If you’ve ever wondered what life is like – or should be like – with a pet ferret, pick up a copy of “Ferrets For Dummies” (For Dummies Publishing, 2000). This is part of the ever-present Dummies series of yellow and black covered books that pop up from libraries to supermarket check-out lines. Unlike many other “Dummies” books, this one is not written by a talented writer, but also has some color photographs. The book recently went through a second edition in 2007, but this review covers the 2000 edition.
“Ferrets For Dummies” could have been titled “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ferrets (But was Afraid to Ask)”. Topics covered include a ferret’s sex life, ferret poop, newborn ferrets being eaten by their mothers, ferret poop, dealing with people who hate ferrets and ferret poop. This is the kind of book I wish would come out for every species of pet. Hopefully, one day Schilling will be persuaded to write some more pet care books.
The reason why Schilling is such an expert on ferrets is that she runs an Illinois exotic animal shelter called Animals for Awareness. She has seen all types and personalities of ferrets and been in the middle of many debates among ferret owners. She also knows how ferrets can relate to other animals, their quirks, their most common health issues and the myriad of ways ferrets can get into trouble.
Pages are easy to read with large dark font on white background. The spaces in between paragraphs make it easier on the old eyeballs to read more pages than originally intended. The book is also generously illustrated with black and white photographs. The book is well organized. Although it is not necessary to read the chapters in order, please read the “how to use this book” section and introduction so you don’t miss out on some key explanations.
There is a lot of humor in this book – sometimes to the point of being overwhelming. However, Schilling’s style makes it easy to tell whenever she is joking and when she is being serious. One detail can wear on the funny bone after a while – the words Schilling uses in place of “ferret”. Perhaps she got sick of writing the word “Ferret” a dozen times per page, so be ready to read about fuzzbutts, ferts, carpet sharks and furries.
The other complaint is minor. Although Schilling goes into great depth about how ferrets can kill themselves, she does not go into much depth about how to have fun or relax with ferrets. As a result, it may make non-ferret owners think that ferrets are impossible to live with because of the stress of trying to keep them safe.