I live as a netural party in a war zone. Unfortunately, my two female ferrets, Tosca and Kaliyah, are at war. Why? I don’t know. Generally wars happen over resources. There’s no shortage of ferrety resources in this house. You can’t walk into any room without seeing ferret toys, tubes, tunnels, sleeping spots, food, water. And they don’t have to compete for human attention. They both get plenty of games and affection. No, they just hate each other. Ironically, one reason I adopted Kaliyah was to be additional company for Tosca. I suppose she is. Only, the game is fierce.
Poor Kaliyah. She came home as a new ferret, only 5 months old. The boys took an immediate shine to her. Oh, she had to be properly introduced, but after a few times of the boys scruff dragging the kit under the couch, she established herself as a member of their group. The boys found an additional cuddle partner for naps and a playmate. Tosca hated her on sight. Hiss! Chitter, hiss, hiss! Thump, poof. The fur flies as Tosca grabs the poor, unsuspecting kit by the scruff and attempts to beat her into submission. Kaliayh learned quickly: if she scampered from room to room and only slept under the couch, Tosca ignored her. Unless they happen to meet in the hallway. Or she got bored.
That brings me to one odiferous difference between a ferret adopted from a private breeder (Kaliyah) and one from a pet store: descenting. Most pet store ferrets are from large ferret farms and arrive at the pet stores at only 8 weeks of age, spayed/neutered, and descented. Descenting is the removal of the anal glands. The topic of ferret “farms” and early spay/neuter is for another blog. An intact ferret can express their anal glands when frightened, angry, or excited. This results in a stench much like crossing rotten egg, skunk, and my oldest running shoes. Fortunately, unlike skunk, the ferret poof disapates in time. Clean up is simple: a little vinegar water and time. Perhaps spraying some Febreeze. I have gotten very used to this scent since Kaliyah came home.
Ferret terminology: Poof. (v). The ability to express the anal glands. (n) The resulting stench.
Poof (2). (v) Piloerection of a ferret’s tail in response to excitement, fear, curiosity, happiness, joy…. (s) bottle brush tail
There have been a few noteworthy skirmishes of late. Tosca mastered the ability to climb onto the countertop. I store telephone books on the end of one of the counters in my kitchen. Tosca scaled the drawers and set her plot into motion. She began to “explore” the telephone books until the time was right. Kaliyah trotted past the countertop and narrowly escpaed her fate: squished like a bug by a telephone book. Tosca chose the second Kaliyah was under her to push the book off the edge. Coincidence? Or by plan? I tend to think the latter.
On another occassion, I was in the process of filling my bathtub. I still had a small bathmat drapped over the side. The ferrets routinely use the mat to enter and exit the tub. I usually keep a small amount of water in it for them to play in. Kaliyah in particular likes to chase after floating toys. Kaliyah was on top of the tub when Tosca joined her. Initially, Tosca ignored her nemisis. Then, when Kaliyah didn’t jump off the tub, she struck! Both ferrets fell into the partially filled tub. Ferret paddling ensued. I scooped both wet, annoyed, and bedraggled ferrets from the tub. Of course, I became their “towel.”
Tosca often ambushes Kaliyah as she goes about her business. And I usually end up with ferret poof to clean. An upset ferret will also poo. Joys.
Now, you might get the impression that Kaliyah is an innocent being persecuted by a bully. In all honesty, it may have started out that way. However, now Kaliyah is just as likely to treat Tosca to a nip or ambush. Yesterday, Tosca had followed me into the kitchen. Kaliyah came out from hiding behind the refrigerator. She spies her nemisis. She ran across the room, jumped on Tosca’s back, and bit her. Poof! And the stench rolls on.