Posted: April 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Mason the ferret wasn't herself after the loss of her cagemate, Madison.
Photos Courtesy Lin Talbot-Koehl
Although suffering from a fatal condition, Max the ferret hung around Mason for days to cheer her up.
Ferret Therapy For Ferrets
It’s very common for ferrets to console other ferrets. Lin Talbot-Koehl of Ohio lost her ferret Madison, which devastated her cagemate, Mason. Despite suffering a fatal condition that was leaving him in increasingly bad shape, her ferret Max curled up around Mason, licking her repeatedly. He stayed by her side for an astonishingly long time.
“He just hung around her, trying to get her to play gently for days until she started to cheer up again,” Talbot-Koehl said. “Here was this little boy — who we were so afraid of losing to such a nasty, ugly disease — doing all he could to keep another healthy, younger ferret happy, when he must have been in pain himself. What a little trooper!”
Pat Baby of Alberta, Canada, described her ferret Salty Dog as not anything remarkable, just a skinny, silver little guy with a big heart. Or so she thought. Then a man surrendered his 10-year-old, blind, deaf ferret to the shelter because he didn’t want to have to endure seeing her die. The little ferret, named Powder, had never seen another ferret before and found herself in a frighteningly strange environment.
“I considered the most humane thing to do for her would be to send her to the Rainbow Bridge,” Baby said. However, she settled Powder into a cage with a warm bed to see how she’d react. While she lay very quietly, peeking out of the sleep sack, Salty went in to say, “Hello.”
“The strangest thing happened,” Baby said. “When Salty got close enough to touch her nose, Powder reached out, sniffed him, grabbed him by the ear and hauled him into the sack with her. From that moment on, Powder and Salty were inseparable. They ate together, drank together and explored the house together.”
Salty guided Powder, acting as her personal seeing-eye ferret when she was out of the cage, Baby said.
“She would walk with her nose to his shoulder, and if she ever veered off track he would give her a nudge to show her where he was.” Baby said. “When she wanted him closer, she would reach out and drag him into the sleep sack. He always obliged her, with a big sigh. Powder lived for another six months, and very happy ones, with the best little guide-ferret in the world.”
Although tiny, Maryann the ferret found a way onto a waterbed that was beyond her reach. How?
Photos Courtesy June Phipps
Stitch the ferret was found to be the reason Maryann made it on the waterbed!
June Phipps of Missouri shared a story about her ferret Stitch and his friend, Maryann. Phipps has a king-sized waterbed that Stitch can jump on. He plays on the bed, and Phipps noticed Maryann also playing with him. But Maryann is a much smaller ferret, unable to jump on the bed. The mystery was how she got on the bed.
“I started watching to try to catch her,” Phipps said. “She would stand up, lean against the frame and Stitch would lean over, grab her by her scruff and pull her up on the bed! One of the sweetest and cutest things I've seen.”
Kay Amrine of Ohio sadly lost two little girls. To cheer up the surviving cagemates, she decided to put her recently neutered ferret, Tommy, in their cage. After what seemed to be an uneventful meeting between Tommy and the most depressed ferret, Ebony, Kay discovered something amazing.
First, Tommy crawled into the bed and curled around Ebony like he was giving her a big hug, Kay said. About an hour later, Kay saw that Tommy was up eating while Ebony still huddled in bed. Then Kay noticed something odd.
“He kept going over to her, and I couldn't figure out what he was doing at first. And then I finally figured out he was taking pieces of food and putting them on the bed for her to eat, and she was actually eating it. She has since started gaining back the weight she lost. I've found all six ferrets curled up in one bed asleep. And I finally got to watch Ebony play and interact with the others last weekend.”
My Sweet Ferret Story
And what is the sweetest thing my ferrets have ever done? They honored and cherished a deceased cagemate’s teddy bear. My little girl Jubilee had a favorite stuffie — a tiny, purple teddy bear. All of the ferrets enjoyed it, but it was very notably hers.
After she passed away, I began to notice the little bear had not been moved. It was very curious, because all the ferrets loved that bear. So, I put it in a toy pile to try to spark some interest. The next day, the little guys came dashing out, each taking turns snagging a toy and hiding it. Several minutes later, that little bear lay in the middle of the floor … alone … untouched. I then noticed a few more of Jubilee’s favorite things had just been lying about, also untouched.
I eventually got the ferrets to play with the other toys again — but not with that lonely, tiny bear. I kept that bear around because it seemed like a waste to put it up on a shelf. Someday, I thought, some ferret would play with it again. But that little bear went without a ferret guardian until other ferrets joined the household that had never met my little Jubilee.
Rebecca Stout resides in rural Tennessee with her husband, two sons and beloved pets. Ferrets have been in her heart and life for 30 years. She enjoys writing, photography, animals and being a strong advocate for her autistic son.