Jilly, Angel and Jack
During the next year I couldn't forget about Baby and I yearned for another ferret. By the beginning of 1995, I couldn't wait to get another one, I couldn't even wait for the first kits to be born so I looked in an advertising paper and saw that some people had a jill to give away. That was at the beginning of April. My mother, stepfather and grandmother were visiting at the time but I didn't tell them where I was going when I went to see the jill. I drove about 60 miles to get her and she was a beautiful little jill and didn't bite me when I first handled her so we took her with us and I called her Jilly. My mother was shocked when I arrived with a ferret and I heard comments like "Don't you have enough animals?" - "Did you have to get another one?" - "Why a ferret?!" etc. But an hour later, Jilly was on the coffee table being fed cream and cake! That's how charming these little creatures are, they wrap anybody around their little paws.
Soon my mother fell in love with Jilly and one day she was holding her, stroking her little face and saying "You want to come home with me, don't you?!". I couldn't believe what I heard, I mean Jilly was MINE! But lucky for me, Jilly bit my mother's finger just when she announced that she wanted to keep Jilly. And what a bad bite it was... Anyway, from then on my mother luckily didn't want to have Jilly anymore. ;-) Jilly then turned into a little monster, biting everybody, especially feet, and slippers made out of leather. But now I knew how to teach a ferret not to bite and after 2 weeks, Jilly had turned into the sweetest ferret imaginable.
Because Jilly was in season, I bred her and in June she gave birth to 14 babies- 5 died but the other 9 survived and it was such an experience to see them grow up. Jilly was very affectionate while she was pregnant and bringing the babies up. She would spend hours on my lap, licking my neck and face. She also trusted me a lot although she hadn't been with me for very long. I could put my hand into the nest and even pick her babies up and she didn't mind.
The best time began when the babies opened their eyes. Angel was the baby of the family, the 9th baby, the one who probably almost died and the one who opened her eyes last. She was the smallest as well and I decided to keep her. I also wanted to keep a hob. Now, Jilly had 2 sandy girls, one of which was Angel, 2 sandy boys, 3 polecat girls and 2 polecat boys. I decided to keep one of the sandy boys. It took me a long time to decided which boy to keep, I watched them when they had time out and how they interacted with me. I don't think there was a difference in behaviour so I kept the bigger one with the nicer mask.
The babies were little rascals, very hyper and all over the place when they had time out of their cage. Angel was the smallest and weakest one so she would curl up on my lap and go to sleep when the others were still going. She was my special girl from the very beginning.
Then it was time to give the kits away, I found homes for them but it was so hard to let them go. I'd seen them grow up and bonded with them and it was different to giving guinea pig or rat babies away. It's always hard to part with animal babies but it was particularly hard to part with the ferret kits. But one day the last one went and I was left with Jilly, Angel and Jack- it took me a few months to recover from giving the others away and I swore never ever to breed again, not any animal because it was so heartbreaking to give the babies away. Although I was happy to have Angel and Jack from Jilly.
One and a half years went by, Angel and Jack grew and soon Angel became very close to me. Jilly had started to become fixated on me (as a friend of mine called it) soon after I got her and would follow me around everywhere but Angel and Jack were very independent for the first year or so and I thought they would never want to cuddle with me. But when Angel was about a year old, she started cuddling and became "my little girl". Jack was still independent, he was a big boy and big boys don't cuddle with Mum, do they! But as Angel became close to me, Jilly sort of stopped being close to me...
In December 1996 I finally had the girls and Jack neutered. Until then the girls got jill jabs to get them out of oestrus. Jack had been vasectomised and the three were all together in one cage but when the girls were in season, they wouldn't let Jack near them! So I had to get them injected.
The day of their operation came and I was a nerve wreck, I was so scared that something would happen to the girls, especially Angel. I wasn't worried about Jack as his operation was easy and straightforward. But a spay is a somewhat different operation. So I dropped the ferrets off at the vet's in the morning and then went home to clean their room and cage, I was crying most of the time because I was so worried. Then I went back to the vet's to wait for the ferrets and I was so happy when one of the girls came to tell me that they were all fine but still waking up from the anaesthetic. After a while the vet brought the three to me, they were in their carrier, Jack was scratching at the carrier door and wanted to be let out while the girls looked pretty poorly. I was shocked when I got home and had a look at them, they had a very long incision all along their tummies and their tummies looked dented like the vet took all the insides out. The girls were obviously in pain and Angel wanted to cuddle all the time but after 5 days they were more or less over the operation and back to their old selves. And soon their tummies filled out again and looked more normal.
At the beginning of '97 I met Karen on the FML (Ferret Mailing List)- she was to become a very good friend. I saw an article she had posted to the FML and noticed that she was from South Wales. So I decided to e-mail her and we've been writing to each other since. I also visited her soon after we started writing. And when I went to Germany for 2 weeks over Easter, Karen looked after my ferrets. And that's how the following account of ferret math got started.
Karen had 2 albino hobs, Billy and Ben. She had them neutered before Easter so while my ferrets were staying with Karen, they could play with Billy and Ben once their hormones had gone- and then my Jack bonded with Billy. When I got back from our break in Germany, Jack had somehow changed, during the next few weeks he was very quiet, didn't play much and slept a lot more than usually, I honestly got the impression that he was depressed and missed Billy... So there was only one solution: to get another hob for Jack!
Jilly war dancing