Other animals

My ferrets are world famous!

Vanessa has the Taylor Swift of ferrets
  • Vanessa Peter’s fluffy ferret family are world famous.
  • Ferrets Sage, Basil and Tiva have a legion of fans.
  • When Sage, the Taylor Swift of ferrets, got sick her fans rushed to her rescue.
  • Now she’s back to her cheeky self and delighting her fans again. 

Here Vanessa, 53,  tells her story in her own words

‘Mum, she’s keeping me awake,’ he my son Daniel, then 22, said  as he tried to nap on the sofa.

Glancing down at the dark brown and white fluffball bombing around our living room like a maniac, I laughed.

It was December 2019, and Daniel had bought a tiny ferret named Tiva from Gumtree. But after just two nights, the novelty of looking after her had worn off. 

Tiva was such a little rascal and so mischievous, I fell in love with her instantly. An adept climber she shimmied up everything from the bin to the TV cabinet and even up onto my bed.

I soon realised I couldn’t have anything too nice out as Tiva knocked over and broke my ornaments.

One day out of the corner of my eye I spied a bushy tail at the top of the curtain rod. She’d scrambled up the curtains!

That Christmas she had a field day with my decorated tree, knocking off all the baubles and nearly toppling it over.

As ferrets are carnivores, I fed her a diet of quality cat food.

‘Mum, she’s so cute,’ my daughter Chloe, then 24, said when she visited.

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Tiva (Credit: Supplied)

Although I didn’t know much about ferrets, as an animal lover with my Shih tzu Bonnie and tabby cat Freya, I soon learned by researching online.

I had no idea how intelligent ferrets were, how affectionate and, more than anything, funny.

When I discovered how social ferrets were, I knew exactly what Tiva needed.

‘I think we need to get Tiva a playmate,’ I said to Daniel. 

So in February Daniel looked on Gumtree and found a tiny 10cm-long, six-week-old brown sable ferret called Sage. She was stunted due to poor nutrition, but what she lacked in size she made up for with personality.  

‘Ouch,’ I yelped as Sage’s razor-sharp fangs bit a chunk out of my hand. I took to wearing gloves, and long socks to stop her nipping my feet. Sitting on the laundry floor, I spent hours working to bond with her. 

When I put some mince in front of Sage she hoovered it up.

Finally, after a month, Sage began to gently nibble my feet. When she let me pick her up, her rough little tongue licked my face.

Then one night I found Sage and Tiva snuggling up together in their two-storey cage where they slept at night. From then on they were inseparable.

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Vanessa and Sage (Credit: Supplied)

‘One day out of the corner of my eye I spied a bushy tail at the top of the curtain rod’

I invested in some black bendy tubing from the hardware shop, and Sage and Tiva loved scuttling through the tunnels.

Clean animals, they were both toilet trained to use their litter tray.

I even cut holes in the bottom of my chest of drawers in my bedroom for them. The cheeky ferrets poked their heads up and loved to sleep in my cool, dark bottom drawer.

‘Why don’t you set up a ferret Instagram,’ Daniel suggested that month.

So I set up an account called tivapeterpan, called myself their Grandmamma and wrote about Tiva and Sage’s exploits as if I were the ferrets. People loved it.

In no time at all, I was getting messages from all over the world – as far as Russia and America. 

My ferrets were famous. 

In December 2022, I rescued another ferret, a big champagne-coloured boy named Basil. He was twice the length of the other two and just like a cuddly panda bear.

It didn’t take long before Sage and Tiva took to him.

With three mischievous little ferrets, there was never a dull moment.

But last November Sage seemed to be losing weight.

‘Has Basil been eating your food?’ I tutted, knowing what a greedy guts he was.

However when I opened Sage’s mouth there was a foul smell. After I put her down, Basil picked up Sage by the neck and carried her to my bedroom drawer.

‘What are you doing, cheeky?’ I scolded Basil. 

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Sage, Tiva and Basil sleeping in Vanessa’s drawer (Credit: Supplied)

‘My ferrets were famous. ‘

Daniel took Sage to The Unusual Pet Vets in Frankston, Melbourne. 

Back home later, Daniel explained the vets had diagnosed an infection in Sage’s mouth and put her on an IV drip.

Suddenly, I clicked that Basil had known Sage was sick and wanted to look after her.  

‘The vets are going to have to remove some teeth,’ Daniel said, explaining it would cost a fair amount.

Money was tight, so I started a GoFundMe and went to bed hoping little Sage would be okay.

When I checked the next morning, I nearly fell over. I’d raised $900 overnight from Sage’s fans all over the world.

Daniel brought Sage home the next day with eight of her teeth in a jar, and explained how wonderful the vets had been.

‘You’ve been very brave,’ I told Sage. 

Thankfully she kept her main fangs.

Sage will stay on a soup diet but is back to her old self scampering around.

Now Tiva, Sage and Basil are the most famous ferrets in Australia, with nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram.

I’m so glad little Sage is well again. I hope my ferret babies brighten people’s days just as they brighten mine

‘ I’d raised $900 overnight from Sage’s fans all over the world.’

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Sage and Basil (Credit: Supplied)

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