WA Ferret Rescue

If Christopher Columbus were an animal, he’d be a ferret.

Weighing in at just one to five pounds and generally not more than 20 inches long, ferrets are the intrepid explorers of the wild kingdom. They are constantly curious and love to learn and climb and try new things. They are amazingly smart; if they could build a spaceship and explore the Milky Way, they would.

Domestic ferrets really are domesticated just like cats and dogs. They eat high-protein dry food specifically made for ferrets, they use litter boxes, and they enjoy all sorts of toys. They sleep much of the day, but when you’re ready to play, they are thrilled to be alive and interact with you.

Ferrets are related to European polecats, minks, and weasels. They are NOT rodents, which is a common misconception. They come in a wide variety of colors including sable, silver, white, and albino, and their personalities are diverse. Like dogs, cats, and children, they need to be properly socialized and receive hands-on attention every day.

Tucked into a veterinarian’s office in the northernmost part of Kirkland, Washington are two rooms that house dozens of ferrets. This colony of Columbuses is under the care of the nonprofit organization Washington Ferret Rescue, http://www.washingtonferret.org/.

According to their volunteer coordinator, WFRS currently houses about 80 ferrets in the shelter. An additional 90 are in foster care. The large numbers are due in part to the economy. Ferrets often have health problems that need to be managed, like insulinoma and adrenal disease, and so aren’t always as economical as they would seem. But most of us humans need ongoing maintenance too, so it’s not that different.

Some ferrets are fairly calm and cuddly, but there are others like Laurel and Hardy who want to PARTY. This comedy team was adopted, but then returned. While ferrets are generally very clean animals, these two can get a little rowdy in their cage and live for whatever freedom they can get. They need a human with a similar outgoing personality.

The cage mates at WFRS known as “The Canadians” are similarly boisterous, but like Laurel and Hardy, they also dig people. Beautiful little Myra, who just lost her longtime buddy and desperately wants to interact with others, is more gentle and really enjoys human contact. Her face is so cute that if you adopted her you’d have pictures of her everywhere.

WFRS is in constant need of volunteers for a variety of duties, but it is critical that they have volunteers to clean cages and ensure the ferrets get playtime every day. While the “condos” are being swept and wiped down, food dishes are filled, and bedding is shaken out, the ferrets get at least a half hour of play time in small “playpens.”

Some ferrets, affectionately called floor weasels, are allowed to roam around freely during this time. They each have activities that they like to do and can entertain themselves. Harry, a sweet, doe-eyed romantic lovey dovey whose adoring gaze almost forces you to open his cage door, enjoys doing acrobatics on a carpeted cat stand.

Here is Harry saying, “oh, love me more, and let me out again, please” (above).

Lilly, a fluffy white ferret who would probably be a motivational speaker if she had a microphone, likes to do extreme sports in the sink. Once in awhile she pops up to survey her domain.

Sables Princess and Gus enjoy playing Indiana Jones in a plastic igloo and tubing during play time. Pairs like Princess and Bandit and trio Lucy, Miko, and Tinkerbell have previously lived with dogs and cats, so are accustomed to the full animal-human family experience.

Jasper and Iris really like their human buddies, and like all pairs or groups, are inseparable (below).

Because ferrets are so observant, perceptive, and curious, homes of their adoptive families need to be ferret-proofed. Humans need to be cognizant of where their “fuzzies” are when they’re out and about because dryers, recliners, certain houseplants, and other items can be dangerous to ferrets.

Ferrets do have a noticeable musky smell; that is how God made them. Some people, myself included, aren’t keen on the smell, but most people, if it bothers them at all, get used to it. They also need “parents” who can commit to giving them safe facilities, adequate playtime, and proper medical help when needed.

Why ferrets are so worth adopting is their personalities, their playfulness, and their perceptiveness. Every one of the 90+ ferrets at WFRS has a distinct personality and is unique. Unlike some people, they are SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU when you get home. When they get really excited, they do a crazy flamenco. When’s the last time your roommate greeted you with a celebratory dance?

Ferrets watch you closely and are curious about everything. They like to maintain eye contact and will wait all day to get you to play with them. You cannot be bored when you own a ferret; you and your stuff is their world.

Even if you don’t think you’d ever own a ferret as a pet, WFRS can always use volunteers and depends on them every day to care for the ferrets. They can also use cash and donations, which keep the organization running. There is always a way to help, including with marketing.

According to volunteers who’ve worked at shelters in other states, WFRS is by far the best run and cleanest shelter. In places like California, ferrets are illegal as pets, and these cute, loving little fuzzies are crammed into unsanitary, unconscionable, and sometimes unregulated hell holes to live out their seven years or so. WFRS does better than that—and it’s their committed staff and volunteers that make the difference.

Nearly everyone has been hit hard by our economy, and devoted pets like dogs, cats, and ferrets are arriving at shelters in record numbers. Consider helping them out whether you can give them your time, a home, or even a small donation. Ferrets especially tend to be the forgotten victims of financial hardship and the population at WFRS is a testament to that.

The ferrets of WFRS need help from the human population now more than ever—given their positive attitude, I’m sure they thank you in advance for anything that you can do to help them stay healthy, happy, and loved!

WFRS: http://www.washingtonferret.org/

Meet the stars of WFRS here: http://www.petfinder.com/pet-search?animal_type=Small&pet_breed=ferret&location=98034&distance=0

WFRS on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Washington-Ferret-Rescue-and-Shelter/75621328326?filter=1

WFRS Email: washingtonferret@yahoo.com
WFRS Voice Mail: 206/442-2025


Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. –George Eliot

©2010 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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