Ferrets are weasels. Their family members include otters, badgers, minks, and other ridiculously cute animals. No other animal in the weasel family has been successfully domesticated.
Extremely friendly and cuddly, ferrets are among the more popular pets. These small creatures are cute, love the company of humans, and sleep quite a lot! While they are compared to cats and dogs due to these characteristics, they have unique personalities and traits that must never be ignored.
If you are looking at raising a ferret, we recommend that you understand a few facts about weasels, their eating habits, their habitation, their routine requirements, caring for them, and so on. To make it easier for you, here is an exclusive guide that will tell you all you need to know about them!
Everything you must know before adopting a ferret
- Training ferrets is difficult. You will need a litter box just like in the case of cats but compared to cats, you may have quite a lot of difficulty getting them used to the box.
- When excited or threatened, ferrets may release a foul smell (much like their relatives, skunks) and that can really stink up your home. However, you can choose to de-scent your ferret.
- Ferret health is quite a concern for many ferret parents. They are prone to intestinal blockage, adrenal diseases, heartworm, etc. Thus, it is important to take good care of them and to make regular vet appointments.
- The lifespan of a ferret is 15 years, but they commonly live between 7 and 10 years.
- Ferrets sleep a lot! They need at least 15 hours of sleep every day, 4 hours at a time. They also sleep very deeply.
- It is important to spay a ferret at an early age because ferrets, especially females that are not spayed and not allowed to mate can suffer from anemia and even death due to the overproduction of estrogen.
- You don’t need to bathe a ferret more than a few times a year.
Let’s find out a few lesser known facts about them
- The name ferret can literally be translated to “Little Thief.” They were named so because they are indeed excellent thieves!
- Ferrets can help keep your home free of mice and rats.
- Baby ferrets are known as kits and a group of ferrets is known as a business. Don’t you think these names are apt?
- Baby ferrets cannot see or hear. Their senses only start developing after the age of 34 days.
- In olden days, ferrets were trained to reach small places such as holes that humans cannot reach.
- Ferrets cannot see very well. They are nearsighted. However, they have excellent smell and hearing prowess.
- It is illegal to raise ferrets as pets in a few states and countries. Make sure your state qualifies before deciding to adopt one.
Now, we shall learn how to take good care of ferrets
Follow these guidelines:
Create a comfortable living space
This is obviously the first step. You will easily be able to find comfortable, pet cages with hammocks designed for ferrets at any popular pet store. Don’t ever buy a glass cage because they need proper ventilation to live comfortably. Add appropriate bedding to the bed along with a litter box that consists of newspaper shavings. Keep the temperature between 70 and 80 degree F and make sure you clean the enclosure every single day.
Note: As aforementioned, ferrets are excellent stealers and hiders. Thus, you must ensure that the cage is secure with no escape routes.
Provide plenty of exercise opportunities
Ferrets are curious, fun animals that love playing around. If you see your ferret bouncing, he wants to play. Bounce along with your ferret and play along! They dook (giggle) and sometimes, even start wagging their tails out of happiness. They also play dead, pretending to be invisible. Don’t touch them when they do this because they really think you can’t see them! When they get back up, you can start playing and fussing around again.
Also, teaching them to be gentle with you is very important. Start at an early age and teach them the meaning of “no!” when they get rough. They love fighting for fun and they could nip you quite hard. Yelping or firmly saying “no!” could stop this behavior.
If you are buying your ferret toys, make sure they are durable enough with no small parts that can be bitten off. Don’t buy toys made out of latex or rubber because they can be chewed on easily. Also, make sure you spend quality time with your weasel friend. Ferrets love company.
Take care of their eating habits
Ferrets are carnivorous animals and need quite a lot of animal meat protein. You should never give them vegetables and fruits. Other foods to be avoided are raw onions, dairy products, and egg whites. Xylitol is also quite dangerous, which is you must avoid all foods that contain that ingredient. Chicken and turkey snacks are recommended foods. Stay away from cat and dog food.
Talk to your vet and give your ferret a mix of foods while he is still young. Ferrets do not appreciate food changes at later stages in life (after six months) and they are very picky eaters. Also, changing food can cause the ferret to fall sick because they don’t adapt really well to food changes.
Needless to say, ensure that fresh, clean drinking water is always available for your little pet. Buy ceramic bowls for food and water. They are sturdier.
Pay attention to their health
Like all pets, ferrets come with their set of health concerns. However, with good care and attention, you can keep them all at bay.
Annual health checkups are a must for ferrets. If your ferret is older than 5 years, we recommend checkups twice a year. If you feel something is wrong or that your ferret is not “himself,” you must take him to the doctor.
If you do not plan on breeding, get your ferret spayed or neutered at an early age.
- Ferrets like being clean. Make sure you provide water for them to wash their faces.
- Do not bathe them regularly. Their skin will get dry and they will get smellier than they usually are.
- Ferrets shed twice a year. Comb them well during these times so that you get rid of their loose fur.
- Take him to the vet for nail trimmings, monthly teeth cleaning, and regular grooming.
We hope this guide helped you understand ferrets and their care requirements. When you know how to take care of a ferret, it is a lot less intimidating and a lot more fun! We would love to see pictures of your ferret in his enclosure, having lots of fun! Do share them with us along with your experiences.