The year was 1992 when I saw a ferret for the first time in my life. Having been raised in California where ferrets were illegal to own as pets, I had never even heard of them. Since I was about to leave the Active Army in Washington and move back to California, I knew there wouldn’t be another chance, at least for a long time, to purchase a ferret. So, I took that chance and bought a cute little white thing with blue eyes and a black tail.
I had NO idea what a ferret was really like or how to take care of one. I just knew that I HAD to have one.
The first time it fell asleep I thought it was dead or in some type of a coma. The thing would not wake up…no amount of shouting or prodding would disturb it. I later found out that ferret pups need deep sleep when they are young.
I also found out that Boris was deaf.
But the most disturbing thing I found out was that ferrets had musk glands and my ferret still had his. Oh, and by the way, I also realized that ferrets were related to skunks…a point I wish I had known BEFORE buying Boris. (But then again, I probably wouldn’t have gotten him and that would have been a shame…he turned out to be a great pet. We just had a few speed bumps to go over first!)
*Note~ Most store bought ferrets are descented and fixed...they often have a musky scent but nothing bad.* (I just got lucky...maybe Boris didn't hear the call for the musk and sex organ removal van. He was deaf, ya know.) We corrected this problem very quickly.
It was during one of those death sleeps that a powerful smell emerged from Boris and engulfed my barracks dorm room. I was not supposed to have an animal in the barracks; especially one sleeping in my bed’s slide out drawer. Since he was a little thing, I thought I wouldn’t have a problem hiding him until I got released from the Army…about one week. Heh. That was before the musk monster made its appearance. My roommate was very sweet and helped me de-fumigate the room…I kept Boris in my pockets mostly, so I never got in trouble. PHEW!
When I moved back to California (Monterey…Dave was enrolled in a Russian course for the Army and, yes, we were married already. I’ll have to explain all that stuff in a later post. Let’s just say that the Army is not very good about joint-assignments.), I would take Boris walking on the beach. People would come up and ask me what he was. Since ferrets were illegal to own, I said that he was a Californian Land Otter. Most would shrug, looking a bit puzzled. Others actually said, "Ah, yes! I’ve heard of those." Silly people.
*Another Note~ Ferrets are related to skunks, minks, polecats, and otters.* (So I was really just stretching the truth...hee hee.)
Another fun thing we discovered about Boris: since he was deaf, we were able to sneak up on him. Sometimes, if you didn't make any sudden movements, you could scare him so badly that he would actually scream in terror. Ferrets don't make those cute chittery noises that you hear when they are in the movies...but they do make a sort of happy grunt when they are playing. They hop up and down on all fours...side to side...grunt grunt. Yeah, and they can scream...hee hee.
One time Boris got some scotch tape on his paws. He freaked...literally ran around the room pooping as he ran...scared the poop out of him. It was so funny to watch that I didn't even mind cleaning up the mess. I just laughed as I scooped.
When Dave got reassigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, we had to move Boris across country with us. It was fun. We went to the Grand Canyon with him and he would fascinate tourists that were there from all parts of the world.
As we drove, he started to cuddle up with this fur thing we bought at an Indian village in New Mexico.
It was then that we concluded: "Boris needs a playmate."
For Christmas Boris got his friend, Natasha.
They loved the snow, would dig and hop away in it.
They also loved packages with styrofoam in it. I wouldn't recommend styrofoam as a playsource though. It tends to stick to ferret fur...and gets spread all over the house. Also, if one ferret is into something (like styrofoam) you know the other one isn't far behind! Ferrets also like to steal socks and stuffed animals to play with under couches and beds. We'd constantly find their little stashes of treasure in strange places.
When not playing with us, the ferrets played in their huge cage. I've heard of nasty things that ferrets can do to babies if unattended and even though my ferrets were really sweet, I never took a chance!
Keegan had fun discovering new furry faces.
As Keegan grew older, we took the ferrets for walks (really more like drags) and let them swim in the lake. We had a lot of fun with these furry friends. Unfortunately they died when Keegan was about four years old (Boris first, Natasha not long afterwards) and we couldn't take care of new ferrets since we moved to Boystown, Nebraska later that year. But, we enjoyed them while we had them. They were the best little fur thieves in the world!