The American Ferret Association is currently having dialog with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the MINIMUM age and weight at which farm ferrets that are shipped to petstores can be shipped. At this time, there is NO criteria for this in USDA rules. Most of the ferret farms state "8 weeks" is the age at which they ship, however, we know that is not exactly the truth in most cases. (See the related article on 48 baby ferrets that died in December, 2000, who were all less than 300 grams upon shipment.)
The Rulemaking Committee in the USDA will take approximately 6 months to complete its own study. At that time, they will release the facts they have obtained in a USDA Official press release. Please be advised that NOTHING can be done until this has been completed and no letters can be accepted beforehand. However, once the press release is out, there is a LIMITED time when they will accept letters (4 copies of each letter, each one being hand-signed) from the general public regarding the issue at hand which they will take into full consideration when the final law is made.
Through this dialog, the AFA has considered "8 weeks" to be "any age at which an infant ferret becomes 450 grams and shows the eruption of their adult canine teeth which occurs between 7 and 8 weeks, and, at this age, kits should show 2 sets of teeth--baby canines and adult canines coming in behind them. After 8 weeks, most will have adult canine teeth." This would be a good indication of ACTUAL age and a USDA Inspector could easily use this as a test of age if he were to check several kits in a batch being shipped. In this respect, if a kit had been ill or was behind the others in a litter, this would also prevent shipping until ANY age until they had advanced to this weight and had adult dentition; i.e., the ENTIRE batch would have to meet this criteria - not just shipping entire litters all at once with some of the kits being larger and some still very tiny.
If you or anyone you have known, now or in the past, has had any problems in this area of buying a petstore ferret that was unable to eat dry ferret food, one that you have observed as starving at a petstore because it was unable to eat or any other issue along these lines, we would very much like to hear from you. We are also interested in statements from shelters, private breeders, vets and other interested parties who would be able to write and sign these letters when needed. Please, only if you are interested enough in following through with your letter when the time comes, send an e-mail with a synopsis of the problem to:
Gail Suzanne Burlaka
E-mail: [email protected]
The USDA has offered us the information that the most responses they have ever had to an issue was 39,000. We are hoping to beat that record by as many as possible.
We are also asking you to tell all of your ferret friends who may not have computers about this VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE.