Compared to our American ferrets, the angora is quite the energetic little ones (sending the energizer bunny into retirement) and as such it is highly recommended to already have an adult ferret in the house to help keep the whirlwind in line. They are extremely inquisitive as well as very determined and strong headed. They tend to be larger than the typical US ferret ranging between 3-7 lbs vs. 1-5 lbs, and are known to be a little nippier. The angora like their European counterparts are known to be stronger and hardier than their US cousins. However, once in the US and kept under our conditions, they too experience the dreaded insulinoma and adrenal disease. The biggest difference in care overseas vs the US, which has an impact on their health, is the natural raw diet vs kibble, and the exposure to natural lighting vs constant indoor lighting. Another significant difference is the age when the kits are fixed.
The full angora ferret should NOT be mistaken for long haired ferrets or angora mixes. The true trademark of the full angora is their notably long fur which gets to be about 2-4 inches in length with no undercoat(whole angoras have a much longer coat than those fixed), the extra fold on their nose and the little tuft of hair on the tip and/or inside their nose. Their body structure is slightly different than the american ferret, especially the shape of their face and eyes. All characteristics must be present to be classified as an full angora. Read more about Ferrets HERE!
The origins of the angora ferret began when a Swedish breeder came across a mutation in his ferrets that produced longer hair on the hind legs and rear part of their bodies. The breeder sold their stock to a Norway breeder/fur farm who after some time produced the angora ferret as we know it today. It is believed, though not proven, that the repeated inbreeding to keep the angora line going has produced some bad traits such as difficulty in breeding - jill's (females) not nursing their kits and hobs (males) simply not performing. The only confirmed negatively, is regarding the nursing angora which has nothing to do with her ability to take care of her kits, but rather that the full female angora simply does not produce enough milk to feed her kits. Interesting to note, is that female half angoras do produce enough milk to feed her young.
A large scale Swedish breeder/fur farm imported the Norwegian ferrets and bred the jill's to hob polecats while using surrogate jill polecats to take over the nursing duties. These kits demonstrated higher breeding abilities than their angora birth moms. In approximately 1997, this Swedish breeder sold their entire stock to Soren Thingaard in Denmark and a small scale breeder in the US who has since moved back to Sweden and is believed to have continued breeding from this Swedish line. It is believed that this small US breeder had some of these ferrets exported from Sweden and/or Denmark and sold them to two US importers in Washington State and Minneapolis. The ferrets that were imported were mostly unsocialized and not handled by people, and to make matters worse the Washington importer, not understanding a ferrets need, feed them dry "dog food". This combination in turn produced nasty and very hungry kits which gave the angora a bad reputation.
Soren continued breeding his original Danish line(though it is believed there are now several lines originating from the Norwegians) and is the only large scale breeder(approx 900 breeding pairs) of the angora, breeding approximately 1,500 per year. Breeding angora ferrets is a very difficult task at hand, usually requiring the breeding of 10 short hair ferrets both carrying the desired/correct angora gene to produce one full angora. Soren and Marc Morrone made contact in approximately 1996, where Marc intervened on behalf of the angoras and became the only US importer of Soren's Danish ferrets. In the beginning, Marc found that the kits were demonstrating a nipping problem, which Soren felt was due to genetics as his first angoras came from a fur farm in Sweden who generally did not handle the ferrets. Soren began breeding only the gentlest males and females which drastically lessened the nipping problem that was seen.
Up until 2000, Soren would export his kits to the US not fixed, as the vets would not perform the surgery deemed non-life threatening to any animal younger than 6 months of age. Parrots of the World utilized a NY vet to fix and descent the kits prior to any sale. In 2000, Soren moved to the Czech Republic and continues breeding on his farm in Denmark. The ferrets were sent to the Czech Republic to be fixed and descented by a qualified vet who has performed this procedure thousands of times and then shipped to the US. In the fall of 2003 the vets in the Czech Republic would no longer fix the the ferrets prior to 6 months of age as was the case in Denmark. In addition, the vets in NY strongly believing the early fixing of the ferrets was the single most contributor to adrenal disease also stopped fixing ferrets prior to 6 months of age. The angora ferrets were then sold whole with the owners being responsible for having them fixed (costing a few hundred dollars).
In 2004, a new law was passed In Europe (excluding Spain and Portugal) to take effect January 1, 2005, headed by an Animal Rights group that mandates all ferrets bred for pets (those being bred for fur were excluded) must be housed in cages substantially larger than what has been customarily used. A large majority of breeders, including Soren are simply unable to comply with this new law, as they do not have enough land to house the quantity and sizes of cages needed, nor the means to fund such an expansion. This law driven and headed by the Animal Rights group to be effective January 1, 2005, provides no alternatives but to comply or have their entire stock of ferrets gassed to death (that was a better option in their eyes). Soren is evaluating offers from Holland and other countries who have the space to abide by this new law If Soren can not place all his angora ferrets by the first of the year, 99.9% he will be provided an extension to do so. Depending on the outcome, this could also mean the end of the true Danish Angora ferret in the US.
The authorities have allowed Soren to keep his ferrets the way he has. In addition, Soren has made 8 indoor rooms which will house a total of 120 ferrets (15 per room), with the remaining being housed in outdoor cages. In total, to comply with the european mandate, 40 ferrets had to be put to sleep leaving approx 650-700 angoras to continue the line.
In 2005/2006 Soren sent his Ferrets to a brand new Stainless Steel air conditioned facility with cameras in China called Sangosho Pet Park Co Ltd, where they continue to be bred. Sangosho Pet Park Co Ltd. employees 4 veterinarians and over 30 employees. You can visit their website at: www.angora.com.cn