How to Trace a Lost Ferret
By Mary Van Dahm
Spring has come at last! Warm days herald fresh air through open doors and windows. This can be a dangerous time for pets (especially ferrets!) that try to sneak outdoors to enjoy the nice weather, too.
While most ferret owners are aware of this potential problem, even the most careful owners can be caught off-guard. Children or unexpected guests can accidentally let a curious critter out.
What can you do if you suddenly realize that your furrball is missing? First of all, don’t panic. Call all of your family members together and discuss a plan of action. Divide the search efforts and areas up to cover the most ground possible.
Here is a simple check-list to follow to guide you in your search and rescue efforts:
- Check through your house carefully, including places where your ferret “couldn’t possibly go.” Look inside closets, drawers, under dressers and other furniture, on shelves, in hampers or clothesbaskets, under and inside refrigerators and other appliances.
- Check your backyard, bushes and garage. Most ferrets when exploring a new area will cling to the side of a building or structure before venturing out into an open area. If your ferret is used to going for walks with you on a leash, check areas where you may have taken your ferret before. He will be most likely to go to familiar territory before he wanders into strange areas.
- Ask your neighbors, and especially neighborhood children, if they have seen a ferret or “strange animal” recently. Kids spend more time outdoors than adults do and a new “creature” roaming the block will surely catch their attention. Ask permission to enter neighbors’ sheds or garages and ask your neighbors to check their dryer vents to see if your ferret may have climbed into one of them. Check window wells, too. We get several calls each year from people who have found ferrets (And occasionally minks!) in their window wells.
- Post notices and pictures of your ferret wherever possible – bulletin boards at local stores, pet shops, veterinarian offices, libraries, bus stops, and gas stations. (Be sure to take them down again once your pet is back safe at home.)
- Alert your mailman, newspaper boy, and anyone else who passes through your area frequently.
- Call your local police, city pound, and animal shelters. If possible, give them a picture of your ferret or a very detailed description. Does your ferret have any tattoos or distinguishing marks to make identification easier? Is your ferret microchipped? Check back with these agencies frequently since they may be too busy to call you or they may forget to let the next shift know that you are looking for your pet.
- Place your ferret’s cage or carrier outside with some of his used bedding in it. Sometimes they can smell their way home. Check the cage frequently for signs of his return. Ferrets are most active during the early morning or evening hours. CAUTION: Try to set the door of the cage in such a way that only a ferret can get into it. Cats, possums and raccoons can be opportunistic freeloaders if they smell food and may raid the cage if they can get into it.
- Place an ad in your local newspaper(s). Give a detailed description of your ferret. Use common terms in describing your pet. Some people may not know what a “sable” or a “silvermitt” are, but they can understand what a “dark brown” or a “white-footed” ferret is. Be sure to mention when and where your pet was lost. You don’t have to list your exact address. You can put something like “on the 100 block of Main Street”.
Last, but not least, be sure to list your phone number so people can reach you. You should list day and nighttime numbers, if you work. It is usually best to run your “lost pet” ad for about 2 weeks. This gives people who only get a Sunday paper a chance to notice your ad. Be sure to check the paper yourself to see if anyone has listed a “found” ferret.
Hopefully all of this advice will never be needed and your ferrets will stay safe and secure in your home. But if you, or a friend, should ever lose track of a pet, these guidelines are a good thing to keep on hand!