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Ferret Info

Current Shelter Population: 102

Ferret Terminology


ADV: Aleutian Disease Virus - a contagious parvovirus of ferrets that results in a weakened immune systme and eventual dealth.  Can be tested for but not cured. 

Adrenal Disease: Symptoms of the disease may include weight loss, weakness in the hind legs and hair loss beginning at the base of the tail progressing up the spine and back, which gets progressively worse with time.

Adrenocortical Neoplasia: Medical term for adrenal gland tumor.

Albino: A ferret which has no pigmentation and appears to be white or yellowish. An Albino also transparent red eyes and no other markings. 

Alopecia: Medical term for hair loss.

Alpha Ferret: The dominant, or "lead" ferret in a business of ferrets. 

Ankle Biter: A ferret wanting attention (or a treat or to be picked up) who asked nicely the first time. 

Alter: A ferret who has been spayed or neutered.  (See gib and sprite) 

Bark: The noise the ferret makes when he is either frightened or excited. 

Belly Button: A way to determine gender on a ferret is to look for the "belly button" which usually means it's a male.

Bib: White fur on the chin and throat of a ferret.  Often associated with mitts.

Blaze: A ferret with a white stripe between the ears and down toward the nose.  These ferrets may be deaf due Waardenburg's syndrome.  Less commonly called badger or shetland marking.  (see panda)

Blown Coat: When ferrets shed their luxurious winter fur in the springtime, they "blow their coat".

Bomb: When a non descented ferret gets frightened, angry or hurt, he may "blow a bomb" with his anal scent glands.  The effect is noticeable but temporary.  Also known as "poof".

Bonded Pairs: Ferrets that have been kept together for so long that separating them would cause them emotional distress.

Bottlebrush: An excited or angry ferret will poof all the tail hair so it looks like a bottlebrush.  (Also bushy-tailed)

Bottom Dwellers: Ferrets sleeping on the bottom on the fuzzy pile.

Bugbite: When your ferret leaps awake from a deep sleep and immediately starts scratching an itch.  This is normal behavior that doesn't necessarily indicate the presence of bugs.

Bulldog: A term used to describe the body style of ferret that is a heavily-built, with short, thick les and neck, a blunt, borad face, wide chest, and a rolling sort of gait.

Bups: Hiccups brought on my excitement, often after a dance.

Business: The correct name for a grouping of multible ferrets.

CDV: Canine Distemper Virus - A highly contagious disease which if caught by your ferret is 100% lethal. In order to protect your ferret it is important to have your ferret vaccinated by your vet.

Chomp: A meeting of ferret teeth and human skin, most often an invitation to play.  Often preceeded by licking, as in lick-lick-chomp.  Corret this behavior by scruffing. 

Cinnamon: A ferret with orange-colored guard hairs.

Crocodile Roll: When a ferret rolls continuously after almost being attacked by another playmate.

Dance of Joy: A happy or excited ferret will bounce around with stiff legs, arched back, open mouth and swinging head.  It is normal for ferrets to bounce into walls and off edges while doing this dance.  Most often accompanied by dooking and bottlebrush tails.  (Also known as Weasel War Dance)

Dash and Stash: When ferrets find a great treasure, grab it and run off to put it in their hidey-hole.

Descented: When ferrets come into the world they come equipped with a secret weapon... anal scent glands. In the U.S. nearly all ferrets which are purchased from pet stores have had these already removed. These ferrets are referred to as being descented. The reason for this is pure marketing. Who would want to buy a pet that stinks? The truth is, however, that the scent glands only produce and odor when a ferret discharges it's scent glands. Ferret lovers with ferrets which have not been descented refer to this as "poofing" (as in... who poofed)". Luckily, the smell goes away very quickly. Because of this, most ferrets, which are purchased from breeders, are spared the pain of the unnecessary surgery and are never descented.

DEW: Dark-eyed-white (or BEW for Black-eyed-white) indicating a white ferret with dark eyes (not really black, but a deep cranberry red)

Dook or Dooking: The chuckle or chortle sound a ferret makes when excited, exploring, playing or dancing.  A dancing ferret is usually a dooking ferret.

Doughnut: A ferret sleeping in a circle.

Duck Soup: Liquefied ferret food supplement usually hand fed to sick ferrets.  There are various recipes, all with high protein meats (usually turkey or chicken, not duck) and added vitamins.

Ear Mites: Little bugs may find a home in your ferrets ears. The best way to help prevent this from occurring is to regularly clean your ferret's ears. Although this is not always foolproof as even ferrets with clean ears can get ear mites. If your ferret gets mites you will need to take your ferret to the vet to get rid of them. It is important to know that ear mites are very contagious, if you own more than one ferret, chances are your other ferrets have them also.

ECE: Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis, a contagious ferret-specific virus that results in diarrhea, dehydration and malnutrition.  Also known as the greenies or the green slime disease.

Ferret Math: Blamed as the root cause to explain why some people have so many ferrets. Those afflicted may see their little group go from 2 or 3 ferrets to 10+ in number.

Ferret-Free Zones (FFZ): A state, county or town where ferrets are illegal as pets.

Ferret-Proofing: The act of creating a space that is both safe for ferrets and safe for your stuff. This includes eliminating potential dangers to your pet and removing items that might get broken, soiled, or made into a mess.

Ferreting: Hunting with trained ferrets, usually for rabbits or rats (generally illegal in the US). 

Ferretry: A place that houses businesses of ferrets or breeds them.

Ferret Fishing: An interactive human sport where humans tie a ferret toy to the end of a pole, string or elastic line and reel in the ferrets. A favorite game.

Foot Rot: The symptoms of this condition are itchy red swollen and scabby feet. The condition is caused by a parasite, the Sarcoptes Scabiei (a type of mite). Veterinary treatment is required to rid ferret the parasite. If treatment is not received condition will get worse and the ferrets claws will likely fall off. (aka Scabies)

Foreign Body: Any object, with the exception of food or water, which has found its way into your ferret. Usually this occurs as a result of the ferret eating something it should not of. Examples include: rubber bands, pieces of a sponge, foam rubber, small plastic objects, etc.

GIB: A male ferret who has been neumered and is unable to breed.

Guard Hairs: When you run your fingers through a ferrets coat you will notice that it consists of a shorter and softer undercoat and the longer and stiffer guard hairs. The undercoat helps provide insulation while the guard hairs help provide the weather proofing. In ferrets which are darker in color (sables, chocolates, etc) it is the guard hairs that provide the color. In this case the guard hairs get darker at the ends.

Hidey Hole: The special hiding place of stolen ferret special items.  Usually inaccessible by humans.

Hit Rate: The ability of a ferret to find (and use...) it's litter box. Most ferrets are pretty good about using the litter box in their cage and will only stop using it if gets too full. If this happens too often the ferret could get into a bad habit and cause the owner a lot of grief by not using the litter box even when it is not too full. It is far better, and less stinky, to keep those litter boxes clean. When ferrets are outside their cage, unfortunately, the numbers don't always look so good. If a ferret finds it's litter box 75% of the time it is referred to as a (75% hit rate). This is about average. Some are better. Some are a lot worse. To help try to keep the hit rate as high as possible it is important to place a number of litter boxes in the places the ferret has "hit" before and to try to wait until a ferret has done is business before letting it out.

Hiss: The noise a ferret makes when he is annoyed.

Hob: A male ferret who is "whole" or unable to breed.

Isolation Cage: A cage used to separate ferrets from their cagemates while sick or recovering from surgery. Also used to quarantine new ferrets to prevent possible spreading of disease or parasites.

Kibble: Commercially prepared dry ferret food. Also known as biscuits.

Jill: A female ferret who is "whole" or unaltered and able to breed.  (Also Doe outside the U.S.)

Kit: A baby ferret.

Lick, Licker, Lick-Lick-Chomp: Ferrets lick as a sign of affection because you taste good or as a prelude to a chomp.

Lymphosarcoma: A common form of cancer in ferrets. Lymphosarcoma is cancer of the lymph nodes and other lymphatic tissue.

Mitts: White feet or toes on some ferrets (often accompanied by white knee spots and a bib).

Nip and Run: When a ferret races up to you, mouths you on the shin and dashes off as an enticement for you to play.  Also known and drive-by.

Panda: A ferret with a mostly white face - an overgrown blaze marking.

Points: The darker colored parts of a ferret - the tail, feet and sometimes nose.

Rainbow Bridge: When ferrets die they go to Rainbow Bridge which is just this side of heaven.  There they wait for you until you can cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

Rat tail: Ferret slang for used to describe a condition where the tail loses all its hair and the skin takes on a scaly appearance. May be a sign of adrenal gland tumors.

Rescue: A ferret who has been picked up by a ferret shelter and is available for adoption.

Sable: The foundation color of ferret - brown guard hairs over a cream colored undercoat, dark mask and somewhat darker points.

Sebaceous Glands: These glands, located in the ferret's skin, are responsible for the oil in the ferrets coat and the characteristic musky ferret scent.

Scruffing: Holding a ferret by the loose skin on the back of the ncec, as a mother would carry her kits.  This relaxes and calms down a ferret.  (they will often yawn).

Shiver: The shaking motion a ferret makes when just waking up or being excited about something.  Does not usually denote fear and most often a way to regulate body temperature.

SND (sleeping not dead) or DFS (dead ferret syndrome):  A ferret so deep in sleep that it is hard to wake him/her up.

Silver: A ferret with a salt and pepper coloration.

Snorkeling: Some ferrets want to drink water by immersing their entire head and blowing bubbles.  Other ferrets prefert to dry snorkel by nosing under carpets, bath mats or any other fabric on the floor.

Speedbump: When a ferret suddenly lies flat on the floor (usually accompanied by a deep sigh).  This may occur in the middle of playing which will usually resume after a short session of speedbumping.  Also called flat ferret, ferret flop or pancaking.

Sprite: A female ferret who has been spayed and is unable to breed.

Toe Biter: A ferret wanting to entice their human to play (or do the human war dance, which ferrets find histerically funny).

Tuck and Scoot: A way for ferrets to transport or play with objects (typically round).  The ferret grabs the object with their front paws, hugs it, bushes it down under the belly and then scoots backwards.  Wild ferret couzins transport whole eggs in thi manner. 

Waardenburg's syndrome: A genetic defect found in humans, cats, dogs, mice and ferrets that results in a white steak of hair and sometimes results in hearing problems.

Water Weasel: A ferret who enjoys snorkeling or one who mush accompany you out of the shower to lick your feet and any puddles on the floor.

Whippet: A term used to describe the body style of ferret that is lean, lanky and fine-boned and with a tendency toward a pointier nose.

Whole: A whole ferret has not been altered and can be bread.

Zipper: The center "line" down the middle of a ferret's stomach, either caused by fur meeting at the ventral line or the scar left from surgery. 

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..all prices are approximate..

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