Having owned (or being owned by) ferrets for a while I have come to
terms with their capability for destruction and mayhem. The stolen socks, the dug-up
plants, the dismemberment of my shoes, my bleeding toes. But sometimes I get the feeling
that it could be worse. Much worse! Let me share some of my most frightening nightmares.
What if your ferret...
got a drivers license ... and borrowed your car.
learned how to build and use stilts.
took up archery.
got bitten by a radioactive spider and developed the ability to climb ANY surface (this
could also be caused by a weird twist of evolution, for those of you who doesn't read
Spiderman and need a "reasonable" theory).
got its hands/paws on a set of lockpicking tools. (Does the name Tasselhoff Burrfoot
ring a bell?)
stopped stealing your socks, tearing down books, digging up your plants and started to
sit still... staring at you... smiling!
tried to learn how to play the violin (think of the awesome combination of the
single-mindedness stubbornness of a ferret and the sound a violin makes in the hands of
joined the SCA (a medieval re-enactment group) and demanded his own set of 1500-century
full plate armor.
learned how to talk, asking questions for hours. "Whazat?" "Whatcha
eatin'?" "Can I taste it?" "Where ya going?" "Whatcha gonna
do with that?" "What's in there?"
Written by Fredrik. Contributions from Millan and Beth Reburn.
Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It's not necessary to do anything, just sit and
stare. They do make a nice noise if you lick their ankles though. Then when they don't
come back, you'll have more playtime with your human.
The sit and stare maneuver is much less effective on your specific human, as they seem
to develop an immunity after the first week. However the ankle licking is effective on
them also, perhaps eliciting a snuggle. If they ignore this also, you could try the nip
and slip (away). This must be used with caution, as it may affect your treats later
Sitting and staring (re: rule 1 bathroom) are a good option. For the bold, a run and
dive strategy will work well, often getting sympathy if you sneeze and snort on surfacing.
Of course, wait until the human is totally involved in what they are doing. When the human
steps out of the bath box, it is time to stage a lick attack. You will know you are having
the desired effect when the human starts making noises and doing a small war dance.
Now is the time to show what ferrets are made of.
Games: A hide and seek session will start the endeavor, with a chase scene shortly
Strategy: Once you are caught and put in the same water you jumped in earlier, put on
the pathetic baby face. They may relent, but if not, the well timed water shed will at
least make them share the experience.
Towel time: Once you are put in the towel, it is time to shiver. The harder the better,
for some sympathy and maybe a raisin. Remember, DO NOT shiver so hard they bring out the
Down time: When put down it is time for the damp ferret frenzy. Not only does it amuse
the humans, but it's fun too, and there is always the possibility of a raisin.
Tripping up your human
Always dart between your humans feet as they are walking. This teaches them better
coordination, not to mention better language skills.
When your human is in the kitchen,stand behind their heel, see Supervising cooking. This
increases the chances that they will end up doing the miss the ferret war dance. This can
be very entertaining.
Supervising human activities:
If your human is engaged in an important activity, stay with them. This is called
If at all possible,get in the middle of what they are doing.
When supervising cooking, lay behind the right foot, where you're sure to be stepped on.
Be sure to whine sufficiently. For the talented actors limp a bit. This will get you
snuggled and possibly a raisin or two.
To supervise book reading or bill paying the principal is the same. Come in at mach 2
and send papers or book flying.
Don't allow closed doors in any room.
If you find a closed door insist they open it at once. This can be done in several ways.
Stand on your hind legs, or for the lazy, lay on your side and scratch like crazy until
the door is opened.
If necessary, assume the FLO agent role(see handbook), flatten out, and squeeze under
When all else fails, and you've had one to many treats for the under the door route,
stick your nose under the door and whine. It helps if you can stick out your tongue at the
same time. You can also use the nose and flailing foot under the door technique. This
always works on humans either to new to being owned by a ferret to know better, or the
ones known as a soft touch. Don't worry about identification, as these humans always have
a tattoo on their forehead only animals can see.
Once the door is opened, look surprised, wardance in and back out again, dooking all the
way. After all, the object was to get the door open, not get in the room.
I am concerned about my human. Though I am taken to the vet yearly for my check up and
shots, I have no such way to check on the health of my human. Is there any way I can do
any tests at home to make sure my human is still in good working order?
Fuzzy in Philadelphia
I hope this helps
How to conduct a check up on your person.
Check first for hearing acuity . This should be done several times at different
times of the day. There are several options available, including the following
When your person is holding you, nuzzle up next to their face (act snuggly and lovable to
gain their trust) When the person is at ease, stick your nose into the ear and sniff
LOUDLY. If your human jumps and squeals, you can assume the probability of normal hearing.
This test should be repeated on both ears. It is possible, though, that the temperature of
your cold wet nose causes the reaction. Try this test several times, first warming your
There are two reliable hearing tests you can perform remotely, while in your cage, or
roaming around your house. You can try digging all the litter out of your box. The sound
of litter hitting the bottom of a cage will bring any human with normal hearing into the
room with speed. (The human may be yelling, NO STOP DONT Disregard these
utterances, as they have no bearing on the test results.) You can also empty your food
bowl in the same manner, though some practitioners would consider this to be a waste of
good food. The next test works best in the middle of the night (wait until about 3 or 4 in
the morning.) Station yourself next to your litterpan, water bottle, or food bowl. Insert
your nose between your chosen test instrument and the side of the cage, raise your head
and let it fall, making sure that a reasonably loud sound is made. Repeat over and over
and over and over until test subject comes dashing from the bedroom to investigate.
(Dont be satisfied with a vocal response. For the test result to be conclusive, the
subject must leave the sleeping area.)
A vision exam is the next step to take. This has several options, as well. The first is
to lay, belly-up, on the floor in front of your person. A person who can see properly will
bend down to scoop you up. Only a blind person will ignore a ferret on its back. A test
for peripheral vision is a bit complicated. The first step is to escape from your cage.
The next phase is difficult. You have to hide long enough for your person to give up the
search. Then, as they settle down to wait for you to surface, they may go to the computer,
or turn on the television. Your next move is to scurry from your hiding place, and dash to
a new one. If your human stops, and looks in your direction, theres a good chance
that their peripheral vision is normal. You may have to avoid capture for several hours to
make sure your test is thorough. This test is best done after youve slipped out of
your bell collar. Another test, for night vision, is possible to do during the day. Snatch
something your human uses a lot, such as car keys. Place them as far underneath the bed or
sofa as you can. If your human can spot them in the gloom under the furniture, be assured
of normal night vision.
Next, check for reflexes. The following tests may seem a bit extreme, but it is VITAL to
assure the complete health of your human. Humans often remove their protective foot
coverings. The toes are a good place to check for foot reflexes. Sneak up, and nip at the
toes, making sure not to get yourself kicked or stepped on. If your human makes a
screeching noise, or jerks up the foot, you can assume normal reflexes. Another test, if
your human is less responsive to the toe test, involves a bit of maneuvering. When your
human is seated or lying down, theres a bit of tender skin above the knees. This is
where the maneuvering comes in. Most humans are leery of any investigating in this area.
If you can, position yourself near the knee, and take another nip. It can be harder or
softer than the toe nip, depending on how aggressive the practitioner is. The most common
response to this stimulus is a loud screech followed by the human equivalent of the War
Dance. (note that this rendering of the dance is not nearly as elegant as those performed
These are basic tests that you can use to assure yourself that your human is healthy.
Good luck, and I hope you and your human have a happy and healthy relationship.
Now that I'm home, bathed, settled and fed,
All nicely tucked in my warm new bed.
I'd like to open my baggage Lest I forget,
There is so much to carry - So much to regret.
Hmm . . . Yes there it is, right on the top
Let's unpack Loneliness, Heartache and Loss,
And there by my leash hides Fear and Shame.
As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave -
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.
I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
But I wasn't good enough - for they didn't want me.
Will you add to my baggage?
Will you help me unpack?
Or will you just look at my things - And take me right back?
Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage,
To never repack?
I pray that you do - I'm so tired you see,
But I do come with baggage - Will you still want me?
I shuffled to my closet door and slowly looked around.
I saw no little fuzzies. I heard no fuzzy sounds.
As I stepped through the doorway (a move that seemed quite safe),
A blur of fur shot past me, ready for the chase.
He danced and pranced and chuckled, just beyond my reach.
Under shelves and into shoes. He flew across my feet.
He taunted me and giggled. He showed no sign of fear.
He'd quickly dart the other way whenever I drew near.
I rounded up the treat box and shook it all about.
But he remembered last time that was how I lured him out.
I promised him a raisin and a Cheerio or two.
He would not even listen. There was nothing I could do.
He romped and ran and rambled. He had such a blast.
I tried but could not catch him. The boy was way too fast.
He grabbed a sock, sailed out the door, then headed for the stairs,
Glancing back as if to say "Come get me if you dare!".
Too tired to try to follow him, I had been outdone.
That ferret game was over. The rascal knew he'd won!
I made a vow right then and there, he'll sneak past me no more.
I'll have to find that scamp before I touch the closet door!
Written By: Beth Reburn, Oct
1997, used with permission