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

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Lulu and her new Hanging Sleep Sack

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.hanging-sleep-sack-for-lulu

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.

lulu-looking-out-of-her-new-hanging-sleep-sack

lulu-trying-out-her-new-hanging-sleep-sack

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.

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!

HOW TO COPE WITH A SUSPECTED BLOCKAGE

The most frequent health related phone call I get is “I think my ferret ate something he shouldn’t” or “My ferret ate…… and passed it, will he be ok?”

This remedy deals with your ferret eating material or very soft vinyl.

So, you find the bedding with a chunk missing.   You pick up the toys at the end of the day and notice the toy mouse no longer has a tail.  You go to change the dirty litter box and you notice a very colorful poopie. *Later on in the week, you will be folding your underwear from the dyer and discover your ferret has sampled  several pairs-now you know where that rainbow colored poop came from”.

If your ferret is still eating and drinking and is NOT lethargic you have a window where you can apply these steps at home. If your ferret has had one mucky poop and the rest look normal he most likely has passed the chewed matrial. If your ferret is pooping long stringy lead pencil sized poops then most likely he has a partial blockage.

Ok, this is what you can do until you take your ferret to the vet. Give your ferret a 3 inch ribbon of cat hairball remedy; malt flavor.  This is something you should have in the house at all times if you have a ferret. This is a product you should be using weekly in a dime size portion to help your ferret pass any ingested fur.  Don’t have hairball remedy. Ok, a great substitute is plain old Vaseline or petroleum jelly. Hairball remedy is petroleum based with flavoring.

What will NOT work is using Ferretone or vegetable oil.  The petroleum jelly coat’s the item and makes it pass smoothly and gently.  The Ferretone will make it oily but not coat the item.

You will want to repeat the 3 inch ribbon about 4 hours later.  Meanwhile you will do the unthinkable unless you are a ferret owner.  You will pick up the ferret poop, place in your palm and gently run warm water on it to dissolve the poop.  You will extract the pieces of material and match them to the hole in the bedding/hammock/sock…

Once you have all the little pieces to fill the hole you are home free. When the ferret has a poop with no bits of material in it you can usually figure that he has passed everything.  The choice will then be up to you if you still want the ferret checked out by the vet.

CAVEAT: If you suspect your ferret as swallowed something hard like a piece off a plastic or rubber toy, then your ferret needs immediate attention from your vet.  You don’t want to push the hard plastic into the colon and rip something!