Reviewsday – Ferrets

I’m not just a blogger. Those of you who paid attention during my blog post on charitable giving will know I’m also a volunteer for a local charity. As I’ve just spent Saturday and Monday out with the other STA Racers, I figured it would be a good idea to tell you all about it. So what I’m going to do is to give you an introduction to the rescue, to the events we do and then I’m going to get on to a review of my ferrets!

Yes. Ferrets.

STA Rescue exists in two branches; one based in Basingstoke and taking in all manner of small animal, and one based in Sonning focusing solely on ferrets. It’s the latter branch that I am affiliated with. I’m not able to be involved with the day-to-day running of the rescue, the taking in, treating/socialising, and rehoming of the ferrets because I spend my weeks sat in an office, pouring over reams of programming code. As soon as I win that big lottery draw,,, Anyhoo, the part I play is one of fundraising and public relations. As a rescue, it takes a fair bit of funding to help the ferrets who end up at STA. They need food, water and shelter at the very least. Many of them need medical help; anything from a quick check up to serious surgery (last year they had a lovely albino come in with a severely damaged jaw, and a polecat-coloured ferret with a broken leg – both of these were treated and brought back to full health) which can cost a fair bit of money. Not to mention all adult ferrets are castrated or neutered. So we need to raise the funds to support this. We also want to show people that ferrets are not smelly, bitey monsters only suited for shoving down rabbit holes; they can be wonderful pets.

So what we do is come out to various country fairs, brownie meetings, corporate functions, weddings etc and we put on some ferret races. We let members of the public meet our own pet ferrets and we talk about them and we stage races on our very own custom-made race course. It ticks every box; we get to raise a bit of money, we raise awareness of the charity and we can tell people how awesome ferrets are!

Here is a short video showing some of my ferrets over the course of a race day.

Now, without further ado, I want to take you through the nine ferrets currently sharing my house/garden. This will be in order of acquisition (because there are no favourites!)

1 & 2 – Kip and Flynn
Kip and Flynn baby ferrets
Kip and Flynn were the first two ferrets I got from STA in the summer of 2011. I’d had ferrets before but was ferretless at the time. A local ferret breeder who breeds his own line of working ferrets, had been resting his jill (female ferret) between litters. Except she had decided that wasn’t the best idea, and had broken out of her cage and into her brother’s cage. And so Kip and Flynn were born, along with their brothers and sisters. Not wanting inbred kits to go to un-checked homes where they could be bred from, the breeder handed them in to the rescue. All ferret kits from STA are rehomed on the basis that they will be spayed/castrated.
Kip and Flynn are both named after fictional characters. Kip was named for Kip “Half-Sack” Epps, a Prospect in the early series’ of Sons of Anarchy. Flynn was named for Flynn Rider, the dashing anti-hero from Disney’s Tangled.

3 & 4 – India and Diesel
India ferret
Diesel ferret
The thing was, I didn’t want just two ferrets. They’re social creatures and they need to live with others. The problem with having two was that if anything terrible happened and I lost one, the other would have a rough time coping. So two weeks after taking Kip and Flynn home, I was back at the rescue, hauling India and Diesel out of a cage filled with unwanted kits (mostly albinos – they’re not the most popular colouring). Young ferrets tend to get on very well with other young ferrets, so there were no issues putting the new pair in with the slightly older pair.
India was named after a character I wanted to write, but couldn’t find a place for. Diesel was sort of named for Vin Diesel, but also because Diesel rhymes with Weasel, and that seemed a good enough logic.

My little fluffy family was complete – I had four beautiful little ferrets and spent the winter nip-training them (i.e. training them NOT to nip) and everything was lovely. There were no plans to get any more.

5 – Maisie
Maisie ferret
And then Maisie happened.
I had kept my eye on the STA website’s Rehoming page, just to see what fuzzies were in need of homes, but not expecting to be the one to provide said home. Maisie came in at the beginning of 2012, a little poley jill with a bit of an issue with the human peoples. We think she wasn’t handled at all for the first 6 months of her life, and this has left her very wary of humans, biting hard whenever she came into contact with one. She’d been rehomed by the rescue once before, and they’d done a lot of work to calm her down, but unfortunately they weren’t able to keep her. She wasn’t an ideal first-time ferret at all; definitely needing to go to someone with some experience. I happened to be popping into the rescue to hand Kip, Flynn and Diesel over to go off to the vets for their castrations and as I looked around the ferret shed I asked to see little Maisie. I’ll not say we clicked right away – that would be a lie, but I did know straight away that I wanted to take her home. India was on her own that night, and was still young enough to be receptive to a new ferret (jills can be a tad fussy about new girls joining their group) so it was decided I’d take Maisie back with me and we’d see how it went with the two girls.
It went perfectly; Indi welcomed Maisie without an issue. Maisie wasn’t so keen on me to start off with; backing off with a hiss whenever she saw me, but we worked on that. Ferrets are naturally very curious, and as she got used to the new place she started to be interested in the human that sometimes came in. Food helped too; and ferret oil; a mixture of food oils which is good for their coats, and they love the taste.
Even now, 14 months later, Maisie isn’t quite at ease with people; she will bite if she feels threatened, or if she’s had enough of being held, but I like to think we have an understanding.

I made this video in the spring of 2012;

6, 7 & 8 – Elliott, Ren and Marty.
Ren ferret
Elliott Marty ferrets
It was kit season. I got broody. There were kits needing homes… The best time to introduce new ferrets was while India (and the others, but mainly India as she had become the boss of the business) was young. So I welcomed three baby boys into my household. India beat them up a little bit, then decided they were ok, and so the boys moved in with the bigger ferrets. And that was that.
Names are 80s movies characters; Elliott from Pete’s Dragon (not ET), Ren from Footloose and Marty from Back to the Future.

9 – Merida
Merida ferret
It was the last big show of the 2012 season; and three 2 year old ferrets had been handed in, and were going to go in to the rescue. Their owner could no longer look after them. Three beautiful jills. The sandy one caught my eye and I figured, what’s 9, when 8 is no trouble?
We spent that night at my fellow Gaveller’s house and the new girl, named Merida for the fiesty Scottish Disney heroine, seemed to get on with Maisie and Diesel. The other boys liked her, but were a bit boistrous in their liking – flocking at her, and India – well, she wasn’t too impressed, but I thought time and some careful introductions would fix that. What I didn’t bank on was the power of home-turf. The first morning after the first night back at home I found Merida none-too-happy, keeping her distance from Diesel and Maisie. One of them had been ragging her (biting at the scruff and pulling around; it’s a dominance thing) and since then Merida’s been right off other ferrets. She’s spent 4 months as a lone ferret, and seems to be enjoying it. The times I’ve tried to re-introduce her to any of the others have ended with her screaming and displaying clear signs of fear, so I haven’t pushed it. So long as she’s given enough stimulation in the house, she should be ok, although a part of me is wondering whether she might accept a kit as a friend.

And that, in a nine-headed, thirty-six-footed nutshell is my ferrety family.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Hannelore
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 19:11:55

    Employ a drybrush technique to bring out high values.


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