17 May 2024

How one wily critter weaseled his way into our hearts - and home

| Zoe Cartwright
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While the author was writing this column, Spike was working out how best to dig these flowers out of the vase where they have been cruelly imprisoned.

While the author was writing this column, Spike was working out how best to dig these flowers out of the vase where they have been cruelly imprisoned. Photo: Zoe Cartwright.

Last night the tranquility of our home was broken with a high-pitched, ear-shattering scream.

Frantic, my fiance and I rushed to the side of our newest addition. Was he hurt? Was he sick? Was he irreparably broken?

Turns out no, that’s just something ferrets do.

As proud new “ferrents” (one of many new words in our vocabulary) we’ve been caught out plenty of times by how clever, cheeky and downright weird our new tiny fur-person is.

To be fair, the tranquility of our home is something that never really existed in the first place.

We’ve got three big dogs, and while two are sooky delights, one believes she is the reincarnation of some kind of drill sergeant, and barks orders at us constantly.

Our two sooks fear the little weasel we’ve brought into our home and are kept separate from him for their own peace of mind.

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Our drill sergeant is also kept separate from the limousine-mouse, but the two have developed a fascination with each other, staring through cage bars, scrambling at crate doors, and attempting to slither through baby-gates (the ferret), all obstacles to their forbidden love.

The latest addition came about thanks to Region Illawarra’s RSPCA Pets of the Week series – after all, how can I write them if I’m not willing to put my money (time, sanity, personal belongings) where my mouth is?

I popped in to ask a few questions about a furry noodle called Spike and walked out texting my long-suffering Ben, “How mad would you be if I got a ferret?” while cuddling said ferret in the car.

Luckily he’s as batty as I am and his reaction was mostly excitement, plus a few pragmatic questions about where on earth we were going to keep Spike.

Extra luckily, one of our neighbours was throwing out a ferret enclosure, so you see it was all meant to be.

Found as a stray, Spike took to us pretty quickly, and with the help of an oatmeal bath and the addition of some eggs and raw meat to his diet his fur has lost the yellow tinge it had from his life on the streets and is now a creamy white.

Our families think we’re nuts – they’re not wrong – but Spike is honestly one of the best things that has ever happened to us.

Unlike dogs, he doesn’t really understand the difference between “good” and “bad”. He mostly seems to operate on an internal system of WANT and DON’T WANT.

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Things Spike wants: to dig up every pot plant I own, to finally climb to the top of the bookshelf, to poo and wee directly adjacent to his litter-tray, to follow us everywhere we go, to find a way to be with his beloved drill-sergeant dog, to hide everything he can get his paws on under the sofa and to sleep all day.

Things Spike doesn’t want: baths, being told what to do and bedtime at a reasonable hour.

All understandable if I’m being completely honest.

He’s also the most uncoordinated animal you’ve ever seen.

He frequently runs into furniture at high speeds, falls over himself doing his “weasel war dance”, and falls off anything he hauls his furry butt up onto.

Watching him careen about the living room (pausing occasionally to give us a sniff or a lick) is a million times more entertaining than watching MAFS.

We’ve given him a home, but in the short time we’ve had him he’s already given us so much more – a laugh at the end of a long day, a puzzle to solve, and plenty of love.

If you’re thinking about adopting a pet but you’re worried about becoming a crazy cat (ferret, dog, chook, bunny, goat) lad/y, calm your mind – and head to RSPCA Illawarra’s adoption page.

We might be batty, but there are certainly worse kinds of insanity to have.

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