If You Need to Find A Home For Your Ferret

Timing

Finding a new home won’t happen overnight. If you need to place your pets, start looking for a new home immediately. It can take weeks; don’t leave your search to the last minute!

Advertising

  • Small local or regional papers offer classified ads for free or for a nominal fee.
  • Post flyers at vet offices in the area. If available, post flyers at your place of work or bulletin boards at grocery stores or libraries. Some pet stores permit customers to place bulletin board ads/flyers, also.
  • Ask around. Friends/relatives may know someone interested in adopting. Beware of children’s friends—make SURE the child’s parent wants and will help care for a pet.
  • Here are two sites that allow individuals to post their own pets for adoption: rescueme.org and rehomeyourpet.com.
  • Craigslist.org also allows people to post free classified ads. While technically animals for sale are not allowed, they do allow you to request a rehoming fee.  Please be cautious when utilizing Craiglist! It can be very difficult to assess a potential new home for knowledge and intent.  We highly recommend asking for and verifying a vet reference.

Charging

­We suggest a reasonable fee for adoption. Someone willing to pay is usually more serious about ferret ownership rather then just looking for “something for nothing.” If someone cannot afford an initial fee, will they be able to afford care if the pet becomes ill? There are people who look for free pets to train attack dogs or as “feeder” animals, but by screening and charging, you will weed out this kind of animal abuser. More often, people will take in free or “cheap” pets and resell them. You can always waive a fee if it seems appropriate.

Screening Potential Adopters

­It is important when someone responds to an ad that you do an initial screening over the phone or via e­mail, then screen again when you meet them. Some first questions:

  • Do you own ferrets now? Other pets?
  • Have you ever had a ferret before? What happened to your previous ferret?
  • Are you familiar with ferret care and needs?
  • Is your home/apartment pet­friendly?
  • Do you have a regular veterinarian?
  • Are there children under 5 in the house?

When you meet, we suggest that you tell the new owner that you would like to check up on your animals occasionally. If they are reluctant, a warning buzzer should go off. Why not?

If they already have a ferret, ask that they bring them to see if the animals are compatible. Seeing their present pet can tell you a lot about how well they’ll care for yours. Check their ferret’s nails and coat. Is the pet taxi clean, with appropriate bedding?

Why so involved a process? Well, if you’ve owned your ferret for a while, you know they are unique pets with special needs. If the person you are talking with has never had a ferret before, they need to learn about what ferrets need to stay happy and healthy. An interview helps ensure people understand proper care. It also lets the new owner know that you really care about what happens to your pet.

Returns

­If at all possible, we suggest you take the animal back if the adoption doesn’t work out. Also, offering follow­up advice on care or behavior may make the difference between the new owner keeping the animal or abandoning it. (You can also give them our organization’s contact data for information and support. We are willing to mail a new adopter a free care book.)

Choosing a New Owner ­

Listen to your instincts. Adopt your ferret to the person with whom you feel most comfortable. If you’re unsure about an adopter, suggest they contact their local ferret shelter to obtain a ferret and keep looking. If you have a choice of homes, we recommend you adopt to an experienced ferret owner. Screening new owners can be more difficult.

Avoid adopting ferrets to “collectors.” While some people can adequately care for many pets, others may indiscriminately take in free or “cheap” animals and keep them in substandard conditions. Ask how many animals—of all kinds—they currently have.

If it seems like a lot, ask to visit their home. If it’s filthy you’ll know right off this is a potential abuser, and if they refuse a visit, what are they hiding?

Keep in Mind

­If you are placing a single ferret, understand that they don’t all get along! Especially if they haven’t been with others in a long time they may fight. Problems may be minor and pass quickly, but could last a month or more. An adopter with other ferrets needs to be forewarned and prepared to deal with squabbling.

Pairs: Unless you KNOW your ferrets can be separated, try not to! Ferrets bond closely to their cage or housemates, especially if they’ve been together a long time. Be sure to insist that the new owner never separate them as well.

If you have more than 3 ferrets, you will most likely have to separate them in order to find new homes. Finding anyone to take a multi­ferret household is really tough. Carefully observe who “buddies-­up” or naps with whom and decide who can live apart from the others.

An Adoption Contract

Consider using an agreement that both you and the new owner can sign stating what they’ve agreed to, such as keeping multiple ferrets together permanently, returns if it doesn’t work out, or follow up call or visitation privileges. A contract can’t guarantee your ferrets will be properly cared for and will never be abandoned, but it is a signal to the new owner that you really care about the commitment they are making.

Important Data ­

Be sure to give the following information to the new owners:

  • What brand food they eat. Send some to start them out right in the new home.
  • Are their potty habits good—or not? Do they use litter boxes or newspaper? What brand of litter have they used?
  • Do they get along with other pets?
  • Have they been around children?
  • What good or bad habits do they have? If your ferret bites, be honest!

Copy all medical records, including vaccination status. If you don’t have copies, give the new owner the name/phone number of your vet so they can obtain medical data. Providing this info will help ease your ferret’s transfer into a new home and help make the adoption “stick.” You’re not selling a used car—it’s not “buyer beware!” Cars don’t have feelings and can’t be hurt if they are mistreated due to ignorance. The new owner needs to know what they are working with.

Additional Resources

The Best Friends Animal Society (www.bestfriends.org) has a detailed booklet about screening and adopting with a sample contract and interview checklist on their website—click on No More Homeless Pets, then Resource Library. They even have a downloadable flyer template you can personalize with a photo.

Summary ­

Adopting out your own pets is not easy, but it can give you tremendous piece of mind. It also greatly helps your local shelter so they can focus on dealing with ferrets whose owners cannot or will not take responsibility for their pet, or who are facing sudden emergencies. Be prepared to take some time searching. Be choosy for your pets and you will know you have truly done all you can for them. You’ll feel better and it will be certainly be better for your ferrets.