I apologize for being so quiet on the subject of the new ferretses - until now! There have been a couple of reasons for this:
1) Ferretses are notoriosly difficult to photograph. As soon as you pull out a camera they try to take it from you (they LOVE electronic devices!). In addition, they have an uncanny way of turning their butts to the lens JUST as you snap the shot. The best you get is a fuzzy blur. Add to this the fact that Nos and Tessa are constantly swarming to try to take out a chunk of you, and your chances of getting a clear shot are just about nil.
That brings us to 2). It was only recently we decided we probably will keep them. For a while there I was ready to throw them in a box - holes optional - and ship them back the the breeder I'd bought them from in Ohio. She'd described them to me as "a laid back, gentle lap ferret!" (Nosferretu) and "a sweet baby who gives kisses!" (Tessa). Nos loves to attack feet and has a LOT of energy for a full grown male ferret. He is most defninitely NOT a lap ferret. He loves to bite people's waists; and if I carry him on my shoulder, he bites my neck. Hard. Hard enough to draw blood. So at least now I know why he was given the name of Murnau's vampire....
Then there's Tessa (short for HaegTessa - a neopagansaxon word meaning "Hedge Witch") Tessa ...Tessa is evil. Or was. She appears to be settling down a bit, but we still don't handle her without at least one leather gardening glove that her razerteeth can't penetrate. To say she bites would be like saying that waterboarding is like being caught in a gentle spring shower. My idea of giving kisses would be her licking my face or my ears. Her definition would be ripping off whatever part of my face she could clamp on. She doesn't just nip or bite - she clamps. And her jaw is like an iron vise. A vise full of razer sharp teeth that she then grinds. OMG - OWW!!!! She loves to bite fingers and toes, so between her and Nos, we can't approach them without wearing leather shoes (their teeth go right through trainers), and though we can pick him up if she hasn't gotten him all riled up, we cannot pick her up without wearing leather gloves.
Scruffing her to show her her behavior is "bad" is pretty futile.
It just makes her mad.
We also have to keep her AWAY from the cats. Nos is pretty good with them - he's not interested in them in the least. Tessa spotted Bou once across the room and ran across to chomp her. She wouldn't let go so Shannon had to wrestle her off while I grabbed Aethelred and locked him in the bedroom. By the time I got back to the dining room, Tessa had freaked out sprayed.
Now, I've been told pet ferrets usually come descented. This is not news to me. The breeder had told me she hadn't had Tessa descented yet because she was too young, but that we'd probably want to do that at some point. Until this moment in the dining room, I had thought that the descenting process reduced the muskiness of the ferret. Ferrets can get pretty stinky - especially when it's warm or if they've just woken up.
Now I know that the descenting removes a totally different stink. A stink so vile that I thought I was going to lose my cookies. I knew that ferrets were a member of the skunk family, but I didn't know that they sprayed like skunks, and that the spray is REVOLTING, a VERY effective repellent. It was all I could do not to flee from the apartment into the sweet, sweet outside air. So it turns out that descenting has nothing to do with the somewhat unpleasant muskiness of the animal and everything to do with its stomach-turning defense mechanism. We'll certainly be having her descented in November at the same time we have her spayed. (We're having her spayed for 2 reasons: 1) it's required by Illinois law unless your a licensed ferret breeder and 2) if you don't have a female ferret spayed before her first heat, she can become fatally anemic.).
That said, she does seem to be settling down a bit. We can pick her up without her immediately trying to reach the the top of the glove where she can then chomp onto the exposed arm. I talked to our vet and he assured us that this aggressive behavior is normal for some kits and that she should grow out of it (*crosses bandaged fingers*). It seems like she's just got TONS of energy and her definition of "playtime!" differs from ours in that ours involves chasing and toys and laughing and kissing and treats,
and hers involves blood.
Here's a baby pic of Tessa until I get her to actually sit still for one. She still looks very much the same, but a bit longer with a thicker shiny coat, and her mask is darker. I adore her pointy little nosferatu ears. She really is a very beautiful ferret! Well, behind bars, anyway.