Bolton Ferret Welfare

Yarm Ferret Rescue May 2009

by Sue Lloyd

It has been a busy spring at Yarm Ferret Rescue with numerous ferrets to re-home; jills coming to visit the vasectomised hobs, and holiday boarders. In between all of this I'm trying to apply some woodstain to some of the cages. I prefer to use Cuprinol which soon dries and is not harmful to ferrets.

One of my own jills has developed Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS). At first we treated her for tummy upset but the symptoms weren't quite right for that, so under a whiff of gas a blood sample was taken which suggested IBS. Jo, our vet was a little alarmed at the time it took for the jill, Ruby, to come round from the procedure. It has been suggested that this has been caused by stress. Now Ruby was born here, handled from a very young age, was used to going to shows and is a somewhat bold, confident ferret. So where does the stress factor come in?

When I took Ruby to the vets I mentioned that she had become somewhat hyper. Amy, the vet we saw on that occasion suggested a food allergy. Thinking back she did become hyper about the same time I started to use a brand of food that I hadn't used for years. So I've concluded that the food allergy caused the IBS and not stress. I've since withdrawn the new type of food which has calmed her down but not her illness. Though, touch wood, this hasn't been too bad of late and fortunately her visit to a vasectomised hob to bring her out of season doesn't seem to have caused her any further stress.

Has anyone else come across this? The rest of the ferrets are fine on this new brand of food.

As regards the foster jill/orphaned kits register, numerous jills early in the year have given birth and have not produced any milk resulting in the death of their kits. Some of these jills had moved to new homes not long before giving birth so that may explain their failure to lactate which would be stress-related. But why the rest?

Are they being stressed by giving birth, or what? Anyone wishing to register can telephone/text me on 07817 415645.

On the subject of breeding, I personally am becoming alarmed by the number of people jumping on the fashion band wagon and breeding ferrets not true to type, i.e. angoras and other unusual colour patterns. I gather that there are problems with these types already. Can we please keep ferrets as ferrets and not go down the dog-world route, producing something that can't even keep it's bum clean!

(First published May 2009)

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