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In this article, Zodiac celebrates her birthday! Learn how to plan for a festive ferret birthday party from Zodiac and her human Mom.

by Erika Matulich, Ph.D.
Volume 6, Number 4
July/August, 2003
These articles and images are copyrighted and may not be reprinted, re-used, reposted, copied, or otherwise distributed without permission from the author and publisher.

You should not rely on the veterinary advice or information provided on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any specific situation. Always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the medical condition or treatment of your own pet or animal.


Ferrets in Movies and TV
Movies and Film:
Ace Ventura
Beastmaster 1, 2, 3
Beautician and the Beast
Big Lebowski
Bright Lights, Big City
Dr. Doolittle II
The Freshman
Harry Potter
Kermit, the Swamp Years
Kindergarten Cop
Last Confederate Widow
Legends of the Fall
Lord of the Rings
Mars Attacks
Secret Garden
Shadow of the Vampire
Short Circuit
Starship Troopers
The Wishing Tree
Television shows:
Animal Miracles
Babylon Five
Beastmaster, the series
David Letterman
Drew Carrey
Emergency Vets
Ewok Adventure
Figure it Out
Full House
Golden Girls
House of Frankenstein
Northern Exposure
Once Upon a Hamster
The Osbournes
Pet Line
Planet’s Funniest Animals
Port Charles
Regis and Kathy Lee
Rescue 911
Second Noah
Seventh Heaven
Short Circuit
Star Trek: Deep Space 9
Star Trek: TNG
Third Rock from the Sun
Twin Peaks
Wild Wild West


Hi! My name is Zodiac, and I am a sable-mitt ferret who lives with my Mom and Dad (the humans) and a ton of other ferrets. I am so excited because we are getting ready for my very own birthday party! I hope I get lots of socks for presents – a ferret can never have too many socks!

Hi! This is Erika, Zodiac’s Mom. I wanted to have a birthday party for Zodiac, and thought all of you would like to share in the fun. We’ll talk about guest lists, invitations, gifts, and party fun. Zodiac will help out by giving her comments on her own party experiences.

Human Guests and Ferret Guests

I know I am a very popular ferret, and I want to keep up the popularity by inviting lots of guests to my birthday party! I have a very long list of party guests – the more the merrier (and more toys and presents for me, too!). But mom and dad are inviting just the other ferrets in the house – no fair, because I already know these ferrets! Well, maybe all the extra adoring humans will make up for the lack of ferret guests! Humans bring better presents anyway – all I got from the other ferrets last year was a lousy raisin and an old sock!

Ferret birthday parties can be a lot of fun for both humans and ferrets. It’s easy for other people to come to a birthday party, but care should be taken if inviting other ferrets from outside your household. First, there is the dreaded ECE virus (or the “green slime” disease). My ferrets already had ECE back in 1998, and it has been thought that after a year or so, the ECE virus would stop being contagious. However, it is clear from recent ferret adoptions into the family that a mild form of ECE is alive and well in the household. When Chester and Gus arrived in 2002, they both had mild green diarrhea for about a week or so, and have been fine since. However, I consider this household to be ECE positive and do not wish to expose other ferrets to this disease. ECE can be deadly to an older or already ill ferret.

Worse than ECE is the possibility of AD (Aleutian’s Disease). My ferrets have all been tested for AD, and all new adoptees entering the household have also been tested and found negative. The saliva swab is easy and quick. The hard part is that you have to swab the ferret’s mouth for an entire minute while they kick and squirm! It is 60 seconds that feels like 60 minutes! The results show up within about 15 minutes with an indicator marking similar to a pregnancy test.  However, it may be inconvenient (and expensive!) to ask all your ferret guests to go through this ordeal before coming to your party. Because there is no cure for AD, and it can cause an early demise for your ferret, ferret health and safety takes priority over party fun. For this reason, only the other ferrets in my household made the ferret guest list for Zodiac’s party, along with a number of humans. However, if you know other ferrets well, along with their health status, feel free to invite an entire business of ferrets to your home!

Timing Tips

My favorite time to play ferret tricks, zip around the house, be a bouncing ball, and steal socks is at dawn. It’s the best time of the day, because the humans are sleepy and slow, and they don’t see very well. I can unload most of a hamper before Dad figures out all his socks are permanently planted behind the immovable waterbed! I hope my birthday party is at 5 a.m., because that is such a fun time! On the other hand, I might not get too many humans to come to my party at 5 a.m., so maybe I could concede to another time. That way I will have more guests, more fun, and more presents!

Your ferret doesn’t know exactly what day the birthday should fall, and you might not know either. So plan your party when it is convenient and fun for everyone. Ferrets are most active in the morning and evening and are pretty sluggish in the afternoon. Because your guests are unlikely to want to come over at the crack of dawn, I suggest a later evening “dessert” party. That way everyone can enjoy the fun without too much worries about dinner food. Because ferrets have limited attention span, it needs to be short party as well – an hour or so is plenty, from a ferret’s viewpoint.

The Party Invitation

Wow, look at this party invitation Mom made! I can’t believe she put my baby picture on it! I am in my birthday suit – I am not even wearing a collar! How embarrassing! Well, except for the picture, it sure is a cute invitation! I hope everyone will want to come to my party, which my Mom called a “festive ferret frolic” on the invitation. It is so great to be a ferret having a birthday! I can’t wait!

You can have lots of  “crafty” fun making up party invitations for your ferret’s birthday party! I found a snapshot of Zodiac as a baby printed out color copies of the picture on the computer. Then I used some fancy scissors to cut out a frame of brightly colored construction paper to put around the photo, and pasted the whole thing onto a cardstock card. You could use your computer printer to print on the card, or if you have just a few invitations, you can also hand-letter the cards with colorful gel pens. Stickers, glitter, and confetti can also brighten up the card. Look in the scrapbooking section of your craft store for the best materials for making your card. Have fun, and make each card a unique creation for your guest! Be sure to clearly list the date and time of the party (remember a start and an end time). Also include your phone number and email for RSVP purposes, and a map to your home. You might also want to provide list of suggested items to bring, such as selected desserts or small gifts for the birthday ferret, as your ferret is unlikely to be listed in a gift registry! Many ferret merchandise stores offer gift certificates, however. In Zodiac’s invitation I provided a list of her favorite treats and toys, including N-Bones, Cheweasels, jingle balls, beanie toys, socks, and feathers.

Party Decorations

Yahoo! Look at the nifty, shiny, floaty, balloony thingie! It’s all for me! Let me catch it! Hey – no fair, it keeps bouncing back into the air – how in the world am I going to hide this under the dresser drawer? Ack! Now Dad has tied the balloon to my middle! What is he thinking? I’ll just run up Gramma’s pantyhose, and she’ll take this balloon off me! Then I can go play with my birthday streamers instead.

It is lots of fun to decorate for a ferret birthday party! Unfortunately, there are not too many ferret-themed party items available at party stores, so you may wind up with generic birthday items. You can also spend some time to get creative! One suggestion is to take colored paper streamers, and stencil or stamp ferrets along the paper. I used a ferret cookie cutter to trace ferret silhouettes on colored paper and cut them out to hang from the ceiling and chandeliers (cookie cutters in two sizes are available from www.craftycreatures.com). The same cutouts were glued to the underside of clear plastic plates to make ferret-themed dessert plates.

For safety’s sake, avoid the metallic plastic confetti. If a ferret accidentally ingests a piece, it could lacerate intestinal wall or cause a blockage. Replace the confetti with cake or candy sprinkles. Another big no-no is the traditional inflatable birthday balloon. Ferrets just love rubbery items and will bite these balloons. When they pop, pieces of rubber will fly to places you might not find – but your ferret will. Rubber balloon fragments can cause serious blockages, and are one of the more common items extracted from ferrets during obstruction-removal surgery. Instead of these rubber balloons, try Mylar balloons. These special balloons are fun to have inflated with helium and leave bouncing on your ceiling with the strings dangling enticingly at floor level for your ferrets to play with. Leave the rubber balloons outside tied to your mailbox – and don’t forget to draw ferrets on the balloons with a marker pen!

Other Party Preparations

Keep your ferrets caged during your party preparations. Ferrets in the kitchen during baking times can be dangerous. Loose ferrets while party guests arrive, with doors opening and closing, can also be a problem. Also realize that your ferrets may get stressed with all the extra hustle and bustle around the house and may not want to socialize or play games during the party. You know your own ferrets, so let them tell you how they feel. If you are having additional ferrety friends come to the house, do an extra-special ferret proofing inspection. New ferrets might find new places to get into trouble that your crew had not yet discovered. I also ask that my guests remove their shoes, which is safer for underfoot ferrets.

Festive Food

Mmmmm, special birthday treats for me! I tried a small bite of birthday cake, but would rather have some more Ferretone! I also tried to steal a chocolate ferret because it looked just like me so it was obviously mine. But Mom said I shouldn’t eat chocolate and gave me a Bandit treat instead. Then I ate some frosting from a cupcake that made my mouth turn green. But best of all, I found a chewie star! But it was tied to another one of those shiny balloon things, so I had to do some quick chewing to get it off and hidden away from those other ferrets! I shouldn’t have to share on my own ferret birthday!

For your party, most of the food will be for human consumption. A birthday cake, of course, is traditional. But the tradition of candles should be avoided. Ferrets are entranced by fire and may attack or bite the flame, getting a burned mouthful of hot wax in the process. Stick to frosting and candy decorations for your cake. Think about individual birthday cupcakes. Take some decorating gel or fineline frosting to write birthday wishes or freehand draw a ferret on each cupcake. Another option is a photo sheetcake. Take your ferret’s picture to your local grocery store bakery. Many of them can transfer your image to the computer and print out the image on an edible sheet of thin rice paper. The rice paper photo is then transferred to the top of the sheet cake, and additional frosting is used to frame the photo. You can also make a ferret shaped cake with a special ferret form (available from www.ferretsandfriends.com). Finally, there is the “no calorie” cake just for ferrets. Multipet makes a stuffed plush birthday cake with three or six candles. The cake toy plays “happy birthday” when you squeeze it (available at www.theferretstore.com).

Of course, if you have that ferret cookie cutter, make batches of ferret cookies several days in advance. You can decorate them to look like the birthday ferret and any ferret guests! I am also fortunate to own a ferret chocolate mold, so I have melted chocolate chips to pour into the mold and used the ferret chocolates as party favors. Because I only have one mold, I had to plan way in advance! You can also buy ordinary sugar cookies and frost them with ferret shapes or words.

These sugary snacks are for humans only, of course. Ferrets should not eat chocolate or any sort of sweets in large quantity. For your birthday ferret and guests, find a selection of healthy treats such as raisins, small fruit bits, or cereal. There are plenty of great commercial treats available as well. For ferret party favors, we tied a Cheweasel to the string of each Mylar balloon and let the ferrets play and run and chew with the balloon attached. This turned out to be a very funny human spectator activity!

Ferret Fun and Games

I am the champion ferret of the world! I can run, jump, climb, eat, and dig faster than any ferret alive! Mom had me compete in ferret games. I ran through a tunnel, dug up a plant pot, and stole lots of socks. There was one silly game that I let Gus win. It was a stupid human trick to set out lots of cups with absolutely nothing in them! Why should I bother checking out cups that are empty? Gus had to look in every one of them before he figured out the humans tricked him.

What is a birthday party without birthday games? There are games for humans and games for ferrets, too. If you have multiple ferret guests, there are lots of contests that you can have each ferret perform. It is best to have some sort of ferret enclosure and put the games in the center. One fun game is the “cup tip.” Place 20 small, plastic drinking cups in a circle and place the ferret in the center. Start your watch! How many cups will each ferret tip over in one minute? The most cups wins. Another game is the “car push.” Take the large cardboard tube from a big roll of giftwrapping paper and cut the tube in half lengthwise. Each tube then yields two “tracks” for matchbox cars. Place the matchbox car at one end of the track, put a little Ferretone on the car, and let your ferret push the car down the track and see who is the speediest car pusher. Dryer hose races are also fun. See how fast your ferret can shoot down any sort of tube or hose, and the fastest ferret wins! There are also some messy games you can play on a floor that is easy to clean. One is “bobbing for raisins” and involves putting raisins in a shallow pan of water. How many raisins will your ferret snorkel out? Or float a plastic ball in the water and see if your ferret can retrieve it. Zodiac’s best messy game is to dig up a plant pot full of potting soil. Alternatively, you can see how quickly your ferret can dig all the litter out of a litterpan.

Zodiac got to play her favorite game at her birthday party – a huge pile of socks was placed in the middle of the living room floor, and human guests bet how many she could steal in 5 minutes. Zodiac totaled 27 socks, and our winner received a ferret ceramic tile coaster (available from www.ferretware.com). After the fuzzies get tired, human guests can play ferret games that don’t have to involve a live ferret. Ferret Trivia and Ferret Charades are fun. One form of ferret charades is to try to name television shows or movies that ferrets have made appearances in (see sidebar for a selected list).

After the Party

Gee, I am really tired! I am worn out from my own ferret birthday party! I was just about to curl up for a nice snooze on my new pile of socks when Mom grabbed me and – oh horrors! Brushed my teeth! Can you imagine? Just because I ate some green frosting, I have to endure this awful torture? Yuk! Spit! Oh wait, now Mom is handing me one of my birthday presents! A nice N-bone just for me! Okay, I guess I can undergo a little toothbrushing. So can I have another birthday party next week? I can’t wait!

Once your guests have left, don’t make the mistake of leaving everything to clean up for later, because your ferret crew may get their own cleanup ideas. Make sure all food and drink is put away, and food remnants are cleaned from the floor. If your ferrets consumed any sweets, remember to brush those teeth! And remember that your ferret has a social responsibility after that party to send Thank You notes!