Bella and Tom
It so happened that Karen rescued an albino hob called Glyndwr from her local RSPCA- he'd been on TV on a pet rescue program and Karen phoned up for him and got him!
So the next time I went to see Karen (beginning of June '97), we went to the RSPCA where Karen got Glyndwr from. Well, there were another 3 ferrets there, one was James who had been ill treated and the RSPCA asked Karen whether she wanted to take him. The other 2 ferrets were a polecat jill who I instantly fell in love with and an albino hob, well, I wanted an albino, didn't I. So, what happened: we adopted the 3. Karen wasn't sure, nor was I so I said "If you take James, then I take the other 2." By the next day we had decided, after all we had the ability to change 3 lives for the better and give 3 abandoned, lonely little fuzzbutts the love and warmth they deserve! So then all 3 went to be neutered, Karen and I said that we would fetch them in 2 weeks, then the hobs' hormones would have gone and we would be able to keep them with our kids immediately. And I wouldn't see the jill in pain, I could remember how poorly Jilly and Angel were after their spay so at least I wouldn't have to see the jill like that. I also already had names for the ferrets: Bella and Tom.
2 weeks later I went to see Karen again, she had already picked up James because she couldn't wait for 2 weeks so we went to the RSPCA to pick Bella and Tom up. Tom's hormones were still going so I couldn't keep him with the others but Bella was able to go with the other kids and they all accepted her.
But as soon as I got home, I realised that Bella was a bad biter. Tom on the other hand was so soft and playful and a real bundle of joy. But I couldn't relax in the ferret room anymore, I constantly had to watch what Bella was doing. She was okay(ish) when she was out but if she was in a cage or hidey hole then it was a mistake to put your hand in. You'd have her attached to it in no time. Like one day I was playing with Tom in the room away from cages and hidey holes and I had my hand on the floor, everybody else was asleep. And all of a sudden Bella attacked my hand, she came out of nowhere, I didn't even see her around or approaching me. I was getting the feeling that she had polecat blood in her because she just couldn't help herself, it was as if it was an instinct that she had to obey. Or I thought that she had been badly treated. She attacked anything that wasn't a ferret and hadn't got clothing on- hands- so you couldn't handle her. If you held her she'd be okay one minute and then she'd twist and turn to get to your hand and bite into it. And most of the time she managed to tear the skin (and flesh) so it looked like a scratch rather than a bite. I wasn't scared of her but it wasn't like she was my favourite ferret to cuddle, either.
Then I went to see my friend Karen again, we had all the ferrets (10! my 6 and her 4) in her shed playing and Karen handled Bella for about an hour- she didn't bite once. I thought that was charming, the little madam obviously didn't like me! Then we had something to eat and drink and as usual I washed my hands and put cream on them so Karen thought that Bella might not like my hands because I put cream on them. And since Karen didn't use cream and Bella didn't bite her, I thought Karen might be right. Well, back to the shed and within minutes Karen had a ferret attached to her hand. It was like Bella only bit people once she got to know them and spent some time with them. At the end of the day Karen had about 3-4 deep wounds that were bleeding. At one time Karen wanted to pick some paper off the floor and Bella was close and went for her hand.
It took about 2 months before Bella sort of started to trust me, after 3 months she had stopped biting. She was so weird in the beginning, she just watched and observed everything and everyone, she didn't play with toys nor the other kids. It was like she was scared that she might be attacked and that's why she kept an eye on everything. She also became fixated on Angel and followed Angel around and copied Angel's behaviour (except the "not-biting" or cuddling). Once I was cleaning the cage around Angel and Bella thought I wanted to harm Angel and attacked my hand and wouldn't let me near Angel!
But as time went by, Bella relaxed a little, once I caught her investigating a crinkle sack (plastic bag...) and then playing with it. When she realised that I was standing by the door, she quickly walked away from the bag and was her old controlled little "I don't play" self. But soon she started playing with the toys and the other kids and didn't mind me handling her, either. It was a slow process and I think what you need, when you've got a biter, is time. And a lot of patience and lots of TLC. Now Bella even plays with me and her play bites don't even hurt anymore, before her play biting would soon turn into serious biting but now she just plays and it makes me so happy when I see her play, and being so obviously happy.
Tom, in the meantime, bonded with Igor. When I first let Tom with the kids, Jack bullied him once and from then on Igor bullied him. It was like Igor was telling Tom that he was the superior one and that Tom was at the bottom now. But soon they were inseparable mates and played with each other all the time. No more competition between them like who's boss after Jack.
And now Tom is the nuttiest ferret I have. He play attacks me all the time and treats me like I am a huge ferret. He chases me and I chase him, it's our play and it must look like we're dancing around to other people. Or like I've completely lost it... Igor joins in sometimes as well. I call him the "full of beans" ferret... When I lie on the floor, he comes and cleans my head and then he'll lie across my neck like he would lie across another ferret. He really is such a sweet thing!
But poor Jack was still on his own, not playing with anybody. Tom and Igor played and they also played with Jilly, Bella and sometimes Angel. But Jack was never interested in joining them and only ever wanted to cuddle (yes, the big "independent" boy had turned into a cuddler after he saw Tom and Igor cuddling with me all the time!). Seemed like he was still missing Billy so maybe yet another albino mate for him?