Each morning, after Rachael Adkins climbs out of bed in her Woodinville home, she heads into the bathroom to get ready for the day. And each morning, Socks, her family’s white, red-eyed pet ferret is by her side, climbing up her leg or even playing around with the toilet plunger as she goes about her business.
Adkins adopted the 3-month-old just a few weeks ago, but she and her son Jack, 10, and daughter Devyn, 7, have already fallen in love with the new pet ferret, whose playful personality and nonstop cuddles offer respite from the many stresses and unknowns that accompany daily life during a pandemic.
For Adkins, despite Socks’ rather pungent smell, the small mammal helps her relax from her work as a real-estate photographer. For her children, the furry animal, who loves to play fetch and chase cat toys, is an excellent companion around the house.
“They can’t play with friends. We can’t go do half the things that we would normally do,” says Adkins, “so it’s nice to have something to do at home that’s not a book or not a video game or not TV, something that interacts with you and has a personality.”
Just a few weeks ago, Adkins wasn’t planning on getting a pet ferret. She was actually out looking for a rat.
Jack’s hamster had recently died and the family’s cat had run away, so while her children were at their dad’s house, she was hoping to surprise them.
But she couldn’t seem to find any rats. And when she came face to face with Socks in a Petco in Lynnwood, she says she knew within 20 minutes that she was the right addition for their family.
Since then, Adkins has done plenty of research on ferrets and learned just how many things they need in order to thrive.
From purchasing a combination of freeze-dried raw food and high-quality cat food for her meals, to fitting a 5-foot-tall cage into the living room and “ferret-proofing” the entire room with plastic baby gates and tinfoil so the new pet can run around, her adoption has come with plenty of work and expenses.
Adkins says when she initially brought Socks home, she thought, “Oh, my gosh what did I get myself into?” But those doubts were quickly quashed when she saw how fun she is to play with, and how cute she is when she passes out in your arms.
“Everything’s so uncertain right now, so it’s just nice to have something to come home to that brings you joy,” says Adkins.
Four days after the adoption, she introduced the unique addition to the family to her two children inside their small bathroom. Jack was immediately smitten, happily watching as the ferret tried to pull down his socks (which was how she got her name).
But Devyn started crying because she was scared of the animal biting her.
Adkins says after she explained that Socks is just a baby and doesn’t know any better, and that even if she does bite, it’s not very hard, Devyn quickly calmed down and grew to love the animal. Now she and her brother play with the ferret on breaks from remote learning, and fight over who gets to hold her when class is back in session.
Meanwhile, Adkins has noticed that the ferret has helped her find her own time to take breaks from her nonstop daily schedule.
“Coming home to that and knowing that she’s not going to be stressed or worried about daily life or what’s going on, she just wants to play, that’s all she wants, it gets me to stop what I’m doing, stop working, stop focusing on negative things and sit down and just play with her,” she says. “It’s such a great stress relief for me.”