And now, our ferret Gizmo

by Gil Hova

Gizmo wakes up from a nap

Gizmo wakes up from a nap

Gizmo is our youngest ferret. He’s all of 18 months old.

Whereas Peanut is an old man who dodders to and fro, Gizmo is an explosion of energy. Anyone who’s ever seen a young ferret at play knows what I’m talking about.  Gizmo literally bounces to and fro, pouncing on inanimate objects and wreaking havoc wherever he goes.

We got Gizmo last year from a woman who was moving down to Florida to be with her fiancee. She worked at the local Petco, and had spoiled Gizmo with as much stuff as her employee discount could handle. So she was awfully broken up about giving him up, and shed a tear or two during the handover.

I’m honestly not a big fan of the name Gizmo. I had an older ferret with that name, but I changed it to Nyssa (after the Dr. Who character) once I got her.  But this Gizmo’s previous owner treated him so well that I felt it would be an insult to change his name.

Gizmo still has all his kit energy, and it’s always rewarding to let him out of his cage when I get home from work. He does a lot of dancing and a little dooking as I pull his toys out of the toy box.

(If you don’t know what I mean by “dancing” or “dooking,” watch the video below to see what ferret joy looks like. It’s not Gizmo, just a random ferret from the intertubes.)

Gizmo loves his toys. He’s the most materialistic ferret I’ve ever owned.  He will actually climb into the toy box to pull out a jingly ball, and play with it. I’ve never seen that before.

Gizmo’s climbing skills are insane. He’s a big guy, the biggest ferret I’ve ever owned, but he’s also quite strong. He can get almost anywhere in our apartment by climbing or jumping.

Do you doubt a ferret’s ability to get into trouble? Our old ferret Tardy used to be able to get up to the top of a chest of drawers. How’d she do it? She couldn’t climb that high, and she certaintly couldn’t jump it. One day, I saw her do it.

She started by walking around behind the drawers. I thought she was just going to root around in there, but a few seconds later, the bottom drawer opened, as if a poltergeist was in the room.

I heard paws scratching against wood, and then she popped her head out of the bottom drawer. She looked around, craned her head up to look at the top level, and realized he was still too far away.

So she crawled back to the rear of the drawer, and a few seconds later, after some scratching, the middle drawer opened up, as if by itself.

Once again, she popped her head out, only now she was in the second drawer. She stood on her rear paws to try to reach the top level, but it was still too far away.

So she disappeared back into the drawer. Scratch scratch scratch, and now the top drawer was open. And now she popped out of the drawer, and victoriously crawled onto the top of the chest. She would have knocked over a bunch of tchotchkes too, if I hadn’t pulled her away.

Now take that troublemaking ability and multiply it by a hundred, and you have Gizmo’s potential for mischef. He can jump higher and climb higher than any ferret I’ve ever had. The only safe place for anything is the very top of our entertainment center, and I figure that’s only a matter of time.

Gizmo is a sucker for soft things. He has the typical ferret attraction to rubber and neoprene, so our chewed-up remote control and my iPod case are all fair game. He’d also make off with my wallet if he could.

Gizmo has enough energy right now that if he doesn’t get his morning romp session, he trashes the cage. He’ll get behind the litter boxes and knock them out of place. He can be a destructive dude, so we have to make sure that he gets his run time.

I’m quite relieved that Gizmo knows how to play with a human. Many ferrets play too rough with a person, and some, like Peanut, don’t play rough enough. Gizmo knows the right mix. He will grab your fingers with his teeth; not hard enough to hurt, but just enough as if to say, “Gotcha!”

He also doesn’t mind being spun on the floor or flung in the air (as long as you catch him or he lands on something soft), as this will send him into fits of elated dancing. That’s not playing too rough; ferrets enjoy roughhousing, and expect a certain level of tough play.  He’ll even try to initiate play sometimes by flinging himself at my leg.

It’s nice to have a young ferret around. Gizmo is constant action and fun (okay, sometimes just constant action), and it’s incredible to go home to a veritable explosion of energy.

Gizmo and Peanut love each other. When Peanut was sick this week, he came back from the vet heavily sedated. He was lying on our sofa, partially buried in a blanket. Gizmo hopped onto the sofa, crawled into the blanket, and started licking Peanut. They stayed there for five minutes. It’s as if he was trying to console Peanut after a difficult day.

Gizmo likes Zoe. Zoe tolerates Gizmo. This surprised us. We were expecting Zoe to deplore Gizmo, just as she despises Peanut. But she lets Gizmo chase her around the apartment. Yes, that’s a ferret chasing a cat five times his weight around and around the apartment.  Oh, she’ll growl and his at him, but there’s something more playful about the way they interact than the outright intolerance between her and Peanut.