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 find them. 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 hay or plain shredded paper (long cut and try to avoid coloured paper).
Safety (yes health & safety) – Can your ferrets hurt themselves i.e., fall from heights catch themselves on sharps objects 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 are they safe from outside influences, cats, dogs, foxes & unfortunately thieves.
Other considerations to take into account is 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.
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.
Single level rabbit hutches are okay for maybe two small ferrets or Jill’s but 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.
Ferret theft is a problem that simply won’t go away, whilst it does not prevent theft there are measure you can take that may help to get your beloved animals back.
The Wessex Ferret Club encourages the use of Micro-chips these 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.
Taking a photograph of your ferrets should not be to much of a problem theses 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 reference.
Garden sheds (6×4) are 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 this one area that you can close off while cleaning out.
Those that 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.
SECURITY OF FERRETS
The days when we could leave of front doors and garden gates open are unfortunately long gone, we now have to face the fact there will always be groups individuals that will need to get their greedy hands on our property and in our case that means ferrets and ferreting equipment.
There are many WFC members that 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. I cannot begin to imagine how heart breaking this can be.
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 a difficult as possible and as the Police will tell you if it’s too much hassle they are less likely to bother.
Now there are numerous electronic security products on the market and if you want to spend lots of cash I wouldn’t blame anyone for going down that avenue, not always foolproof but does draw attention to anyone invading your property. Without being drawn into what system to use I would say that the 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 I do have some myself and it certainly cannot cut with wire cutters, bolt cutters yes.
Most of my time when building or repairing cages is spent trying to ensure the little creatures don’t get out and not trying to prevent someone getting in, yes a little more thought could be brought to bear.
Security & crime prevention for our cages & ferrets is a lengthy topic probably too large for this newsletter, so I throw this over to the members to give us hints, tricks & tips that maybe you use perhaps it may help others. The more sinister methods deployed we don’t need to know however effective they may be we do not condone them.
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.
It appears that there is a product on the market known as Prickle strips and is a legal and safer alternative. It is also said that it is one of the best ways to keep foxes out of the garden providing maximum discomfort but minimum harm; whether this is true I’ll leave that open to question. You can source these items on the Internet.
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 green fingered amongst us will have a better knowledge I’m sure.
Our working brethren are only too well aware of the dangers of Hawthorn and Bramble, natures hedge security, indeed my own borders contain bushes, shrubs and trees of which I know not there names but try and get through them if you value your health and beauty.
I am sure we are all proud ferret owners and are only to willing to part with information as to how many ferrets we have what we do with them and where we go, yes to friends and family and maybe work colleagues that’s not a problem, but, strangers we don’t know, people that my be in earshot of a conversation at a show of in a pub, do you really need to advertise? Social networking sites provide a source of information that sometimes give away to much detail, just be aware. Those members that take ferrets for walks in parks etc, do you know who is around? Do you know areas in your neighbourhood where certain characters frequent? Is it possible for you to be followed? Okay it’s easy to get paranoid I know, It just provides food for thought.
This article does not intend to be a hard and fast solution to security and theft but it does however give you an insight into what you can do to make things as difficult for thieves as possible. If you really are concerned I would suggest contacting your local Crime prevention officer who will be only too pleased to provide you with further information and advice. As previously mentioned we have club members that have experienced thefts of ferrets and equipment, we would like to know what were the circumstances, what measures did you use to prevent a re-occurrence.
If you are going out for the day or an evening then maybe you could bring your ferrets inside the house a small indoor cage will not hurt the ferrets for a short time.
October/November 2012 we have heard of many ferrets being stolen in the South of England. There is a strong belief that these ferrets are being stolen to order and exported to the continent, why this is we do not know but it seems it is on the increase at the Wessex Ferret Club we urge 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.