afford vet bills, so she wanted to surrender Jill but she didn’t want to give up Jack.  I told her that as a bonded pair, if Jill was coming back Jack would have to come back too. The conversation became heated and at one point she had her mother call me and that conversation was not pleasant.  My integrity, my vet’s integrity were both called into question. Kayla did not have gas money to bring them back, whining about me living all the way across the city from her! Funny how the drive to adopt them wasn’t too far!

I contacted our President to advise him of the situation and to request that he accompany me when I collected the ferrets (at this point I was still hoping for both). At this point I was expecting to pick them up around 5ish. I put the vet clinic on standby that I may be bringing in a sick and dying ferret.  I didn’t want Jill to suffer and if she needed to be euthanized, I wanted to make sure they would have an appointment time for me.

Kayla kept pushing back the time I could pick them up. I have kept the texts from that day on my cell phone.Kayla had gone out for the evening and was now stating that she wasn’t dying, just had stopped eating. Fred and I ended up collecting Jill just after 10 pm that night, July 7th (notice it’s 2 months). She showed me that Jack was healthy (that was the final negotiation I could work out).  Fred and I drove two blocks and then took pictures documenting Jill’s condition.  She was a perfectly healthy weight, bright eyed with her soft undercoat and no guard hairs.

Jill Surrender form, page 1

Jill Surrender form, page 1

Jill surrender page 2

Jill surrender page 2

As soon as the vet clinics opened, I contacted a different vet clinic and  took Jill in as an emergency. I asked them to do a full work up health assessment and to provide documentation.  This was another expense that was totally unnecessary! As Fred and I expected, the vet pronounced her a perfectly healthy middle aged (approx. age of 3 years) ferret.

So, Kayla!  If you must tell people what a horrible person I am. You are welcome to tell everyone how you dislike me the person, but DO NOT MALIGN the shelter.  At least state the facts!

I did not adopt out an old sick ferret.

You did not return her within 2 weeks.

I did not refuse to return the adoption fee; offering several times to return the full fee for both ferrets.

I did not end up giving you back half the adoption fee.

I am happy to hear that Jack’s health did not decline over the loss of his beloved Jill.  I do believe that you love Jack and that was why I chose to keep our interaction quiet and move on. It’s too bad you couldn’t do the same.

 

Jill’s heartache turns into a second chance at love

This is a story of a bonded pair, the heartache and the second chance at love.  Jack and Jill were surrendered to the shelter.  It was obvious they adored each other.  We do not split bonded pairs and we make that quite clear during adoptions.

In time, an adoption was processed for Jack and Jill.  Within the first month there were rumblings of discontent.  They scratched too much. They didn’t play together. They were sick.  The ferrets were re-checked by our vet and he pronounced them a healthy pair of furries. The vet’s expertise was questioned. Things deteriorated from there.  I got a call that Jill was dying; there was something wrong with her.  The new owner was only willing to return Jill, insisting on keeping Jack.

Jill was picked up and she did not look sick or “dying”. She had blown all her guard hairs; but she had a good weight to her.  We took Jill to a different vet clinic in the morning and got her accessed . Once again she was given a clean bill of health.

My job now was to make sure she didn’t die of a broken heart after loosing Jack.  I worried about Jack but I had no control over that.  Jill refused to make friends with any of the other furries in the shelter.  She lost weight, she pined for Jack.  Slowly she put the weight back on but her spirit seemed broken.

Bridget, my satellite shelter mom inquired about bringing her there to help her old timer China Girl who had recently lost her cage mate. It was worth a try.  It took about a month for the girls to get along.  They share a cage but don’t sleep in the same hammock.  When they are out playing, they follow each other around and play. They have bonded.  Bridget tells me they don’t let each other out of sight.  I am so happy Jill has found furry love again.

Jill whom Bridget renamed Jube Jube adores Bridget.  Jube Jube has fallen hard for Bridget; she has found a human to love and trust again. When she climbs up on the couch for her snuggle time with Mommy; whoa is you if you try to touch Bridget. Jube Jube is not sharing her cuddle time with China Girl or Bridget’s spouse Danny.

jube-jube-aka-jill-snuggling-with-bridget

jube-jube-aka-jill