are very good that your adoption or foster of a ferret will
be a wonderful, rewarding experience for both you and that
special little fuzzy who needs you. The "Adoption Option" is
a wonderful way to bring a little ferret into your life precisely
when that ferret needs you most. The purpose of this publication
is to provide you with all the information you'll need to adopt
your new ferret. The only difference between adoption and foster
care is that when you take a ferret for foster care, you can
expect to have the shelter cover veterinary costs for you,
and you can also expect to be returning the ferret to the shelter
and providing information about what you have observed of the
ferret's behavior that will enhance its chances of finding
a suitable permanent home.
If You've Never Had a Ferret Before
of all, you must educate yourself as much as possible about
all aspects of ferret care. If you have never had a ferret
before, you should do this by talking to other ferret owners,
to the shelter operator, and to a recommended veterinarian.
Look for books on ferret care at the pet store or your library,
or look at a series of informational documents called the Ferret
FAQ (for Frequently Asked Questions). The Ferret FAQ is
a rich and incomparable resource on all aspects of ferret care
and personality, it is available to you free of charge via
the Internet, and is positively encyclopedic in its scope.
See also the MaFF publication Your
Ferret: A Lifetime's Commitment of Care for information
on the costs of care you can expect over the animal's lifetime.
You Already Have Ferret(s)
ferrets accept newcomers relatively easily. Read and
learn all you can about 'introductions' of ferrets to one another. If
you already have one or more ferrets in your family, we recommend
that you take their personalities into account. Some
older ferrets who have been 'onlys' for more than a year or
so can have problems accepting a new ferret (whether that new
ferret is a baby or an adult). Some people bring their
ferret or ferrets to the shelter to meet with potential new
family members. Be sure to call ahead and check with
the shelter first about bringing your pets to the shelter to
to Choose: Adult or Baby? Male or Female? One . . . or More?
of an adult ferret can be particularly gratifying. An
adult has already gotten past the early 'baby-nippy' stage,
and so is a good choice if you'd rather not deal with that
phase of life, or have never had a baby animal in your care
before. Older ferrets sometimes have difficulty being
placed in homes, so if you have it in your heart to adopt an
older ferret, that would be a particularly wonderful thing
you could do for that individual ferret. Baby ferrets
show up in shelters, too, but you should have a look at them
all. Try not to arrive at the shelter with a strong preconceived
notion as to what your adoptee should look like. Look with
an open mind and an open heart, and you may just find that
special little someone who captures your heart, but who looks
nothing like what you had planned.
is about the only really strong difference between male and
female ferrets. Each animal's personality is so different,
that generalizations on behavior between males and females
are basically impossible. One definite advantage to adopting
a ferret is that you can discuss aspects of personality with
the shelter operator. Chances are very good that between
the notes left by the surrendering party and the shelter operator's
observations, you will be able to get a fairly clear description
of each individual animal's personality and be able to adopt
based on that information. This is quite a different
situation from buying a kit in a pet store. In an adoption
situation, you will benefit from a great deal more information
and knowledge about your individual potential pet.
a shelter will receive a pair, trio, or more as a group. Ferrets do bond with one another
and can experience loss and depression if separated. It
can be a 'handful' to take on more than one ferret at a time,
but if there's room at your house, a group of ferrets can be
a wonderful experience! It's like an 'instant family,'
and since most people end up getting more than one ferret eventually
(ferret owners call this phenomenon 'ferret math'), getting
more than one to start means that you won't have to work with
a ferret 'introductions' phase, either!
Word About Our Tiny 'Hard Luck' Cases . . .
a shelter will take in a ferret who is quite elderly, has been
abused, or is experiencing particularly difficult behavioral
problems. Here's where real heart comes in. If
you are an experienced ferret owner or have a lot of confidence
and experience with other animals and want to make a difference
in a ferret's life, adopting or fostering such a ferret can
be particularly gratifying. Devoting your love and care
to a ferret who needs you is all the more reason to adopt or
foster a ferret in a tough situation. People willing
to take on a difficult ferret are so very rare. You may
be one ferret's last chance at a warm and loving life. And
you should know that the little ferret you help out in these
circumstances will likely become the one you treasure most.