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

 

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Lost Ferret Protocol! What to do when your ferret goes missing!

You can’t find your ferret! You have just spent the last hour or two looking in every nook and cranny in your house or apartment! Your ferret was asleep behind the TV or so you thought when your company was leaving! Your ferret was asleep in the bedroom when you took out the garbageor when you opened the door for just a second!

Before starting your search outdoors, you will need the following:

  • Pictures of your ferret: the more recent the better it  and who doesn’t have tons of pictures of their fur babies on their phone or laptop
  • Squeaky toy: that you have used to train your ferret to come to you with.
  • Treat bag: that you normally shake and he comes running for his treat
  • Flashlight: if it is after dark

Step One:

  1. Leave the front door ajar slightly – in the off chance that your ferret will come home while you are out looking. Do this only if you have someone home to watch the door. I have gone looking outside; positive the ferret had escaped only to be greeted by said ferret at the door when I came home.  You don’t want your ferret leaving the house while you are out looking! Stranger things have happened!
  2. Call your ferret, squeak that toy, shake that bag of treats.  Your neighbours will hear you even if your ferret doesn’t and you can alert them to the fact that you are looking for your lost ferret.
  3. Check the perimeter of the house/apartment block. Ferrets instinctively avoid being out in the open
  4. Check under bushes and shrubs.
  5. Ask permission to check out garages that have their doors open
  6. Check under decks, asking permission if you must go on someone else’s property.
  7. Check in woodpiles, asking permission if you must go on someone else’s property.
  8. Alert all your neighbours in a two or three  block radius, north, east, south and west.
  9. Enlist the neighbourhood children ages 7 or 8 and up to help you look. Show them a picture of your ferret. Tell them not to try and pick up the ferret but to call for help.  Offer a small reward. Children know all the best hiding spots from playing hide and seek.
  10. If you have multiple ferrets, take the lost ferret’s cage mate out on a leash and walk the neighbourhood.  The scent of the cage mate you are walking may guide your lost ferret home.

Step Two:

  1. Print up lost ferret notices and drop them in every mail box for 4 or 8 blocks in every direction. Yes, ferrets can travel that far!
  2.  Drop off a poster of your lost ferret to every pet store in the area
  3. Drop off a poster of your lost ferret to every vet clinic in the area.
  4. Call the Humane Society and alert them to your lost ferret
  5. Call the MFA and alert them to your lost ferret (didn’t think I should have to put this one in, but, for those who were to upset to think, just a gentle reminder that folks will often call us to come capture or pick up a lost ferret.)
  6. Call the local radio station that does lost alerts
  7. Use social media to alert them of your lost ferret. Lost Dog Alert will post regarding lost ferrets. use every lost alert facebook page you can reach

Step Three:

  1. Take your ferret’s carrier (with food, water and blanket)  or cage if  possible and set it outside by the door. The smell of food and his blanket  just might help guide him home.
  2. Some folks will offer a reward and this is something to consider
  3. Retrace your steps, checking the same areas several times. A friend of mine was following her ferret’s paw prints in the snow. They went around the house and back and around again. She stopped and looked behind her to see her ferret had been following her. So, your ferret may be following your scent.