Bolton Ferret Welfare

Tips

by Dr June McNicholas

Taking horrible tasting medicine is often a trial for owner and ferret. If it can’t be disguised in Ferretone, try a spot of Ribena. Apparently a lot of ferrets seem to like the taste and it can successfully hide the taste of even Baytril for some ferrets.

Tempting poorly ferrets to eat – scrambled egg; plain yogurt; tuna in oil (not brine); baby foods; cooked/shredded chicken; plain biscuit (like a digestive) moistened in warm water and then made into a paste with Whiskas/Felix kitten milk; custard – preferably made with skimmed milk to reduce the risk of diarrhoea.

Or you could try Sheila's Chicken Soup.

Two to four chicken legs. Cook for a couple of hours in a pressure cooker until the bones are soft, ensure that you have enough water in the pan so that it doesn’t boil dry. When cooked pour the lot into a food processor and reduce the contents to a thick soup. The soup can be frozen into cubes in an ice tray. Just defrost as many cubes as required in a microwave. Add some single or double cream to the ‘soup’ mix and serve. You can use a syringe, spoon or bowl. I have found the soup very useful when underweight rescues have been brought to me.

As a culinary twist, some ferrets can be tempted by highly flavoured foods. June and Jeff find garlic sausage invaluable for some sick ferrets, although this needs to be kept to a minimum because of high salt content. Similarly many ferrets can be tempted by ham but only use it as an appetite tempter because of the salt.

Clipping nails/cleaning ears- obviously bribery is the best way to keep the ferrets still while you want to do anything like this. If there’s two of you, a little Ferretone/butter or some such delicacy can be poured on a spoon while one person holds both ferret and spoon, and the other person goes round nails and ears. It’s amazing how co-operative a ferret is when he’s totally pre-occupied with a treat on a spoon! If there’s only one of you to do ferrety maintenance, you can put the treat in the bottom of a deep margarine tub or similar, or lie the ferret on his back and drip a couple of drops of Ferretone on his tummy. Again, he’ll be preoccupied licking while you do the necessary.

Keeping teeth clean – ‘Dentabits’ are cat treats that are designed to help clean teeth and prevent the build up of tartar. The manufacturers (Whiskas/Masterfoods) claim great results for cats and it seems that Dentabits are just as acceptable and effective for ferrets.

Raw chicken wings given 3 or 4 times a week are also excellent for keeping teeth clean. Do not cook the wings as the bones will splinter and they can lodge in the throat

So do you have good ideas, things that you have found work or get round problems? Are there products or items on the market you’ve found effective for ferrets? Toys? Equipment? Let us know and we’ll pass it all on. You never know, you could have the very answer someone else is struggling to find!

(First published October 2003)

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