When Oliver gets tired on hot days, he hitches a ride in Smith’s backpack. When it’s cold, he likes to crawl into the hood of her jacket, which is like his tiny hammock at home.
“He weighs about as much as a burrito so he’s super light to carry,” she said.
He’s even tried to crawl into the hoods of passing hikers when he’s decided it’s time for a snooze.
“It’s pretty funny,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Oh sorry — he’s looking for a nap!’”
In winter, they spend a lot of time hiking in Utah since it’s not blisteringly hot as it is during summer months, and has less snow than Colorado. So far they’ve checked out Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Dead Horse Point State Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.Hiking isn’t their only activity. They also enjoy camping — though he snuggles in Smith's sleeping bag at night, he does have his own ferret-sized tent — and kayaking. Oliver wears a life vest for safety.
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“We did a test in the bathtub and he did fine. He was able to float for a good 10 minutes without any help. He didn't really need me,” she said.Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, Smith, 27, documents their adventures on Oliver’s Instagram page under the username hikingferret. She’s surprised how quickly thousands of people started following him and was delighted when Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently mentioned Oliver on his Facebook page.
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With increased public interest in ferrets like Oliver, Smith said it’s important for people considering a pet ferret to know they need supervision, particularly when they’re young, and that they can be harder to train than dogs.
Also, ferrets are notorious thieves.
“They enjoy stealing and stashing a variety of things,” she said. “Oliver's favorite things to steal are pens and socks.”Of course, she has no regrets about bringing Oliver home. He’s become quite cuddly as their bond has grown. She’s looking forward to taking him to South Dakota this summer, potentially to Mount Rushmore.
“I really like adventuring with Oliver,” she said. “It’s a whole lot of fun.”