A Word About ‘Flooral’ Hygiene

Bill Beck’s solution to the carpets versus ferrets contest.

Long, long ago when Ann and I lived a happy, uncomplicated, ferret-free existence we had fitted carpets in every room of our bungalow.

And then our first ferret arrived. At first we kept him outside but soon converted him into a house ferret: we got him trained to use a litter tray quite quickly and without any problems. Then another ferret came along. And another. And another. And then the problems began.

Some of the ferrets never were much good at using the tray, and we also started to get intermittent scraps which sometimes ended in bowels and bladder being emptied on the spot. Also, some of our ferrets became ill and lost the will or the ability to reach a litter box. All this meant that our carpets gradually started to develop their very own, rather noxious eco-systems. This wasn't helped by the fact that oils in the ferret's coats appeared to be staining the carpets. This was particularly noticeable on favourite 'runways' across the floor. In addition the excavations started, notably in the bedroom and at various door thresholds. Eventually the truth dawned on us: ferrets and carpets go together like cats and swimming. We considered various alternatives and initially decided on laminate flooring. We were put off this idea though when it was pointed out that this stuff is really only glorified hardboard and guess what happens when hardboard gets wet? It expands, curls and eventually disintegrates. So we have now converted all our flooring to sheet vinyl sealed against the skirting boards with acrylic frame sealant. This has had a number of advantages:

Any 'accidents' can be seen and cleaned up straight away. Cleaning is quicker and more thorough than with carpet. All our furniture is now either on castors or is fitted with selfadhesive felt pads on the ends of the legs, so that it is easily moved for access.

The chances of flea problems are reduced as one of the prime breeding grounds has been eliminated.

We have noticed that our ferrets sneeze much less often. There has also been an unexpected benefit which is that ferret sliding contests are now possible. In fact, we are developing our own version of Crown Green bowling. This involves placing a small, sleepy, curled-up albino at one end of the room and sliding fat polecats towards him; whoever gets closest wins!

So how do we clean the floors now? For day to day cleaning we use a small Electrolux 'stick vac'. This is a small, low-powered, light and manoeuvrable cleaner which is great for sucking up Ferret Complete crumbs and general debris. Then, once or twice a week, we give the floors a going-over with our secret weapon; the Vax V-005. This nifty device is a small but very powerful floor washer and drier. It resembles a small upright vacuum cleaner and contains a reservoir for cleaning solution and another for dirty water: just run it over the floor on the wash setting and it brushes cleaning solution on (but without flooding the place out) whilst simultaneously vacuuming up dirt, dust, and fluff etc.. Then just flick a switch to the dry setting and suck up the dirty water. It's early days but we've been pretty impressed with this cleaner. It is priced at around £80 but can be had from eBay for as little as £35 plus p & p. Given the amount of dirt removed from even a clean looking floor by the Vax, I don't think we'd ever go back to fitted carpets again; they really are muck traps!

So my message to you is this: 'Ferret owners of the world unite: throw out your carpets - you have nothing to lose but your germs!

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