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06 January 2009 @ 12:25 pm
Mr. Nibbles was euthanized Saturday morning.

We went for a checkup, but my husband and I both knew that he probably wasn't going to come home. We had been trying to mentally prepare for this for a while. He didn't even explore the vet's office. He just lay down on the floor.

He was down to 2.4 lbs from 3.0 lbs last time. His blood-glucose was 39.

She offered to try him on Diazoxide, or to do a sonogram and discuss surgery options again; but we decided against both because while they may give him a little more time, it's never going to make the problem go away.

We opted with putting him to sleep because we felt it was best for the old man.

It breaks both our hearts so much. He is just one month shy of his 6th birthday.

The euthanization went smoothly. He didn't really struggle, even though she had to use the heartstick method. It wasn't until all the pink left his toes that it really looked like he had gone, he didn't close his eyes.

We're having him cremated; and I'm having an urn custom made for him.


The other kids are all still sleeping, I'm sure it'll be a few hours before they think something is up. I often take out one or two at a time to play with for some one-on-one, so they may take a few hours to realize he isn't coming back.



The grief is really bad, but not overwhelming. I think I will be okay.




Baby Nibbles, Feb 2003.



Old man Nibbles, Jan 2009.


He was my best bud. He was very calm and sweet. He came when he was called. He walked nicely on a leash. He never bit anyone, and he was really good at using a litter box. As far as ferrets go, he really was the best. (Don't tell the other kids, but it's true)
 
 
Mood: depresseddepressed
 
 
23 December 2008 @ 11:05 pm
My friend Sammy sent me a new tube for the ferrets for Christmas, as well as some other gifts.

So enjoy some ferrety photos for Christmas!






Xander's little face. He's so interested in the camera that it's really easy to take his photo.

Follow the cut for more!Collapse )
 
 
22 December 2008 @ 03:25 pm
Insulinoma is one of the 'big three' diseases that ferrets can get. It's considered an 'older' ferret problem, although it's been cropping up in younger ferrets lately.

My oldest kid, Mr. Nibbles, has been diagnosed with it - so I felt it would be good for me to post my experience with it, in the event it could help someone else.


Mr. Nibbles has always been very mellow for a ferret. He began to slow down at around 4.5 years. Not a lot, but he would speedbump often, he slept more, and he wanted less and less to do with the other kids. He was still affectionate, had a healthy appetite, and was always happy to see me. He hadn't slowed down enough for me to be concerned. He was still my buddy, and he seemed normal. For him.

So then comes July 4th, 2008. He couldn't have picked a better day.

I was cleaning up the house. Had to work at that night, and my husband had the car, and I had nowhere to be. I was taking my time, listening to the radio.

Well, I'm in the ferret room and I need to mop the floor, so I put them in the cage and shut the door for a minute.

All of the sudden Mr. Nibbles starts to drool like crazy, then he started to seize. I was so shocked that he did it right in front of me I almost didn't know what to do.

I moved him onto a level of the cage so he couldn't fall or hurt himself, and moved the other three to the bottom half, while I ran to get my phone to call the vet.

Who was of course, closed for the holiday. So I call the E-vet... and the exotic vet is on holiday.

I was in tears when I finally reached a vet in Tampa, who was open, and had a ferret knowledgeable vet on staff today. I put a little honey on his gums, (which was really scary, because he had bitten his tongue and his mouth was all bloody...) told them I would be there as soon as I could, and called Tyler. He came home from work right away, and we sped off to the vet.

He drooled excessively in the car on the way there, but when we got there he was just laying quietly in the carrier, and looked a little blank for a bit. Both vets were in surgery when we got there, so a tech took him back to take his blood and run some tests.

First test showed a blood glucose level of... 46. Supposed to be close to 100. Quite low, and who knows how low it was before I gave him honey. We waited 2 hours, checked his blood again, and it was at 52 this time. Still kind of low :/ The vet talked to me about insulinoma, and gave me a pamphlet about it, a letter to give my regular vet, and a prescription for Prednisone.

Since then he has been getting regular checkups with his vet, to monitor his blood-glucose level, and has been taking Prednisone twice daily since. We opted against surgery because it's not a cure, and ferrets can have bad reactions to anesthesia. I knew already there was no cure, and sooner or later, the time was going to come. My vet gave me an estimate of 10 months to a year on medication. We're 5 months since his diagnosis, and I'm afraid we aren't going to make it to the whole 10 months.

He's very lethargic and sleeps most of the day. He occasionally gets a bit of a spark and will romp around the living room, but he's not going to get better.




So what is, Insulinoma? It is when the pancreas develops tumors, which produce too much insulin, and in turn causes the blood-glucose level to plummet. If it gets too low it can cause seizures, coma, or death. Because it is sugar related, it is advised never to give a ferret anything with sugar in it. (Raisins, grapes, etc)

One of the earliest symptoms is lethargy and a spacey look on your ferrets face. Like he zoned out for a moment. Other signs may be drooling or pawing at the mouth.

If a ferret goes into a seizure, you can apply honey or karo syrup onto the gums to help him recover. This is the ONLY time I would do so, and it's probably best to apply it with a q-tip to keep from getting bitten. Your ferret may bet the sweetest animal in the world, but he can't control his teeth when he's seizing.

If you suspect your ferret has insulinoma, it's best to get to the vet for a blood test - and quick. Anything under 100 is suspicious - and under 90 is almost a certain diagnosis.

Insulinoma can not be cured, only managed.

Some people opt to go with surgery. The tumors are very, very small and spread out, so a partial removal of the pancreas is often performed. Because the tumors are so small, it's possible to miss them, and they can be so spread out that surgery isn't even an option.

The other option is with medication. Prednisone is usually prescribed to help maintain the blood-glucose levels, however it does come with side effects. Ferrets can develop a fat belly, or stomach ulcers on high doses if they not take it with food. (Duck soup is highly reccomended). Diazoxide is usually prescribed if the pred can not help; although it is VERY expensive.

Ferrets with insulinoma should be fed a diet high in fat and protein. My vet was satisfied with Zupreem for Mr. Nibbles, in this case.

Lifespans of ferrets diagnosed with insulinoma vary. Some can live a few years, some only a few months. The earlier it can be diagnosed the better luck you may have.

It's advised to get a blood panel done yearly on your ferret to help catch such diseases; and if you have a ferret with insulinoma, I wish you the best.
 
 
22 December 2008 @ 03:21 pm
Hrm  
I need to get some members :)
 
 
13 December 2008 @ 12:27 pm

(Mr. Nibbles)

Just because I love this photo. :)
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13 December 2008 @ 11:17 am
So becuase I live in Lakeland, I've dealt with several vets in the surrounding area and had the joy of trying to move here into an apartment with them.

Starting with apartments.

I moved to Lakeland from Houston without ever visiting, so I had to do everything over the phone. I had a small dog and 4 ferrets at the time, so I started plenty early in looking for one that accepted ferrets. I did not want to hide them and risk getting into trouble or evicted, and there was no way I was not taking them with me.

The only place I found that would accept them was The Paddock Club. They did not take a pet deposit for them (Though it was $300, non-refundable for my dog), and they put them in the lease as 'caged pet'. I didn't feel like arguing. I lived there for one year, and while yes, it is an expensive complex, it is a beautiful apartment. They are huge, maintenance was always on time, and no one ever bothered me. I only moved out because I bought a house; otherwise I'd have stayed there.

And now some vet info.

Dr. Nola Gideon from Marcum Road Animal Hospital will see ferrets. She is fine for vaccinations and a general check up; she was the vet I used when I first moved here.

I don't use her anymore, however. One too many things was missed in regards to the health of my pets and she seems much more concerned with the money than the pet.

Dr. Kim Patrick from Cleveland Heights Animal Hospital however, is fantastic. I have been using her for several months, since Mr. Nibbles was diagnosed with insulinoma. They have very reasonable prices, have a wonderful staff, and their hospital is like walking into a day spa. For dogs. No joke, they have leather couches and a flat screen TV in their waiting room.

I have called around town when I was looking for a vet, and the only other one I found that accepted them was All Creatures Animal Hospital; however at the time they were not accepting any new clients.


The emergency hospital in Lakeland will NOT see ferrets. When Mr. Nibbles had a seizure I called them first and was directed to an emergency hospital in Tampa.

There are two hospitals in Tampa that I have been to that are great.

The first one is Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency. I had to visit them on the 4th of July this past summer when Mr. Nibbles had a seizure. They aren't outrageously priced, and this was the vet who first diagnosed Mr. Nibbles.

After Nibbles was diagnosed, we had taken him to Florida Veterinary Specialists to see Dr. Lightfoot, as she is the ferret doctor there and came highly recommended from other vets in the area.

Also, the SPCA in Lakeland does not accept ferrets at all. They do not take them in or adopt any out, and they do not carry the ferret vaccines.

And a note about Polk Country animal control laws - ferrets MUST be vaccinated for rabies; but they are not required to register for a license like dogs and cats.

Since I use Dr. Patrick here in Lakeland, I have not checked in the surrounding cities (such as Plant City, Winter Haven, etc) or even Orlando; but if anyone else has that information please share it!
 
 
11 December 2008 @ 02:08 pm
Ferrets are amazing animals. Most people start out with one.

Then decide that he needs a friend, and you have two.


Then you decide that they need another friend, and you have three.

Ferret math has begun. But it gets worse! The longer you keep ferrets, the more you learn about them. You start looking at shelters, and it breaks your heart to see all those homeless ferrets.

So you call the shelter, and suddenly you have 5. 6. 7.

You’re still telling yourself that 7 isn’t that many and you can easily care for them. So you get another, and now you have 8.


You’re not a bad person for succumbing to ferret math - but please be careful! 8 ferrets doesn’t sound like a lot until all 8 get sick at the same time!

If you have $8000 sitting on hand for emergency illness, by all means have 8 ferrets. Give them wonderful homes!

But be careful! It’s easy to get over your head when 1+1 suddenly equals 20.
 
 
11 December 2008 @ 01:40 pm
Grooming ferrets is easy. The most important thing, is to clip nails regularly.

For a lot of people, it’s very easy to flip your ferret on its back, then put Ferretone onto its belly. While it’s sitting there licking off the ‘tone, start clipping.

I use regular people fingernail clippers. The guillotine type used on dogs tends to crush the nail rather than cutting it. When you clip nails, turn the paw sidways. You’ll see a red little thing through the nail - that’s called the quick. It’s sort of like the toe. If you cut it, it will bleed, the ferret will scream, and you’ll have a hard time cutting nails later.

Once their on their back licking their belly, it’s quick work to go over all the toes and do a trim. If you do this weekly, they’ll get used to it and you’ll be done long before they are!


The other bit of grooming that you should do regularly is to clean their ears. They are very waxy and can get ear mites. If you see ear wax that is a dark reddish brown, take them to the vet to check for mites. I use a cleaning solution made for kittens on my ferrets. Put a couple drops in, rub the ear, and let him shake his head. It’s messy, so do it in the bathroom or an area that is easily cleaned. With a q-tip go around the outer edge of the ear. Do NOT put the q-tip in the ear, you can easily damage the ear drum.

Bathing is not needed at ALL unless your ferret rolls in something nasty. Ferrets naturally produce an oil in their skin that keeps their fur soft. It has a natural, light, musky scent. If you don’t like it, you might want to rethink your choice of pet. If you bathe them, their body will go into overdrive to reproduce those oils and the ferret will smell very strongly for several days as it regulates itself. If you think your ferret is stinky, wash his bedding. Often times the smelliest part of the cage is dirty laundry.
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11 December 2008 @ 01:30 pm
A cage is your ferrets home. It’s where he’ll spend his time when he’s not with you - so make sure it’s the best home you can get for your ferret.

The best ferret cage I have ever seen, is without a doubt the Ferret Nation. The standard model comes with one ‘level’, that has a large tray on the bottom and a ramp up to a half level. This leaves room for hanging a hammock, a separate eating place, and plenty of space for a litter box. It will comfortably house 2 ferrets as long as they also get plenty of out of the cage time.

You can also purchase the double level, which will house 4 ferrets, and there is an add-on after that which can hold 6.

The cage has VERY large, double doors that open completely to give you the best access in cleaning the cage, and the door is completely ferret proof. You have to actually press down two little knobs to open it, and until ferrets grow thumbs they won’t be able to do so.


A lot of people also use Super Pet Cages. Some of them are pretty great cages!

The multi-floor with tunnels looks awesome to me. It’s very tall and has several shelves. You’d want to hang a lot of hammocks in this one to prevent your ferret from falling from the top ot the bottom, as none of the shelves go all the way across. This type of cage would probably hold at most 3 ferrets comfortably.

This cage however, is too small for even one ferret. I would not suggest this cage for anything other than travel, or a sick cage for a ferret who can’t climb.

This is another good cage example, but again you’d have to be sure you hung enough hammocks to keep a ferret from falling all the way to the floor. This could probably house 2 ferrets comfortably.

This is probably the smallest I would put one ferret in; but you’d have to give a TON of out of cage time to keep him happy.

Marshall Farms also has ferret cages available, some of them similar in style to the Ferret Nation. This one is very comparable, and the same price.

Playpens are a good way to let your ferret out of his cage if you can’t fence off a whole room. They are also great for travel if you can’t take a huge cage along with you.

This super pet cage I would suggest as a good quarantine cage or sick cage. It’s too small to permanently house a ferret, but would be great for keeping one calm and quiet.


That’s not even close to touching all of the ferret cages on the market, but hopefully it gives you an idea on the type of cage and size that is good for ferrets.
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11 December 2008 @ 11:33 am
Toys  
Toys are the best part about ferrets - they like everything!

I used to buy expensive ‘ferret’ toy as the pet store. Sure they liked it. About as much as they loved a sock, too.

They love balls, crinkly balls, balls with bells in them, crotched eggs, socks, keys, and anything else they can get their grubby little paws on them.

You can actually take toys away from them for a while, and when you give it back it’s like a whole new toy.

Sometimes they even prefer the packaging to the toy.


You don’t have to spend a lot to keep your ferret happy. Paper towel rolls (just watch them to make sure they don’t get stuck) work good. Dollar store cat toys. Infant toys that don’t have rubber or small parts. I have one who is very fond of a little toy car. Little stuffed animals. (Just make sure to cut off the hard eyes or button noses, if they have them to prevent accidental swallowings)

They like tunnels, and you can either get those colorful giant hamster tubes for ferrets, or you can even get an old dryer tube. They’ll run around through the sleeves of shirts or the legs on pants.

You can drag a towel on the ground and they’ll wrestle with it.

Ferrets also love digging; and providing a dig box is an excellent alternative to your carpet. You can get a large cardboard box or a big plastic bin - you want it deep enough to the ferret isn’t flinging his dirt everywhere - and you could fill it with dirt, the starch packing peanuts (be sure it’s the starch ones that dissolve, not the styrofoam!), or even long grained rice. (Do NOT use instant rice, if they eat it it will expand in their stomachs).

Some ferrets like to play in the water, so letting them play in the bathtub with 1-2 inches of water in the bottom would also be fun - just be sure to keep an eye on them.

There is also quite a market for fun ferret toys, just Google around to find some neat stuff. Just remember that no matter how many toys your ferret has, you’re still his favorite thing to play with.
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