Bolton Ferret Welfare

Yarm Ferret Rescue - December 2003

by Sue Lloyd

This has not been the easiest of years, the only thing more prolific than the vets bills has been the number of ticks getting on to the ferrets.

Two polecat jills joined us in early spring; Fern, a lovely retired show ferret and a great worker, came as a companion for Hoppy but they did not get on. Hoppy found a playmate in Pippa, a three quarter bred polecat. To start with Pippa only came in to be handled as she was very nervous and a bad biter. I wasn't surprise that her new owners couldn't cope with her, she just oozed polecat. As I knew who had bred her I phoned him up and gained the information that decided all concerned to leave Pippa here. A month of a regular routine saw her gain confidence, I took her out in a pet carrier with me when I went shopping to socialise her.

Whilst going out of season she had probably picked up an infection, this responded to well to a course of Baytril and a couple of weeks later special arrangements were made to have her spayed at the Stokesley Veterinary Practice. This worked out well and she returned that afternoon quite unflustered by the whole procedure. Progress was being made until, at about six weeks, a bad setback occurred; she turned really vicious in her cage. Checking with her breeder we decided it was the result of a phantom pregnancy. Apparently her grandmother turned the same way when she had kits. Gradually she settled down again and with firm handling about three month later I had the biting stopped.

When Pippa first arrived she scratched at herself endlessly. No fleas could be found, a dusting of flea powder brought no relief and I decided it must be mites. Despite having short claws she was cutting her chin area with her scratching. Whilst treating our cats with the spot-on form of Frontline, and bearing in mind that it is a strong form of application, I decided to try it on Pippa two drops went on at the base of her skull and three on her shoulders. By day three scratching at her body stopped, by day five she stopped scratching at her ears. I concluded that this treatment did for the ear mites.

Most of our showing is done around the agricultural shows. Sadly this year a lot of jealousy has appeared which spoilt most outings. If you can't face loosing don't show! Thankfully it is now illegal to sell ferrets at shows unless they obtain a pet traders licence first. Hopefully this will end incidents that occurred at one show where a ferret being offered for sale locked onto a girl's chin, it was horrific for all concerned and very bad publicity. The word 'claim' was used but nothing came of it and the girl's chin healed without a mark.

The great polecat debate ran throughout the shows. A polecat should have a cream undercoat, a defined mask and dark points i.e. its legs, tail and back. These really dark ferrets with fawn eyebrows, as beautiful as they are, to my mind belong to the any other colour class and not the polecat classes.

Two worrying trends emerging are that some ferrets are far too fat; this is not good for them at all. Untold problems occur in the horse world with overweight young-stock damaging joints and organs and I don't see it being any different for ferrets.

The other trend is people who only want to home a rescue ferret if it is show standard.

Sadly this year jills that I have known have died as a result of various "jills ills". The kindest thing for any jill is to have her spayed. Another ferret family that I know are having problems due to inbreeding. Neuter ferrets before the breeding season, if ferrets are subject to a lot of artificial lighting and heating by being in a house their breeding season is much more likely to start very early on in the year.

As the show season bathed in the glorious summer I once again puzzled at the practice of spraying ferrets with water whilst they sleep in their cages. Having been in the horticultural industry all my life one thing I have learnt is in order to create humidity we 'damp down' - we spray or hose greenhouse floors on a hot day to increase humidity. Perhaps this explains ferrets emerging from their cages with sawdust stuck to them. Another thing I have observed is the use of shredded newspaper for bedding; this sheds its ink on to the ferrets' coats and then is licked off probably not doing the ferrets a lot of good!

Amongst other highlights of the year was to meet up with Sheila Crompton at the two garden festivals held at Preston Park near Yarm. Sue with Tiberius - 27Kb One of my long time pin-up boys has been her polecat hob Tiberius and a now treasured possession is a photo of him with me that Sheila took in September.

I have been an area co-ordinator for so many years now, what do members, if anything, in this area want? Do you want talks, social evenings, shows, racing or what? I don't mind organising events but they need to be supported. My address is on the inside cover of this newsletter. Yarm Ferret Rescue has an annual show towards the end of October; do you want a members on class? If so please let me know by the 2nd of April 2004 so that I can order the rosettes.

Wishing a happy 2004 to all ferrets and their caring owners.

Sue Lloyd
Yarm Ferret Rescue.

First Published January 2007

Rescue Round-up
Home page