Ferret Story

My Special Fur Children: Chapter 5 – Operation Ferret Safety

Be sure to read Chapter 4: The Day My Heart Stood Still before continuing. You might want to consider reading this chapter since it helps set the scene for this one. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, just wanted to give you a heads up before you continue on reading and to note this story is played out in October of 2011.

——

After the horrifying day that Spice got her head stuck in the couch and how petrified I was discovering her in that state, it was time for a big change. Spice was very lucky that she did not get injured or worst die. I don’t know what she was thinking when she made the decision to slip her head between the couch and metal bar that runs along the inside. She probably thought she could be slick and sliver through anything as long as she can fit her head through it and thinking the rest of her body would be able to follow. You would be wrong there Spice, sometimes you just can’t quite make it out completely in a very tight spot. No matter what Spice’s reasoning for doing this was, it scared the s**t hell out of me.

I can’t stop thinking about how I could have lost one of my babies. I don’t even want to know how Salt and Pepper would have reacted to losing their little sister. I just don’t want a repeat of what happened and the possibility of one of my babies passing away too soon. It was time for me to get into high gear and start identifying all safety hazards around the house. I will now refer to this as: Operation Ferret Safety. All operations must have a plan in place before taking any actions, right?  I shall draft one up and approve it. Alan, my boyfriend, was currently not home due to being on travel for work so I will have to do this on my own for now until he gets back. Where should I start? Ah yes, the action plan…

  1. Identify the Problem.
    • House is not fully Ferret Proof
    • Living Room, Kitchen and Bathroom are really not safe
      1. Living Room has deadly couch with metal bars that lift feet rests
      2. Kitchen has refrigerator, oven, and cabinets that store cleaning chemicals and various items needed in the kitchen.
      3. Bathroom has vanity that we store cleaning chemicals and various bathroom items
    • Bedrooms are mostly safe
      1. Outlets are exposed (ferrets could attempt to stick their little paws in the outlet holes) – Shock Hazard
      2. Wires for charging or turning on electronics and night stand lamps are reachable – Chewing hazard
      3. Dresser drawers are easy for ferrets to open and use to climb on top of dresser – Chewing/Falling hazard
  1. How can I achieve fixing this problem?
    • Need to isolate the ferrets from the Living Room, Kitchen and Bathroom.
    • Ferrets should only be allowed in Bedrooms and Hallway only.
    • Basically baby proof the allowed rooms.
      1. Look up how to baby proof.
  1. Any Obstacles and/or Hazards?
    • Yes
      1. Ferrets are really good climbers
      2. Ferrets are curious and sneaky
      3. Ferrets constantly try to outsmart you especially when they like to use a very popular tactical maneuver called ferret distraction. One ferret gets attention of Mom or Dad by performing super cute movements while the other ferrets take action and cause trouble when no one is looking… beware…
  1. What materials are needed?
    • Baby Gate to place in Hallway to isolate ferrets from the Bathroom, Living Room and Kitchen
    • Plastic outlet plug covers that can cover 12 outlets so I need about 24 plugs (two plugs per outlet)
    • Find something that can latch a drawer so ferrets can’t open but I still can open easily
    • Screw it, just go to Lowe’s Home Improvement Store and look around and randomly just find items that could work.
  1. When should this be completed by?
    • Yesterday
  1. Anything additional to note?
    • Not at this time but leave plan open for improvements or updates.

 

I am confident that my plan I have drafted above will satisfy my movement to start my operation. It might not be perfect, but it is decent enough to begin. The worst thing that could happen is I will have to make adjustments as I go but at least I have some sort of plan vice not having one. The effects of not having a plan could become chaotic, confusing or simply just failing to accomplish anything.  When you want something done the right way you draft up some sort of legible and understandable plan and follow it. Simply put it.

Well, in order to even get started in my Operation Ferret Safety I need my materials to accomplish the task at hand. Lowe’s Home Improvement here I come to invade your store. Hope this store is ready for my arrival because I am coming in hot as the concerned crazy ferret lady that is buckling up for the bumpy ride through a high rated turbulence to safe guard her fur babies.

I ended up going up and down almost every single aisle in Lowe’s. A lot of times I would back track since I would see something that could use to help with my plans but wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to use it or not. I had a difficult time making decisions. I wish my boyfriend was here to assist me, but I’m a big girl I can handle it on my own. This was a great time for my imagination and creativity to come out and play. Be resourceful I say and don’t let this operation overwhelm you from your end goal. Once I gather all the materials everything will easily come together, you will see.

Let’s see what is in my cart. I have a baby gate that has small holes so my ferrets won’t become escape artist trying to squeeze through the gate, 24 outlet plugs, three ¼ inch wide wooden dowels (to slide through the handles of the drawers to hold them in place), plastic wire protectors, and some latches. It doesn’t sound like much but these items are necessary to accomplish the job. Time for me to pay for my items and head home so I can get started on the project of protection my fur children. No time to waste.

Old house layout
Rental house layout. I have indicated where I placed the baby gate logically to prevent the ferrets from going into bathroom, living room and kitchen.

After I setup all safety measures to prevent shock hazards, chewing hazards, climbing hazards and anything else hazardous I thought I was in the clear. My ferrets would be safe and there is no way they could out smart my obstacles. So I thought. These smart little stickers, mostly Pepper, not only outsmarted me they went far and beyond to make me aware they did. Let me set up a scenario.

Pepper is the oldest and she takes charge. She doesn’t want to really show you she is the actual mastermind of the all the operations that go down in the ferret world. She is the silent leader who comes up with ideas and tasks others to do the dirty work, which means Salt and Spice follow her instructions. I kid you not. One day I saw Pepper investigating the dowels that I slid through the dresser drawer handles in the master bedroom to prevent them from opening the drawers. Below is a picture of the dresser and marked in red is an example of how I placed the dowels:

20170314_184422-1

This way the drawers are placed together making them harder to pull them out since it carries the weight of all drawers as one. I just don’t want them to climb up the drawers and get to the top and knock over all of my stuff and accidentally fall off the dresser.

I was keeping a close eye on what Pepper was doing but at a distance so she can’t see that I am watching her. This is the only way I can see what she is planning on doing since I know she is trying to figure out the dowel situation. I must have watched her for about 10 minutes when Pepper all of a sudden attempts to open the bottom drawer by placing her paws and nails through the seams on the bottom or side of drawers and tries to pull the drawer toward her. She tried really hard but could not get it opened. She would scratch at it and kept struggling to open it. After a while she stopped and glanced up noticing me standing by the door. At that moment I can tell see she was aggravated and she glared at me with angry ferret eyes. I know she will forgive me eventually. All I have to say is, yes! My dowel plan is working she can’t get in. Success! Ha!

Well Chrissy, not for long. I left the room for only 5 minutes when I heard a loud bang noise. What was that?  I rush back to the master bedroom and I found Pepper and Salt on top of the dresser. How in the world did they get up there? I glimpsed at the dresser and I noticed that the left side dowel was pushed up enough to open the bottom drawer. Ugh. Pepper figured out that if she presses the dowel up enough she can move it out of the way so she can free the bottom drawer and easily open it. That little smart rascal probably had Salt move the dowel and push the drawer open so they can climb the dresser all the way to the top. I can’t win. Now what am I supposed to do? Let me think… Oh I know I can tie a string on the dowel to hold it in place so they can move it. That could work. It will be more work when I have to take my clothes out but it will prevent them from getting in. Which it did.

You know that baby gate I put up in the hallway, guess what, they figured out how to climb it. My ferrets are freaking professional escape artist. I can through an obstacle out at them and they will analyze it for a little bit and eventually find a solution to overcome it. They are still adorable though even if they like to test my boundaries a lot. It kind of startled me the first time they escaped over top of the baby gate. I was in the kitchen making dinner and all of a sudden I felt something rough and wet robbing against my toes quickly. I made a loud squealing noise and jerked my foot up from the floor. That is when I discovered Pepper looking up at me and that is when I realized she was licking my toes and that she escaped. I picked her up and walked around the kitchen, living room and bathroom to see if any other ferret escaped. Sure enough I found Salt in the bathroom getting into the trashcan. Spice was still in the approved designated ferret zone so I guess she didn’t quite figure out how to the climb the gate, yet…

I need to visually see how they are escaping. This way I can figure out a solution to block them from continuing to do it. I set Salt and Pepper back over to the designated ferret play zone and walked away far enough from the gate so I can hide out of sight. After about 5 minutes, Pepper looked at Salt then looked at the top of the gate signaling him that it was time to go back over the gate. It was like I was watching a special operations movie where the Navy Seals or Marines signaling each other to move forward.  That is when Salt took the lead and reached is paws on the small diagonal cutouts on the gate and pulled his body up and used his hind legs to latch on to other openings. Then he would continue to advance up alternating paws back and forth until he reached the top and flopped is body over the edge. Then he would hang is paws in front of him and let gravity pull his body down until his hind legs couldn’t hold on anymore and he would fall to the floor. Soon after he got over Pepper would climb over the gate in the same manner that Salt did. Then both of them would go their own separate way to explore the rest of the layout of the house.

 

babygate

 

How am I supposed to stop them from climbing the gate? All the other types of baby gates out there have wide openings that ferrets can easily get through.  Let me think. Oh I know I have some cardboard pieces that I haven’t recycled yet. Maybe I can duct tape the cardboard to the top of the gate so they can’t climb over it. I have to say that this only lasted about a week until the ferrets figured out how to get by it by ripping the sides of the cardboard off. It was time for another approach.

I decided to go back to Lowe’s and buy another baby gate. This way I can place it on top of the other baby gate and angle it to prevent them from escaping. Problem with this was they got really good at climbing and a weird angle that it held them back for about a month. I tried angling it at a 45 degree angle or further but after about another month they discovered a little gap in between the gates and they were able to push through it and move the upper baby gate enough to squeeze through. Next I tried to zip tie the gates together so they couldn’t separate it, but you can image that they figured out how to escape from that too. I was about to give up when my boyfriend had a brilliant idea.

Alan went to Lowe’s and bought plexi glass, washers, screws and nuts. He previously measured the baby gate and had the plexi glass cut to that size. When he got home he drilled holes in the plexi glass and on the baby gate then he installed the screw, washer and nut into corresponding holes and this held the plexi glass in place on the baby gate. Now the ferrets can’t even jump or climb up the gate what so ever. Pepper was irritated by the fact that she could no longer escape. I wish I would have thought of the plexi glass idea. Have to give credit to my boyfriend Alan for coming up with the idea. It really worked. They haven’t figured out a way around this obstacle. Finally a win for me! Muahaha!

This ferret mom is happy to say that Operation Ferret Safety is finally a success. I know at some point in time there will be new obstacles to conquer but for now I fill like my fur babies are safe and sound.

 

Stay tuned for Chapter 6: Can You Hear Me? ……

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