Can you tell us a thing or two about yourself?
I’m a 27 years old female human currently living in North America with my partner.
When did you first found out about ferrets?
I was originally all about cats. I found out about ferrets through photos from an Internet friend. She had a cat and a ferret who was getting along very well and they were so cute together.
When and how did you get your ferrets?
My partner was as thrilled as I was about ferrets after seeing the pics. I got interested in them and how to take care of them but I wasn’t planning to get one because I wanted to have a stable situation first. I’m glad he wasn’t thinking the same thing because I still wouldn’t have any pets if it was for that.
So not long after seeing the ferret pics, my partner offered to get me one as a birthday gift. Of course, I said yes right away, I couldn’t resist the idea. So we went to a store to buy ferret stuff and then to a farm near our place where people had a ferret couple who had 3 kits. I didn’t know too much about ferrets but I was willing to learn!
Two females of the three kits were still up for adoption. They were around 3 months old. I was so happy. One bit me pretty hard but I didn’t care, I knew they were just young and probably scared to be held by a stranger. I wanted both but we couldn’t afford two ferrets so I just randomly picked one. It was my first time seeing ferrets in real life and I couldn’t tell them apart.
I realized a few weeks later after learning way more about ferret that the farm and the people there were not taking care of them properly. They told us that taking care of ferret was easy and cheap: “You can just give them bread soaked in milk.” I knew it was probably wrong but I didn’t realize at that moment how wrong that was. I always wonder what happened to that ferret I didn’t pick and it makes me sad. They were probably not socialized and fed properly. During her first years, Chouchen was really unsocialized and independent. She is extremely small, the lack of proper food during the critical first months of her life probably had an impact on her development. The first few weeks, she was biting a lot aggressively. We bought gardener gloves to be able to handle her. But we gave her a lot of love and she understood that we were not a threat although she didn’t let us touch her much until years later. She was still playing a lot with us and alone so we knew it would be OK.
Maybe a month after getting Chouchen, we got Bagheera, our cat, and they grew up together.
Last year, I started to have the feeling that something was wrong with Chouchen. She was sleeping more and more. Some days, she wouldn’t get out of her cage at all. At the same time, she started to have walking issues. I worried she was depressed and thought it would be a good idea to give her new things to think about: a new friend. I thought about becoming a foster home for ferrets but the closest ferret shelter was in another city hours from our place and we don’t own a car. Where we live, people usually don’t breed ferrets so it was almost impossible to get a kit for a reasonable price. I didn’t know what to do but my partner again took care of it and for my birthday, 4 years after Chouchen’s arrival, he offered me Lili. He didn’t have the choice, unfortunately, so he got her from a pet store; she is a Marshall ferret.
I came home to a huge open cardboard box, I looked inside and I saw this tiny ferret. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I immediately put my hand inside and she was so nice compared to baby Chouchen, Lili never seemed to think that we were a threat. I took her in my hands and she seemed to be completely OK with the situation although she didn’t know me at all. Since we don’t really have separate rooms in our house, it was almost impossible to separate Lili from the other two and we decided to see if we could speed the introduction process. We put Bagheera on the balcony and we closed Chouchen’s cage (where she was sleeping), while we let Lili explore the house. She was so cute to see. After a really quick check, she started to run everywhere at full speed while dooking all she could. She was so obviously happy and not scared at all that I thought she could probably handle meeting Bagheera and Chouchen on the same day. Bagheera and Chouchen were waiting for that.
After smelling each other through the cage doors, Chouchen got out and Lili tried to play with Chouchen right away. Chouchen being more independent, was a bit annoyed. Her walking has gotten worse, she couldn’t counterattack when Lili was playing rough. So I was careful to show Lili that she had to be nice to Chouchen. Introducing Bagheera was easy, she was used to ferrets already and to the fact that she wasn’t allowed to attack Chouchen so, Lili and she got along pretty well. Bagheera was just surprised by Lili’s energy. Now, Chouchen is always acting like Lili is annoying her but as soon as we got Lili, Chouchen started to get better, going out more, she even improved her walking a bit when she saw Lili running everywhere. So I considered the introduction a success.
Can you tell us more about your ferrets?
Couchen is 4 years old, female, independent but more cuddly with age. She has a back leg disability possibly due to a slow-growing tumor compressing nerves on the spine, she cannot walk on slippery surfaces.
I should mention Bagheera who, although not a ferret, is part of the business. She is a cat, 4 years old, female, needy and cuddly, was dominated by Chouchen when they were a few months old, then dominated Chouchen when she grew up to be bigger, is now trying to have the upper hand on Lili.
Lili la tigresse (shorten to Lili) is 1 year old, female, social and playful, the new addition to the family. She can climb a human in less than 10 seconds.
What does your average day look like with your ferrets?
We have a very precise schedule. In the morning when I wake up, Bagheera gets some attention and cuddles before I open the ferret’s cage. Then, I open the cage and it’s Chouchen’s turn to get attention while Lili checks the house. I give her meds to Chouchen and then put her on a table that the other two cannot reach to give her chicken pieces and duck soup. She needs a fat diet because she loses a lot of energy trying to walk around with her back leg disability. She is also a slow eater who rather stash her food than eat it right away so, if I’m not careful, the other two have plenty of time and occasions to steal her food. While she eats, I give Bagheera and Lili a few chicken pieces too.
I take this opportunity to train them a little bit to do simple tricks. While Chouchen is still eating, I clean the litter boxes and journals. When she is done eating, Chouchen has a quick nap during which I eat my breakfast and play with Lili and Bagheera. When Chouchen is done napping, I take her in my arms and we check the house together. One hour and a half after waking up, Chouchen and Lili go to sleep and I finish preparing and go to work. When I come home at the end of the day, Lili goes out and resume playing. Chouchen only wakes up for an hour or so and we explore the house and play. They get some oil and vitamins before I put them to sleep and go to bed myself. During the weekend, they get some extra time out in the middle of the day and, if the weather is good, we go for a walk.
How do you feed your ferrets?
Bagheera and the ferrets are kibble-fed. I’d like to switch to a raw diet but I’m not ready yet to handle raw meat. However, I give them really high-quality kibble, I currently use Orijen cat and kitten after seeing on ferret kibble brand charts that it was a very good brand for them. The treats are chicken strips, Orijen treats, and, for the ferrets only, oil and vitamins, usually FerreTone.
What about games, which is your favorite?
Chouchen likes when I rub her belly and she tries to catch my hand. When she gets to nibble my hand, it makes her dook.
Bagheera and Lili like to play-fight a lot.
What would you say to someone who wants to get a ferret as a pet? (would you encourage him, maybe some tips or some advice about ferrets)
When someone wants a ferret as a pet, I usually don’t encourage them right away. People usually know what it involves to take care of a cat or a dog before getting one but it is less the case for ferrets. They tend to assimilate them into rabbits and hamsters. So I compare ferrets to puppies and kittens, their need for attention, the challenge of their training, the general cost, etc. And I also emphasize their particularities like diet, health, security (ferret-proofing).
Would you like to share some interesting stories or an adventure you had with your ferrets?
I don’t have a particular story to tell, but I have a lot of memories of small moments, of typical ferret reactions. How they will beg to have a look at toothpaste but furiously shake their head just after because they hate the smell, and then beg to do it again a second after. How they will try their best to get to the water glass and then spill the water everywhere. How they try to look strong and independent but need to know where you are at all times. How it feels when they finally accept to calm down for a bit and cuddle with you for the first time.