Greetings fellow ferret lovers and potential future ferret lovers!
Shannah here to tell you how I became a ferret owner for life. Honestly, as you will see, I got off to a pretty rocky start. And still, after everything, I am convinced that these little rascals are the best pets in the world.
Here’s the beginning of my ferret ownership journey . . .
In the beginning
Several years ago, I fell in love.
He was cute. He was sweet. He had the best personality. And the moment I first took him in my arms, I knew. It was fate. It was meant to be.
I am of course referring to my first ferret, Navi.
To put this in context, I had just moved into my first official apartment. I’d lived in school housing for years, but this was the first apartment – no parents, no roommates, and an open-ended as many caged pets as you want policy.
And I wanted pets. I wanted something to keep me company. I’d even been visiting shelters, looking into dog or cat adoption. Caged pets are great. But I really wanted a companion.
To further set the stage, I was also starting my first real grownup job in about a week. That’s why I was moving. So, moving out on my own for the first time + starting my first real job . . . I guess I understood that equation did not add up to a great time to buy and train a cat or dog. Actually, it didn’t really add up to a great time to buy a pet in general.
That, and the $40/month cat or dog fee my apartment complex would charge me kept me from really committing to my search for a companion animal.
And still, literally the day after I moved into my first apartment, about to start my first grownup job, I still went on a tour of all the local pet shops. I wanted a pet. I wanted something to come home to at night. And there was no extra charge for caged animals, so maybe one of those would work for now . . .
And, besides, in the back of my mind, I already knew what I really wanted. It was technically a caged animal, and I had wanted one for a long, long time.
I grew up with dogs. A lot of my close friends had cats. As kids, my brother and I had a collection of fish, rabbits, chinchillas, lizards, and birds.
But, when I was very young, one of my uncles had ferrets. And I loved them. I thought they were the greatest. I didn’t even think they smelled. I could have played with them all day every day for my entire childhood. My parents, of course, wouldn’t even entertain the idea of getting ferrets. My mom complained vehemently about the smell, and the only animals my dad likes are dogs and chinchillas.
Eventually, though, I realized that a day would come when I was no longer living with my parents. When that happened, I could get whatever pet I wanted. And I think I always knew, deep down, what I really wanted, were ferrets.
And that’s what I ended up with. Literally the day after I moved into my first apartment, the week before I started my first real job. I went to a pet store. I saw a whole nest of baby ferrets slithering around and over each other inside a glass cage. I flagged down an attendant. I held one of them.
And that was it. I was in love.
Bringing Baby Home
So, here’s the most basic thing about ferrets: They are wonderful, sweet, affectionate, adorable, and totally, totally NUTS.
I mean, they are off the walls, crazy little balls of curious energy.
And that’s what I brought home – that is, to my new home, where I had lived for less than 24 hours, and my new adult life filled with responsibilities and deadlines and I didn’t even know what time-consuming challenges.
Now, I wasn’t totally irresponsible. I had done a little bit of research into ferrets before all this. I knew their energy level was supposed to be demanding. I knew owners were supposed to “ferret proof” their homes. I knew they were supposed to literally stick their noses into everything.
All of that was somewhere in the back of my mind. And I think I knew I was a little bit crazy for doing this now. But, come on, I had a cage, and food, and I’d been a pet owner for most of my life, and I was always good with animals, and above all, I was in love. He was exactly what I wanted. He was perfect. How hard could it really be?
The car ride back from the pet shop was my first clue. I didn’t have a travel crate yet. For transport, the pet shop stuck Navi in a tiny little box that was barely big enough for him. He had made his way out of that box before I even got to the check out counter.
Fortunately, my mother was still with me. She was spending the night to help me get settled and unpacked. I’m not sure what would have happened if she hadn’t been there. Honestly, Navi might have died in the parking lot.
So, by the time we made it to my car, Navi was loose. There was no getting him back into that little box, and I had nothing else to put him in. He was also going crazy, because everything happening around him was new. He was some terrific combination of totally excited, totally curious, and totally terrified. My mom drove while I held the little bugger as best I could. During a 9 minutes drive, I think I almost lost him in the car about five times.
But we made it back to the apartment. His brand new cage was still in its box, and he had yet to calm down even a little. So I put him on the floor to run.
And that could have turned into one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made.
See, unknown to me – because, again, I’d lived in this place for less than 24 hours – there was a hole in the kitchen between my oven and the cupboards. It was basically invisible from an adult human perspective.
The ferret went straight to it.
I mean, literally, he made a b-line from where I put him down just inside the apartment door, to this one tiny hole.
It was like he knew it was there before we even stepped into the apartment.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. Here, this perfect little creature that I’d just spent over $300 dollars on, including cage and everything, had literally just vanished into oblivion. Where did that hole go, exactly? Did it end with my apartment walls? Did it maybe go on into other apartments, or up into the walls themselves? Would he get stuck in there and die? Was there something sharp or poisonous in there he might get a hold of?
Okay, so, to cut my full on panic attack short, he eventually came out, safe and sound. I grabbed him and stuck him in his cage.
But all of this was just the beginning of the crazy.
That night was insane. I was certain I had made a huge mistake. I was already freaking out about my new job. I didn’t have time for this crazy little critter! As he banged around and gnawed at the bars of his cage all night long, I knew I had made a huge mistake.
Then the next morning I woke up, found him asleep in his cage. And just like that, he was perfect again. He was worth it. Whatever crazy I was in store for, I could handle it.
Thoughts form the other side of crazy
I do not regret getting my first ferret when and how I did. I’m the kind of person who often just needs to jump into things. But, I’ll admit, the entire thing could have been a whole lot less stressful. There are a lot of things I could have done better starting out.
I’ve owned a lot of pets in my lifetime. My ferrets are the best pets I’ve ever owned. But they are a handful. They require a lot of energy, and they’ll drive you crazy if you’re not careful. Actually, they’ll drive you crazy no matter what – but there are ways to manage the crazy.
My hope in this site is to share some things I’ve done right . . . and not so right. Maybe I can help keep you from losing your ferret in a hole in your kitchen, or under your church’s kitchen sink (yeah, that happened, too). Maybe I can prevent the edges of your carpet from being torn up, or keep your ferrets from getting into your art supplies. Or maybe the simple fact that my ferrets are still alive even after dozens of near catastrophes might offer you enough encouragement to keep going.
Despite everything, I have discovered that owning these thieving little self-destructive rascals is worth it. For me, they are the perfect pets. They just might be for you, too.
If you ever have any questions, feel free to leave them below. I would love to help you out any way I can.
Thanks for visiting!
Shannah, author of FerretForliFe.com
Have your own crazy ferret story? I’d love to hear it. Questions? Comments? Feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Or leave a comment below.