Lisa didn’t originally plan to get a pet ferret. Her uncle keeps them and a litter of baby ferrets was produced accidentally. Lisa went to see them, and felt sorry for Louis because he seemed to be hiding in a corner all the time. She took him home to cherish him, and soon found that she’d become surprisingly fond of him.
She discovered that the cunning creature had been hiding in corners for a reason – he has a habit of grabbing as much food as he can, scurrying off to a corner, then guarding it zealously, like Gollum guarding treasure in Lord of the Rings.
Louis has developed into a healthy strong male ferret. He’s fed on complete dry ferret food (similar to dry dog and cat biscuits), but Lisa also gives him occasional treats. He loves raw meat like steak or chicken, and he also enjoys scrambled eggs from time to time. He lives in a cage, but she often takes him out to play. He’s very friendly, and he’s never bitten anyone. Lisa says that he occasionally holds your finger in his mouth, between his teeth, but he’s just playing, and he never clamps down or draws blood.
Louis has always enjoyed having soft toys to play with, and there was one small teddy bear in particular that seemed to appeal to him. He kept it in his den, snuggling up to it and sleeping beside it. In recent weeks, he had begun to give the teddy bear a little too much attention, grabbing hold of it and hugging it, and treating it as if it was a female ferret friend. When he started to spray urine on it, and damage it by biting it and tearing out its stuffing, Lisa decided that it was time to take action. Ferrets usually have a noticeable musty odour, but the smell from his cage after all of his urine spraying was beginning to be offensive. She bought Louis a new teddy bear, and booked him in for castration.
Ferrets are unusual pets, but they’re becoming more popular. They’re very different to dogs and cats, and many people enjoy this fact. They’re lively, inquisitive, and usually very friendly. When ferrets are kept as pets, it’s strongly recommended that both males (hobs) and females (jills) should be neutered and spayed. Neutered pets tend to be healthier, and neutered males are often friendlier. And there’s one other significant improvement: neutered ferrets tend to be less smelly. A ferret’s male hormones tend to increase the production of the skin secretions that carry a strong smell, as well as causing male ferrets to mark territory by urinating. Once they’re neutered, male ferrets may not be complete odour-free, but their scent is certainly much less obvious.
Louis’ operation went very well. He came into my clinic in the morning and after giving him a sedative to calm his nerves, he was given a full general anaesthetic for the operation. He woke up afterwards in his cage, with his new teddy bear beside him, and he didn’t know that anything had happened. There’s one small wound, with no external stitches, and as long as he doesn’t try to lick or chew it, it should heal very well. Ten days after the operation, it’ll be as if nothing had happened.
Louis has already bonded very well with his new teddy bear friend. With luck, now that he’s been castrated, the new teddy will remain odour-free and Louis will manage to enjoy his company without tearing his stuffing out.
- Ferrets are increasingly popular pets in Ireland
- Both male and female ferrets should be neutered or spayed at around 7 months of age
- Neutered males are friendlier, and don’t carry such a strong odour