by Bill Beck
What colour is a ferret? That might sound like a stupid question to you, but I have found that the answer depends upon who you ask. Many of you would probably think of the darker polecat colour markings as being the most typical ferret colour, but we have found
that a large proportion of the general public (and some ferret owners) believe that the white, or albino ferret is the only 'true' ferret whilst the dark coloured animals are 'polecats'. This does rather beg the question of what kind of animal silvers and sandies might be, but never mind!
Earlier this year we found ourselves lacking a 'true' ferret after our Huggy Bear passed away, so we contacted Jude of Dookies Ferret Rescue to see if she had any albino kits. Despite having ferrets coming out of her ears, she only had two albino kits, but we decided we'd go and have a look at them anyway.
Jude had rescued these two hob kits and their mother. They had been born and kept in a wooden hutch with no bedding or litter and fed wet dog food. When we saw them, the kits were only about four weeks old and their eyes were not yet open. One was much smaller than the other and unfortunately did not survive. The mother lost interest in her remaining kit as she was undernourished and obviously pretty exhausted. That was why we took the remaining hob kit home from Dookies at just seven weeks old.
The little kit was duly put in a pet carrier in the back of the car and we set off for home. However after half a mile or so, it became plain from the little crying noises he was making that he wasn't happy, so Ann got him out of the carrier and cuddled him all the rest of the way home. That night we put him in a little pen in the lounge. When I woke up the next morning it was immediately obvious that something was missing: my wife. On entering the lounge I found her lying on the floor wrapped up in a quilt cuddling the little kit who had been crying again because he was lonely.
Bertie, as we named him, is now growing into a most wonderful ferret. We don't think that he will turn out to be particularly large, but he is extremely heavily built and full of muscle so we think that he is definitely of the 'bulldog' rather than the 'greyhound' type.
He has the happiest, sunniest disposition of any ferret we've known and loves to play with us and some of the other ferrets (the rest want to murder him). He is happy to have cuddles and go for walks and never attempts to nip. He does, however, have serious food issues, doubtless due to his very earliest days of life. He is totally obsessed with any food other than kibble. As soon as anything like minced beef of chicken arrives, a red mist descends and he turns into a wild ravenous beast: heaven help any ferret or human that gets between him and his nosh! We are trying to train him out of this behaviour but we have had only limited success so far.
We have managed to turn one aspect of this behaviour to our advantage, in that we have used it to train him to come to his name: just calling 'Bertie!' will have him hurtling towards you like a little furry misguided missile from any part of the house or garden at any time of day or night in the expectation of treats!
He has already attended several events with us now and has his own 'fan club'. We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in the Lake District, where he had a lovely time paddling in a freezing cold Lake Windermere. He was the star attraction at the hotel where we stayed in Kendal and can be seen here dining on smoked salmon and roast beef from his special bowl. Is he spoilt rotten or wot? Answers on a post card please...