Ferrets, like dogs and cats, are susceptible to rabies and should be vaccinated yearly. They should also be vaccinated for canine distemper virus which can be fatal. Ferrets are not immune to health problems, and should receive regular preventative health care through regular check-ups.
A pet ferret can be one of the most loyal, cuddly, and loving pets available, but could also be one of the most finicky. With a shorter lifespan of just 8 to 10 years, it is recommended that ferrets be spayed or neutered to prevent major health risks that would shorten their lives even more. Similar to cats and dogs, ferrets require semi-annual check-ups and annual vaccinations. Ferrets cannot survive temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is recommended that they be kept in your home’s coolest room; they can tolerate very cold temperatures when they have dry housing and are well-fed.
Before considering a pet ferret be sure to check local regulations to see if ferrets are legally allowed to be held as pets. Regulations vary by city and some cities even require pet holders to acquire a permit prior to purchasing a pet or bringing in a ferret from another city or state. Also, due to their aggressive, playful nature, ferrets are not the best pet for young children. A younger child could easily feel overwhelmed by a ferret’s aggression or could take the animal’s excitement as an invitation to join them, causing a child to become too frenzied and antagonistic towards the pet.
Before bringing your pet ferret home, you will have to ferret-proof your house by:
- Covering the carpet around doors with floor guards
- Covering wire cords
- Placing locks on cabinet doors
- Placing Plexiglass® around open staircase spindles
- Removing any recliners from the home
- Sealing any crack, hole, or crevice that a ferret could squeeze through
Similar to most pets, there are numerous supplies available for ferrets – bedding, toys, and enclosures. Some supplies are essential while others are optional. An enclosure, food dish, water dish, bed, and litter box are all essential items.
- Bedding – Ferrets are burrowing animals and need bedding that will allow them to tunnel into a dark, warm, enclosed area. There are special-made ferret beds that are rolled-up fabric tubes or hammock-like swings that ferrets especially enjoy or you can create a bed from cut off sweatshirt sleeves or pant legs. Ferrets also enjoy cat beds with a cover fashioned over them. Multiple ferrets enjoy sharing one bed where they can snuggle together and create their own private nest.
- Dishes – Food and water dishes should be deep ceramic dishes. Because ferrets enjoy digging, a deep dish prevents them from being able to scatter food and water everywhere and creates less opportunity for them to make a mess. A ferret’s water supply should be constant, especially in warmer weather, but be sure to change out the water frequently as ferrets like to frolic in water so it can get polluted.
- Enclosure – Most ferret owners opt for a spacious, multi-level enclosure that allows their pet to get ample exercise and also provides enough room for multiple ferrets should an owner decide to purchase more in the future.
- Litter box – Unlike cats, ferrets are not inclined to use a litter box; they must be continually trained. With positive reinforcement and awarding proper use of the litter box with treats, a ferret can be trained to understand how to use their litter box. Discourage your ferret from using other areas of their enclosure for bathroom activities by placing bedding, toys, and food dishes scattered around. Doing this can create the notion that the litter box is the only “logical” place to go to the bathroom.
What do ferrets eat?
- Commercial ferret food
- Cooked eggs
- Fresh cooked chicken
Foods that should never be offered to ferrets:
- Peanut Butter
- Any food with sugar
The ferret personality
Ferrets are very social animals and need several hours of human interaction per day. They also benefit when part of a multiple ferret household and have other ferrets to mingle with. Ferrets can get along with other pets, such as cats or dogs, when raised alongside them. However, their patience with other pets is usually very short, so a bothersome pet may irritate a ferret. When not given enough attention a pet ferret can get depressed. Be sure that you have enough time to dedicate to a ferret before purchasing one.
Aside from enjoying attention, ferrets can be very sneaky and devious. They love to slide along walls and creep around, getting into things or sneaking under furniture. Often, pet owners lose ferrets when they scurry out front doors that were mistakenly left open or ferrets get out of their enclosures in similar ways. Be sure to never stand with a door open while a ferret is loose in your house.
How is a ferret groomed?
Bathing a ferret is similar to bathing a dog or cat. Using ferret-specific shampoo: rinse your ferret with warm water; work the shampoo into a lather; and rinse the shampoo out with warm water. If any shampoo is not rinsed away, the ferret could end up with dry, itchy skin. Either towel-dry your ferret or allow them to run around and dry off on their own.
While ferrets do need a little length on their nails to perform daily tasks, nails should still be trimmed monthly, as extra length can get in the way and cause pain. To trim nails, take fingernail clippers and blunt the tips of the nails, avoiding the pink areas at the base of the nail.
Properly researching ferret ownership can help you decide whether this is the right pet for you. If you feel that a ferret is the perfect fit, proper care and affection for your ferret can lead to an awarding friendship.