The story of the agile stoat Sprat began in the forest and now life will be filled with the comfort and coziness of civilization. Because the young animal was injured, rescued, cared for and operated on by humans, but could not fully recover its sore leg. And without a healthy foot in the wild, the life of any animal is short.
The sparrow fell into the hands of mammal specialist Tatyana Kostenko in August 2021. The well-to-do residents of Murmansk found a hermeneutic with back injuries on the hills and turned to volunteer Natalya Raevskaya for help. She later wrote on her VKontakte page: “Outside the city, people took an injured young Ermine. Yesterday he lay down a rag and did not resist manipulations. They washed and treated the wounds, gave painkillers, injected solutions to relieve dehydration and support the body. By nightfall, the situation had improved. And in the morning the body “came to life and made noise”. Shouting, biting, flying! It crushes mice on its own. Now it is clear that this is a very angry predator!
After providing first aid, Ermina went to Murmansk Tatyana Kostenko, the only specialist in the field of animal care of the bridal family.
“We often communicate with Natalia about pet food, we have a common ‘food pocket’,” explains Tatiana. – She suggested that I take her victim, knowing my experience with the mustelides.
Tatiana Kostenko took the “very cute, but very vicious lace” on her, breastfed, treated deep wounds in her back. An x-ray showed the bones were intact, but an infection required surgery. The terrified Sprat (as the foundation was called) was operated on by Galina Vizankina, an experienced veterinarian from Severomorsk, who has been helping Tatiana deal with wildlife for more than 15 years.
And the days of hospitalization of the young Ermina began. Tatiana helped her recover every day. She remembered her hands as a source of pain, though healing. As a result, Sprat now “sings” angrily to her savior instead of gratitude and respect. But her husband, Sergei, welcomes, cooks, she comes to sit on his palm.
His own territory
The typical day of the room in Murmansk is as follows: the morning starts with an angry howl while cleaning the cage and eating meat, and then – a refreshing sleep during the day for up to 18 hours. Maybe in the middle of the day, he wakes up and goes out of the mink to the cage to check on his master’s son’s return from school. Yes, there! And sleep again. Because at night all the members of the household gather after work, communicate and Sprat should know. She is active until three in the morning: she plays games, eats, runs on wooden poles.
In the wild, the ermine season is short-lived, which is why nature has a special sense of danger: all animals larger than it are enemies. The sparrow is already accustomed to the fact that its neighbors now have three mink, foxes and ferrets. Fortunately, the main rule in Tatyana Kostenko’s kindergarten is that animals never cross each other. Yes, and the Sprat has its own territory – a comfortable cage, made by the owner’s hands.
“She has the character of a lady,” says Tatiana Kostenko. The food in the galleries should be as close to life as possible. Therefore, Sprat feeds on farmed rodents from a special farm. We once decided to give her a chance to hunt for a live animal, and so she cried in panic until we removed the stranger from her enclosure.
I got a great job
In a word, Sprat was perfectly installed. Almost immediately after her arrival in Murmansk, she acquired her own comfortable living space. And not every new citizen of Murmansk is so lucky! For her sake, Sergei got rid of the closet in the apartment niche and built a large safe cage – just for a fluffy lady 15 cm long. With a hole, trees, a hammock.
According to Tatyana Kostenko, Sprat is a “museum exhibit” and her destiny is to live in an apartment. Liberation in nature is excluded. After all, not just a sitting foot will make it easy prey for forest dwellers. The kilechka is already used to living with everything prepared, not hunting for food. Time will tell how much comfort at home will prolong her life compared to normal conditions. In the wild, most young animals die in the first year of life.
“There is no excess protein in nature – it is very wasteful,” says Tatyana Kostenko. Ermine can be prey not only for a predator. Contrary to all stereotypes, even cute bunnies in the forest can eat the meat of dead animals and not every fox can face a hare, because with a wave of strong legs with hind claws, it can tear the belly of its opponent. .
Households can ponder for hours how agile Sprat moves in the cage, how it plays, holds food on short legs, runs or sings during the spring mating season. It is almost impossible to photograph her, she is so mobile. Even a camera phone with motion sensor can not fix it.
Although most people associate the ermines with royal majesty (apparently because of the monarchs’ ermine robes), Sprat is still a brawler by nature. Not royal, she swears in the Gornostayevsky language when changes are made to her outfit or when Tatiana passes. A predator the length of an adult’s palm tries to make a fuss with the slightest pretext. Grumpy, weird, shy. This is how he communicates with family members.
The help of the sparrow pushed Tatiana to the idea of acquiring another ermine, which could be domesticated from birth.
“I turned to St. Petersburg for help,” says Tatiana. – There, a female ermine with babies fell into the hands of a breeder. One of them moved to live with us.
Now the little one is a month and a half old and is slowly getting used to the smell of human hands, he remembered Tatiana as a mother, he sleeps and plays. His diet includes two mice a day or minced meat and his favorite pastime is playing with a fluffy tail.
The new pet will be installed just below the poppy shell – on the first floor of the Ermine location. By the way, she is very worried. What kind of construction is done under its halls ?! The work is in full swing, because we have to hurry: the baby has already begun to dominate the vertical, trying to climb the walls of the cage.
“Based on experience, I want to advise one thing to all people who are fascinated by the idea of having a Ermine,” Tatiana concludes. – Never interfere with wildlife. Do not take babies to the forest. We can often find ermine in the Arctic Cola. Even a fast ermine creates with her fast movements the impression that an entire herd is running around. Of course, in the case of Sprat, the people of Murmansk did the right thing by not letting her die. There was no way he could survive. But it is impossible for an animal to enter a house from the wild deliberately. A hermeneutic that lives in the forest will never become tame. You can only tame an animal that was born at home and fed from a bottle with your hands.
Also, Tatyana Kostenko advises all lovers of fluffy exotic to immediately put a special – and very spacious! – “financial pocket” for veterinary medicine, because all wild animals have wounds. It is also necessary to provide the animal with a stable and complete food source, in the case of ermines, these are the carcasses of rats and chickens. The owner of the ermine should adjust the space in the apartment, because the strange predators are very small, mobile and fast. At any time, the animal can be found in a crack, slip through the door or open on the street or at the entrance, to neighbors or in an unsafe place in the apartment and hurt itself.
Photo of the author and from the personal archive