Ferrets For Dummies

Ferrets For Dummies

by Kim Schilling

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Everything you need to know about your playful new pet

Thinking of getting a ferret? It’s not unusual—millions of people worldwide keep ferrets as pets, and they’ve been domesticated for around 2,500 years! While they’re quiet for a lot of the day (catching up on important beauty sleep), when they’re awake, they’re lively, affectionate, and curious—and require lots of quality interaction with their humans. And that’s why a happy ferret is a well-trained one, whose owner knows everything there is to know about its needs!

Ferrets For Dummies, 3rd Edition is here to make sure you become just that kind of owner, fully equipped to give your little friend the best possible home. It’s packed with practical information on feeding, housing, health, medical care, and much more. You’ll also find the latest on diet, dental hygiene, common ailments, and how to build an enjoyable and engaging environment for your smart, energetic new pet. There’s even a section on how to get to know your ferret properly (spotting those little mood swings) and how to introduce it to play well with friends and family.

  • Make sure a ferret’s the pet for you
  • Ferret-proof your home
  • Keep a clean house
  • Find the right vet

Whether you have a jill (female), a hob (male), or a full “business” of ferrets (several), Ferrets For Dummies helps you ferret out whatever you need to know—and ensure that your fuzzy new pal is a healthy, happy member of the household.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119720850
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 02/05/2021
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
File size: 16 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Kim Schilling is the founder of Animals for Awareness, a non-profit USDA licensed sanctuary dedicated to the needs of exotic and wild animals. When she discovered domesticated ferrets some 30 years ago, she never looked back. Kim wrote both previous editions of this book and has shared her home with as many as 20 ferrets at once.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 2

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 4

Where to Go from Here 4

Part 1: Is a Ferret Right For You? 5

Chapter 1: What You Need to Know About Ferrets 7

First Question: What is a Ferret? 8

Giving the Ferret a Physical: Examining Fuzzy Characteristics 9

Looking at the life span of a fuzzy 10

In this corner, weighing in at 11

Getting to the point about claws and teeth 12

Making sense of senses 12

Exercise and Time Considerations — Yours and Your Fuzzy’s 13

Taking a Whiff of the Odor Factor 14

To descent or not to descent? 14

Controlling your fuzzy’s odor 15

Getting the Dish on Financial Matters 16

Extreme Cage Makeover: Providing the Space They Need 16

Facing the Challenges of Ferret-Proofing Your Home 17

Ferrets and Kids 17

Ferrets and Babies 18

Ferrets and Other Household Pets 18

Leaping over the Legal Hurdles 19

Chapter 2: Understanding What Ferrets Are (And Aren’t) 21

Yes, Ferrets Are Domesticated 22

Getting to Know Fuzzies in the Past and Present 24

Ferrets throughout history 24

Ferrets have always had a knack for meeting man’s needs 24

Ferrets catching on 25

Spotlighting the Sport of Ferreting 25

Picturing the Physical Appearance of the Domestic Ferret 28

The spectrum of fuzzy colors 28

Fuzzy color patterns 30

Hanging up the question on ferret coat changes and colors 32

Crazy ferret categories 32

Not Just Another Color: The Black-Footed Ferret 35

The one, true North American ferret! 36

Are black-footed ferrets really that different? 36

Habitat (or is that prairie dog?) destruction 37

The Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Plan 38

Chapter 3: Ferrets and the Law: Licensing and Other Issues 43

“A License? But He Can’t Even Reach the Pedals!” 44

Ferret-Free Zones and Why They Exist 44

What’s it gonna be? Wild, domestic, or exotic? 46

Feral ferrets in my neighborhood? 46

Should people fear rabies? 47

Knowing the Law and the Consequences of Breaking It 48

Part 2: Finding Your Ferret and Hanging Up the Welcome Hammock 49

Chapter 4: On the Tail of a New Carpet Shark (Um, Ferret) 51

Ferret Shopping 101 52

Are You in the Market for a New or Used Ferret? 53

Starting off with a kit 53

Adopting an older ferret 54

Should You Pre-Order Blue or Pink Bedding (Get a Boy or Girl)? 55

Pitting Altered versus Whole Furballs 55

Boys will be boys 56

Girls will be girls 57

“You Want How Many Ferrets?” 57

Where to Find Your Ferret 61

Perusing pet shops 61

Picking out private breeders 63

Adopting from a ferret shelter 64

Craigslist and other classified debacles 66

Rescuing the wayward weasel: Stray ferrets 67

Getting a Vet 68

Chapter 5: Home Sweet Home: Preparing Your Ferret’s Quarters 69

Setting Up Fuzzy’s Cage 70

Size matters: Picking the proper cage 70

Fuzzy blueprints: Making sure the design is right 70

A home within a home: Finding a place inside for the cage 74

A room with a view: Finding a place outside for the cage 76

Making Your Ferret’s Bed 78

Setting Your Ferret’s Table 79

Serving your ferret’s food with a sturdy dish 79

Hydrating your ferret 81

Designing Your Ferret’s Bathroom 84

Potty on! Choosing the right litter box for your ferret 84

Picking out the perfect litter 87

Acquiring Accessories and Other Stuff Fuzzy Needs 89

Fluffing up extra snoozing sites 90

Ferret toys galore! 91

Leashes and harnesses for your ferret 93

Finding a good travel taxi 94

Chapter 6: Ferret-Proofing Your Home 97

Inspecting Your Home for Ferret Hazards 98

Laundry room 99

Kitchen 99

Moldings, baseboards, and under cabinets 100

Windows and doors 100

Floor vents and air returns 101

Plants 101

Heights 101

Electrical cords 101

Reclining chairs, rockers, and foldout couches 102

Fireplaces 102

Mattresses, couches, and chairs 102

Toilets, bathtubs, and buckets 103

Cabinets 103

Trash cans 104

Changing Some of Your Home Habits 104

Chapter 7: Introducing Fuzzy to His New Family 107

Ferrets as Social Animals 108

You and Your New Ferret: Making the Most of Your Friendship 109

Hold me gently, please 109

Letting fuzzy set up shop in his home 111

The steps to successful bonding 111

Fuzzy Meets Fluffy and Fido 113

Heeeere kitty, kitty! 113

Nice puppy! 114

Ferrets and other small animals 116

Preparing Your Child for the Ferret 117

Pause the cartoons: What your child should know beforehand 117

Fuzzy, meet Junior: Making the introduction 118

Fuzzy Meets Fuzzy: Adding A New Ferret to Your Family 119

Meeting on neutral ground 120

Messing with their sniffers 120

Forcing a relationship 121

Easing your fuzzy into the business 122

Heading Off Stranger Danger 123

Part 3: Basic Ferret Care and Feeding 125

Chapter 8: Filling Your Ferret’s Belly 127

Water, Water, Everywhere 128

Ferrets as Diners 128

Feeding the Traditional Commercial Diet 129

Wet or dry food? 130

Setting a feeding schedule 133

Changing kibble diets 134

Serving Up an Alternative Diet 135

Getting to know the wild polecat’s diet 136

The good, the bad, and the ugly on bones 140

Choosing commercial raw or freeze-dried raw diets 143

The evolutionary diet: Feeding your pet small animals or insects 144

Exploring the alternative way of feeding 150

Supplementing Your Fuzzy’s Diet 154

Omega-3 fatty acids 154

Omega-6 fatty acids 155

Savoring Treat Time! 155

Giving the good stuff 156

Avoiding the not-so-good stuff 157

Chapter 9: Cleaning Time: Not All Ferret Fun and Games 159

Cleaning House for a Cozy Cage 160

Doing your fuzzy’s dishes 160

Stripping his bed 161

Scrubbing (or scooping) the toilet 162

Tearing down the house 162

Getting the gunk off the toys 163

A wall full of turds! 163

Scrub a Dub Fuzz: Navigating Bath Time 164

One bath too many? 165

Picking a shampoo 165

Oatmeal — It’s what’s for baths 166

Choosing the crime scene 166

Doing the deed 167

Caring for Those Little Ears 170

Gathering supplies 171

Executing the ear clean 172

Nailing Down the Manicure 173

Choosing your clipping method 174

Performing the clip 174

Chewing On Chomper Maintenance 176

Performing the dental checkup 176

Brushing his teeth 178

Breaking Out the Hairbrush 179

Odor Control Tips 101 — A Summary 179

Chapter 10: Enrichment: Yours and Your Ferret’s 183

Why is Enrichment Necessary? 184

What Does Enrichment Do for Ferrets? 185

Relieves boredom and stress 185

Facilitates bonding 185

Keeps their senses alive and well 186

Helps to curb negative behaviors 186

Keeps the flab at bay 186

Encourages curiosity and creative problem solving 187

Helps to keep bones, muscles, organs, and joints healthy 187

Improves heart health and overall circulation 187

Makes humans smile and laugh 187

Understanding Your Ferret’s Senses 188

Hearing 188

Smelling 188

Tasting 189

Seeing 189

Touching 189

Recommended Enrichment Activities for You and Your Fuzzy 189

Organizing your ferret’s play areas 190

Movement and physical-exercise activities 191

Social-development activities 193

Food-related activities 194

Training exercises 194

Using novel objects in activities 199

Finding Your Own Enrichment at Ferret Clubs 200

Participating in Regional Shows, Club Shows, and Competitions. 200

So, you want to show your fuzzy? 201

Preparing to bring home the blue ribbon 201

Fun matches 203

Facebook and Other Internet Sources 204

Chapter 11: Have Ferret, May Travel 207

Fuzzy is Going on Vacation! 207

Checking ahead 208

Packing the necessities 209

On the Road or Flying High 209

Road trip! 210

Taking to the friendly skies 211

Going international 213

Leaving Your Furball in Good Hands 213

Let the interviews begin: Finding the perfect pet sitter 215

Away to camp: Boarding your ferret 216

Ferrets as Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) 217

Part 4: Tackling Your Ferret’s Health Issues and Treatments 221

Chapter 12: Setting Up Your Ferret’s Health Plan: Vets and First-Aid Kits 223

Selecting Your Ferret’s Veterinarian 224

Interviewing potential vets 224

Going for a visit 227

Developing a good working relationship 228

Putting Your Vet to Work with Vaccinations and Checkups 230

Kits — The office visit 231

Adolescents and adults — the office visit 232

Recognizing allergic reactions 233

Titer testing 234

Stocking Your Ferret First-Aid Kit 235

Ensuring Emergency Preparedness 240

The basic (quick) evacuation kit 240

Collecting and evacuating your fuzzy 241

The deluxe (and orderly) evacuation kit 241

Chapter 13: Helping Your Hurt Ferret: First-Aid Basics 245

Behaviors You Usually Don’t Need to Worry About 246

Shivering 246

Itching and scratching 246

Yawning 247

Excessive sleeping 247

Sneezing, hiccuping, and coughing 248

Butt dragging 249

Drinking urine 249

Pain Management and Care 249

Determining if your ferret is in pain 250

Caring for a ferret in pain 251

Setting Up Fuzzy’s Home Hospital Room 252

Feeding the Sick or Debilitated Ferret 253

The Assist Feed Recipe: Better than Mom’s chicken soup 254

The feeding method: Just as effective as the airplane into the mouth 255

Handling Actual Emergencies 256

Shock 257

Dehydration 257

Bleeding 259

Vomiting 260

Diarrhea (and other fecal issues) 261

Seizures 263

Heatstroke 264

Hypothermia 265

Eye injuries 267

Fractures or spinal injuries 267

Poisoning 268

Animal bites 269

Electric shock 269

Burns 269

Blockage protocol 270

Chapter 14: Ferreting Out Ferret Pests 271

Booting External Critters That Go Bite in the Night 271

Fleas 272

Ticks 278

Ear mites 279

Sarcoptic mange (scabies) 280

Battling the Internal Bugaboos That Threaten Your Fuzzy 281

Heartworms 281

Extra care for your ferret 284

Intestinal worms 284

Coccidia (coccidiosis) 285

Giardia 286

Chapter 15: Handling Viruses, Infections, and Other Conditions and Illnesses 287

Gastrointestinal (GI) Diseases 288

Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis (ECE) 288

Ferret systemic coronaviral disease (FSCD) 291

Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) 292

Intestinal and stomach blockages 293

Helicobacter Mustelae (H mustelae) Infection 294

Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis 296

Megaesophagus 297

Dental Problems 298

Faulty teeth 298

The dreaded dental disease 301

Heart Disease 302

Influenza (The “Flu”) 304

Disseminated Idiopathic Myofasciitis 305

Urinary Tract Problems 306

Bladder or urinary tract infections 307

Prostate problems 307

Stones and blockages 308

Eye Problems 309

Aleutian Disease Virus (ADV) 310

Canine Distemper 312

Diabetes Mellitus 313

Enlarged Spleen (Splenomegaly) 314

Hairballs 315

Rabies 315

Ulcers 317

Chapter 16: Finding and Treating the Big C and Other Lumps 319

Adrenal Gland Disease 320

Making the diagnosis 322

Treating the disease 323

Insulinoma 326

Making the diagnosis 327

Treating the disease 327

Lymphosarcoma (Lymphoma) 328

Making the diagnosis 329

Treating the disease 329

Chordomas 329

Itchy Growths: Skin Tumors 330

Mast cell tumors 331

Basal cell tumors 331

Sebaceous cell tumors 331

Chapter 17: Saying Goodbye When the Time Comes 333

Letting Go of Your Family Member 334

Learning from Fuzzy’s Death with a Postmortem 335

Selecting Fuzzy’s Final Burrowing Place 336

Choosing cremation 337

Proceeding to a pet cemetery 338

Opting for a backyard burial 339

Grieving for Your Lost Fuzzy 340

Know you’re not alone 341

Face the feelings 341

Give yourself time 341

Help others deal with their loss 342

Helping a Surviving Ferret Cope 343

Part 5: Ferret Psychology 101: Behavior and Training 345

Chapter 18: Understanding What Fuzzy is Trying to Tell You 347

Say What? Speaking Ferret-ese 348

The dook 348

The squeak 349

The giggles or hee-hees 349

The screech or scream 349

The squeal 350

The bark 350

The honk 350

The hiss 350

You Make Me Feel Like Dancin’! Interpreting Your Ferret’s Jig 351

The dance of joy 351

The war dance 352

Decoding Your Ferret’s Body Language 353

The frizz look 353

The alligator roll and wrestlemania 354

The treasure hunt 354

The chase is on 355

Fuzzy stalking 355

Tail wagging 355

“Why Does My Ferret Do That?” Understanding Other Fuzzy Behaviors 356

Digging to China 356

Ferret fixations 357

The movers are here 357

A felon on your hands? 358

The zig-zag 358

Butt scooting 359

Coveting thy hidey-hole 359

Scoping out boundaries 360

Chapter 19: Putting Your Ferret through Basic Training: Easy as 1-2-3? 361

Just Say NO to Biting 362

This Way to the Bathroom 363

Harnessing Your Fuzzy for a Walk 365

Getting fuzzy used to a harness 366

Following basic rules when you’re out and about 367

Chapter 20: Dealing with the Behaviorally Challenged Ferret 369

Understanding Your Dracula in Fuzzy’s Clothing 370

I’m having growing pains 371

Nobody told me not to bite 371

I’m in pain, darn it! 371

Resource guarding 372

I’m a manly or bully ferret 372

I’m facing a lot of change right now 372

Biting always worked before! 373

I’m still fighting back 373

Some other reasons for my biting 373

Socializing Your Biting Beast 374

Getting a grip 375

Getting unstuck 376

Taming the critter 378

Bonding with the biting ferret 380

Part 6: Breeding Ferrets: The Facts, Fallacies, and Plain Ol’ Hard Work 381

Chapter 21: Should You Breed Your Ferret? Looking at the Big Picture 383

What It Takes to Be a Responsible Breeder 384

Deep pockets 384

The emotional stake 386

Time to care 387

Willingness to find out what you don’t know 388

Avoiding a Need for More Shelters 390

Chapter 22: Unmasking the Details of Ferret Love 391

Fine-Tuning the Organs 392

The boy (hob) 392

The girl (jill) 393

Making a love connection: Enter Neanderthal ferret 394

What Happens If Your Unaltered Ferret Isn’t Bred? 395

Mothering the Mom-to-Be 396

Strange craving? Keeping mom nourished 397

Providing a maternity ward 398

Heading Off to the Delivery Room 400

The typical delivery 401

The difficult delivery 401

Some Problems You May Face after Birth 402

A difficult mother 402

A mother incapable of nursing 403

Calling on the foster mom 403

Chapter 23: From Birth to Bundle of Energy: Walking a Fuzzy’s Timeline 405

Fuzzy Infancy: Birth to 3 Weeks 406

Furball Toddlerhood: 3 to 6 Weeks 407

The Terrible Fuzzy Twos: 6 to 10 Weeks 408

Adolescence Already? 10 to 15 Weeks 409

Part 7: The Part of Tens 411

Chapter 24: Ten Amazing and Creative Ferret-Proofing Hacks 413

Pool Noodles Be Gone! 413

Up, Up, and Over — Not! 414

Cardboard Cut-Outs 416

Yule Get Hung Up on Christmas 417

Dual Purpose Door Blocker 419

Couch Cures 420

Fixing Floors and Revamping Ramps 420

A Room with a View 421

Wired for Trouble 422

Velcro to the Rescue 422

Chapter 25: Ten Recipes that Make Your Ferret Go Mmmmmm 423

Hobbit Delights 425

Karen’s Brew 426

Raw Soupy Recipe 427

Barb’s Recipe for Hungover Ferrets 427

Ferret Bland Diet 428

Tui’s Chewies 429

Family Dinner 430

Mickey’s Meatloaf 431

Clyde’s Seaside Chunks 432

Bluto’s BARF 432

Index 433

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