Early in September, we received a call from a man named Len who had rescued a stray ferret who was in pretty bad shape. We named the ferret Consuelo aka Connie and she has made a miraculous turn around. She is healthy, happy and is now ready for her new home. We want to thank Len for saving Connie’s life. He wasn’t quite sure what he was getting into but he followed his heart and took her out of harms way. You will love reading his adventure as only he could tell it. We will always be grateful for what you did for little Connie.
Hi, my name is Len and I’m a biologist. A few weeks ago, I was doing some noctural insect collecting along the overgrown outskirts of Cherry Creek. These areas are the furthermost sections and mostly neglected allowing for populations of beaver, coyote and all manners of creatures to run freely and comfortably along the banks and wide swaths of land along it. It is here that I am able to collect unusual insects and other invertebrates to my heart’s content. I like my creepy crawlies very much and donate the live insects and such to good homes like the museum of natural history here and in New Mexico. I had been collecting day and night to find some unusual specimens for my high school friend who also happens to be the curator of the museum in Albuquerque. I was exhausted and dehydrated but given my stubborn streak, I was not about to give up on getting the specimens I needed for my friend and I had only a few days left to do it.
I was crawling along a bank with trees and bushes hanging over me when my helmet light hit something that looked like a Russian fur hat. I don’t often run into Russian fur caps in the summer and along creek banks so I was just a tad more curious than normal to see what it was. Now for those of you that don’t do bug hunting at night, I’d like to hip you to a few rules. Number one, carry at least three sources of light so that when you turn them all on you look like Optimus Prime celebrating Chinese New Year. Number two, don’t, scratch that, never poke anything when you are in the dark and in a wild setting. Having said that, I lit up everything I had to get a good look at what was in front of me. It took only a second to realize that in front of me was a mammal that had curled itself into a cicle with its head in the middle. Its eyes were sunken, glazed and the head itself was lolling and drooping from exhaustion and or injuries. It was unable to even respond to the fact that it had a couple of dozen led lights blazing in its face. Damn, I thought, of all the people, why did it have to be me that found this poor thing in the middle of nowhere, almost dead and needing to be taken out of its misery. I was trying to figure out how to dispatch the poor thing as humanely as possible when I was its head snap up and finally become aware of the lights. That’s when it leapt up at me.
It was a ferret and when she finally focused through the hunger and exhaustion, she uncoiled and jumped towards me. In my line of work, you don’t stand still when an animal comes at you unless you have a chance to observe it for obvious reasons even if it is a domesticated creature. I have to admit that the first thought that come to mind was rabies. It is quite common in my area and since I couldn’t take a chance I bolted backwards doing a roll and came directly on my feet pedaling backwards and from the creek. The ferret was still in pursuit coming at me in long loping gait. We did this for a bit and I still stayed facing her while back pedaling. I got a bit worried and turned so I could put on a little speed and get some distance from it. It was easy to outrun the ferret and after only a block or two, it stopped and just stood with its sides heaving. It was obvious that the animal was tired and weak but I couldn’t take any chances and followed it from a distance. It found some tall grass and curled up again. I approached cautiously to observe it again and within a few seconds of seeing me it began to come at me again. I didn’t take any chances and ran for a comfortable distance. Again, the ferret went back to a bank and as I followed, it loped along and found a place to curl up.
It didn’t take a second to decide what to do so I ran a quarter mile or so to an intersection with a light so that I could flag down a cop. I had to do this because I don’t often carry a phone in the field for fear of getting it damaged. I wanted to get a police car so that I could report the creature to animal control. I tried to flag down several cars but got nowhere. Granted, I looked like a spaceman with my gloves, helmet and lights but give me a break, how many people that are homeless and or crazy walk around with equipment like that? On the other hand, I get their point. At one point, I even ran all the way back to check on the ferret only to have it find me first and start following me again. I let it all the way to a distant side street when a truck came along. It was clear to the driver that I was being chased and I made motions to point to the animal and for them to call. He took a long look, sped the truck up and vanished. Yep, a real nice guy.
Again, the ferret was exhausted and from the looks, she was starved and simply a mess from being out in the woods for so long. I just couldn’t leave it alone out there so I set off for the intersection again. Finally, I waved down a man on a bicycle. His name was Steve Taylor and he was a retired man simply out for a late night ride. I told him what was happening and he took it all in with a wary expression on his face. I did after all look a bit like a madman with all the weird light and equipment on me. He finally called animal control but they said that they would not do anything until 8 in the morning and assured us that they would capture and dispatch the animal in the morning. Dispatch the animal, yeah that wasn’t gonna happen. Over the speaker I told the operator that I had other ideas and thanked them for their time.
I looked at Steve and asked if he could help me. He was still very wary of me. I asked if he would look up the website for my company and look at the Sr. scientist staff and he did. It took him about a second to see that I was one of the guys in the picture and he agreed to go. We spent about two minutes at the wooded location where I had last seen it when Steve told me that the ferret was sitting on top of a rock and staring at us. I walked over to where he was and saw him with his bike positioned between himself and the ferret. As I approached, the ferret looked at me and began to come at me again. Now what the hell was the dealio here? Steve is a few feet from it and I’m a good 15 feet and it chases me, really? I began to backpedal again in short figure eights while Steve asked if this kind of behavior was common for ferrets. Now, I work with creatures in the wild and not too many domesticated animals so I had no idea and told him so all the while running backwards and keeping a normal conversation with him. Finally the ferret stopped clearly exhausted and stood on its haunches to stare at me. I told Steve I had an idea so while keeping my eyes on the ferret, I tore off my backpack and pulled out my beetle containers and equipment. I knelt down in front of the ferret and laid the backpack on the ground with the opening flap elevated so the ferret could look in. It loped over to me and sniffed the interior of the backpack, took a few seconds to decide and crawled right in. The ferret made a circle in the pack and came to rest in it with just its nose sticking out of the opening. I took a gamble and it paid off. It was trained, smart and still had manners even after the abuse it had been through out there in the woods. Steve laughed and then asked how I knew that might work. I just told him my spider senses were working overtime and just took a shot. Steve and I talked for a bit more when I gave him my card, shook hands and let him go home while I tucked the beetle containers under my chin and started to carry us all home, not having the slightest clue what to do next.
When I got home I found a tank with a wire mesh lid. I heated a towl and put the small backpack in and unzipped it. The ferret crawled out and layed down on the towel. It was weak and I was worried. I went to my PC and looked up ferret care and feeding. I had raw chicken and cut it up and ran a bowl of water for it. I put them in with the ferret and after a few moments, it began it eat. It was very weak and after drinking and eating for a few moments, it would lay with its head in the water or food bowl, clearly having spent its energy just trying to chew. While it was resting, I went back to my PC and looked for a ferret rescue place. I had no idea if one existed when the screen popped and there was Ferret Dreams, and never was there a place more aptly named. I called and left a message and email for the morning as it was already almost 2 a.m. I spent the rest of the morning until about 6 a.m. feeding and watering the ferret at intervals because of its weakened condition. I was awakened the next morning by my hand little internal clock and went to check on the ferret. What a difference some food and sleep without the fear of predators will do for an animal. I forgot to mention the coyotes I saw across the bank that were shadowing us the whole time.
The ferret was alert and keenly interested in me. After a little talking and staring at each other through the glass tank, I couldn’t leave its sight without it scratching the tank and mesh madly until I came back into sight again. I had to carry it everywhere I went. When I went to shave, make coffee or get the phone, the ferret had to have me right there. It was pretty dang cool! It was then that I was contacted by Matthew, the amazing and wonderful man that runs the rescue. Even though the rescue was closed, I was assured that it would be open for me because of this emergency situation. I told Matthew that we would be over after we both had breakfast. I can say without reservation that he is one of the kindest and most selfless people I have ever met. He and his partner Lee, who also runs the rescue without credit and fanfare, have set up one of the most amazing rescues I have ever seen. Keep in mind that I rescue wild creatures in national parks all over the United States and rarely do I see this degree of dedication or heart. I am in awe and in debt to the people of Ferret Dreams. Thank you so much for what you people do for these animals.