Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ferret Games!

While at the pet store the other day, I stopped to play with a young ferret. One passer-by commented on how playful this ferret was and mentioned how their ferrets NEVER played with them. They told me that their ferrets were free roam and claimed that the animals were well treated, so this got me wondering why their ferrets did not play.  All of the ferrets that have passed through the society like to play, and all of my ferrets love to play with me, my significant other, guests and with our house sitter, but then I was thinking - this may be because we show people how to play with the ferrets and perhaps these other people simply did not know HOW to play with their ferrets.

Dogs like to play fetch, cats like to bat at dangling string... but what do FERRETS like to do? This is a question that many first time ferret owners face. Their new ferrets may bounce about, dook and WANT to interact with their new owners, but the new owners need to know a few ferret games! Here are some favourites to start first time ferrents off with:

MAGIC CARPET
For this game, you need:
1 towel, carpet, sweater or some sort of fabric
1 or more ferrets
the ability to drag the material across on the floor.

Here's how you play: Simply drag the towel (or whatever piece of fabric that you choose to use) along behind you, allowing your ferret to jump on and ride the fabric or chase the fabric as he or she chooses. Be careful not to go too fast or to go around corners too rapidly - after all, you don't want your game ending with a scared or injured pet - but be sure to go a little faster than a snail's pace too, after all, you don't want your ferret to get board THAT quickly! Most ferrets will figure out this game before long, but you can always begin by gently placing your pet in the middle of the towel before starting to drag the towel to encourage them to participate in this game.

video
FERRET BOWLING
For this game you need:
A smooth, flat, sliver-free floor such as a hardwood, linoleum, smooth tile or laminate floor
1 or more ferrets

Here's how to play: Tickle your ferret and place him or her on his or her back or side. GENTLY slide the ferret across the floor being careful not to send them sliding into walls or obstacles. This gentle sliding of the ferret over a smooth surface is known as "bowling." Some ferrets really enjoy this game and will run back for more, while other find it baffling and would rather not participate. Generally when a ferret has had enough, he or she will bounce off in a different direction as opposed to running directly back at you.

video
TAG!
For this game you need:
One or more ferrets

Here's how to play: Tag your ferret and shuffle (this is safer than running as it prevents you from accidentally stepping on your pet, and has the added bonus of making more noise, which excites your pet) in the opposite direction. If the ferret runs after you and jumps at you, you are it and it is now YOUR turn to chase the ferret and tag him. Some ferrets take a bit longer than others to get into this game and need to be tagged (and have you shuffle off) a few times to get it. Others love it, but never want to admit that they are "it" - in other words, you get to chase and tag them all the time.

PEEK A BOO
 For this game you need: something to put between you and your pet - either to cover your pet with or to hide behind.
One or more ferrets.

Here's how to play: Tickle your ferret, and, once he or she is excited, duck behind a chair arm or cover the ferret (again, gently) with a pillow, towel, blanket or similar item, or hide behind said item yourself. Pop out or remove the items and, in an excited voice (similar to the one that you would use when playing this game with a small child) exclaim "Boo!" Many ferrets will react to your sudden re-appearance with a surprised and delighted look - they will open their mouths and begin to dance when you magically reappear. Some ferrets will go as far as to come looking for you, or to flat ferret when you 'disappear' only to become extremely over joyed by your magically re-appearance.

PARACHUTE
For this game, you need:
A blanket, towel, shirt or other fabric that you can use to cover your ferret
One or more ferrets.

Here's how to play: Place the fabric gently over top of your pet and then lift it up as you would when playing "parachute" in elementary school. Flap the piece of fabric up and down above your ferret to let them attempt to catch the fabric. They will generally jump up and grasp the material and may even begin to war dance when they see the fabric jumping around above their heads.

FERRET FISHING
For this game, you need:
A cat teaser toy or similar (toy on a string, attached to a child's fishing rod etc)
One or more ferrets

This is similar to playing "catch the toy" with a cat. You simply take the teaser toy and dangle it for the ferret - watch as they leap about and run around chasing the toy and attempting to stash it when they finally get a hold of it!

TUG
For this game you need:
A toy that your ferret likes
One or more ferrets

This game operates much like "tug" when played with dogs - let the ferret grab one end of the toy, and you grab the other and play a gentle game of tug of war. Be sure to let your pet win - after all, beating them is not exactly a challenge for YOU.

'FETCH'
For this game you need:
Ferret toys
One or more ferrets

In this game, you toss toys for your hyper pet and watch him or her chase the toys. The ferret will most likely NOT return the toy to you, but instead with pounce after them, dooking, and may even stash them in their favourite hiding spot. If your ferret regularly stashes the toys that you toss, you can take this a step further and trick non-ferret savy friends into thinking that your pet is extremely well trained to clean up their toys. To use this game as a ruse, simply say something to the effect of "clean up" when you toss the toy, and watch the expression on your guest's face when your ferret proceeds to take the toy and put it away.  

"TOILET TAG"
For this game you need:
1 or more ferrets
1 unsuspecting victim

Not REALLY a game, but a favourite ferret activity. In this 'game,' the ferrets sneak up on someone using the toilet who has their pants around their ankles. The ferrets jump into the pants and act as though they have just jumped into the most amazing circus tent ever while some take it a step farther and occasionally nip the victims toes, legs or ankles. The victim, of course, can do little about this as they are preoccupied with other activities at the time and unable to remove the ferret from the room.


This is only a list of a few of some of our favourite ferret games - there are many more out there and feel free to invent your own, just be sure that they are safe for both you and your fuzzy!