A Ferret as pet?
The mischievous eyes, its cute face and playful personality, Ferrets have become popular as pets. But what do you need to know about having a Ferret?
Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) belong to the weasel family. The lifespan of a Ferret can be from 6 to 12 years, in which they will need a lot of attention and care to thrive.
Male (Hobs) or female (Jills)?
Males have scent glands near the tail and anus that helps them mark their territory. After they mature, the males have an intense musk smell. Male Ferrets can become aggressive towards other Ferrets.
Females, if not neutered can remain “on heat” for up to 6 months in a year. Their behavior will change due to their hormones as will their general health. It is recommended to neuter your Ferret if you do not plan to breed him/her as the ongoing heat can cause severe health issues. The best time to neuter a Ferret is before he/she reaches its sexual maturity, which is in general between 6-12 months.
Ferrets are very playful and acrobatic. And it is great fun to watch a Ferret play with toys or other Ferrets, as they are most amusing and intelligent. Cat toys are suitable for ferrets, but always choose durable toys as they will chew through them with their inward pointed and very sharp teeth. If kept in a cage, Ferrets need at least 2 hours a day to be out of the cage and allowed to explore. Ferrets should never be left unsupervised when they have cage -out time as they will get into everything and everywhere. It is important to Ferret-proof your house. Meaning, closing the space beneath the fridge, sofa, between cupboards, and yes, it means keeping your toilet paper and garbage bin way up, out of reach.
Ferrets are carnivores.
They need a diet high in fat and protein. Food with more than 35% protein and 20% fat is a good diet. Some owners feed their Ferrets dry cat food or chose a particular Ferret food available from Beaphar. Do not feed human food to Ferrets, especially not chocolate, onion, caffeinated drinks-food, or tobacco. These are especially dangerous to them.
Training a Ferret
Unlike cats, Ferrets are not easy to train to use a litter box, but with a bit of patience and persistence, it is possible to teach them to be house trained. You can use shredded paper or paper based cat litter in the litter tray. Still there might be “accidents” in the house.
When Ferrets are young they tend to nip. It is very important to show them that nipping humans is not acceptable behavior. This is as well the reason they are not easy pets for younger children. The first days after you adopt a Ferret are very important and you will need to spend a lot of time bonding. These few days you will set up the base of your relationship with your Ferret.
As every Ferret is an individual, you will not know if they will do well with other pets like cats and dogs. Introducing should, therefore, be done gradually. Ferrets are hunters by nature, so they will not do well with birds, lizards or any other small animals.
Ferrets are very sensitive to heat, and they can easily get a heatstroke. The temperature should not be more than 27 degrees Celsius. Fleas are a big threat for Ferrets. If you notice fleas, please visit your vet to get the right treatment. A vet should check young ferrets at least once a year to make sure he/she is healthy. Ferrets older than 5 years should be taken to the vet twice a year.
Ferrets need to get yearly vaccinated for Rabies & Canine Distemper, as distemper is also a threat to them!
Take care and don’t forget to enjoy your Pet!