Ruby joined our family on 06/10/04. Her owner, Catherine, was moving to Australia with her partner and found out that it was not possible to import ferrets into Australia. She was really upset at the prospect of leaving Ruby behind and wanted to make sure that Ruby went to a very good home. Catherine was writing to me for a while and I could identify with her wish that Ruby would at least have a good home if Catherine couldn't keep her. So I said if she didn't find a home I'd be happy to take her. I sent Catherine pictures of our home and ferret set-up and she was happy with it. So on the 6th of October, Catherine, her partner, and her mother, all came from Liverpool to bring Ruby. I was impressed and happy that Catherine was prepared to travel the distance (a 6 hour drive, mostly via small A roads, not straight roads or motorways, through Wales) to bring Ruby. Catherine liked our rural area and was very happy with our ferrets and the set-up. And Ruby is such a sweet ferret! She weighs only 520g! When we let her run around, she was happy to explore and ran around and up and down the stairs. Catherine stayed for quite a while which was good, I would have been disappointed if she had only stayed for a few minutes just to drop Ruby off. So that, for me, was another sign that it was very hard for Catherine to leave Ruby behind and that she wanted to spend as much time with her as possible and watch her for a while to see how she got on. I think Catherine was quite upset when she left, I don't envy her as I could never part with the ferrets and know what pain she must have felt. Catherine and I will stay in touch and I will send her updates of Ruby and pictures of her.
Ruby is still on her own, I hope to get her into Spike's group eventually. I tried her with Leo and Piper but they were not very nice to Ruby. I think I have to get Leo and Piper neutered first, they're almost 6 months old now and I want to wait as long as possible before getting them neutered. Leo is showing his testes a little but not enough to castrate. Ideally I get kits neutered in January though Leo may be done in December. But anyway, they're not in season but their hormones must be there because they're really unfriendly towards other ferrets that don't belong to their group... So Ruby is still on her own but out with Dana (who is in Spike's group with Leo and Piper) a little and she's also playing with Tyler! One night I let Tyler upstairs while Ruby was out to see how she'd react. She wasn't scared at all. So now when Ruby is out, the lounge door is open so Ruby comes into the lounge and Tyler can also play upstairs and Ruby teases Tyler. ;-) Tyler "plays" with ferrets by sitting on them and biting their tails but Ruby knows that and doesn't turn her back on Tyler. ;-) But she goes up to him and nudges or nips him (which he doesn't feel through all the fur) and Ruby runs around him and Tyler tries to chase her but Ruby is too fast. Rose teases Tyler like that, too. ;-) Ruby is also cheeky to the cats and teases them. She runs around like she rules the house. ;-)
Tyler and Ruby
Ruby has really settled in well. She follows me around and plays with me and cuddles with me. She loves the set-up here and plays with toys and crinkly bags and is really happy. :-)
And Ruby loves raw meat. When she arrived, I tried hand feeding her some raw mince (ground meat) but she wasn't very interested. Then I put some on newspaper for her and she ate by herself. Since then she's been demanding her mince morning and night. ;-) A few times I didn't have mince for her, I either ran out or gave her chunks of chicken instead. She didn't want the chicken chunks and the last week or so she didn't eat anything if she didn't have mince. I think 2 nights I didn't have mince for her and she didn't even eat her dry food. Toilet was clean the next morning... But- if I give her raw mince she will then also eat dry food. Strange little girl. ;-) And she loves her mince, some days she eats as much as the other jills who are twice her size. ;-)
Update September 2007
I couldn't get Ruby into any of the groups, she was frightened of other ferrets and would scream at them and as a result Leo and Piper were horrible to her. I also didn't want her to be on her own so I decided to get a kit for her, I thought she can't be frightened of a kit. So on 29th of June 2005 I went to see a litter and we ended up bringing 2 kits home, Jake and Phoebe. Ruby was still scared of them and screamed at them. But she soon lost her fear and started to play with them and was happy to be with them. :-)
Ruby and Jake
Ruby and Phoebe playing
In March this year (2007) I put Kobi into Ruby's, Jake's and Phoebe's group after Jade, Kobi's friend, had died. He wasn't too bad with Ruby so I was hoping it would work out. But then he got worse and worse until I had to take Ruby out of the group. All this coincided with me taking in ferret Honey on 25th of March and having to take Spike out of his group (he was living with Leo and Piper) so I first put Spike and Honey together and they got on extremely well and then when Kobi got worse with Ruby (early May), I just put Ruby with Honey and Spike and they turned out to be a very lovely group. Honey adores Ruby and they get on so extremely well. So it all worked out for the best for all the ferrets involved. Kobi is with Jake and Phoebe and they are a very close group and now Ruby lives with Honey as Spike died on 1st of June and the 2 girls are like made for one another. It is so strange how ferrets just get on so well sometimes and others can't stand one another...
Honey and Ruby
Ruby suddenly had a bright red and weepy tail. I'd seen Snoopy clean it a lot but didn't think he caused it. Michaela said the tip was dying so Ruby had half the tail amputated (24/06/08). She's good now. I really have no idea what it was, Michaela didn't send the tail away, now I wish she had. She just said she might have to send it to make sure she got a good margin but then she was happy with the way the amputation went and said she didn't have to send the tail in and I didn't think about it at all, that having the tail sent in might have told us what it was... With all the sick ferrets my brain just wasn't working.
Snoopy, Honey and Ruby
Peanut, Ruby and Honey
Right now Ruby is having breathing difficulties. She coughs but much worse than Wesley ever did. With her you know something is wrong. Took her to the vets Tuesday 23/12/08 and for now she is on an injectable antibiotic (Borgal- solution containing 4% w/v trimethoprim and 20% w/v sulfadoxine) and Wednesday morning I added a little of the bronchodilator that I had left over from Nipper because she was breathing so fast and heavy. Michaela said to bring her in Saturday for an x-ray if she's not markedly improved. Bobby used to have this hacking cough and this injectable antibiotic worked wonders for him so I hope Ruby has the same. I feel ill when I think this stuff would have probably worked for Wesley...
I had Ruby put to sleep today. She hadn't been well over the past few days, no improvement on the antibiotics. Michaela told me to come in for an x-ray today if there wasn't a marked improvement. So I went in, the x-ray showed a lot of fluid in the chest cavity plus some enlarged lymph nodes so taking into account all of our past experience, we had her put to sleep. Again it was very peaceful, I said to Michaela it was a shame that I didn't have the Nutri-plus gel paste with me so she could lick it while being injected (IP again). So Michaela went and got some. Ruby was licking and didn't feel the needle at all, it was a bit surreal seeing her lick so happily and knowing she would be dead in a few minutes. She went to sleep peacefully. Necropsy showed a lot of angry looking lymph nodes, something on the pancreas, kidneys looked diseased to Michaela and the heart was in a very bad way, very dilated. One of the worst hearts I'd seen. Again she hadn't shown symptoms of cardiomyopathy. So far all ferrets had shown symptoms of that, especially coughing, Ruby had just been a bit quiet. The coughing in the last 3 weeks must have been because of the fluid build-up in her chest and just recently, the last week or so, she'd developed problems breathing. I'm glad she wasn't showing symptoms and has been quite happy until now. Even yesterday she had a little play in my bedroom, it's the only room with carpet and she loved going in there so she had an almost daily routine of going into the bedroom.
This year, particularly this December, has been really, really bad. This time last year I had 11 ferrets and of those 5 are left... I expected Bobby to die and thought Nipper might die. The others were all totally unexpected. I just hope I won't have any problems for a while now, I said this in October after Nipper died and then lost 3 this month... And Wesley was very hard as he'd bonded with me a lot and was my special boy.
Ruby's histopathlogy report
Pancreatic Endocrine Tumour - “Insulinoma” and Cardiomyopathy
Sections from necropsy samples of multiple tissues from a 6-year-old, neutered female Ferret, were examined microscopically.
LIVER: 2 samples received; 2 sections examined. These reveal marked congestion showing a strikingly zonal (perlacinar) distribution. There is also mild, patchy extramedullary haemopoiesis (EMH).
KIDNEY: 2 received; 1 section examined from each. Mild, broadly similar pathological changes are present in both kidneys. Occasional tubules are dilated with proteinaceous material, there is very mild, patchy interstitial fibrosis, sometimes accompanied by a mild to moderate lymphocytic infiltrate, and a few glomeruli have thickened basement membranes and increased cellularity, sometimes with adhesions to Bowman's capsule.
SPLEEN: 1 sample received; 1 section examined. The parenchyma is markedly expanded by a combination of congestion, EMH and mild hyperplasia of the white pulp. The serosal surface is highly irregular, with numerous small, villous projections covered by a single layer of mesothelial cells.
LUNG: 1 sample received; 1 section examined. This is congested and there is moderately increased cellularity of alveolar walls. There is possibly some patchy atelectasis, but this is difficult to assess with confidence as the lung was largely deflated at the time of fixation.
HEART: 1 received; 2 sections examined. Grossly the left ventricle appeared dilated. Microscopy reveals mild, patchy myocardial degeneration and early replacement fibrosis, consistent with a mild cardiomyopathy.
PYLORUS: 1 sample received; 1 section examined. Microscopy reveals moderate, predominantly lymphocytic inflammation of the pyloric mucosa, but no obvious case was found. No Helicobacter were seen.
LARGE INTESTINE: 2 samples received; 2 sections examined. There is slightly increased cellularity of the mucosa, accompanied by mild fibrosis, consistent with a very mild, chronic colitis.
PANCREAS: 3 samples received; 3 sections examined. Microscopy reveals a fairly generalized, patchy to diffuse, predominantly periductal, lymphocytic inflammation accompanied by mild interstitial oedema and fibrosis, but in one of the sections there is also a small Islet cell adenoma (Insulinoma).
LYMPH NODE: 4 samples received; 4 sections examined. These are enlarged chiefly as a result of medullary oedema and haemorrhage. The cortical follicles are only mildly active and, with one exception, the parafollicular regions are not appreciably hypercellular.
DIAGNOSIS: Insulinoma; Cardiomyopathy; Interstitial pneumonia; Hepatic congestion.
DISCUSSION: Histopathological examination has revealed a variety of mild pathological changes, many of which were probably of minimal clinical significance, such as the mild chronic nephritis, mild chronic colitis and gastritis, and increased EMH in the liver and spleen. Of greater significance is an insulinoma and there is also moderately severe pulmonary and hepatic congestion and lymph node oedema, all together suggestive of congestive heart failure (presumably a result of the cardiomyopathy), as well as interstitial pneumonia. Whether the cardiomyopathy was in some way associated with the insulinoma is uncertain, but both are fairly common in ferrets, so their concurrent presence may have been coincidental.