I am posting this in the kitchen because some of the things I have learned aren't cavy savy. First part is history of the gp's.
Back in 07, I was given a cute little guinea pig jiggy. I knew nothing, nor did I look forward to a guinea pig. When I passed by my small room and saw this cage on my bed, I finally remembered that I was getting him. Stupid yes, but it didn't last long. I searched the internet, found this website, and learned. I went on the cavy forum and adolpted a sweet old man for jiggy, but they didn't get along. All well! Two small, but bigger than a pet store cages later and they were my soul pets. In early spring of 08, I saw two females on craigs list who were going to be snake food for sure. So, I took them in. Three cages later, My room was FULL.
The mother of my other girl, Eleanore passed away in the early summer. She had a large belly so I was almost positive it was due to ovarian tumors. She use to be a breeder. Jazz was alone until I moved into the "big" room in august. It is a two bedroom type room where my bed was on side, and my desk and TV on the other. Jazz, Jiggy, and Early all had 2x3's.
I had an accident in the Christmas of that year. I was baby sitting some guinea pigs while their parents were out for a while. The cage for her two boars were on the floor under jazz's and her cage buddies. Everyone had a clean bill of health as a precaution. The door came off while I was a sleep, and I found jazz and one of her cage mate in the boys cage hiding. The boy's weren't all interested so I thought maybe I was safe. Wrong. Everyone went home except for one of the females who I decided to keep due to jazz playing with her. By Feb of 09, Jazz had a fluffy little girl named Regit. I disapeared due to my senor year of high so the next bit you may not like.
My views on breeding have stayed the same to an extent since the beginning of time. I hate it. I did not join an amine club because the owner breeds dogs. I told him he was killing dogs, but he just commented, " Females go for 350 a peice. How else am i suppose to pay for college? "
But..Something has changed with it. In the fall of 09, I took in two ferrets thinking they were rodents. I KNEW they ate kibble, but not of their true diet. After some searches, I came upon a nice ferret forum and attached myself to it for a couple weeks, months. I learned that ferrets were strict carnivores. They were very sickly animals. My views on ferret breeding are mixed.
You see. Ferrets that are bred for pet stores are almost totally different than privately bred ferrets. They are prone to a lot of sickness's that certian privately bred ferrets rarely ever get, or only have a slim chance of getting. Show dogs don't really get to that point. Show Guinea pigs aren't like that as well. All of my anti breeding statistics that I thought carried over went out the door. I had to rethink my stance against the topic.
Ferret Farm- Small, More likely to fall ill, Smaller, Birth defects that are caused from the imbred mothers at the ferret farms. Early poor lighting, and Early fix, have been linked to Adrenal Disease, and other issues.
Privately Bred- Larger, Allowed to stay with mother until months old, or join the group if they are a keeper. From what I saw, They also are a LOT more healthier. They aren't inbred. They aren't the kind of animals people breed in their back yard.
In the end, I figured out this. I am biased about the topic. I see the reason for breeding in Britain/UK for Ferreting, and the health of the ferret breed. I also see the reason for breeding in the us. The one thing that makes ferret breeding different than certain other breeding animals is the fact that they aren't treated as your typical over breeding pet in a cage. From the 30 odd people on six different forums that I have talked too that breed, The way the ferrets live is incredible. In the Uk, Most breeders have outside garages hooked up to pens. The pens are covered, cemented walled deep into the ground, and are typically Natural. The breeder ferrets almost always eat raw/whole prey. Price range. Ferrets are much more expensive to breed than dogs/cats/suger gliders/ rodents, etc. You have a time frame for breeding females unless you get them fixed, or Jill jabbed. Hob's are the same as a neutered males except for the fact that they "slim" over things as a way of marking their territory. From the breeders I have chatted in my way to understand my kids, I found out that most people only breed for a sport, demand, or for particular colors. They don't give their ferrets out to just anyone ether. People have to sign an agreement to fix the ferret, etc.
Now for the biased reasons. Over population of ferrets. I have yet to meet a breeder who doesn't think highly of her ferrets, but I'm sure their at least one or two out there who are just basically back yard breeders. People are stupid... I would not buy a privately bred ferret unless I was given one, but I am not exactly against ferret breeding. I see the pro's, and I honestly like them.
I still do not breed for most animals. Ferrets just seem to be a little different than your averge pets.
Now for my second topic of the day. Whole Prey/Raw. I found this wonderful forum that deals with Ferrets Holistically. It opened my eyes to the amazing changes you see in a ferret who is fed holisticaly. No chemical flea repellents, Raw meat, Whole prey, and other techniques. I wasn't happy about the whole prey until I tried it with a pre killed mouse. After a few weeks, Everyone's coat just blossomed. No kibble could do what actually meat did to my guys.
yes, I now breed mice for my ferrets, but it is a holistic way of breeding that I swear too. I would rather have my mice in the best conditions than in a pet store with poor care. Home mix foods based off other holistic breeders. Cooked clean dirt without any additions as bedding. They also have two wheels, and are in one of those long, long, winter storage plastic tubs with a screen stapled to the top of the lid. Air wize? I don't have issues with fog like in glass tanks. I'm guessing because I have 4 females- 1 male in that big of a tank. They normal use one side for nesting. For treats and stimulation, I hide meal worms, crickets, or other bugs for them to find. These critters aren't bred at my place as I don't have the room, but they are the only ingredient that I don't know where it came from. What ever goes into my mice, I want it to be safe for the ferrets. I do not sell my mice as they are just enough to add an extra meat for my guys. I would rather it be this way.
Life wise? The mice have it going. I handle them, and try to enrich their lives as much as possible. The killing part happens when a litter is weaned, moved into the weaning Ben which is smaller, but with the same features. I have a small Co2 system that I use. Lelloo is the only ferret our of nine that really does a quick kill so she get's a few live mice for her own enrichment. I also don't waste life. At first there was a little waste with the ferrets not eating a lot, but I have found out how much of what each fuzzy usually eats. They are on feeding schedule so I know how much bone ratio, organ meat, etc to give them each week.
Not all of my guys are full blown meat eaters, but they get meat some way. Whole prey/Raw is the best thing for my oldest boy who has insulinoma. My adrenal boy is only just starting to like raw soup, or my holistic version of duk soup. Four out of nine have yet to really eat raw, and you can tell the difference. Lelloo's fur is fluffy even in the summer with a wonderful coat color that has come out a lot since she started eating the food. Dakota, who isn't sick and is the same year as lelloo, has a decent, but not as brilliant coat.
So what have I learned? I am in love with ferrets. Unlike gp's, They play with you, share time with you, and seemingly are smarter than gp's, or other rodent like pets. I will always like my gp's, but I don't think I will be getting any more. They have taught me ALOT, but ferrets carried me farther.
An update on my GP status. Jazz passed away late last year after falling ill. The vet was not sure what was wrong and put her on an iv. But while studying blood work, She slipped away. A week before, Tiger, who I had re homed due to financial issues and fighting with jazz back in Feb of 09, came back due to family issues with her owner. I was skeptic about jazz and tiger being together, but all three hit it off great. Tiger was Regits unrelated aunt. After jazz passed away, I was so happy that tiger was their for regit. It helped her grieving process. I did place jazz by regit to allow her to sniff, and understand that she was gone.
In late December my pay checks were falling, and I was having an issue affording the kids. I had to wisely choose what's to happen. I ended up choosing to re home the boys to Earlies original owner who was the only previously owners of all the animals I trusted, and I had to think quick. Vet bills were piling up quick. I get emails every month on how they are, and they are doing great. Early did fall ill shortly after which made me feel horrible because he didn't show any signs before hand. He's back and running now though. So I have tiger and regit in a 2x4 and a loft that they don't use. They are in one room. The ferrets have their own room.
So that's what I have learned, and also an update on whats been going on. The reason why I didn't give away a ferret is not because i like them more. It is because I don't trust anyone to actually take care of them and to contuie their diets. All of my guys are from around here, and were poorly kept until they came to me. Everyone has a partner, or three. It would of just been chaos to split the group up.