Sleaford Ferret Rescue

by Matthew Fry, BVSc, MRCVS

My first experience of the ferret lady of Sleaford AKA Julie Stoodley was on the open day of my new veterinary practice in Sleaford. Little did I know that tucked away half a mile up the road behind a semi-detached property lived approximately 40 ferrets in the lap of luxury. After half an hour of seriously probing questions regarding my opinions and knowledge of ferrets I was entrusted with the care of her brood. Since then it has certainly been an enlightening experience.

Having promoted Sleaford Ferret Rescue in my veterinary surgery the reaction of clients seem to be poles apart; some holding the stereotype of nasty, smelly, biting animals and the other half realising that they can indeed be very cute, cuddly, and inquisitive pets. There is an astonishing difference between a recently rescued and frightened ferret and one which has had a couple of weeks of handling by Julie; the transformation in behaviour can be exceptional.

Medically speaking my association with Julieís brood has been interesting. The incidence of ear mites seems to be very high but, unlike cats and dogs, ferrets seem to tolerate them reasonably well. Frontline applied into the ear canals after cleaning seems to be highly effective and safe. I have followed the correspondence regarding Frontline with interest. As is well known nothing, I repeat nothing apart from Delvosteron is licensed for use in ferrets therefore any other medication will be off-license and hence carries some risk but the alternative is using nothing. No antibiotic. No analgesic (pain relief) drugs are licensed but Iím still going to use them for every spay and castration and any other operations. Do jills get pyometra (womb infections)? The answer is yes, and if you donít believe me Julie has taken the graphic photographs as proof. Having seen Von Willebrands* previously in a dog it does seem to occur in ferrets, rather alarmingly in my case after spaying an albino jill.

As Julie reminds me ferrets are now the fourth most popular pet in this country. Julie seems to never tire in championing the cause of ferrets to anyone who stands still long enough to listen. This extends to lecturing, in her house, the local RSPCA animal collection officers on ferret welfare and handling.

All in all it has been an interesting last 8 months of ferret education.

Cheers,

Matthew Fry, BVSc, MRCVS.
Quarrington Veterinary Surgery.
* von Willebrand factor Ė a blood clotting disorder.

(First published in NFWS News December 2003)

Sleaford Ferret Rescue