The Wessex Ferret Club has rescued many ferrets over the years and like many other ferret organisations we are astounded at the horrendous conditions we sometimes find them in. This is one reason why we all like to make sure good housing and conditions exist when carrying out home checks.
It is obvious that the number of ferrets owned has to be taken into account, overcrowding is not good, they need to be able run around and play. There are keys areas that need to be addressed such as:
- Shelter – from Rain, Wind & Sun
- Sleeping Quarters – Bed boxes made of wood , use old clothing jumpers sweatshirts (make sure claw nails are not left too long or they will get caught up) You can also use straw or plain shredded paper (long cut and try to avoid coloured paper), but this can get damp from condensation, so needs to be changed on a regular basis.
- Safety (yes health & safety) – Can your ferrets hurt themselves i.e., fall from heights, catch themselves on sharp objects such as screws and nails etc.
- Lighting – If you have to feed, clean or attend to them in the dark hours then adequate lighting is essential. If you have no electricity available then battery powered lights are fine, you know the ones that you push the light for it to come on, no wiring necessary just the cost of batteries.
- Security – Can they escape, remember ferrets are great escapologists! And make sure they are safe from outside influences – cats, dogs, foxes & unfortunately thieves.
Other considerations to take into account are how easy will it be for you to clean them out without them getting under your feet, and they will! It’s a lot easier if you are able to shut them out of the way. Trap hatches holding them in other areas of the court are ideal for this.
Many people go for the pre-made rabbit hutches that are available in large pet stores, these are fine but most will need some additional ironmongery such as lockable latches. The sleeping areas can also sometimes be too large, and may need reducing to prevent soiling.
Single level rabbit hutches are okay for maybe two small ferrets or jills, but they should be given extra exercise. Hutches with attached runs are also good but usually with rabbits the bottom is open to allow the rabbits to eat the grass, so a solid floor or mesh will have to be added.
A 6×4 garden shed is ideal and many ferret owners have them. The added bonus is that you can attach a small run or outside play area with access for the ferrets via a cat flap cut into the shed. Garden sheds can be adapted in many ways, an upstairs area for sleeping quarters with stairs provides extra space and an area that you can close off while cleaning out.
Those who would use their ferrets for working purposes might add flexible pipes that have different levels, this helps ferrets get over fear of heights especially in large rabbit burrows. Those who keep their ferrets as pets, can also add pipes, just to give their fuzzy friends something to play in.
The days when we could leave our front doors and garden gates open are unfortunately long gone, and we now have to face the fact there will always be individuals who want to get their greedy hands on our property and in our case that means ferrets and ferreting equipment.
There are many WFC members who have experienced this trauma. The cost of replacing equipment can in most cases be covered by insurance, but replacement of valued pets or working animals is a different matter altogether.
Why people steal ferrets is beyond understanding, ferrets are plentiful, certainly if you consider how many the WFC takes in each year. There is also the fact that they have no knowledge of the temperament, medical history or the working ability of a ferret and this often leads to them being abandoned or worse.
To be completely blunt if someone is hell bent on stealing your ferrets then there is strong possibility they will succeed.
Obviously endless funds could provide total security but not many of us can afford that. So what do we do about it? Well we try and make things as difficult as possible and as the Police will tell you “if it’s too much hassle they are less likely to bother”.
There are numerous electronic security products on the market, and you can spend lots of cash going down that avenue. It’s not always foolproof, but does draw attention to anyone invading your property. Common PIR lights are useful as they do provide an unwelcome illumination for would be intruders.
Cages and courts by their very nature are not built or designed to house gold ingots so therefore they are not hard to get into, cage wire is easily cut. It is possible to obtain high strength mesh, and while it certainly cannot be cut with wire cutters, with bolt cutters it can.
Leaving cage and home security aside one of the things that local Police will tell you is the value of natural cover in your garden, high fences at least 1.8m should suffice however put a trellis on top and it becomes difficult to climb. Remember wooden fences are okay but the older they and less maintained the easier they are broken. Block and bricks are obviously better and stronger. Barbed wire, razor wire or broken glass should be avoided as you may be held legally responsible if any injuries are caused.
There are various plants, trees and shrubs that can be brought into use such as Firethorn, Climbing Rose, Holly and others to numerous to mention. Those who work their ferrets are only too well aware of the dangers of Hawthorn and Bramble, natures hedge security.
The Wessex Ferret Club encourages the use of Micro-chips which are usually placed under the skin around the shoulders. The numbered chip will relate to the ferrets owner. Obviously if found the ferret can be re-united with its owner. For more information, follow this link.
Taking a photograph of your ferrets should not be too much of a problem these days. We’ve all got digital cameras or cameras on our mobile phones and with a bit of luck you can produce a good picture as a reference.
In October/November 2012 we heard of many ferrets being stolen in the South of England. There is a strong belief that these ferrets were stolen to order and exported to the continent. On this is we do not know, but it seems it is on the increase.
The Wessex Ferret Club urges all ferret owners to be extra vigilant.
If you have any information in relation to ferret thefts then please contact your local Police. This is a practise that needs to be stopped. We also urge all owners, as we do our own members, to have their ferrets micro-chipped, it won’t prevent them getting stolen but it may help in getting them retrieved.