Looking After Ferrets
Ferrets are a member of the Mustelidae family, which includes the weasel, stoat, mink, otter, badger and polecat. Ferrets are not actually wild animals domesticated relations of the polecat.
By nature Ferrets are carnivores and should be looked after accordingly.
Ferrets are lively, intelligent animals that enjoy company. Ferrets are sociable animals and should be kept with other ferrets. Ideally they should be neutered as neutered ferrets lose their musty smell.
The average age that ferrets live to is 8-10 years.
How to Buy a Ferret
Ferrets can be kept indoors or outdoors provided the accommodation is dry, draught-free, escape proof and out of direct sunlight. Ferrets need to be kept in stable temperatures around 15-21° C, extreme temperatures can be dangerous to them.
Ferrets are active animals so the accommodation needs to be as large as possible and include multiple levels for sleeping and playing. A separate sleeping area with suitable bedding should be provided. If you are keeping more than two ferrets each should have its own sleeping area. If kept indoors, ferrets can be provided with an outdoor run (a court) similar to an aviary. Do make sure that there is refuge from the sun and that drinking water is provided in the run. (Ferrets are susceptible to the sun and can get sun stroke if precautions are not observed.)
Cat litter or wood shavings can be used as bedding. Cages and living areas should be cleaed roughly once a week. A good quality, pet-friendly disinfectant should be used and all the bedding and shavings replaced with a fresh supply.
Much like cats, Ferrets normally use the same area for a toilet every day and can be trained to use a litter area, this can make it easier to clean.
The enclosure should be furnished with an interesting selection of natural non-toxic wood branches, shelves, pipes and hammocks. Some ferrets enjoy paddling and can be given a litter tray filled with water.
How to Feed a Ferret
Ferrets are carnivorous (meat eaters) and need a diet that is high in animal protein and fats. There are a range of complete ferret foods available. Treats can be used to help train ferrets, but care should be taken that these are not overused as they can cause ferrets to become overweight.
Fresh clean drinking water should be available at all times, and is best provided by a gravity-feed bottle.
Ferrets can became nervous by sudden movements or loud noises.
Start by offering treats from your hand, then place one hand across the animals back, then slide the hand up to circle his neck with your thumbs under the mouth. The other hand will support the weight of the ferret s body. With practice you will find a comfortable position to hold and carry your ferret.
Ferrets have sharp claws and teeth so it is important to keep them away from your face, incase they become startled. However responsible breeding has improved temperament and if handled correctly the likelihood of any biting occurring is small.
Ferrets are full of curiosity and they have sharp teeth, so electrical cables should be covered. They also have a knack of getting into unlikely places. Never leave your ferret unattended when out of his cage. Tame ferrets can be walked on a suitable ferret harness.
General Ferret Care
Ferrets are generally healthy animals, but please consult your vet if the animal becomes ill.
Grooming Ferrets - Grooming not only helps to keep your ferret healthy but helps you to bond with your pet. Your ferret should be groomed at least once a week.
Ferret Worming - Your ferret should be wormed regularly with a proprietary worming preparation
Ferret Flea Control - Regular flea treatments will be needed to prevent fleas and other skin parasites.
Vaccinations - Your ferret should be vaccinated against distemper. Regular boosters will be required. If you intend to go take your pet abroad he will need a pet passport. This requires amongst other things vaccination against rabies. Your vet will advise.
Neutering - It is advisable to get your ferret neutered. Female ferrets can become seriously ill and ultimately die if allowed to repeatedly come into season without being mated. Your vet will be able to advise on neutering or other methods of controlling her seasons.
Insurance - Ferrets should be registered with your vet and insurance against unexpected veterinary costs should be considered.
ID Chip - You should consider having your ferret micro-chipped. Your vet or other pet professional can advise you on this.