When is using a water dish not a good idea?

At the shelter every cage has both a clip on water dish and a water bottle.  This is something I have done for a long time.  Family and close friends will tell you I can worry about that 1% that may never happen.  That’s mostly true, but, once in a awhile I am proven right.

When my dear friend Helen was killed instantly at 10:30 at night in a car accident; her cousin contacted my mid morning the next day when they went to Helen’s house and saw the large poster in her ferret room that I had made for her and insisted she hang up.  I went so far as to “bully” her standing there with push pins and tape. I wasn’t leaving until she hung it up. Then we could have our tea. Because of this poster, her cousin knew who to call to take care of Helen’s ferrets!  Helen was not close to her family as they  did not like any of her pets so know one would have known whom to call if not for that poster.

When Jeanne and I arrived to collect the ferrets that morning; several of the cages had no water.  Like most of us, I am sure Helen told herself that 1/3 of a bottle would do till she got home after work and then she would top up all the bottles (she had 13 ferrets housed in 5 cages).  She was probably running late to get to work. We will never know the circumstances for the empty bottles but the fact was she was literally 5 minutes from home when she was killed. From 10:30 pm  till 10:30 the next morning is a long time before I arrived at her house.

None of the ferrets were in distress because of course it was only 12 hours  or so hours.  But, it reaffirmed my being anal about having both the water dish and the water bottle in each cage.  We expect to return home.  We expect to fill dishes or top water bottles but we just have to run one quick errand. Even in larger families, during an emergency/tragedy everyone is focused elsewhere and the animals can be overlooked.

Having said all of the above, sometimes, a ferret will defy your perfect logic.  Meet Buddy.  Buddy is an un-socialized ferret living in the playpen in my living room  giving me access to him till bedtime.  He is coming along. He no longer hides under the blanket. He used to only come out under the cover of darkness to eat and drink. Now he will eat and drink even as I walk by, he will play with the stuffies. He will run through the tube in his cage. He will even sleep/rest on top of his blankie and watch me as I walk back and forth from the kitchen into my living room.

I have a water bottle hanging from the playpen.  I also have a small dish clipped at the bottom.  I keep topping up the dish.  I have seen him drinking from the bottle.  I have seen him at the water dish.  He must be a very thirsty ferret! The water dish seems to be empty every time I go by.  This morning I was working on my laptop minutes after giving Buddy fresh water in his dish.

I hear the sounds of splish splash and look up in time to see Buddy happily paddling in his water dish. The floor mat is soaked and so is the Christmas sleep sack. Heh, stop that Buddy.  He slunk off and crawled under his towel in the nest box. Hmmm, not a thirsty ferret at all.  Just a water baby!  When he is a little easier to handle he is going to have fun playing in the bathtub!

So for Buddy, it now means I will hang two water bottles for that “just in case something happens and I can’t get home in time”.  I’m leaving the water dish and yes I will top it up! Can’t deprive Buddy of the joy of splish splashing in his water dish!

 

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IKEA Rug

The other day I picked up this rug from IKEA – just $12.99 fake fur rug – thinking my ferrets would like it. Apparently ‘like’ is an understatement, the first thing Bandit does when being let out is search for her rug. She then proceeds to spend the next hour curled up on it like a princess.

Princess Bandit

At first I was really worried that she was feeling ill because of how much she slept, she would spend hours there, only getting up to eat and drink. Even her brothers were worried. I caught Radish trying to get her attention (if you see in the background Turnip didn’t seem to notice, he just kept stashing things in his ‘hideout’). Radish tried to play, then eventually just sat on her. At this point I was like ‘omgosh she’s dying!’

Brotherly love

I tried enticing her to play, she just wanted to sleep, I tried laying with her she just ignored me.

Then, I tried treats…

Treats?

Magically she had tons of energy*, even wanted to come up to help me do chores like usual. Then of course I gave her a treat and away we went.

In the end I calmed down again, didn’t even call the vet crying this time! Moral of the story is I’m an excellent ferret accessory shopper, therefore I should go out and buy them more.. Just an FYI this is the rug I’m talking about.

Here’s some cute ones of her brothers looking serious;

Ninja ferret

There was this space under the cupboard that only a ferret could fit through, I tried blocking it off a million times, they were so darn determined they got through every time. Eventually I just took pictures with my phone to verify they weren’t going to hurt themselves getting in there, it was safe, so I gave in.

Turnip looking epic

The construction people that put together my kitchen in my bachelor apartment seemed to have put all the counter stuff in, figured there wasn’t anything to do about the corner (too tight for another cupboard) so they just left that section empty, nothing but a ferret noticed.

By ferret I mean Turnip specifically, first thing he did was search out the perfect stash spot for all my dish cloths, socks, shoes, bras (he ate so many of my bras!), etc.

Standing guard on his hideout

* anyone concerned about insulinoma, her burst of energy came from hearing me open the treat cabinet not from eating it. She really was fine, just being a lazy bum, who gets away with it because she’s freaking adorable.

New Toy – Not!

I am the first to admit that I spoil my ferrets.  I am constantly fussing over the cage set up to make sure it is safe.  I have Adrienne’s beautiful soft split hammocks and lots of towels or blankies to snuggle in.

I am a fixture at the Dollarama, on the look out for new toys for the fuzzies to enjoy. Gosh, I even re-did the rec room floor; tearing out the old stinky carpet and putting in vinyl plank flooring.

I have toy boxes upstairs and downstairs filled with stuffies and jingle balls. What more could a ferret ask for?

I had Zippa and Zorrow out playing in my bedroom. Yes, it is a designated play area during the day.  I have tubes under the bed and dog beds for them to curl up in.  The ensuite bathroom is not a play area and I keep that door closed.

I went to put these two furries to bed and discovered bits of toilet paper at the end of my bed? What the heck? I see the bathroom door ajar. Crap (pun intended) I must not of closed the door properly and they pushed it open.

Just then Zorrow came bouncing out of the bathroom with the unwrapped roll of paper towel firmly clenched in his teeth.  He scooted under the bed before I could blink.

My only word was – oh, oh………………..

ferret toy - NOT!

ferret toy – NOT!

You guessed it, they had pried open the cabinet sink doors. All my supplies were strewn about. Zippa was trying real hard to get a grip on the roll of toilet paper that she had “dug” out of the package. When she saw me she bolted for the bed.  She knew this was NOT a designated ferret toy.

So, I now have a custom roll of toilet paper that I have to figure out how to still use!

Custom detailed roll of toilet paper a la ferret!

Custom detailed roll of toilet paper a la ferret!

I have one other comment.  I am very relieved that Zippa and Zorrow did not decide to stick their heads inside the toilet paper tube.  Years ago a ferret actually suffocated after getting stuck in one.  All my USED toilet paper tubes are automatically torn in half before being placed in the recycle bin.  Thank goodness Zippa hadn’t tried to go through the toilet tube tunnel!

Off to Wal Mart. Time to buy those baby locks for cabinets! I swear, ferret proofing is never over!

 

BAD Toys for Ferrets!

I sometimes wish I could be in the head of my ferret to understand what the heck it is thinking as it runs down the hall with my shoe thumping along. Why does he want to play with my shoe when I have a whole box of great toys for him??? The rubber heels and insoles are sooo bad for him and I just know he’s going to start chewing as soon as he is hidden under my bed!

I am going to show you some of the bad toys that have come in to the shelter with a ferret just in the last couple of years.  I have thrown out three times the amount at least but never thought to take pictures.

I’d like to give you all one very important piece of advice because for every bad toy I am displaying, there are 20 more not featured.  How to make sure you are buying a safe toy irregardless if there is a cute ferret picture of the package? Simply ask yourself this question –

CAN MY FERRET CHEW OR INGEST ANY PART OF THIS TOY?

Watch for buttons or beads for eyes and noses. Check for beads used for  stuffing. Never buy squeaky toys made of soft vinyl or soft rubber. Soft foam balls packaged for ferrets-NOT. Leave teething rings filled with liquid for your human babies. Make sure  handles or cords can not wrap around your ferret’s neck. Don’t give a toy so small that the ferret can get stuck and suffocate such as used paper towel or toilet paper rolls?

assorted bad toys, soft vinyl, foam, rubber

assorted bad toys, soft vinyl, foam, rubber

packaged as a ferret toy. 10 seconds with a ferret. thank goodness no longer for sale

packaged as a ferret toy. 10 seconds with a ferret. thank goodness no longer for sale

use extreme caution with tennis balls, the rubber banding can be chewed off as a ferret demonstrated.

use extreme caution with tennis balls, the rubber banding can be chewed off as a ferret demonstrated.

ferret died after biting and swallowing one "point" and not noticed in time

ferret died after biting and swallowing one “point” and not noticed in time

took the ferret 2 months of chewing to break off a piece-check toys weekly!

took the ferret 2 months of chewing to break off a piece-check toys weekly!

soft vinyl squeaky toys, please leave for cats and dogs

soft vinyl squeaky toys, please leave for cats and dogs

 

hard plastic can splinter and sharp pieces can perforate ferret's insides

 

Safe Toys for Ferrets

Ferrets will play with just about anything you put in front of them. If you have ever owned a ferret, you know that you can put 20 great toys in front of them only to see them running off with something they have found that could be deadly if chewed.

As a shelter mom, I have had the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in fear as I am shown the newly surrendered ferret’s toys. A blockage just waiting to happen! They are quietly tossed away or donated to a dog shelter.

Have I scared the pants of you yet? Hope so, because a great homemade toy is your pants/sweats/jeans. Ferrets love to tunnel and they love crawling through the legs of your pants. You’re headed out right now to Value Village to buy up some old pairs of jeans, right?! Grab some old sweatshirts too.  Not only do they love to sleep in old sweatshirts but the arms make great mini tunnels.

Other great homemade toys are:

plastic grocery bags with the handles removed to avoid strangulation. Paper bags any size, they love the crinkly noises they make                   any cardboard box with different shaped holes cut out – your ferrets will think of themselves as the new whack a mole as they pop out of the different holes.                                                                                                some of us even let our ferrets play in the plastics storage cupboard; allowing our furry to “sneak” in and spend the next 30 minutes pushing all the containers and lids out on to the floor                                            you can play magic carpet ride by dragging an old towel across your floor with the ferret catching a ride!

There are some great safe toys that you can pick up at your local dollar store such as: jingle balls, rope toys, stuffies without beads or foam, MFA knotty knots etc etc

assortment of safe toys

assortment of safe toys

maize created with plastic tubes

maize created with plastic tubes

 

round tunnel, elephant tunnel

round tunnel, elephant tunnel

hard plastic/hard rubber ring baby toys-NOT GOOD FOR FERRETS

hard plastic/hard rubber ring baby toys-NOT GOOD FOR FERRETS

I have taken pictures of a small display sample of bad toys for ferrets. Toys that the ferrets can chew pieces off and end up with a fatal blockage. check out my blog BAD Toys for Ferrets.

One last tip, before you give your ferret what you hope will be a fun toy ask yourself the following: can my ferret chew and swallow a piece, can my ferret strangle on cords or handles, can my ferret suffocate?