by Gary Schooley
(Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A free roaming ferret is a dead ferret. The vast majority of the things listed here could easily be avoided by just not letting the ferrets run loose in the house! Pick one ferret safe room, keep them in their cage and let them out in that room only, once or twice a day for playtime. Just that simple.
As I read all this, I realize that it’s like a doctor treating the symptoms, but totally ignoring the root cause. My ferrets and I don’t have to risk obvious hazards like these, because they do not roam freely, not to mention the stress I don’t have to endure. And, I have yet to hear one valid reason for letting ferrets roam the house – not one.
I don’t know, maybe I just love my ferrets more than some, but I simply can’t expose mine to so many needles hazards.
That being said, here are a few more hazards I’ve read about, that can also take a ferret’s life:
“Playmate Coolers”: The kind that have a top that pivots left or right, with a single push-button latch. Ferrets have been known to get into these, tip them over, causing the top to close and latch shut.
“Lysol” (not “Pine-Sol”): NOT good for ferrets at all; poisonous. When I had the flu, I used a rag with Lysol sprayed on it to cough into when it was playtime, but I kept it far away from the ferrets. I would wash my hands before taking them out and before putting them back, and there were no kisses or other contact (ferrets can get human flu).
“Garbage Disposers”: This one should be obvious (I cringe to even think about it).
“Fridges”: Though refrigerators were already mentioned, there is also a fan under most refrigerators.
These are the few that come to mind right now; I’m sure there are others.
Finally, there are certain advantages to keeping ferrets caged and having a specific playtime, vs. free roaming:
They actually have a playtime! Free roaming ferrets don’t play that much because they can play whenever they want. Ironically, they don’t really play that much; not near as much as ferrets who must wait to come out to play. They tend to make the most of it and have a much more vigorous playtime when they are out.
My first two ferrets were free roaming when I got them, but they almost didn’t even know how to play, let alone socialize with people and each other. They would go their own ways, each sleeping in a different place, only meeting at the food and water place.
Some may attempt to use the excuse that caging them is somehow “cruel”, but I don’t buy that at all. They took to the cage like they were born in it. Ferrets sleep about 20 hours a day; with two one hour play times a day, they only have about two hours awake time in the cage, which they use for grooming, eating, drinking and potty. They are often content to lay there and just gaze out at the world (between naps).
Well, I didn’t mean to write another article, but, like a splinter, I just had to get that out.
P.S. The bit about fire ants was most interesting, since I came from Texas (but didn’t get ferrets till I was here in Wyoming).
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