My name is Ilene. I live in Michigan USA. I first became interested in owning a ferret when I came into contact with Sepia- (at the time) a 6 month old sweetheart, cinammon colored sable ferret with a power-packed personality. My friend introduced me to her and I fell immediately in love.
She was (and is) playful, mischievous, and had a terribly funny quirk of panting like a dog playfully while she ran from us and after us. My friend told me that she was twice the fun and ten times the work, but worth all of the effort.
I decided that having a ferret was going to be my first goal in moving away from home. A fun, playful friend to keep me company at my very first apartment.
I started doing my research, knowing ferrets were very much unlike any animal I had ever owned before. I read that it was best to keep them in pairs- so that they too had some companionship while I would be away at work. I also read about their diets, behavior, medical upkeep and ways to introduce them to new friends (Sepia, I thought she would be best in teaching my new forever-friend how to be sociable and friendly.)
When the day finally arrived I walked into my locally owned pet-store in search for a young, preferably male fur-baby. I knelt on the floor in front of a one-tier cage housing a small raw-hide knot ball, a litter tray, and a water bottle.
Inside were three ferrets, one larger (a panda variation)- and two smaller, (one champagne variation, one dark sable variation) much younger kits.
(After sanitizing my hands and with permission) I probed my fingers inside the small cage and marveled at the tiny creatures sniffing and eyeing me with a ferocious curiosity. “Are there any boys?” I asked, looking in. “Just one.” The shop-keeper told me, and he pointed to the dark, jet colored kit that was currently licking and nipping my finger.
I was hopelessly, undeniably in love.
I brought him to my friends house that day, in a small cardboard box provided by the store.
I was so nervous, I’d never introduced two small animals to each other before; and, looking at the size of my new friend- I knew immediately how much larger Sepia would be in comparison to his tiny, tiny body.
As my friend welcomed me in I introduced my new baby to him with pride and maternal ecstasy. His name would be Valentine.
Now, I’d read that sometimes the females could react quite negatively to new kits, but I believed in my heart that that sort of behavior was reserved for unsterilized females, and that Sepia (being sterilized and social) would accept him under my careful eye.
We let her out of her cage and allowed her to wander around the room before I plucked Valentine (at the time only a grand length of 9 inches long) from his box and presented him to Sepia with a nervous anticipation.
She was so naturally curious that she was instantaneously on top of him, sniffing and nudging Valentine while he attempted desperately to explore his new surroundings. And, although she refused to leave him alone for the entire duration of his stay there- I’m happy to say that within an hour, the two were happily bouncing around and playing with each other. We were careful that Sepia wasn’t too rough with him- as Valentine was but half her size at the time.
I knew in that moment, watching the two of them play- that this was the sort of animal I’d chosen… And I was so happy.
As the next two months passed, I brought Valentine with me to interact and play with Sepia on a regular basis. They became such great friends that it was almost difficult to separate them at the end of the day, and I found myself contemplating the possibility of another ferret. Another friend for Valentine.
I thought about the larger, panda-like ferret back at the pet shop, and wondered, with almost a guilty feeling, why she had been there so long- and why hadn’t she been adopted?
I needed to scoop her out of there and into my home.
My mother did me the honor of retrieving her from the pet shop… I had worked an open to close shift that day and was monstrously excited to see her.
She was pudgy (due to never being allowed outside- stuck in a display cage for ages) and very shy. I remember taking her to the park with me for the first time. I took Sepia along with me as well as Valentine- and newly named Lottie. She was so entranced by the smell of the grass and by the two new friends in front of her that she spent most of her time lingering around my mother and I while the other two played about in the sun. She was skittish and unsocialized- it was obvious that she was going to take a bit more love and care to fully emulsify her into my growing family.
With some effort, tons of petting, treats, affection and play-dates… Lottie found her spot with Valentine and they soon become great friends.
Now… I thought I had my hands full at this point. New to ferrethood, I was so focused on managing the two while they played in my apartment, scruffing them when they played too rough and rewarding them when they chose the litterpan over my floor, arranging play-dates with my friend- that when my friend actually called me, I wasn’t entirely prepared for what he was about to tell me.
He couldn’t take care of his ferret, Sepia, anymore.
The ferret I’d initially fallen in love with would soon be without a home.
My friend was moving to a new city, on a job opportunity- and his new apartment didn’t allow ferrets.
I was heart-broken. Where was she going to live? What was he going to do with her? How would Valentine and Lottie play with her anymore.
And he asked me then, if I would mind taking her into my home.
My mind buzzed with new factors. Veterinary bills, food, toys, and treats. Mostly- money, money, money…
But I didn’t hesitate when I told him that I would be overjoyed to have her in my growing ‘business’.
He brought her to my apartment that night, and as I placed her into the tall cage- nestled into a new hammock where she sniffed and eye-balled her two friends, now so close in proximity, I felt a surge of pride and relief that she would be so close and that I would KNOW she would be taken care of.
Valentine, Lottie and Sepia are now a trio of happiness in my life, some months later.
Valentine is now bigger than the two girls, Lottie has shed a LOT of the ‘baby-weight’ she’d acquired in her cage at the pet store- and Sepia is still the head-honcho leading the both of them.
Lottie has blossomed and exploded out of her shell. She is playful, silly and an absolute delight to watch in her favorite crinkle-tube crawl-toy.
Valentine is the trouble-maker who gets away with almost anything, but he makes up for his tricks with tons of love and playful wrestling. Sepia is still the mischievous, intelligent instigator who loves to nip and chase and assemble cage break-outs (they have broken out of their cage so often I’ve had to take extra measures just to KEEP THEM IN!).
I have survived my first battle with the ferret flu, nursing two of my three babies back to health. I have educated my friends and introduced children to the wild-side of pet ownership. Ferrets have, by and large been the most stimulating, rewarding pets that I have ever had.
They are SO much work. They are (as said here) basically small children with 10x the mobility.
I love all three of my tiny tornadoes, and although the messes they make can be frustrating- at the end of the day I feel nothing but gratitude and love for them. I’ve grown up so much, I’ve learned so much patience through them, and I would never change the decision I made the day that I met Sepia.
Make no mistake, if you don’t have the time to play, stimulate and indulge these animals- they may not be the pets for you. They are time-consuming, money-consuming and can really worry you into a panic if you haven’t the slightest what to do. Ferrets are a challenge and a blessing, and anyone looking into having one needs to accept that they have lifespans, feelings and habits.
No one ferret is the same, and one of the greatest joys I’ve had in raising my three is watching their individual personalities surface and bubble and become so prominent. I have suffered scratches from nail-trimming sessions, nips and bites from frightened bath episodes, and pin-prick blood spills from the instinctive chomps of an unsocialized, scared ferret just looking for love and acceptance.
These creatures will take the life out of you and pour it back in tenfold… You only have to have the strength of heart and patience of mind to accept the challenge.
From what I’ve learned thus far- there are 3 things I found to be true:
1. You CAN’T HAVE JUST ONE. FERRETS ARE ADDICTIVE.
2. You’ll worry about them like newborn babies your first time around. ONE SNEEZE AND YOU’LL BE GOOGLING ALL SORTS OF DISEASES.
3. They are filled with so much unconditional love. They are intelligent and unique and despite your efforts you will not be able to stay mad at them.
They really do burrow into your heart and make a home there. Be ready for that. 🙂
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