High pitched squeaking, like a choir of impatient mice, announced the first litter of ferret kits a couple of weeks back and now four of my jills have given birth. The fifth, ‘Honey’ didn’t come into season and I’m not sorry, she is a grandmother with more greats proceeding than I can easily remember and deserves a rest. Most jills are brilliant mothers and given the right conditions and food get on with the job entirely unaided. It’s fascinating to watch their behavior and I particularly enjoy seeing the mothers gently carrying the blind kits back to the nest when they stray, or when they are dragged across the hutch still attached to a nipple if feeding time’s disturbed. This maternal instinct can last for years and adult jills kept with their mothers can still expect to be dragged in by the scruff when it’s time for bed!
Week by week the silent vigils of hens dotted around in various boxes and hutches are ending, as fluffy chicks bubble out from beneath them. You can always tell when a hen has hatched chicks because her tone changes when disturbed, the indignant muted squawk which is often accompanied by a peck, replaced by a guttural purr, usually accompanied by an even harder peck.