Ferrets are related to mink and weasels. They are very inquisitive, friendly and intelligent. Ferrets are also extremely active, love lots of exercise and will want you to play with them every day. Although they sleep about 18 hours a day, they will adapt their sleeping and active times to the fit your schedule.
It’s important to note, however, that compared to other small m
ammals, ferrets are high maintenance. Because they need lots of protein in their diet and digest their food very quickly, they must be fed often. They also need lots of attention from humans and in-cage companions. A ferret is not the ideal pet for someone who is away from home a lot because he requires daily commitment of time for feeding, providing fresh water, cage cleaning, emptying the litter box and exercise outside the cage. Please take note that ferrets live for a long time – 6 to 12 years! If you get a ferret, please understand that this is a long commitment that should be considered carefully.
Because they can bite if they are not well-trained and healthy, ferrets are not recommended if there are small children in the house. Even adults need to handle ferrets with care, as they might mistake a finger for an edible treat.
However, if you are willing to invest the time, your ferret will become a friendly and playful pet.
Make sure to provide your ferret a sleeping hut of some sort, like a wooden box or plastic igloo – somewhere it will feel safe and secure while sleeping. They love to play with toys, including logs, branches, boxes, and never-used flowerpots. Hammocks are great for naptime!
Your ferret will need a large cage with a separate compartment to sleep in. Line the bottom of the cage with comfortable and safe carefresh® complete animal bedding.
Ferrets are easy to litter train! As soon as your ferret chooses a corner of the cage to use as a bathroom, put a box or small litter pan there filled with carefresh® complete animal bedding. Change the litter box daily, and change the cage bedding once or twice a week.
Remove soiled bedding, droppings and stale food from the cage daily. Clean the cage completely once a week by scrubbing the bottom of the cage and soiled accessories with warm water and a gentle soap and replacing dirty litter and bedding. Make sure to rinse and dry everything completely before returning it to the cage.
Ferrets are carnivores, and food passes through their digestive systems very quickly. A ferret diet must be high in animal protein, high in fat and low in fiber.
Because of their quick metabolism, ferrets need to eat every 3-4 hours, so it is best to have dry food available constantly. You may also occasionally treat your ferret to canned food. Most ferrets will eat only enough to meet their needs and will not become obese as long as they are fed quality food and get enough exercise.
Make fresh, clean water available at all times.
Care & Handling
Remember that most small mammals are prey in the wild. If you handle your ferret incorrectly, he can become permanently frightened and even aggressive. Before attempting to pick up your pet, make sure that he is awake and alert. Soothe him with the familiar sound of your voice. Approach him from his own level, not from above.
A ferret should be grasped around the shoulders with one hand, with your thumb under his mouth while supporting the hind legs with your other hand. Then gently lift the ferret and hold him against your chest.
Although ferrets have a distinctly musky scent, it is normally neither offensive nor overpowering. While occasional baths are recommended, frequent bathing will not reduce the scent and may dry out the skin, making the scent worse.
Health & Veterinary Care
Ferrets should be bright and alert. Monitor their food intake to make sure they are eating and drinking normally. Younger and older pets are often more susceptible to illness due to lowered resistance. Babies should receive distemper vaccines at 3-4 week intervals until age 16 weeks. All ferrets should have new pet exams, as well as annual rabies and distemper vaccinations, and wellness exams every 6 months.
Handling and grooming your pet every day gives you the opportunity to examine him for signs that may indicate illness. Symptoms of potential problems may include:
- Eating or drinking more or less than normal
- Restlessness or lethargy
- A dull coat that is soiled or itchy, with cuts or lumps
- Plaque buildup on teeth
- Wax in ears
- Long nails