Ferrets turn up in Frederick

February 06, 1993|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,Staff Writer

Looking for the perfect pet? Something cute, furry and playful that can fetch a ball and snuggle up with you when you're sleeping? Have you considered a ferret?

A ferret?

Those things are supposed to be nasty, vicious, wild, rabid, rodent-like creatures with long fangs and sharp claws.

Entirely false, say ferret fanciers. "They're not related to rodents at all," says Sally Heber, president of The American Ferret Association. "They're very affectionate, quiet, clean and easy to care for. And they're always in a good mood." Ms. Heber, a senior programmer analyst for Geico Insurance, says that ferrets make great pets. She should know. She and her husband Rich have 42 ferrets in their Frederick home. And they all have names.

The American Ferret Association (AFA) is a national organization, based in Frederick, which has more than 1,000 members in 46 states.

Today, more than 400 of the the little weasels and their owners will compete at Ferret Expo '93. There will be show rings, games and a ferret kissing contest. The AFA lets people know that ferrets can make good pets and that their owners are not, as Ms. Heber puts it, "a bunch of crazy kooks."

For Judith Sanders of Linthicum, a ferret was the logical choice for a household pet. "I got one because I was allergic to cats," she said. Now, she and her husband David have four ferrets.

Ferrets are believed to have come to this country with the colonists, who brought them to catch mice. These days, ferrets have lost most of their wild instincts, and are domesticated.

"There's no such thing as a wild ferret . . . weasels are wild animals," Ms. Sanders said. Ferrets are small, with most weighing between 2 and 3 pounds, making them perfect for owners who live in apartments or small homes. Ferrets don't seem to mind being in a cage, they're easy to care for and they eat very little. Purina makes ferret-chow, but a high-quality, high-protein cat or kitten food will suit them just fine. If a ferret gets dirty, just wash it in the sink with some baby shampoo, clean its ears and pat it dry with a towel.

Ferrets can also be litter trained, and they rarely bite, their owners say.

For more information about today's expo, call (301) 898-3228.

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