Well, we did it! My boyfriend Micah and I adopted a new ferret! I had posted two weeks ago about possibly adopting a female albino who shared the same name as our current sable boy (Alfie), but we were unsure of whether or not she would be a good fit for our family. Micah and I went to meet her on December 1st at her owner’s house. Her owner (a friend of Micah’s) wasn’t home, but he gave us the keys to his condo and let us go over and meet her ourselves. When we walked through the door, we were greeted by a handful of animals. There was a bird glaring at us from his cage, a cat sitting on the kitchen table, and a small dog in a kennel in the living room. We made our way upstairs to the room where Alfie’s cage was. The cage was absolutely huge, but appeared to be empty. I spotted a blanket at the bottom of the cage and pointed at it. We both knew she was in there.
As we opened the cage door and gently began pulling up the folds of the blanket, a small pink nose poked out from the bottom of it. Our hearts immediately began to melt, and continued to melt as a tiny white head followed the nose out from underneath the blanket. Alfie began to sniff our hands as we introduced ourselves, and it wasn’t long before she came out completely from underneath her blanket and made a home in our arms. Micah pointed out the two dots on her ear, so I knew she was a Marshall-bred ferret and that she was spayed and descented.
It took us less than a second to fall completely head-over-heels in love with Alfie. She was everything I didn’t expect- she was kind, cuddly, and very sweet! We had been told she could be a bit high-strung and mean, so we were concerned about how she would be with our Alfie, but those concerns were certainly put to rest within minutes of meeting her. She spent some time sniffing our faces and hair and climbing up our jacket sleeves, but all she really wanted to do was play. I could tell she spent all her time in her cage- she was full of energy and ready to run!
I could immediately see this Alfie living a better life in our home- a life where out-of-cage time is the only kind of time, and where her diet and general health would be better taken care of. She had the longest ferret nails I’d ever seen, and we could tell that they were affecting the way she walked. I was horrified to see that her food dish was filled with cat food, and her litter box hadn’t been cleaned in some time, resulting in other corners of her cage being used as a toilet. After a quick flea check (flea-free, thank goodness!), we packed her up and brought her home. Her owner told us we could keep her for a few days before making a final decision about whether or not we wanted to keep her, but we had pretty much already made the decision before we even got home.
When we got her back to our place, we locked our Alfie in the bedroom (where he was fast asleep) and gave our new Alfie some time to explore. Then, after a good nail clipping and a bath, it was time for her to meet our Alfie. They mostly just sniffed one another, but it didn’t take long before our Alfie began to shake. He then became very territorial and began wrestling with her and biting her to assert his dominance. Our new Alfie squealed and hissed, but would often go back for more. It was hard for me to judge whether or not they were fighting or playing, and I did step in and break it up a few times, but am trying hard now to stay out of it. There was no poop or blood, so I am taking that as a good sign and letting it be. We have been keeping our new Alfie in a cage at night and when we are not home, just so that she and Alfie don’t have any unsupervised “playtime.”
It only took Micah and me a few days to get completely sick of all the confusion having two ferrets with the same name caused, so we decided to rename our new Alfie since she didn’t seem very responsive to her name anyway. We renamed her Audrey, and already she seems to be learning her new name. Alfie has taken the transition pretty hard; he didn’t eat for the first few days, but is now eating (as long as Audrey isn’t nearby) and he spent a lot of time hiding in bed. We would try to get him to come out and play with Audrey, but he would just shake and retreat to the bedroom. He seemed sad and left out; almost as if we were replacing him. I made sure to spend plenty of time with just him, but it was very hard for me to see him like that. He has gotten better, but he is still wrestling and biting Audrey almost every time they interact, and she continues to squeal and hiss at him. We have stopped interfering when this happens, thinking Alfie would eventually assert his dominance and be done with it, but it still hasn’t stopped.
I began switching Audrey to a raw diet on December 3rd, giving her a few days to adjust to her new home before changing her diet. At first, she would just pick up pieces of the raw meat in her mouth, carry them off, and leave them somewhere as a surprise for me to find later. I eventually got her to lick the food off of a spoon, and now she eats pieces from both the spoon and the floor. However, I can’t seem to get her to eat from a bowl. I had been feeding her from one of Alfie’s bowls because they are much smaller than the bowl Audrey’s previous owner gave us. However, Micah suggested I try her usual bowl because it’s what she’s used to. Hopeful, I gave that a try, but it still wasn’t successful. She finished up that horrible cat food she’d been eating within the first few days of her living with us, so I ended up buying her some ferret kibble to help her through the switch. Now I am just giving her the raw diet in hopes that she will just get hungry enough and dive into it (which is what Alfie did when I switched him to raw several months ago). It’s now been almost 24 hours since I spoon-fed her raw meat, and she still hasn’t touched her raw food.
It’s been eleven days since we got Audrey, and she has settled right in to our home and our hearts. She and Alfie, however, have not exactly become best buds as we had hoped. At least not yet. I am trying to be patient, but I am getting a little worried. Audrey spent her first night out of the cage last night, and she spent it in bed with me and Micah. Usually that’s where Alfie spends the night, and I was hoping that maybe they would both sleep in bed with us, but instead, he created a nest on the floor out of one of my cardigans and a pair of my leggings and spent the night there. I am at a loss of what else I should try in order to get Alfie to accept Audrey as part of our family.
Do you have any suggestions about what I should try next in order to bring harmony to my family? Any suggestions on how I might get Audrey to eat her raw diet on her own?