Bolton Ferret Welfare

Yarm Ferret Rescue September 2008

by Sue Lloyd

Never again should I say that the year has got off to a quiet start; it's tempting fate!

Our agricultural show season started as it carried on, knee deep in wellie sucking mud. However, with plenty of Dunkirk spirit a jolly time has been had by most. For the third time that I can rememeber, a ferret got itself well and truly stuck fast whilst trying to wriggle through the larger mesh door found on some pet carriers; it was handed back to its owners who somehow managed to push the ferret back out. On a previous occasion, wire cutters had been required. Pet carriers with wider mesh doors could really do with a sheet of smaller wire mesh fixed over them to stop this from happening.

By August the local advertisement magazines were full of ferret kits as were Fur and Feather auctions. Under-age kits were being given away in the auction car parks along with 4 week old puppies, I kid you not! One auction was selling kits by the bucket full, all of whom were too small to climb out. Some of these kits were bought by people to grow on and then re-sell. Not good reading I know, but how can we, a national organisation for ferrets, help in this situation?

Perhaps as the breeding season approaches our member, area co-ordinators and clubs/rescues/welfares could ask their local press to publicise against these practices in a similar way that the dog world has tried (with some success) against puppy farming?

During August a situation arose where eight kits came my way from a Thirsk auction. Four kits were crammed into a tiny wire mesh box. They could hardly move, their make-do water bowl had overturned with the kits lying in water, saturated. Two were "baby kits", one of which was totally exhausted and in a poor way; it took her days to come round. I was so pleased to pass these kits onto a wonderful home.

So many end up as strays and I've heard stories of an unhandled ferret being taken in, only to be killed "Because he was vicious" when all that was needed was a little time and patience which, as we all know, can reap owners huge rewards with loving, gentle ferrets.

Again in August, I did a very stupid thing; I lost my vasectomised hob, Leo. The fact that I had exercised him loose down the same stretch of hedgerow for two years was no excuse, I should have had him on a harness. Leo nipped through the hedge and disappeared, probably on the early morning scent of a rabbit! The next 34 hours were spent tramping around soaking wet wheat fields and scrabbling into huge thorn boundary hedges; alas, no Leo.

The next step was to start going house to house with "lost ferret" flyers. What happened next is totally true: Leo had gone to a house with a glass front door and jumped up asking to be let in, which thankfully he was. As he was exploring the kitchen, I was pushing a flyer through their letterbox. Ferret found!

The lovely couple who had let him into their home found it all exciting and had got their camera out!

Leo returned home having been loose for 35 hours, with company: ticks, ticks and yet more ticks.

I later did new 'thank you' flyers "Ferret Found", which were appreciated by my original flyer recipients.

Leo - 26kb
Leo

Rescues around the country are heaving with ferrets. So please, if you can fit one more in, give your local rescue a call. I have two lovely albino hob kits on my books awaiting for a home, well fed, well handled they just need a special person to look after them. I can be contacted on 07817 415645

Nettles

My polecat jill, Nipper was about nine months old when she ran through a clump of nettles in pursuit of a rabbit. She leapt into the air as she was stung and then she just flopped, totally lifeless, eyes half open. I prepared to rush her to the vets but some five to seven minutes later she came round, although she was still a bit shaky.

My vet said that she had probably gone into shock and that she could have died. An injection of an adrenalin-type drug may have saved her if injected very quickly after the incident. We were lucky. Nipper never forgot and thereafter avoided nettles like the plague!

Yet I've had ferrets, usually hobs, that have waded through patches of nettles and never twitched a whisker.

First Published September 2008

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