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Emergency Preparedness for Ferrets

02 Aug, 1996

This is a visitor submission from Carla Almaraz.

Carla says, "Writing this article gave me the opportunity to combine my two passions—my thirteen precious ferrets and emergency preparedness. I became interested in preparedness as a method of coping with my extreme fear of living in Earthquake Country (Southern California). In 1993, I completed a research paper for my undergraduate degree on 'Earthquake Preparedness in the Inland Empire.' Only 15% of the people interviewed had made adequate preparations! I now live in Portland where I'm the secretary for the Oregon Ferret Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to public education and awareness concerning the domestic ferret. Emergency preparedness is still a major priority in my life and allows me and my animals to be ready to cope with the unexpected. Although this article is tailored for ferrets, the concepts could be applied to any companion animal. "

Is Your Ferret Prepared?

A disaster can strike at any time; while you are sleeping, driving your car to work, at home, or at work. Disasters can be snowstorms that keep you housebound for several days, an earthquake that blocks freeways and destroys homes, a hurricane, or a power outage during a heat wave or in the winter. Have you made preparations for your ferrets in the event that you cannot tend to them for several days or must evacuate? This tip will help you prepare an evacuation kit that will sustain your ferrets for at least three days. Trying to put together an evacuation kit during a disaster will be a disaster in itself and may cost the lives of your precious loved ones. Start preparing today!

What to do:

Step 1: Take a close-up photo of each of your ferrets for the ferret identification checklist (in Step 3).

Step 2: Establish both in-state and out of state contacts. Phone lines may be unavailable for local calls and a central place to call will allow one person to coordinate messages. Family members should have this phone number with them at all times. Call the contacts in case of an emergency.

Step 3: Prepare a ferret identification and requirements sheet for each ferret. Tape the photograph next to the description. Include the following: ferret's name, color and unique markings, age, approximate birth date, health conditions and history, medicines and doses, food requirements, recipes for special foods, vaccination dates and copies of the vaccination certificates, allergic reactions, any special temperament considerations, the veterinarian's name, address, and phone number, the location and other pertinent information of identification chips such as AVID, and the phone number of the contacts.

Make two copies of the original sheet. Laminate or enclose the original in a waterproof plastic bag and keep it visible near the ferret cage in your home, give one copy to your veterinarian for the medical records, and keep one in the emergency evacuation bag.

While you are preparing this list, ask yourself, "Could a stranger identify my ferret and know how to care for it properly from this description?"

Step 4: Make an appointment with your veterinarian. Get a complete physical for your ferrets at least once a year, bring vaccinations up to date, ask for a prescription for an extra two-week supply of any long-term medicines that your ferret requires, and ask for advice on other medicines, first aid supplies, or products your vet recommends for an evacuation kit. Have your own vet recommend a vet in another area (perhaps 10 miles away) to serve as a backup in an emergency.

Step 5: Prepare an "evacuation bag." Use a backpack or pet carrier. Include the following:

  • Ferret identification and requirements sheet prepared above.
  • Medicines. Be sure the container is well marked and has an expiration date noted. Rotate the medicines whenever you get a fresh supply.
  • Food. Keep at least a one week (preferably two week) supply of any food required. Rotate food every time fresh food is purchased or at least every three months. Keep a food bowl in the kit.
  • Bottled water. This is extremely important! Ferrets can become sick just like people from contaminated water or even a change in water. Include at least one quart per ferret for a three-day supply. Rotate every six months. Keep a spare water bottle or bowl in the kit.
  • Ferret reference book and information. This should include information on ailments and first aid. I recommend Deborah Jean's book, A Practical Guide to Ferret Care as well as a printed copy of the Ferret FAQ (frequently asked questions) maintained by Pamela Greene. This information is available from FerretCentral.org. Also include the phone number for your local disaster coordinator so that you can call with regular updates on the local situation. This number is available from Ferret Friends Disaster Response International (772-567-0997). Another great source of information is a local ferret shelter.
  • Basic ferret necessities such as a leash and harness, toys, litter scooper, nail clippers, cotton swabs, ear cleaning preparation, treats for distracting a ferret such as Nutri-Cal® (also good for raising blood sugar levels for ferrets with insulinomas), Furo-Tone, or raisins.
  • First aid supplies. Discuss this with your veterinarian. Include an assortment of syringes, needles, thermometer, electrolyte rehydration crystals (available at pharmacies), Children's Benadryl® (good for upper respiratory problems, pre-treatment before vaccination, an aid for restlessness, and to lessen reactions to toxins such as bee stings), gauze, tape, cotton, roller bandages, styptic powder to control bleeding, Pepto-Bismol®, antibiotic cream, small container of sterile water such as Aqua-Blox®, colloidal silver, popsicle sticks for a splint, scissors, etc.
  • A change of bedding and litter for the cage.
  • A small container of a sanitizing agent. One of the best is a solution of 1 part bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite without additives) to 10 parts water. Bleach can also be used to purify water if necessary.
  • Other necessities such as gloves for handling injured ferrets, small sealable bags to dispose of waste, and antibacterial hand wipes to prevent the spread of illness.

Step 6: Place the evacuation bag near a door. You don't want to be digging through a closet or basement to get to the bag when you have only a few precious minutes to evacuate.

Step 7: Prepare a cage or carrier for evacuation. The ideal situation would be a carrier which is set up with a food bowl, empty water bottle, litter pan and litter, and sleeping material already prepared. If you will take the cage the ferret normally occupies, be sure it will fit in your vehicle.

Step 8: Prepare your home for an emergency. Secure cages so they will not fall if there is an earthquake. Attach bookcases, desks, or other heavy objects to the wall using L-brackets and appropriate bolts. Keep a large fire extinguisher in the home. Put a sticker in a window near the front door specifying location and number of animals in the house. Put a sticker on your phone with the numbers for your vet, an emergency clinic, the National Animal Poison Control Center, and the number of your local ferret club or shelter. Always keep a card in your wallet stating that you have animals at home. The card should also specify that if you are incapacitated, a person (list the name, at least two phone numbers, and an address) that should be contacted who could take temporary and permanent care of your ferrets.

Step 9: Prepare an evacuation bag for yourself.

Step 10: Give a trusted friend or neighbor a key to your home so that someone else can help with the care of your ferrets in case of an emergency.

Step 11: Have an evacuation drill. Can you evacuate within 15 minutes? Within 5 minutes? Plan a simulated emergency situation where you use the contents of the bag for the next three days to determine if anything is missing or should be changed. Replace any items used promptly.

Step 12: Other considerations:

  • Evacuation: If you are forced to evacuate with your ferrets, be sure to leave a note on the front door specifying where you are going, the route you expect to take, and a phone number of someone at the location. Remember that most evacuation centers will not accept animals within the shelter. If you must evacuate without your ferrets, be sure to leave an adequate supply of food and water for at least three days. Leave a note on the door specifying the location of the animals within the house. Keep in mind that if the situation requires evacuation for people, then pets should also be evacuated.
  • Cellular phone: Consider a cellular phone. My cellular phone saved the lives of my ferrets when my van broke down in 95 degree heat. I was able to immediately call for help and did not have to leave my animals unattended.

Ferret Identification and Requirements Sheet

Place current, close-up picture of ferret here

Date Prepared: Name:
Sex: ____M ____F Spayed/Neutered: ____Yes ____No
Unique Markings:
Birth Date / Age:
Health Conditions:
Daily Medications & Doses:
Average Weight (pounds/grams):      Summer:             Winter:
Temperament / Disposition:
Dry Food:
Other Food:
Vaccination History: (attach vaccination certificates)

Canine Distemper:


Allergic reactions:
Veterinarian Local Contact: (place business card here)

Phone Number: Cell Number:
Other Number:
Out of State Contact Name:
Out of State Contact Address:
Out of State Contact Phone Number:
Identification Chip Type & Location:
Other Information:;

Prepare one identification sheet for each ferret. Make 3 copies of the completed page. Give one copy to your vet for their medical records, put one in an evacuation bag, and put one near the ferret's cage in a visible location.

Copyright 1996 Carla J. Almaraz. This document may be reproduced in its entirety without permission of the author.