Archives for Ferrets

Think You Know Ferrets? Take Our Quiz

Some people have preconceived ideas about ferrets, many of which simply are not true — or at least not the whole truth. If you have ever thought about sharing your space with a ferret, take this quiz to learn some interesting facts about this furry fellow.

Take Our Ferret Quiz

1. True or false: Ferrets are not very smart.

False. Quite the opposite is true — ferrets are highly intelligent animals. They can learn surprisingly quickly and are quite trainable. Most ferrets can be trained to come when called, do tricks and use a litterbox.

2. True or false: Ferrets are antisocial.

False. Ferrets are generally playful, affectionate pets, although they do have moments when they act more independent. When they reach adulthood (at 1 year old), most ferrets will try to gain your approval and spend a lot of time hanging around you and following you around.

3. True or false: Ferrets get into everything.

True. It does seem like ferrets get into everything — sometimes even if you think they can’t. For instance, things that are childproof most likely are not ferret-proof. Ferrets are curious and intelligent. Many can open drawers and cabinets, unscrew bottle tops and unzip zippers. If a ferret’s head fits into or through something, his body will probably fit, too. Expect to make slight modifications to your home, such as removing plants to prevent digging and adding plastic or wooden runners under carpeted doorways to discourage tunneling.

4. True or false: Ferrets bite everyone and everything.

False. Ferrets sometimes nip as part of playing. They tend to exhibit this rough play with other ferrets, but if their only playmate is you, they may bite you at first. Luckily, since ferrets are such smart creatures, they can often be trained to lessen this behavior.

5.  True or false: Ferrets are hostile toward children.

False. As a rule, ferrets are not inherently hostile toward anyone, and they certainly do not go around attacking children. However, it probably is not a good idea to get a ferret if you have an infant or young child (under about 8 years old). Even a well-taught, well-meaning child might inadvertently squeeze a ferret a little too hard and injure the animal’s delicate back, or harm him unintentionally in some other way. And ferrets, similar to dogs and cats, may bite if they are being hurt.

6. True or false: Ferrets have a peculiar smell.

True. Ferrets do have a distinctive musky odor. Even spayed or neutered, ferrets will retain that odor, although it will not be quite as strong. Ferrets do not need frequent bathing, but some owners bathe monthly. Changing their bedding frequently (at least weekly) will help diminish odors overall.

7. True or false: Ferrets sleep a lot.

True. While ferrets do sleep a lot — and quite soundly — they also love to run around. Ferrets are extremely active creatures and need to have time out of their cages — supervised, of course, to discourage inappropriate chewing and other mischief. Contrary to another popular belief, ferrets are not nocturnal. They may spend 75 percent of their time sleeping, but they tend to be active otherwise and can adapt over time to your schedule.

8. True or false: Ferrets need regular veterinary care.

True. Just like many other pets, ferrets need to receive vaccinations and routine veterinary exams, and should be spayed or neutered. Your veterinarian can help you learn more about these interesting pets.

10 Tips for Stress-Free Exams for Birds and Exotic Pets

Annual checkups are as important for birds and exotic pets as they are for dogs and cats. Many bird and exotic pet owners know this, but are reluctant to bring their animals to the vet because they think the experience will be too stressful. However, any stress your pet may experience is generally outweighed by the benefits of a thorough veterinary examination.

Here are 10 strategies you can use to help reduce stress when taking your bird or exotic pet for a checkup:

Make towel wrapping no big deal. Many pets (especially birds) get upset when they’re held with towels. Since vets often have to restrain animals by wrapping them in towels, you can reduce the stress by practicing this activity at home first. Each time you practice, use the same towels (of the same color) and leave them unwashed between sessions so that your pet can be reassured by her own scent. Start slowly, initially giving your pet treats just for having brief contact with towels, and then working up to her allowing you to briefly enclose her in the towel. This is positive-reinforcement training. As long as she is comfortable, gradually increase the degree and duration of her contact with the towels by continuing to entice and reward her with treats. Remember to bring your pet’s own towels to the animal hospital for the veterinary staff to use during her examination!

Teach your pet to use a travel carrier. This can be a tough one, as many birds and other exotic pets never leave the house and are afraid of even the sight of a carrier. That’s why it’s important to start familiarizing your pet with her carrier weeks in advance of any veterinary appointments. Initially, place the carrier in your pet’s view while rewarding her with her favorite treats — again, using the principles of positive reinforcement. Over several days, gradually move the carrier closer while continuously rewarding her with treats near the carrier. The ultimate goal is for her to only receive a treat when she is actually inside the carrier. Many birds or other exotic pets will learn to sit comfortably in carriers as long as they can see outside. In the case of extreme cold or wind, you may need to cover the carrier with a blanket or towels, and some pets may become upset when they can’t see what’s going on. Continuing to use a favorite food treat or effusive verbal praise can gradually accustom your pet to being comfortable in a covered carrier.

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Dr. Google May Be In, But Not Everything You Read Is True

Just because it’s written doesn’t mean it’s true! That goes for what’s written on websites, on Facebook, in magazines, even in literature created by people claiming to be experts about particular subjects. This is particularly relevant when it comes to bird and exotic pet care. When cats and dogs get sick, the first place that most pet owners turn to is their trusted veterinarian. With birds and exotic pets, however, very few pet owners even think to seek out veterinary advice but instead go directly to the Internet or to the local pet store for information.

Find A Good Bird and Exotic Veterinarian

Unfortunately, they are then often given outdated or misinformation which either doesn’t help their pet or which may actually make matters worse. Ultimately, hopefully they eventually seek out care from a licensed veterinarian and veterinary technician trained to treat the species they own. That means actually bringing the pet to an animal hospital for a thorough examination, so that the bird and exotic veterinary professionals can logically determine what tests need to be performed to best diagnose the animal’s problems. It’s not any different from when a person has a medical problem; to be treated correctly, that person must be examined by a medical professional to diagnose the problem and determine a course of treatment.

Seeking Advice from Avian and Exotic Vets

Seeking out advice on-line or from a local store or breeder can be fine for simple issues, but for more serious medical problems, there is nothing like a complete, hands-on physical examination. So, while we love you to email us questions about your pet or ask advice on simple matters on Facebook or other social media sites, we would really be doing you and your pet a disservice if we tried to diagnose your animal’s condition without actually examining him or her. Of course, not everyone is close by enough to the avian and Exotic Veterinary Center to come in for a check-up, so if you are far from us, we encourage you to seek out an exotics-savvy vet in your area to help. There are several great resources on-line that will direct you to vets with training in birds and exotics. Just think, you wouldn’t rely solely on the Internet for diagnosing your own or a family member’s medical condition; why would you for your pet?