Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Keeping ferrets cool

In Britain we're having a heatwave at the moment, which has brought me on, naturally, to talk about ways to keep your ferrets cool. Ferrets can overheat very quickly, and can become very ill in a matter of hours. Indoor ferrets should stay indoors in a cool place away from direct sunlight. It may be best for outdoor ferrets to come in  also if possible. A fan or air conditioning unit can be used, just make sure it's not blowing directly at the cage. I would also keep the fan away from their reach, being the curious little animals they are they're bound to get hurt somehow. I have windows open too to try and encourage some air flow, but please make sure that your ferrets can't reach them otherwise you could have some escapes/falls on your hands!

Please don't put anything frozen in with your ferrets without a suitable cover on. You can use frozen water bottles (like hot water bottles) and put them back in the cover or some people will say to freeze a bottle of water and wrap it in a towel. The only problem I have with this is that it won't stay in the towel for long! My ferrets can remove something like this in about 10 seconds or less! If you're going to do this then please find a cover that they won't be able to tear off straight away.

You can buy a Granite cool slab, normally designed and on sale for chinchillas, they provide a cool area to lay. If you want a larger piece then a DIY store or kitchen workshop that provide a cutting service may be able to provide you with a suitable sized piece of granite or marble. You will be better off asking for any scraps they have to buy, otherwise you may be asked to buy a full (usually around 2m) length piece, which would be very costly!
Another thing you could do if your ferrets don't detest it, is to spray them gently with a light mist of water periodically, using a spray bottle to encourage cooling via the skin. Hopefully I don't need to say this but please don't spray your ferrets in the face, if they didn't like being sprayed before they certainly won't like it after!
Something that I like to do is put a small amount of water in the bottom of a shallow tub and let them drink and paddle to cool off. My boys hate it, and jump out straight away if you try and put them in there! Our newest addition Lola however is a water baby! I saw how she loved to jump in and out of her splashy tub so I bought some plastic play balls (the ones meant for ball pits) that float. She has great fun trying to catch the balls as they bob in the water.
Some ferret owners place ice cubes in the water bowl or just provide them to play with. Ferrets don't really like to drink very cold water, so this may actually stop them from drinking as much as they would normally. Aside from that I'm not too keen on letting them have ice cubes as they can cause serious problems if chewed and swallowed due to the drastic temperature change.
It may be tempting to take your ferrets to the beach on a hot day, or out for a walk, but this can be disastrous! If you want to take them outside to enjoy the weather then  please do it at dusk, if the temperature has cooled suitably. They really won't enjoy being dragged around in the heat, and will more than likely become very ill.
Coincidentally, if your ferret does overheat (limp, red nose and paw pads, panting, mucous) then you must not bring their temperature down too quickly, as this can actually make matters worse. You should try and get some water into them with a bottle or syringe, but make sure that they are actually swallowing, you don't want water to end up in their lungs! You can wrap them in a damp cloth, or wipe them over with one. If there are two people present then it would probably be wise to have one calling a vet and to drive there while the other person attends to the poorly ferret.

Just remember, you can have fun in the sun, but please leave your ferrets at home!

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