Baby, Dana and Fox
What? Baby? No, it's not my first ferret Baby, it's one of the 3 new rescues I got in Saturday 7th February 1998.
It wasn't anything I had planned, they really are rescues. I went riding with my neighbour Gill Friday morning and we rode past her friend's place who has got a riding school and Gill had to give her some money. Gill had told me that her friend had some ferrets to give away, her husband had got some, they bred, became too many, then husband lost interest, daughter wanted them, then she lost interest and they were now looking for new homes for the ferrets. I think they had 7 originally. So I asked if I could see them- I was shocked! When I heard that they had lost interest and didn't have enough time for the ferrets, I didn't expect them to be in such a bad way. They were in a tiny 2ft hutch, the floor was covered with a few little bits of brown paper, a few feathers and loads of the ferrets' mess. The ferrets were covered in their own mess, too, since they were walking and sleeping on it! Water bottle was empty, no food, they were skinny, I wouldn't have given the albino jill (now Baby) much longer to live. So I turned round and said I'd take them. Gill's friend said okay but daughter might want to keep the hob as a pet. If they hadn't given all 3 up, I would have called the RSPCA. Then Gill's friend told us- like it was an everyday occurrence- how one hob had escaped, went next door and the bloke killed him with a shovel! Not a bit of sadness or pain. For them it was probably "oh, one less to get rid of".
The same evening I went to Gill and asked her to speak to her friend again and make her see sense not to keep the hob. Her friend agreed. Friday night- no sleep as anybody can imagine. Couldn't get to sleep, woke up at 5.00 a.m. after having a nightmare. Got up 5.30, did some housework, washing, got the ferrets ready and did the ferret cage for the new ones. Watched a video as it was too early to go over to Gill. Went over just before 9.00, helped feed the horses, then we went to fetch the ferrets, Lorna, Gill's daughter, came with us. I made sure Gill and Lorna saw the ferrets. They were shocked, too. But it was such an awkward situation, Gill and Lorna were friends with these people, I was friends with Gill and Lorna and didn't want to cause trouble, didn't want to put Gill and Lorna in an awkward situation where they had to take sides. Their loyalty was with their friends, mine with the ferrets. As long as they'll never have little animals again because Lorna had their 2 guinea pigs and they were kept in a similar horrendous way.
So I got home and put them in their cage. I didn't really want to wash them, I wanted them to settle down and get some strength. And I wasn't too keen on the idea of handling 3 ferrets that weren't used to being handled and reacted with biting to an approaching hand. But they were covered in their own mess so they needed a quick wash. I wiped their heads down but couldn't get everything off but the rest of their bodies looked clean now. And you can see just how thin or fat a ferret is when it's wet- I knew the albino jill was thin but when she was wet I could see that she was just skin and bones, I could almost see through her neck she was so thin, like you could see through her! The kids were surprisingly good in the bath, no hating the water and no biting. Then they had a run, they were so unsettled, restless, because they had probably never been out of their tiny cage and were sooo keen on exploring their new surroundings. They were keen on exploring me as well and I gave them some Ferretvite, they quickly took to it once I got some on their lips and they licked it off. Then I cut their nails, I put Ferretone on their tummies and they took to licking that off as well! Their nails had curled round, probably never been cut before. So now they're clean, tidy, they've used the toilet in their cage from the very first day which is excellent when you think that a toilet is a new concept to them. And once I held them, they didn't bite, either. 2 of them war danced already the first night and played with me but their play nips are a bit hard.
And who are the 3? The skinny, near death, albino jill, I called her Baby after my first ferret. It's like I've been round in a circle, I gave Baby- who was an albino jill- away and now I rescued one. Then there's another jill, polecat, I called her Dana, I like the name. And then I had to call the hob Fox. He's a silver mitt. They're brothers and sisters and were born at the end of July '97. 6 months of being locked up and near starvation. Actually, Fox is sort of okay, thin but okay. Dana is in the middle, thinner but still okay(ish). Baby was probably the one who got to eat last and got the least food.
About food, I thought they wouldn't eat much because their tummies were small- they eat as much as my 7! Baby spent the first day with her head either in the food bowl or in the water bowl! Baby's got such a thin coat. Hardly any hair, Dana and Fox have a good coat, doesn't look anything like a proper winter coat but at least their bodies are covered with hair. But Baby looks so poorly, her eyes are also very small. I couldn't have them spayed now because they need to be built up first. But Fox looks like he can have his little op.
But something scary happened as well. I let Baby out by herself when a friend was over, I said that I thought Angel was small and thin but Baby looked so tiny and skinny next to Angel and made Angel look quite big. So Angel came to me so I took Baby out to show my friend. I had Baby out on her own before and the others were fine. But this time Bella approached us- and then attacked Baby, she got really nasty and kept biting and shaking her. What am I going to do if they don't get on... I thought jills would automatically get on and it would be easy to integrate them into a group- my 3 accepted Bella immediately, only the boys made a fuss when I added a new boy to the group.
Now, all 3 have been okay so far, the girls didn't bite me, Dana and Fox kept playing and war dancing and Fox also played with me and kept sitting on my lap, chewing my fingers or just holding my hands with his paws while looking at me with his big eyes. But then he started biting my arm and it was so hard that I thought I had to do something about it so I hissed at him and scruffed him lightly. Bad idea!!! He thought I wanted to harm him and fought back like he was fighting for his life. The result: I've got a few bad puncture wounds on my right hand and can't handle him now as he attacks my hand as soon as he sees it. I've learned one thing now: scruffing is a no-no when you've got a biting ferret that had never been handled and isn't too sure about humans. Maybe me hissing has scared Fox, I don't know, all I know is that I better get back into his good books- soon!
I just got a film developed and it had pictures of Baby (from when I first got her) on it. You can't really see just how bad and skinny she looked but you can see that she didn't look too good: