Considering I do not want any more ferrets, I'm not doing very well. Second addition this year, sigh. Around the 11th/ 12th of May (2012) my friend Cris phoned me. He'd had a call from his vets, they had a stray ferret in and were asking Cris if he could take it or knew anybody who could. So he phoned me to ask if I could take him or knew anybody who could. I really did not want to add more ferrets but when I heard that the ferret was a biter, I thought he's not going to have a good home anywhere, who wants a biter, and if he went to a working home he'd probably be locked up in a 2 ft cage for the rest of his life... So I phoned Cris back and said I would take him, I asked him to keep Tigger for a bit because my life at the moment is a bit unpredictable. I phoned the vets who had the ferret and asked them to castrate him, I paid over the phone, and then Cris fetched him.
The weeks went by and I eventually told Cris that I could take the ferret now but then it was arranging a time and place to meet up. I didn't hear from Cris for quite a few weeks but at last we met on Saturday 21.07.12. We'd been phoning a few times and joking that we were planning to exchange a ferret like spies were exchanged during the cold war, Cris said we'd have to find a brige and then I told him that a few years ago I actually visited the Glienicke Bridge (Glienicker BrŁcke). Cris' partner Lee's father was in the army and I am German so a lot of playing with words went on, quite funny.
I was hoping Tigger (Lee gave him that name) would get on with Squirt and Skippy and so I let them all out together Saturday when Pete and I got back and they got on brilliantly so I'm happy. At night, Squirt and Skippy are let out with Charlie's group (minus Charlie because he's a bully plus Charlie prefers to come out later at night on his own since he's been ill with lymphoma) and Tigger gets on with Honey, Snoopy, Peanut and Franklin, too, so this is brilliant. If or when Charlie dies, his group and Squirt, Skippy and Tigger will be put together. Franklin actually *loves* Tigger and is always looking forward to seeing him. :-)
Tigger and Franklin
Update June 2013
Our neighbours have a new dog, well, new(ish), a French Mastiff called Alice. Alice is very interested in the ferrets and will try and "play" with them, mainly Tigger, through the fence. :)
Tigger and Alice
I noticed Tigger has a chordoma at the end of his tail. I vaguely remember noticing it ages ago and it was small and I thought I need to keep an eye on it- and then forgot. Now it has grown quite a bit and so I thought book him in with Poley when Poley is going in for his castration, at least they have each other for company.
On the 29th of January Tigger had a chordoma removed from his tail on the same day that Poley was castrated. My vet took a lot of the tail off, the chordoma had started to spread so my vet took an inch off from where the spread stopped. Tigger only has a stump left. :( He had to go back to the vets for a bandage change on 1st and 3rd February.
On the 6th of February, Tigger had his stitches out and one last bandage change, today I had to take the bandage off for good. Poor Tigger, the vets have some liquid that dissolves the sticky stuff of the plaster bandage so you can just unwrap it. Of course I don't have that so I had to pull on the plaster thing that was tightly stuck to his tail. He was a good boy though and got some sweet paste as a treat. :)
Over the last year or so, some of my ferrets (the ones that eat mice that the cats leave lying around) have passed tapeworm segments. I wormed them with Panacur paste (fenbendazole) which I am sure kills the taenia (mouse) tapeworm. The ferrets are usually treated with Stronghold/ Revolution so I thought it was unlikely that they were infected with the common flea tapeworm (Dipylidium). So in October '15 the ferrets were treated with Advocate for a change because I was also worried about lungworm which the ferrets can get here in the UK from eating slugs (they can go out and play in the garden/ yard) and in November everybody had about 8 days worth of Panacur paste. I did not see any worms so I thought they were worm free. Until Tigger passed a whole tapeworm some time later. It measured about 1 meter and was wriggling. So I wormed the ferrets again, I read that praziquantel will kill all tapeworms. I couldn't find out if the worming tablets (generic cat Drontal- Praziquantel 20 mg and pyrantel 230 mg (for cats of up to 4 kg)) were safe to use, all I found was some people on forums saying they'd used them. So I did, too. The girls (all under 1 kg) got 1/4 tablet, the boys (all over 1 kg) 1/2 tablet. No side effects. But I did see worms being passed afterwards.
Tigger has had chronic diarrhoea, he can have normal stools, he can have very soft normal coloured stools, he can pass mucus and blood occasionally, I'm sure triggered by worms because unbeknown to me he had worms for quite a while. He would have good and bad stools and then at some point this year it got really bad. My vet luckily doesn't insist on doing (invasive) tests, she didn't do any tests for Tigger but said we'll try steroids and digestive enzymes. I gave prednisolone first and the stools became normal within a day. Then I gave enzymes and the stools got worse again! So after 1 day of enzymes I stopped and have only been giving pred and he's almost completely fine. Of course I am now seeing the side effects of the pred, muscle wasting, even though he gets only 0.5 mg twice a day. I may ask my vet if we could try him on a lower dose...
Tigger looks awful, he's been on 0.5 mg pred bid for half a year or so and he has muscle loss and is developing the pred belly. I was hoping to give him Imuran (Azathioprine) but it seems it's not available as a suspension here (only as an unaffordable suspension...), if I remember right it comes in 50 mg tablets and ferrets should have 1 mg/kg. So I'm feeling a bit upset about this. I had collected stools from him and they were sent off 2 weeks ago and didnít show anything unusual. We will be putting him on antibiotics every now and again, that seems to be another treatment for IBD because they tend to get bacterial overgrowth. And one day he had blood coming out of his urethra, it was a one-off and I almost feel like he may have a skin tumour at the opening and that this bled. It never recurred. And to be honest I would never have the vets cut anything out or restructure anything. Especially not at his age and with his health problems. So I'm just leaving him and trying to manage his IBD. Right now he is so full of beans. Possibly because of adrenal disease. For which he had an implant. I am making him sound like he's on death's door but he is acting really good, especially considering the multiple health problems. Right now Iím trying a meat-only diet for him. He became very picky about his normal mince and would spit out any bone fragments or be right put off eating it at all so I had to sort out any bone fragments with my fingers before feeding his portion. It was as if he knew that bones would aggravate his intestine. So now I mix turkey and beef mince which I feel bad about but Iím responsible for his well-being so I have to deal with it. He eats it much better, practically inhales it, and so far so good, his stools are good and if he doesnít have any more diarrhoea then that would be good. He eats some kibble, too, and I do add a calcium and vitamin supplement and some oat bran to the meat.
Tigger developed problems walking around the middle of July and I tried cutting Tigger's pred down from 1/2 mg to 1/4 mg twice a day, as per my vet's instructions as she wanted to see if we could wean him off it and stop or reverse the muscle wasting. 24 hours later he already had diarrhoea again. So I added Tylosin, an antibiotic often used for IBD in ferrets which can be given long term (for years), and his stools became normal! I talked to my friend Jeff as he has had many IBD ferrets and he said to never wean them off pred. He had one ferret who he weaned off and his IBD came back so badly that it didnít respond to medications anymore and the ferret had to be put to sleep. He does use azathioprine and adds pred if and when necessary and he also uses Tylosin and B vitamins and other things. He has had a ferret on Tylosin for 2 years with no ill effect so I will keep Tigger on it indefinitely and I upped his pred to 1/2 mg again.
Tigger needed to be put to sleep on Wednesday the 23rd of August. Heíd had inflammatory bowel disease for 1-2 years, and adrenal disease for 1 year. The implant he got for adrenal disease didnít help much but his IBD was pretty under control. He remained active and had a very good appetite. But then middle of July he suddenly seemed to walk funny. I just thought he is not walking quite right but couldnít put my finger on it. Then soon after he had a definite head tilt and was falling over and stumbling over uneven ground. He was put on antibiotics and seemed to improve, then he was worse again, then better again. He wanted to run but it was like he couldn't control his head and legs. Hardly any co-ordination. He usually was very bad when I let him out first, he staggered, stumbled, and fell over a lot. Then it was like he got used to whatever was going on and concentrated on walking and compensated somehow and then he could walk much more steadily. And he wanted to walk.
But eventually he found it increasingly harder to control his legs. Then he couldnít get up the stairs anymore so I let him have a run in the living room. It is the room that ferrets are not allowed in, only the severely ill. Rabbit Binky is free range in the living room but I would lock him in his cat carrier bed and put him on the sofa while Tigger was running around. I just wanted to make Tiggerís last days and weeks as good as possible. He would stagger and stumble around, was really excited about the living room, heíd go to the back door and ask to be let out into the garden so he was doing okay. But he got worse and worse until he fell over *a lot* and so on Monday the 21st August I took Tigger to be put to sleep. We went shopping first and the whole time Tigger stood by the carrier door and looked out with interest and I just thought "he wants to live". While waiting at the till in Aldi, tears started to come, then walking back to the car they were streaming down until I was sobbing. So we saw the vet, discussed it, and I didn't have him put to sleep, I just couldnít because he wanted to live and still enjoyed life. But by Tuesday he pretty much lost use of his right hind leg and fell over more than he walked. Tuesday he still wanted to walk around and explore though but Wednesday morning he was definitely tired and could not really get around his cage to go potty so went on his bed numerous times and soiled himself. :( It was still hard because he still wanted to live but he was tired so I think it was exactly the right time. The vet on Monday said the cerebellum was affected and I googled it and there is something called cerebellar ataxia. On Wikipedia it says "Individuals with cerebellar ataxia have full cognitive awareness: it's usually only the physical deterioration that prohibits them from participating in activities of daily living and any other relevant or desired interests." and that described Tigger well. There's lots of causes of this but we'll never know, possibly a tumour or bleed in the brain... I am now down to 4 ferrets...
Last photos of Tigger
31.07.17, with head tilt
06.08.17 with Pippa in the living room
My ferrets & ferret health and information pages