Duncan The Ferret’s Snake Obsession

A ferret owner goes to great lengths to satisfy her ferret's obsession with a toy snake.

A ferret owner goes to great lengths to satisfy her ferret's obsession with a toy snake.

Snakes, snakes, snakes. Everywhere I turned had those dadgum green Rikki-Tikki toy snakes. And they all had holes near the tail, where my ferret Duncan had crushed the rattle inside and extracted it. And now, with all of his snakes ragged, torn and dwindling in number, I learned the toy snakes were no longer being manufactured. Now what?

Duncan came to me after three failed adoptions and six months of shuffling around after being saved during a large-scale rescue of ferrets in Ohio. He is a huge albino hob that had bitten me on numerous occasions and was, I learned later, deaf. Or so I thought. It was later determined that he had an ear infection and, once that was cleared, Duncan seemed to hear.

Now, Duncan is a big, lovable ferret living in Alaska with me — where there are no snakes — and his beloved toy snakes were in dire need of replacement. What was I to do?

A plea to the ferret community landed him about a dozen, sent by wonderful people who had an extra one or two that they didn’t use anymore. I heard stories of how they were stashed or how one ferret, now at the Rainbow Bridge, loved them; after his departure, the rest of his business would not play with the snakes. I greatly appreciated all the snakes I received, but I knew they wouldn’t last forever. And then someone directed me to Elayne Barclay of the Cascade Ferret Network.

A phone call confirmed that they had a stash of the green snakes and would sell them to me. I had struck pay dirt! Did she have at least 50? Yes. So, Elayne removed the snakes from their cardboard so that it could be recycled, stuffed as many snakes as she could into a flat-rate postal box and mailed them to me.

The big day finally came. I arrived home to find a package sitting by my door. Waiting until Saturday so we would have time to do it properly, I got Duncan and opened the box. He looked in, then gingerly took one of the snakes in his mouth. Scurrying under the couch with it, he returned for another and then another. This continued until the box was about half-empty, but Duncan was nowhere to be found. Reaching under the couch I felt him sleeping — along with a handful of snakes. Later I checked on him and found the box was empty. Duncan had successfully stashed all 50 of the snakes!

Today, I still find green toy snakes everywhere. I see them in the toy box and think Duncan has lost interest in them. Then I reach into a pet carrier that is left set up in the closet or under the cage against the wall, and I will find a handful or two of them — and I smile.

I collect them, Duncan hides them. And nobody messes with Duncan’s snakes. And, every once in a while, out of the corner of my eye I catch a huge white blur tiptoeing across the living room floor with a green snake in his mouth!

Renee Downs lives in Alaska and is kept on her toes by her Wayfaring Weasels.

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