84 ferrets in Wolverhampton garden
Michelle Owen is the owner of Wolverhampton Ferret Boarding, a rescue and re-homing centre. See loads of ferret photos!
Trying to get ferrets to pose is hard!
Michelle, aged 39, owns and runs the boarding centre from her home in Merry Hill, Wolverhampton.
An NVQ assessor by day, Michelle spends her free time nurturing, rescuing and re-housing her favourite animals – ferrets!
"I first owned a ferret when I was a teenager," she says. "But I had to have him re-homed as I went away to Spain. I always said that one day I'd have another. I absolutely love them.
A rare calm moment!
"About six or seven years ago I went out and bought two – Itzy and Bitzy. As time went on I had a few more. It just grew from there. Through speaking to other ferret lovers I realised how difficult it was to get someone to look after them when they went on holiday. So I decided to put my love of ferrets to good use and build a boarding centre. It's all just grown from there."
Today, Michelle's boarding facilities hold over 80 ferrets. The environment is safe, clean and RSPCA approved.
"As we speak today, I've got 84 ferrets. The majority of these have been handed into me as rescue animals by the RSPCA. The sad thing is many will never be reclaimed but they have a good home here! I've got some boarders too."
Climbing the bars
Every single ferret that Michelle takes in is given a name – all of which are derived from famous cartoon characters. Everyone from Tom & Jerry to Wallace & Gromit can be found here.
"The two biggest myths about ferrets are that they smell awful and are exceptionally vicious," Michelle explains. "If looked after and neuted their odour is greatly reduced. Of course, some ferrets in the wild can be dangerous. But given love and nurturing, they are extremely loyal and affectionate pets.
Out for a stroll
"Each ferret has their own unique personality. They are playful, mischievous and highly intelligent. A lot of these now answer to their own name and come running when I call them.
"Ferrets are extremely territorial though. They will kill each other. You cannot mix and match them randomly. You have to be very careful when introducing a new one to an existing pen, for example."
Some ferrets Michelle takes in have been badly mistreated or involved in life-threatening altercations with other animals in the wild:
Scar - fully recovered
"This is Scar. He was bought to me in a terrible state. We're not sure what happened but we think he was attacked by a fox or another animal. He had bite marks all over him and big clumps of fur were missing. The only way I can explain is that his cranium began to fall off. He had a huge hole is his head. It was horrible.
"The vet went to work on him and I nursed and tended to him. As you can see he's now made a full recovery. He's one of my biggest success stories."
Any ferret handed into Michelle is immediately taken to the vets to be examined and, if necessary, given antibiotics and treatment. They are neuted too, which is especially important for the females (jills).
"People I think don't realise that the females can die if left in season for too long. High levels of oestradiol build up which lead up to bone marrow suppression, pancytopenia and eventual death. But they don't have to mated every time they come into season to prevent this. There are other ways."
Not all of Michelle's ferrets though live in the boarding house and garden. One of them is a very special family pet!
Jasper - lives in the family home
"Jasper lives in the house with us," she explains. "He's fully house trained and domesticated and lives alongside the dogs and cats. He's a funny one - I cannot put him with any of the others because they'll fight but he loves living inside with us. He likes to sleep in the cushion cover!
"I just love being with the animals. My dream is to give up work completely and open a huge animal rescue centre."
For more information, visit: www.freewebs.com/wolverhamptonferretboarding
last updated: 15/09/2008 at 14:28