Wilson took in Cheerios ... and years later, she still has the note. She also has five ferrets, Honey, Nacho, Pamplamousse, Black Moon and Hazel, whom she just adopted via Houseman. They, plus the original Cheerios, are six of the 11 ferrets she’s owned since that day, when her backpack foundling touched off a beautiful relationship.
“I could never be without a ferret ever again,” Wilson said. “Between the laughter and the bonding, there’s just nothing like them. It seems like they’ll go to no end to make you laugh and make you happy. They’re little clowns.
“It’s like everyday’s a adventure. Everything is brand new every single time they see it. They’re so social, and they just love people. More people need to realize that about them, because I don’t think people know. And I think that’s what people look for in a pet.”
While Houseman, Helms and Wilson are enthusiastic about the joys of ferret ownership, they make it clear that they’re not for everyone. A member of the American Ferret Association education committee, Houseman has helped write several articles about making the choice to become a ferret owner and being sure you’re ready for the critters. With a lifespan of six to 10 years, they are not short-term pets. They’re also curious, tenacious and inventive.
“Ferret-proofing i an art form ... right down to having metal screens in your windows as opposed to nylon, and making sure there are no gaps under your kitchen cupboards,” Houseman said, adding that the traits that can make ferrets such fascinating pets can also make them a challenge. That’s another reason social interaction is key: Bored ferrets get into trouble, she said.
Robin Landes, director of the education committee of the American Ferret Association, has owned ferrets for about 30 years. In that position, she works to dispell a lot of myths around the animals and to educate potential new ferret owners on issues from the cost and medical bill factors to the serious misconception that they are caged animals like a hamster or guinea pig.