That’s right, today is National Ferret Day! Whatever the origin, ferrets and ferret enthusiasts continue to celebrate this day. Ferrets make wonderful pets and will amuse you for hours with their play. Ferrets are cute, playful and inquisitive pets but they do have highly specialized needs. We explore the key considerations you take into account before bringing a ferret into your family.
If you are looking at ferrets as a potential pet it’s important you consider whether you have the time, money and resources to provide a good home for your future pet. While Ferrets are very amusing and adventurous pets, they require deceptively large amounts of care for such small creatures. They require a large amount of time and training in order make them easier to handle.
Ferrets require ample amounts of space and at least 2 hours of playtime outside of their cage each day. First of all you need to ferret-proof your home. This means, finding a designated place in your home where they will have plenty of room to play and explore without them getting out and thus putting them at risk of hurting themselves. Train them not to bite, toilet train, and give them mental stimulation. Feed them 2 to 4 times a day and be sure to clean their cages on a regular basis, because them do tend to be a smelly pet. They are highly social animals, so they should be bought in pairs or kept in groups.
Typically ferret cage and hammock for play and rest.
Ferrets can live until they are 10 years old, with the longest living ferret making it to the ripe old age of 13 years. As with other pets such as dogs, consider what you will be doing in 10 years time, consider adopting an adult ferret or fostering a ferret instead.
Generally speaking, ferrets and very young children do not mix well, as ferrets have a tendency to bite if they are not handled gently. That being said, ferrets can make great pets for families with older children provided they are supervised and shown how to correctly handle them.
Ferrets are a flight risk and will make a mad dash for any open doorway to escape. If you like to keep doors around your house open then a ferret is perhaps not suited to you home. Similarly, ferrets love to get underfoot, so if your home is a high traffic area or has members of the family who are at risk of falling, then again these fur-balls might not be right for you.
Finally, ferrets can’t really be trusted with smaller pets such as mice, rats and even rabbits, if these pets are already part of your family then a ferret is probably not ideal. By the same token, cats and dogs probably can’t be trusted around a ferret, particularly unsupervised, even ‘friendly’ cats and dogs can risk hurting a ferret during rough play due to their size advantage.
Remember that your ferret is carnivorous so feeding your ferret can be costly. They require a specialized diet and lots of raw meat.
If you are not planning to breed, your female ferret must be de-sexed or she will stay on heat and develop a fatal anaemia. Males get aggressive and smelly if not desexed and will tend to urinate or mark everywhere during mating season. Cost for de-sexing varies, but is around $200-$300.
Ferrets also need annual vaccinations against distemper. They will need 2 vaccines every other month initially as kits.
Adrenal Gland Disease and like in dogs, Insulinoma are two diseases commonly seen in older ferrets, and they come with hefty veterinary bills. While lifestyle choices made while they are young can mitigate the likelihood of your ferret developing these conditions. You need to be prepared for costly vet bills as your ferret ages.
Male ferrets are called Hobs and female ferrets are called Jills. Their offspring are called Kits. The whole family is called a Business. A part of the mustelid family, ferrets are carnivores and are joined by the otter, badger, weasel, marten, mink and wolverine.
These wildly, curious creatures have been recently domesticated as pets in the last few decades. While their skill in the wild may have been considered masterful, as a pet they can be a mischievous handful if not properly trained. Highly intelligent, they can be trained to do an assortment of tricks and to use a litter box. A social animal, they do require attention and preferably a ferret companion.
Like other mustelids, ferrets have scent glands that produce a musky, often offensive odor.
Mustelids – This family includes Martens, Weasels and Minks.
If you decide that ferrets are right for you, consider adopting from a rescue or shelter. There are many ferret breeders out there, but unfortunately for every ethical breeder there are many backyard breeders as well. Unfortunately these backyard breeders do not care about breeding healthy ferrets and many backyard breeders are so notoriously bad that people associate certain problems such as respiratory issues and heart failure. If you choose to buy a ferret from a breeder please do your research. Ferrets are great pets, but like any pet, deserve the time, patience and love that they deserve.