Ferrets are more than just adorable animals. They are smart and silly too! Their personality attracts everyone, and since they are very sociable, they make excellent pets and animal models. However, there’s a lot to learn about caring for them before deciding to bring one home. Ferrets are not like cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals. They have different needs in almost every aspect – food, home, care, etc. Treating them like dogs or cats would be borderline abusive, in our opinion.
We decided to write this piece to help you understand how to take care of a ferret and the things you must remember.
About the adorable ferret
Let’s start with a little information about ferrets. Many people believe that they are rodents. That’s, however, not true. They belong to the weasel family. In captivity, they live for 8 to 11 years and can grow to around 16 inches in length. They are extremely social and likeable, but they need a lot of sleep! An average ferret sleeps for around 18 hours a day!
Also, we advise you to check the laws in your country/state because raising a ferret as a pet is illegal in a few. No nobody wants to be on the wrong side of the law!
The ferret behaviour
To take good care of ferrets, you must understand their behaviour patterns. You will find a few similarities to cats and dogs and a few opposites. For example, they are very playful, like dogs, and sleep a lot, just like cats. But, you can’t leave them alone at home unless you secure them in their cage. They are known to ransack homes and start fights with other pets when left unsupervised. They do well with dogs and cats, but if you have guinea pigs, birds, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, or reptiles, it may not be advisable to get a ferret. They will make each other (and you) miserable.
Also, to ensure that they are not aggressive, you must check whether they are neutered/spayed and de-scented. Even though this won’t eliminate aggression, it will minimize it. Whenever they are out of their cage, be vigilant. They tend to hide things (seriously!) and get hurt due to their over-playfulness. Some of them even get lost!
Building a home sweet home for the ferret
There are a few things you should remember while building a safe abode for your ferret. They are:
- Get a ferret cage of approximately 2 square feet (at least). The cage should be made out of a wire mesh. Remember that the cage must be big enough for your pet to roam around freely. If you are getting 2 ferrets, the size should double.
- Get a bed!
- Buy designated bowls for food and water.
- Buy a harness for when you let your ferret out of the cage.
- Get a litter box.
- Buy some toys!
Remember, all these should be designed for ferrets. A litter box for cats, for example, may be too big for ferrets.
Also, make sure you clean the cage, replace the food & water, and check the bed every day. Clean the litter box once a week and the entire cage as regularly as needed. Use detergent or cleaners that are safe for pets.
Feeding your ferret
Giving the right food is extremely important. The safest bet, of course, would be to buy ferret pellets. But imagine eating the same damn thing every day! So, it is ideal to mix it up with a few other foods. You can choose soft kitten treats, for example.
Ferrets are obligate carnivores. So, giving them dairy or plant-based diet is a waste. They get all their nutrition from meat. Their diet must have at least 40% animal protein and 30% fat. Fibre requirements are very low (less than 3%).
While you can leave the food in the bowl for your pet ferret to eat whenever he is hungry, you should make sure he/she is eating well. They eat around 8 to 10 times a day. Don’t worry about obesity. They don’t overeat. We also suggest that you consult the vet for specific nutritional advice.
Coming to water, along with a bowl to drink from, try adding another bowl. Ferrets love playing in water. Keep checking the bowls and refill as required. They usually drink water 20 times a day.
Grooming your ferret
Like every other pet, your ferret will need grooming. Bathe him/her once a month in warm water using a shampoo formulated for ferrets. Use a soft brush to remove dead hair every week.
Ferrets have a distinct smell, and some pet owners think they can remove the odour through frequent baths. Frequent baths, however, dry the skin out, making the odour worse.
Also, brush their teeth once a month. (They don’t need every day brushing like humans.)
Ferrets make amazing pets but are unique and require more attention than one usually anticipates. With some research and dedication, though, you can do a great job.
Regular appointments with the vet, vigilance, and a lot of love will ensure that your ferret is a happy camper!
This article was written and provided by Mary Williams.