How Ferrets Change Your Life

by Sue Nickells

When my children were young I had never even seen a ferret let alone wanted to own one, but it's amazing what your children can drag you into!

Back in 1999 I took my two girls to Swallowfield Show - a local country show held near Basingstoke - and just inside the entrance was the Hants and Berks Ferret Club stand. Little did I know it then but my life was soon about to change!

Both girls loved the ferrets and I think we spent most of the day there watching the racing and stroking ferrets. They loved having Ferretvite put on their noses for the ferrets to lick off! (Those were the good old days when 'elf and safety didn't rule the world!!) To the girls it was love at first sight, but although I liked them I still had no wish to own one. At the time we had two guinea pigs so, for me, it was a good excuse!

I had hoped it was a passing 'fad', but two years later when the guinea pigs had gone to guinea pig heaven and I suggested a rabbit as our next pet the girls both had very different ideas!

Eventually, after I'd run out of excuses, we joined the ferret club, found out as much as we could about ferrets. I persuaded my husband to build an extension to the old guinea pig hutch and we finally got our first three ferrets, a polecat jill and two kits.

They came via a friend of a friend (although at the time I wasn't too sure if she would remain a friend for much longer!). I well remember that first day thinking what on earth had I done! We let the ferrets loose in the kitchen and they were having a great time, but the poor girls were both sat on stools frightened of being bitten by these three hooligans charging around the floor! Luckily it didn't take long though for them to win our hearts with their quirky personalities and, with a bit of time and perseverance they soon settled down to become a much loved part of the family.

Sadly my husband still hasn't been converted - he really can't stand the smell! I'm sure that if he'd been with us that day at Swallowfield he'd never have agreed to us owning ferrets and I'm sure he's regretted it ever since! However he's been a great help in first building a larger hutch and more recently converting a shed for much larger accommodation for our current six hooligans.

My eldest daughter has now left home (but she still has visiting rights!) and as her sister is working full time and also studying for a degree, most of their care is now down to me - isn't that what Mum's are for?! I really don't mind though and can't imagine life without ferrets.

Now, thirteen years on we are still active members of the Hants and Berks Ferret Club and spend many of our weekends in green fields racing ferrets and promoting ferret welfare. We've made a great many friends through the Club - my husband even comes along to social events (just as long as no ferrets are present!)

If you are new to owning ferrets I really would recommend you to get in touch with your local ferret club. They are a fantastic source of knowledge and I'm sure you would get a very warm welcome as we did. Owning ferrets and becoming a member of a ferret club has certainly changed my life and I'm so glad we didn't get pet rabbits instead!

(First published in NFWS News #97 Autumn 2013)