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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Another use for Duck Tape……………

As a shelter mom for over 15 years, I sometimes puff out my chest and brag to my ferrets that I have outsmarted them and everything is ferret proofed! Ha Ha I snort at them.

God has a way of taking you down a peg even if it is only ferrets you are being smug with!

In my defense, I have a sinus headache today, but, really, that is no excuse for letting my guard down.

My mornings start with letting certain ferrets out to play.  The old ones come out first as they do a couple of tours and then find the most comfy spot to curl up and go to sleep. Everyone joins me in the kitchen for some Ferretone.

The Ferretone bottle always leaks at little after you puncture that titsy bitsy tiny pin hole in the cap.  Ferretone does a lovely job of staining your clothes, so I have taken to wrapping a folded paper towel around the bottle;  securing the paper towel with an elastic.  I have done so for years.

New Ferretone Bottle

New Ferretone Bottle

drip containment tools!

drip containment tools!

Ferretone bottle ready for use

Ferretone bottle ready for use

so, as I was saying, I have my seniors group out playing. Molly, Weasel, Finny, Mariko, Star, Rosie, Jnyx, JJ, and Bee or 9 fuzzbutts crowding around to have some Ferretone.  After an hour, everyone got put back to bed and I let out Dwight and his harem.  They came bouncing into the kitchen and I reached for the Ferretone bottle to give them all a treat.

The paper towel slid down the bottle; elastic gone!!! No,no, no  elastic causes blockages! Oh my God, 9 ferrets, which one ate it. Calm down, don’t panic!!! Scoop Dwight and his women and put them in the bedroom for now.

I am now back in the kitchen on hands and knees inspecting the floor. Please God, let me find the elastic, all of it or I will be dosing 9 ferrets with hairball laxative and praying over litter boxes.

Far corner, under the cabinet, eureka! The elastic and it’s all there; the broken ends match up! Deep breath, a few tears of relief and one heart attack avoided!

heart attack avoided, elastic is all there

heart attack avoided, elastic is all there

I use the Ferretone bottle 10 times a day at least.  How am I doing to handle the bottle without getting Ferretone all over me and my clothes? Light bulb comes on, secure the paper towel with something safer!!

Ferretone bottle duct taped up the wazoo

Ferretone bottle duct taped up the wazoo

The duct tape worked for a short while and then one day, slowly slid down! Damn, the oil loosened the tape.

Plan B, paper towel, elastic and then duct tape the bottle. The whole thing will stay on longer and when it does start to let go, the elastic is inside and can’t drop off without me knowing.

paper towel, elastic and duct tape over it all. Take that you drippy bottle

paper towel, elastic and duct tape over it all. Take that you drippy bottle

So, yes, I used duct tape.  I wonder if the company would like to know about my latest use of their product!

I went and kissed all my seniors and thanked them for not eating the elastic. Mommy owes them big time!

Proper Ferret Nutrition

Written by Dr. Thomas R. Willard, 1996 Ferrets USA

Make sure the food you choose for your ferret is “complete and balanced for all stages of a ferret’s life as determined in actual animal feeding tests.” A food that has been developed for ferrets for all of their life stages should contain a minimum of 36 percent protein and 22 percent fat, plus a maximum of 2 percent fiber. These portions make up a balanced diet for young, growing and active male and female ferrets.

Most dry cat foods and virtually all dry dog foods exceed 3 percent fiber, which leads to large, smelly stools when fed to ferrets.

Ingredients to look for;

Chicken and poultry byproduct meal, meat meal, whole eggs, liver, poultry or animal byproducts are all excellent primary sources of protein for ferrets. Chicken and poultry byproduct meal or whole chicken meat should always be the first ingredient of a quality ferret food.

A high-quality, simple carbohydrate, such as rice flour or brewers rice, should be the second or third ingredient. These help give the food the correct texture for the best taste, plus improve the digestibility of the food.

Fat from chicken, poultry or other animals should be the third of fourth ingredients. Other important and useful fat sources – such as vegetable oils, lecithin, corn oil or fish oil – should also be present, but further down the list. Wheat, corn of the flours of these grains may also be listed, but generally should not be higher than fifth or sixth from the top of the list.

Some fish protein, such as herring meal, should be listed further down the ingredient panel because it provides high-quality protein to offer nutritional balance. Vitamins, minerals and individual amino acids, such as lysine, methionine and taurine, will also be listed toward the bottom of the label.

What not to feed;

Because ferrets are obligate carnivores, they do not digest vegetables or fruits (like bananas, raisins, apples) or other high fibre foods that humans like to offer as treats or snacks. Most ferrets will not refuse such a snack, but the snacks offer no nutritional benefit over a well-balanced dry food. If given in moderation, an occasional snack will not harm your pet.

Regardless if they are for ferrets, cats or dogs, supplements (oils with or without vitamins and minerals, nutritional tablets, enzymes or powders) should not be necessary if a properly tested and balanced food is being fed.

Other foods or ingredients to avoid are those that contain a high level of vegetable protein, such as soyflour, soybean meal, corn gluten meal or wheat gluten. Foods with high levels of such ingredients should never be fed to a ferret.

Also, a food that lists ingredients in categories as “animal protein products,” “plant protein products” or other collective terminology should never be fed to ferrets or any other companion animal. These are nonspecific, least-cost formulas and usually contain many ingredients that are of poor quality for ferrets. The manufacturer should be able to explain any ingredient you do not understand. Call and ask.

Fact: 

Ferrets do not come to shelters because of behavior problems. 

Ferrets are surrendered to shelters for the same reasons as other pets. Owners may move to a new apartment where pets aren’t allowed, experience a change in work schedule that doesn’t leave enough time in the day to take good care of the ferret, or the most common reason: owners simply get tired of the ferret. Most times the ferret is a wonderful animal who simply wasn’t wanted in the former home.

Food Chart;

Foods such as breads, breakfast cereals, cakes and cookies should not be fed. Many of these items contain refined sugars, which can cause damage to the ferret’s pancreas, resulting in diabetes. Unfortunately, ferrets love sweet foods and may beg for these treats, but you take a serious risk with your pet’s health in offering them.

Because ferrets pass food through their bodies at a rapid rate, they need to eat frequently. Obesity is rarely a problem. Allow the ferret access to dry food at all times in a heavy crock-type bowl or a hanging feeder.

Ferrets have a tendency to develop hairballs, particularly if more than 1 year old. Unlike cats, ferrets do not vomit these masses of hair and can develop intestinal obstructions or become severely debilitated.

To lubricate the hair and keep it moving out of the stomach before it forms a large mass, give the ferret about 1 inch or 1/4 teaspoon of a cat hairball laxative every three days. Ferrets generally love the taste of this sticky substance.