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 Post subject: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:29 pm 
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Location: Georgia (USA)
I now realize this was put in the wrong section and should be in the AND other animals section! :blush: If any of the mods would like to move it for me.

I thought I'd start a topic considering the only other animal I've had besides horses for most of my life have been ferrets. :green: I love the joyful little buggers, I can't live in a house without them as they're a constant reminder to enjoy life, laugh at yourself and they make excellent snugglers (when they so choose) when you need a hug.

I've never actually tried to 'train" my ferrets aside from the litterbox usage and coming when called to a certain target noise. (rattling can of treats) Most people around here don't bother training them because they're so dang smart and often question why they should do something - people just give up or label them as obstinate. The thought occured to me last month that I should pick up with trying to teach them a few tricks again to work on their focus on me. And maybe give them something postive to exibit instead of constantly offering behaviors I'm not pleased with... :roll: I spend alot of time saying (or yelling) "Stop that! Get out of there! Don't chew on that! Come back here! Give that back to me! No no no! Don't jump in the toilet bowl you'll regret it!!!!" etc... :ieks:
LOL so this got me thinking about the basic principles of AND and whether I can figure out a way to apply it to my little ones as well. I have read articles saying studies show their mental reasoning is about at the level of small primapes... I'd love to get them thinking and reasoning and solving more puzzles with all that brain power. But I also long for the interaction with me - sure they LOVE taunting me into chasing them. It's their favorite game. Or chasing me. They're teeny little ferocious predators :funny: But I'm looking to teach moment of focus and interaction beyond them sleeping in my lap or wanting me to chase...

I have two young ones, just entering adult age - a brother and sister. Kysen & Nienna (called Nenna). Kysen is the bad boy who loves to prevoke everyone as much as he can, he feeds off chaos. He delights in showing off all his acrobatic talents. Nenna is the laid back one with the princess complex. She'd much rather eat and rest and watch, then again she's bordering overweight so her inactivity may have to do with that. She has a very strong alpha personality though and going through her toddler stage was HORRID :ieks: for me. She's extremely opinionated and sometimes I can't quite figure her reasoning out - but she's very clear when she dislikes something.
Lately I have taken to a few games with Nenna and a clicker to test and see if I get any results. Currently I work with her on turning a 360 for me, and rolling over. My main goal is to teach her the click sound=good=reward. I think once she gets this she'll be very motivated if she feels in-the-mood.
Kysen on the otherhand is the worst ADD child ever... I tried the exact same excercises with him and he got 2/3 of the way around in a circle...saw something and bolted off down the hallway chattering, comepltely forgetting about me sitting there with a treat. :rambo:


Soooooo....I shall be posting occasionally my experiences with them and applying the AND way of exploring their culture and language and personalities. :D I'm curious if anyone else owns any, though I know alot of members are in other countries.


Anyways - here's a pic of the troublesome siblings taking a break in their day-pen. :D
Image

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Last edited by Colinde~ on Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:13 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
I love your little monsters! xx

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:24 pm 
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Location: Georgia (USA)
Thanks Suzie :)

I haven't had near as much time as I'd like to work on clicker training with the kids lately. :blush: :sad: They're suffering from lack of attention right now, which means they're trashing their cage royally and annoying everyone else in the house. I need to work on having a room ferret-safe that they can run around in during the evenings since they can't be out in the house anymore. (the dogs are out)

We did do alittle clicker training sunday though. Of the two of them I'm having better success with Nenna which surprises me. She comes up to me expectantly, knowing we are going to do something and there will be treats. :yes: The thing I am having trouble with is getting her to associate the click sound with a treat. Maybe I am not being quick enough? I called her after our session from across 2 rooms and she came running though. :ieks: Or loping... she lopes more than she runs. ;)

Kysen on the otherhand is pushy with her and high strung. I find it nearly impossible to keep his attention on me long enough to even ask for something or click. Still not sure what to do about this so I haven't made any breakthroughs with him. I found out a few months ago he has adrenal disease and will have to have $900 surgery to remove the tumor. :sad: Currently I am helping ease his symptoms with Melatonin powder and he seems perky but he is still loosing hair and having irregular stools. :sad: Poor thing. So I try to cuddle him more, and just be relaxed around him to show that I care. He's still very much in the "Mooooooooom quit smothering me!!!" phase though.

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:25 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Did you see the TED talks 12 minute video rats clicker trained to help sniff various diseases like tuberculosis and being light weight they are sniffing land mines? I know rats are not ferrets but they are also very clever and very cute. xx

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:35 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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This is very cool. :D I've never owned nor trained ferrets. I can only imagine how tough it would be to have no restraint to help them focus. :funny: :funny:
Are they motivated by things other than food? Petting? Attention? Play? Maybe you can use one of their regular meals as training treats?

Looking forward to reading more about these guys. :)

Birgit


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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:37 pm 
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Location: Georgia (USA)
Suzie - I had not seen that but very cool! I've heard rats are of course very intelligent. Although it seems most animals we thought were dumb are turning out to be very smart... Especially cool about the mines. :yes:


Birgit wrote:
This is very cool. :D I've never owned nor trained ferrets. I can only imagine how tough it would be to have no restraint to help them focus. :funny: :funny:

You know... until you said that I had never realized that I DO work with them in complete liberty. Kysen often leaves when he gets bored. Which is frequent. ;) They have harnesses for outdoor walks - but even restraining them with that - you can't restrain their mind :roll: they'd ignore me no matter what. Kind of like a cat, can't force em to do anything. Very interesting realization - thanks! lol


Birgit wrote:
Are they motivated by things other than food? Petting? Attention? Play? Maybe you can use one of their regular meals as training treats?

They're free fed in a large dish, so meals don't really appeal to them. Treats do though... sometimes. They're not nearly as food motivated as Diego or the dogs. :ieks:
Kysen wants attention constantly, but on his terms. You try to kiss or cuddle him a bunch and he'll squirm and claw you to get down. But 30 seconds later he may sneak up behind you, attack you and do his taunt-dance wanting to be chased. The difficult part is figuring out how to include what he likes into a "reward". Is it like "Do this" *click* *chases him around the house for a reward* ? :blonde: LOL
I am getting an idea though... they love soupy kibble dissolved in warm water to make a 'soup". Especially in the winter. If I drain that soup mixture into a syringe they love it too and it's an easy portable way to carry around a "reward". :yes:

Nenna... well, I'm not sure what her favorite thing is, but her energy is alot lower than he brothers. Someday I'm hoping she'll be the type that'll curl up in bed with me. Such a princess though, she sure loves being told how cute she is and showing it off. :roll:


Hmm. Another idea I've been playing with is incorporating raw into their diet. They're grown now and reaching that middle-adult stage. It's easiest to incorporate new foods when they're young - mine were alot more adventurous with food as kits. Thought about really finely ground hamburger meat into a warm soupy mixture... I'm doubtful they'll latch on though. Both are SO picky about their solid food.

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:25 pm 
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You might be surprised about the raw food. You might also try some small bits of fish. I buy frozen smelts and my dog Rio gets a few in his meals sometimes. The first time he tried one, he chewed one up and spit it out on the kitchen floor...little smelt guts everywhere. But I kept telling him to pick it up and finally he ate it. Now he loves them. I recently switched Rio and my cat to raw (so far our cat will NOT eat those smelts) and they are both enjoying it immensely. I know that some small bones are good for the dental health of our cat, but so far I haven't found anything with bones that she will chew on. I'm still searching. But she does love ground raw food with fish in it.

Rio, well, he'll eat anything really! LOL. :yes:

Your ferrets are adoreable!

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:38 pm 
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Karen wrote:
You might be surprised about the raw food. You might also try some small bits of fish. I buy frozen smelts and my dog Rio gets a few in his meals sometimes. The first time he tried one, he chewed one up and spit it out on the kitchen floor...little smelt guts everywhere. But I kept telling him to pick it up and finally he ate it. Now he loves them. I recently switched Rio and my cat to raw (so far our cat will NOT eat those smelts) and they are both enjoying it immensely. I know that some small bones are good for the dental health of our cat, but so far I haven't found anything with bones that she will chew on. I'm still searching. But she does love ground raw food with fish in it.

Rio, well, he'll eat anything really! LOL. :yes:

Your ferrets are adoreable!


Thanks :D I will tell them tonight that more people think they're adorable. Poor Kysen was begging for attention/freedom this morning as I bustled out the door to work. :sad:

I just looked up smelts.... and realized if I grind these things up myself I'll probably throw up in the process.... :funny:
But I love the idea of grinding up fish - it's a very natural part of their diet and in alot of their kibble.

Now I know very little about raw food diets but isn't meat safety an issue? Like worrying if they drip raw meat juice on the floor and contaminate stuff OR the salmonella from raw poultry products? Just curious. I think I'm going to look into grinding a small fillet of fish this weekend and mixing it with some meat paste in a syringe to see if I can get them to eat it.

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:18 pm 
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I am fastidious in handling Rio and Chance's food. In handling raw food, the only rules are that you handle them as if you are going to eat it yourself. So you thaw it just before you feed it, you keep leftovers refrigerated only for perhaps a day, and you don't leave it lying at room temperature where the bad bacteria can flourish. Carnivores have an amazing gut flora that can deal with more bacteria than we can, but still, I'm cautious. Too much bacteria can be harmful to some extent (like giving them diarrhea) but for the most part, it's quite safe. I wash their dishes every day, keep the counter wiped clean etc. I grew up on a farm (I tell me I grew up eating manure) so I know I have a strong immune system. When I clean I use vinegar and water for the most part. If something really scares me I'll use water with a bit of bleach in it, but I'm not too paranoid about bacteria...just cautious in a very normal way.

I give both Rio and Chance ground raw food because it is readily available and it is convenient for me. I don't think I could grind fish either. For myself to eat, I like fish that doesn't smell like fish (so very, very fresh) and that has a very mild taste...so I can't handle eating the stronger, oilier fishes. But my cat and dog love them so I buy it, but I can tell you that I thawed some in the microwave one day for the cat and I'll never do that again. I almost threw up when I took it out...it had a vary strong smell when warmed up. :roll:

There is lots of info online about feeding raw, so if you google it you'll find it. It wouldn't surprise me to find a raw fed ferret site if I were to look!

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:37 pm 
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Well Google here I come :idea:

Karen wrote:
I am fastidious in handling Rio and Chance's food. In handling raw food, the only rules are that you handle them as if you are going to eat it yourself. So you thaw it just before you feed it, you keep leftovers refrigerated only for perhaps a day, and you don't leave it lying at room temperature where the bad bacteria can flourish. Carnivores have an amazing gut flora that can deal with more bacteria than we can, but still, I'm cautious. Too much bacteria can be harmful to some extent (like giving them diarrhea) but for the most part, it's quite safe. I wash their dishes every day, keep the counter wiped clean etc. I grew up on a farm (I tell me I grew up eating manure) so I know I have a strong immune system. When I clean I use vinegar and water for the most part. If something really scares me I'll use water with a bit of bleach in it, but I'm not too paranoid about bacteria...just cautious in a very normal way.

Yeah, I have only briefly seen responses to this concern and it's usually dismissive, so thanks for the perspective. :yes: I'm not always worried about the animal, like you pointed out, sometimes it's the humans that live with the animals and eat in the same spaces. ;) Even if I were willing to take more risk for myself - I live with 3 other people. And one, my mother who has had cancer. For 2 years we had to be extremely cautious what she was exposed to due to her super low immune system. Plus she's a microbiologist/medical background so I grew up my whole life 'eating manure' as you say at the barn - but being lectured extensively about bacteria etc at home. :roll:

Quote:
For myself to eat, I like fish that doesn't smell like fish (so very, very fresh) and that has a very mild taste...so I can't handle eating the stronger, oilier fishes. But my cat and dog love them so I buy it, but I can tell you that I thawed some in the microwave one day for the cat and I'll never do that again. I almost threw up when I took it out...it had a vary strong smell when warmed up. :roll:

:funny: Ew...
The only fish or seafood I will even touch is tuna from a can. That's it. And I hate raw or undercooked meat (When I eat it I like it burned, charred, roasted into oblivion!) so this is a big stretch for me. I'm reminding myself though how little food I need... the ferrets only weight 2.5lbs at the MOST. So they're not going to need alot for a "meal". Maybe that will make the process easier to try...

This is all of course IF they choose to eat it. These seem to thrive on sameness and similar textured food. Spoiled little babies that they are. I've owned very few ferrets that displayed a more carnivorous instinct, but I did own ONE. Picked him up at 2 years old from a petshop where he and his brother had been dumped. Don't know his background, but he was scared of random unrelated noises and had smarts and athletic ability like I've never seen. And he would hunt... I'll never forget the time he captured a huge camel cricket and I came running when I heard him coughing. He'd swallowed the severed, still twitching legs first and they were tickling his throat :ieks: Disgusting but I was in awe, LOL. He snuck up on and dismembered that thing like he'd been taught to hunt, which is odd because ferrets are SO domesticated and coddled in this country that such a thing is rare. I think he would have loved the raw food diet... RIP Chebron.


There is lots of info online about feeding raw, so if you google it you'll find it. It wouldn't surprise me to find a raw fed ferret site if I were to look![/quote]

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:57 pm 
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The husband of a friend of mine had cancer as well, and because of chemo, etc, his immune system was of course very compromised. She had been feeding her dogs raw, but stopped doing so while her husband was in therapy. I think in cases like this it is far better to be safe. For this time she simply fed the highest quality, grain free kibble she could find and I think it was helpful that she varied the diet as much as possible in that time as well. So perhaps it is not time for you to start raw with your babies? :yes:

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:08 pm 
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It's definitely something to be careful about. She's been out of chemo for 2 years, and has experimented alittle with raw food for our greyhounds herself, but I often wonder if her immune system will ever be the same. So when the proper precautions are taken she's ok. It's more the emotional scare factor I have to manage. I may have to do this when she's not home. :funny: :roll: She was hanging over my shoulder fussing a week ago when I was moving some raw chicken from a baking dish to a skillet to cook my dinner! (afraid I would spill or splatter one ounce of raw chicken juice)

Just read about a lady who feeds them in their cages (and my mother doesn't have any dealings with their cage or that area of the house), and then wipes the area down afterwards. My kids make a huge mess when they eat anything but kibble - stashing it in every corner possible, but their floor in the cage is vinyl so it's easy to wipe down with vinegar or such. I tried to stop using harsh chemicals about 2 years ago and discovered that for most cleaning (non antibacterial) a mixture of water & baby oil spray works great (and keeps stuff from sticking to the floor :twisted: ). Come to think of it we have some large old ceramic feed bowls in the garage. Those would be easy to clean and would contain the food well. :yes:

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:11 pm 
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It's been awhile and I haven't had enough time to train or work with my little ones. :sad: After dessimating everything in their cage constantly to let me know their displeasure they have finally used the last choice in their arsenal: cuddling up to my chest when I take them out of the cage. BOTH of them :ieks: poor things... I need to spend extra time with them tomorrow. :yes:

Anyways, the raw feeding has not quite started yet but we are on the way! :yes: I joined a natural ferret group although now it seems the group has disbanded. I did see some old posts about pureeing chicken or other meat to a paste-like soup which the pickier ferrets enjoyed. This seems to be the way to go so I am getting them used to meat baby food currently and it's a success! (last time I tried they hated it) Twice I mixed in little sardines (which are disgusting BTW) and Nenna was ok with it but Kysen wasn't a fan. I stopped though after Nenna somehow gorged herself on the mixture and barfed up fishy meat paste into the livingroom (shag) carpet... :ieks: Ew.

The next step is finding some non offense smelling raw meat and adding it to the baby food paste.

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 Post subject: Re: AND with Ferrets...
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:39 pm 
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Been awhile since I posted. My first attempt at feeding raw meat has not been very successful. Simply for ease of administration I brought home some ground beef for them... they promptly turned up their noses at it. :roll: *sigh* Ok so into the meat-soup it goes! Only I quickly discovered ground beef does not liquify 100% in a food processor no matter how much water you add! =X Yuk... so then to the blender. Same problem. They will eat the paste out of a syringe but I simply don't have the time to do that everyday. :sad: I think I am going to try chicken instead since that is their natural diet.

Nenna enjoyed her CT session last weekend. I'm reminded just how SHORT these sessions need to be with them! if I work with her for more than 10 minutes she gets quite bored. I'm thoroughly impressed with her "try" though. I see she tries very hard to analyze my gestures and vocal signals and complies very slowly and carefully. :yes: :applause:


I am going to be a bit of an emotional wreck next week though: Kysen is going in for his adrenal tumor surgery on the 7th. I have been looking forward to this (if not nervous!) ever since the tumor symptoms developed. He doesn't seem down or in pain - actually he is happy, cheerful and energetic still, but I truly hope he can get back some normality in his body after this tumor is removed! Decent stools, hair regrowth, muscle regrowth. Unfortunately someone from the natural ferrets group I belong to just emailed me saying that (from their experience) the ferrets do not regrow their hair or muscle. I felt pretty crushed because I had thought differently...

...now... call me crazy but logically if a tumor is removed, and the tumor on the gland caused the muscle wastage to begin with - would it not make sense that a properly balanced diet and rehabilitative therapy would indeed stimulate muscle growth again?! :huh: :huh: :huh: I mean we see this with horses all the time who have had various ailments. I find it hard to believe an animal could have a condition that once removed would not allow the regrowth of muscle mass in the body. That sounds crazy... wouldn't you guys agree? I'm saying this because I know some of you are the kings & queens of Rehab in general with animals.


*sigh* I just want my boy to be healthy and the email was a bit of a kick in the gut. Plus I find the logic... odd?


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