Ferrets and Heat – Have More Than Just Ideas!

I live in Vegas. As you might know the SW of the US has been having one hell of a heat wave. Here in Vegas we’re pushing well over 110F. In fact just two days ago we hit 117F. The AC at our house died in the evening two days ago. Let me say right now our ferrets are fine, this isn’t one of those posts.

Being ferret owners my wife and I thought we were covered. We have a portable AC in our ferret’s room. We had bottles of frozen water ready to plop in their cage. We had a commitment from my mom that we could bring the ferrets to her house if all else failed. Well, it all failed.

1. The portable AC we had was not capable of keeping up with the heating for the room it was in. Our ferrets reside in our bedroom suite on the 2nd floor. The portable AC does great to help keep the room the 2-3 degrees cooler than what we set the rest of our house to. But when the main AC failed the best it could do was keep the area around the cage at 77F-78F and only at night. So we were able to keep our ferrets in our house that night.

2. The next day we broke out the bottles of ice. The standard advice is that the ferrets will snuggle with the bottles when it gets hot. As with all standard advice, the caveat is that individual ferrets might not act in the same way. Well, our three kept far away from the ice bottles. This was bad as the thermometer on their cage had edged up to 82F by noon yesterday.

3. While I love my mom to death and she loves her grandferts our idea of bringing the ferrets to her house was just that, an idea. When it became clear that the portable AC was not going to keep up and their lives were in danger we realized my mom’s place doesn’t have a ferret proofed room, doesn’t have a cage, and we had no portable cage. We couldn’t keep them cooped up in a tiny travel cage and without a complete ferret proofing we weren’t comfortable letting them roam in one of her spare rooms; especially with her 3 cats who have never seen ferrets before.

In the end we called our cat & dog vet (1/2 hour closer than our ferret vet) and boarded them at the vets office. Even then we were lucky since later that day they were completely full with other animals in similar situations. If that hadn’t worked out we would’ve tried the other vet’s office or sucked it up and figured out a way to make them comfortable at my mom’s.

As it was, however, we got them out of the house just in time. When I got them out of their cage it was 83F. By the time I got back home from boarding them at the vets the sun had moved to a direct face on that room and it was 91F. That was with the portable AC still trying its best to cool that room. Once we shut it off to save power the room spiked up to 96F.

We’ve been ferret owners for 8 years now. All 8 here in Vegas. We’re very aware of the issues with heat and ferrets. Even so, our planning wasn’t enough. We eventually got one room to a point where we were able to sleep. But that was at 2am and that point was below 90F, nowhere near healthy for ferrets.

We now know that if this situation comes up again we need to moved them and the portable AC into the smallest room. We know that the water bottle trick doesn’t work with our ferts. Most of all, we know we need more than just an idea of where we could take them. We needed a better away-from-home kit for our ferrets so we can take them someplace safe and feel reasonably secure in knowing that they are indeed safe.

As for our AC it was fixed today. The 24h emergency repair got bumped to 48h as many AC units have been failing. It wasn’t fixed in time to get the house cool enough for the ferrets to return. They’re still boarded with our vet, I’ll be picking them up in the morning. They’ll be getting lots of snugs, an extra helping of ‘tone, and free reign of their room for as long as they are awake.