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Can I have a ferret? Can I have a ferret? PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE can I have a ferret? I swear I’ll feed it and clean up after it and not let it devour the chickens.

Okay, this may be a hard one to work into our active chicken lifestyle, but I’ve been dying for a ferret for, like, forever.

This saucy fellow was at a whole ‘nother church fête, along with a dozen of his mates, representing a local ferret club. That’s me holding him (I had to black out the background because my ginormous grinning face filled it right up). I haven’t been so happy since I discovered the big red bucket o’ weasels.

In the next few weeks, one of the local ferret rescues is having a thing. I’m going to talk to them about taking an overflow ferret next time they get full up, so I can try it out but it isn’t tragedy if I can’t work it out.

A trial ferret. A rent-a-weasel, as it were.

I’m hoping I can arrange it so daytime belongs to the chooks, and ferret playtime is after dark. We keep very late hours, so that’s a long stretch for the fuzzball, especially in the Winter. (Any ferret-keeping peeps want to chime in, I’d be grateful).

Phun Pherret Phact: albino is the ‘original’ color. The Romans domesticated an albino variant of the wild polecat, so that their hunting birds could distinguish between the rabbits popping out of the warren and the not-to-be-slaughtered ferrets. I have *no* idea if that’s true; it’s what the ferret people told me.


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 30, 2011, 10:40 pm

Just make sure it’s been de-scented, or that’s going to be a REALLY SHORT EXPERIMENT……

Comment from PatAZ
Time: August 30, 2011, 10:58 pm

They bite and they stink. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Of course, hand raised from babies might not bite. Never was around that kind. And I didn’t realize they could be de-scented.

Comment from beasn
Time: August 30, 2011, 10:59 pm

Lipstick, at the hostages, has a few of them. Will put out the ferret signal for her.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: August 30, 2011, 10:59 pm

They have a VERY distinctive smell.

Comment from Joe Allen
Time: August 30, 2011, 11:00 pm

I had a roommate with a ferret so I lived with one for about a year. This one was kind of a dick, (the ferret that is) but I think that was due to him being played with a little too aggressively by his owner.

Some things I remember about him (again, the ferret):

Stinky. He was supposedly de-scented, but he still smelled like a skunk having sex with a moldy gym sock within a few days after a good bath. And he really didn’t like bath time. I don’t know if males or females tend to reek more than the other, it’d be worth some research though.

He would eat any damn thing laying around, no matter how potentially lethal. They don’t call ’em carpet sharks for nothing. Gotta watch out for that.

Kleptomaniac. The little tube rat would steal and hide anything not nailed down, and if he could chew it loose – it wasn’t nailed down. Most of this stuff was hidden in my box springs, generally at about 3:00 am. Which brings me to:

I don’t think ferrets are naturally nocturnal, but they will stay up and play all damn night if you let them. Shouldn’t have a problem getting him/her on an evening socializing schedule.

In short, he was a pretty high maintenance pet, but he was pretty fun at times too. Better upbringing would have helped. If you can do a trial run with a foster ferret, I’d go for it!

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 30, 2011, 11:05 pm

From what I’ve seen ferrets are stinky and kind of weak in health but really nifty fun critters.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: August 30, 2011, 11:17 pm

They’re cute, but I wouldn’t want one. I will stick with my extremely spoiled cats, who clearly have domesticated ME rather than the other way around.

Me, to cat on my hip in the morning: Get up.
Cat: No, I’m comfortable.
Me: No, really, you need to get off of me, I need to get up and go to work.
Cat: I told you, I’m comfortable.
Me: Listen, I have to go to work or who’s going to buy the cat food?
Cat, jumping down: Why didn’t you SAY so?

Comment from amichel
Time: August 30, 2011, 11:34 pm

I’ve always thought a nice white rat would make an easier pet than a ferret. No musk, and less likely to nip you.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: August 30, 2011, 11:37 pm

I had a ferret many years back. Bought it from some pet store when it was young, and de-scented. He was a nightmare and a joy at the same time. He was a thief and a hoarder; he stored his little shit pellets in a pile under my bed (found upon moving), along with all his other ill-gotten gains. He loved nibbling my ears and toes at random times during the night, and figured out how to open the fridge so that he and the cat could have a party in it. He also loved to crawl under the gas stove and cause emotional trauma by playing with the pilot light. He actually caught on fire once, although I don’t think he noticed because he was too busy angrily cursing at me for attempting to put out the flames on his back. He was an escape artist, completely ignored the cat box, and gave me moments of supreme happiness just by being his ferret-y self.

True Story: I went on a road trip from MN to CA and took him with me. When I got to CA state line, I was informed that it was illegal to bring a ferret across state lines. So I told the customs person that it was a stoat, and that I had just driven from MN to visit, and that if he didn’t let me into the state with my STOAT that I would NEVER come back. I would get another one in a heart beat, and name it Sredni Vashtar.

Comment from Lipstick
Time: August 30, 2011, 11:40 pm

Joe, you’re not supposed to bathe ferrets too much or it makes them stink more. Ours are de-scented and they get a bath about once a year.

One way to minimize biting is to not roughhouse with them with your hands — shake a towel or a toy at them instead. Biting is their play behavior and they will regard your hands as big fun toys. If they do bite, scruff them and make a hissing sound like their mama would. Or, if you’re at the sink and one bites your foot, a splash of water will get their attention.

Comment from beasn
Time: August 30, 2011, 11:53 pm

‘little tube rat’


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 31, 2011, 12:01 am

Ah, Feynmangroupie – Sredni Vashtar! One of my favourites!

What a literate blog this is!

Seems I have opened a wildlife park – and nobody told me.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 31, 2011, 12:30 am

Nina: here’s how a guy handles it.

Me, to cat on my hip in the morning: Get up.
Cat: No, I’m comfortable.
Me: toss.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 31, 2011, 12:41 am

Oh and, um, BTW. Her Stoatliness has almost no sense of smell. Strange but true.

I grow a rose variety (David Austen’s Gertrude Jekyll in case anyone cares) that is so prized for its scent that Harrods once sold bars of soap made from it at an unbelievable price.

Our Leader blinks at it and shrugs. Mercifully, she is equally unimpressed by cleaning out the chicken coop.

Sadly, one of my ancestors must have had a drunken evening with a bloodhound as I can tell you which brand of washing up liquid someone is using. Two villages away. It makes for some amusing conversations.

“Can’t you smell that?!”

“Smell what?”

“Your arse. It’s on fire!”


Fortunately, any ferret that deigned to live in Badger House would be among his own kind. I find the little brutes delightful and the smell a good deal less offensive than when old Asbo the stray cat has snuck in and left an exclamation mark on the fridge door.

Or when The Weasel’s lunch contains amounts of garlic that even Hans Brick (thank you, South Park) might have to notice.

I might draw the line at Llamas, though. Never could stand (Bonpo-faced) woolly bodhisattvas.

Comment from Lipstick
Time: August 31, 2011, 1:24 am

My Sherpa ferret:


Comment from Ric Locke
Time: August 31, 2011, 2:10 am

Based on a good deal of anecdotal observations, an equation:

Mass in ounces squared, divided by twelve; answer in months.

This is a rough estimate of the time it requires for the animal involved to look ’round and say, “Woops! I am not a domesticated species. Time to start exhibiting wild-species behavior, e.g., ripping my owners to shreds.” Thus a one-pound ferret will be a pet for roughly a year.


Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: August 31, 2011, 2:15 am

Cousin Badger, it must be something innate in Badgers. I love the smell of roses. I wonder if Gertrude Jekylls are avaiable here in the States?

Comment from Frit
Time: August 31, 2011, 3:16 am

I had a pair of ferrets, both de-sexed females; one was also de-sented, the other was not. I actually like the smell of a healthy ferret. The ‘scented’ one only ‘sprayed’ when she was frightened, and the smell lasted about 2 minutes, then the air cleared. I have a sense of smell similar to Uncle Badgers’, and my mates is much like Stoatys’.

Something of note with ferrets and biting: their hide is MUCH tougher than human, feline, or canine; and they nip when playing. The trick is to teach them that their idea of a gentle nip is too hard, and either to quit nipping altogether, or learn to nip lightly. Scruffing-dragging-hissing is effective, if applied within the first 3 seconds of the offense, and stopped after 3 seconds. Short attention spans, frits. Also, there is a product called “Bitter Apple”, which is available in spray and gel form. The one time one of my ferrets bit something coated with it, she instantly squinched her eyes, flattened her tiny ears, and backed up as fast as she could shaking her head from side to side with her mouth open and tongue hanging out – I could practically hear her thinking: “It’s on my tongue! Getitoff! Getitoff!” 😉

Mine were litter box trained; part of the trick is to keep a litter box in every corner of the room(s) they are allowed to play in. Also, start with them in a small container, half being their bed, the other half being the litter box. They are unlikely to mess the bed, and, as you gradually expand their play area, will keep using the box. Also, you can take them out to play for a limited time, (1-3 hours, depending on last potty break) and at the end of the time, put them in a cage with a litter box, and tell them to use it with some verbal command. Only let them out after they have used the litter box. Mine were trained that way, tho they sometimes tried to fool me by ‘assuming the position’ in the box while watching me, then scampering to the cage door to be let out, while not having actually using the litter box! Clever little critters! (Fortunately, I caught on fast, and never let them out until I saw evidence of use in the box.)

Bathing the ferrets isn’t really recommended, unless they have actually gotten dirty. Keep their toys and bedding clean, and that usually prevents the unpleasant musky build-up often associated with them.

Oh, and lavender (scent, leaves, flowers, plants) to ferrets is like catnip to cats. *wicked grin*

I have several amusing stories about my little runamuckuses; feel free to pop me an e-mail and I’ll be happy to regale you with them!

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 31, 2011, 6:42 am

British Seal Burmese:

And not one of those Fugly American inbred sub-feline Burmese.
Why have a Rat when you can have a God?


Comment from Jamie
Time: August 31, 2011, 2:25 pm

Frit’s got it right. I had one ferret of my own (a medium sable) and have been around several others. They’re quite fun, and the ones I have been acquainted with were very much “people” pets. One thing I’ve told people when they’re interested in one, though, is to get one that hasn’t spent a lot of time around other ferrets. That’s when they tend to learn how hard they can bite each other without causing injury, and it’s a lot harder than you want them to nip you!

As to the scent, it’s distinctive, but not offensive. Using a very gentle baby shampoo infrequently (no more than once a month, unless they’re REALLY in need of a bath) will help their skin remain healthy, and they won’t overproduce the musky oils that make the scent stronger. They’re pretty easy to litterbox train, but even if they aren’t trained to the box, they instinctively do their business in a corner. While the idea of little ferret-poo-pellets in every corner of a given area isn’t particularly nice, you at least don’t have to worry about stepping in it as you do when a cat or dog leaves you a ‘surprise’.

Ferrets are fun-loving animals, they’re easy to train to a harness-leash and love to be cuddled, petted, and played with. They are very curious, though, so you have to be constantly cautious about not leaving any doors or windows open. They’ll instinctively go outside exploring, and that will likely be the last you see of them.

Good luck!

Comment from Deborah
Time: August 31, 2011, 8:31 pm

I never met the ferret, but I had a co-worker with a male ferret, named Gomez, in honor of Gomez Addams (as portrayed by Raul Julia). Apparently the loopy dancing Gomez (in The Addams Family movie) looked uncommonly similar to a ferret dancing. Not to mention that Gomez Addams is a terrific name for a ferret.

Comment from Mike James
Time: August 31, 2011, 9:09 pm

Oh, this will end well…

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 31, 2011, 9:17 pm

Cousin Scott – it should be. David Austin roses are sold just about everywhere. The only problem I’ve found is that she’s susceptible to black spot (though aren’t they all?) and she’s not a very vigorous grower.

Yup – here’s a US website



Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 31, 2011, 9:56 pm

Per Sredni Vashtar: The Chronicles of Clovis are on Gutenberg, here, if anyone’s interested. Shame the silly bugger (literally) had to go off and get himself shot.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: August 31, 2011, 10:07 pm

Off topic again, but did you see that “Weepy” told ‘im to stuff it:

Comment from catnip
Time: September 1, 2011, 6:08 am

We’ve had three ferrets, two sable females, one silver male. They’re enchanting little creatures, best acquired soon after weaning, and de-scented. Females should be spayed. They can be very cuddly and are playful in the extreme. They adjust readily to your schedule, but a cage is a must, for any number of reasons. The only drawback we found with ours was that they didn’t live long enough–all just under 9 years, and each loss was heartbreaking. I think, though, that improvement in ferret foods and veterinary care may allow them to have a longer life span than when we had our little guys.

Do try one, Weas.

Comment from Oceania
Time: September 1, 2011, 9:08 am

I kept a woman once … terrible creature … I don’t recommend it.

Comment from Mike James
Time: September 1, 2011, 3:46 pm

Alright, I know Oceania comes in for his fair share of flak, but that was funny, right there…

Comment from Noelegy
Time: September 1, 2011, 6:44 pm

Ferrets are a lot of fun, but they are high-energy pets; if you don’t have lots of time to play with them, they might not be the pet for you. Ferrets sold in the US for pets have been descented. I can’t speak for the UK, but I would imagine that if you’re going through a ferret rescue (which I applaud), I would assume they have been as well. The only ferret that ever bit me hard enough to break the skin was a baby ferret that was being sold at too young an age because of the cute factor; the ones I obtained as adults were well-socialized and never did more than nibble.

I’ve had three, and they were great fun, like kittens that never grow up. I ended up giving them to a stay-at-home mom because I felt guilty that we were away from home too much and thus leaving them in their cage too much (although my handy hubby had built them an awesome multi-level ferret condo).

Comment from Noelegy
Time: September 1, 2011, 6:46 pm

Frit, I had one ferret who liked to sleep in my sock drawer and who acquired a distinctive corn-chip aroma when he’d been sleeping. 🙂

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: September 1, 2011, 8:52 pm

An ex-GF had a ferret who would poop in your shoe if he was angry with you. Otherewise, he was a very nice animal.

Comment from Frit
Time: September 2, 2011, 1:42 am

Noelegy: “…like kittens that never grow up.”

I’ve always maintained that a ferret was a kitten that had been ‘lowered.” Conversely, a kitten is a ferret with a “lift-kit”!

One of my ferrets was a very accomplished thief. Once, a friend was visiting, sitting on the couch, whilst the ferret was out. Friend was familiar with ferrets, so paid no attention when she went burrowing into the cushions behind him…and still ignored her when she stopped. That is, until I said “You might want that back.”, pointing to the fat leather wallet she had in her teeth as she was backing up along the couch… *chuckles* With a bland face, he turned to the ferret and said: “May as well give it back. There’s no cash in it, and the charge card is maxed out.” 😉

The ferrets also enjoyed hiding everything they could under the coffee table (- which was actually a flat topped cedar chest). Including peoples socks/feet, when found dangling off the couch.

My other ferret thought she was an earring. Had to be cautious cuddling her, as she would latch onto an earlobe, just enough to have a firm grip, not breaking skin at all. But caused a bit of concern when trying to remove her ended up stretching the earlobe rather than dislocating the ferret. *snerk* Distracting her with a treat would get her to release the earlobe, and after that one was always careful to keep her away from said targets.

Comment from Lipstick
Time: September 2, 2011, 2:23 am

I have a wonderful vet who specializes in exotic animals. She says she has never seen a ferret make it past age 8.

To reduce the stink, I recommend Marshall’s brand kibble. I can really tell the difference in stinkitude if they eat anything else.

Comment from Noelegy
Time: September 2, 2011, 3:24 pm

Frit, the story about the wallet made me giggle.

When we got our first ferret (Shiro, dark sable male), I did a lot of reading about ferrets and was deeply amused to learn that their Latin name translates to “stinky mouse-killing thief.” When we got our second (Crash, white male, completely deaf), and introduced him to Shiro, the two of them chattered like schoolgirls at a slumber party, almost immediately upon meeting. Ferrets are fascinating social, this is why ferret people have get-togethers and “play dates” for the ferrets, because you can introduce almost any ferret to almost any other ferret and they’ll play together.

I miss the little beasts. We just realized that we had reached our saturation point (I think at the time we also had two large dogs and five cats) and the ferrets were the new kids on the block, so we did what we thought was best for them and gave them to a lady who had a lot of experience with ferrets and could give them the attention they deserved.

Someday, when we don’t have quite so many critters, we might try it again. We don’t miss the poop, though. Ferrets will use their litterboxes while they’re in the cages, but once they leave the cages, they seem to forget that the litterboxes exist, and head for the corners of the room.

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