The domestic ferret is a small carnivorous mammal that has found its way into the hearts and homes of Americans. Although illegal to keep as pets in California, the ready availability of ferret chow, toys and accessories at California pet supply stores tells the tale that officials do not want to know. With Halloween right around the corner, safety for ferrets is of the utmost importance – particularly in a state that does not welcome these pets.
How can you keep your pet ferret safe from harm this Halloween?
- Put a harness and tag on your ferret. The domestic ferret does not survive outdoors. The American Ferret Association offers a bleak outlook for the survival rate of ferrets that escape outside in the late fall. Being able to withstand the elements for no more than “a few days,” it is crucial that the pet – if found – is quickly identified and returned to you. A harness and tag can make the difference between getting your ferret back alive and never finding it. Sure, you can try not to let it escape during the continued opening and closing of the door, but you know how quick these little rascals can be.
- A sugar overdose can lead to cancer. There is some evidence that continued exposure to foods high in sugar can lead to cancer in ferrets. Being carnivorous and having a very short digestive tract to boot, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for the animal’s continued wellbeing. While the accidentally dropped piece of chocolate will most likely not spell disaster, the ferret that finds your Halloween candy stash and gains continued access to it might just be in store for serious health problems.
- Keep sneezing kids at bay. If your ferret will join you as you are handing out the candy, the kids will naturally want to pet the sociable little creature. Assuming that your pet ferret is the friendly sort, it will bask in the attention. Unfortunately, these little animals are highly susceptible to cold germs that can turn into respiratory illnesses in the pet. Either ask kids to use a hand sanitizer before petting your ferret or adopt a “look but do not touch” policy for the trick-or-treaters.
- Do not light your Jack-O’-Lanterns with real candles. Guess who loves to crawl in and out of carved pumpkins? That is right, your ferret! Your pet will not know that you have added a lit candle since the last time it checked out the inside of the pumpkin. If you want to light Jack-O’-Lanterns that are within reach of your ferret, choose outdoor-rated holiday lights that remain cool to the touch. This gives you enough time to extricate the ferret from the pumpkin before problems occur.
- Cage the pet at party time. If you are hosting a Halloween party for kids or adults, cage the animal for the duration of the party. Ferrets are in danger of being crushed by inattentive feet or slammed doors. Remember that anyone wearing a mask already deals with a decreased field of vision, which makes it even more difficult for them to watch out for the quick-moving ferret.
By the way, if you have a dog or cat that is usually good friends with your ferret, keep them separated on Halloween. The constant doorbell noise and influx of visitors to your home may stress the canine or feline to such an extent that its predator instinct is heightened. A timid ferret may be in danger even from a typically friendly cat or dog.