Do Ferrets Make Good Pets?
Let me start by saying that a ferret is not a rodent. That’s a common misconception. They’re actually in the Mustelid family, which include weasels, mink, otters, and polecats. Did you know that ferrets have been tamed as pets for over 2,000 years? So, do ferrets make good pets? Indeed, they do.
Ferrets are friendly, social, and smart. They’re curious creatures and love to explore. Ferrets are a big responsibility, perhaps even more so than a dog or a cat. It’s like having a 2-year-old child. Ferrets need lots of interaction with their people and bond well. They get along very well with companion ferrets in the same household and do best in small ferret groups.
Ferrets, like a puppy, will nip and bite. They can be trained not to do this, however. Ferrets do not shed, and they will not destroy your furniture.
Ferrets can be kept outside in warmer climates, but are generally kept inside. They’re susceptible to heartworm disease, canine distemper, and rabies. If you leave your ferret outside for any length of time, know that they are easily prone to heatstroke, and temperatures above 75°F can be dangerous for them. Ferrets thrive best in an atmosphere of 65°-68°F (18°-22°C).
Ferrets should be housed in a safe and secure cage, no smaller than 3 ft long by 2 ft high (1 meter long and a little more than 1/2 meter high) for a single ferret. A larger cage is even better though. They like a lot of space. Of course, if you have more than one ferret, a larger cage is needed, and can even be different levels with climbing materials.
You will need to furnish the cage with a water bowl (a water bottle attached upside down in the cage may be best), a food bowl, and some sort of bedding. This can include hammocks, blankets, toys, etc. They’ll play with just about anything that a cat will play with — balls, hanging things, tunnels, to name a few. Ferrets love to hunker down in small dark places, so a little hut or hide will be useful.
Ferrets will need a litter box too, not only in the cage but also outside of the cage for when they are out interacting with you. Good litters to use are shredded paper and newspaper-based cat litters.
Ferrets need regular grooming such as nail clipping, ear cleaning (they are prone to ear infection), tooth brushing, flea prevention, and treatment.
Ferrets should be bathed no more than once a month or so. If bathed too often, essential oils will be stripped from their coat. In an effort to compensate for that, the ferret will over-produce more oils than usual and this will leave your ferret smelling questionably funky.
Ferrets are meat-eaters and need protein and fat. Avoid vegetable protein because they cannot digest it and have no need for it. Ferret foods and treats should be meat-based. Try for a balance of no less than 35% protein and around 20% fat. As with any animal, don’t overdo it with treats.
Ferrets live for 6 to 10 years and during that time they will require regular vaccinations against canine distemper and rabies. It’s important to find a vet that is knowledgeable about ferret care.
Ferrets are playful and you will be their best play friend. They will need at least four hours out of their cage each day, at least two hours of which should be spent interacting with you. Do NOT leave them unattended while out of their cage.
Ferrets require constant supervision out of the cage. Their curiosity can get them into trouble that may be dangerous for them. Avoid toys that have parts, or are made of materials your ferret could chew off and swallow. Keep small items out of their reach.
Do Ferrets Make Good Pets?
Yes, they do, but please make sure that you know all that is involved before deciding to get one. Like I said earlier, they are a big responsibility, they’re rather a lot of work and need a lot of attention. If you think you can give the ferret the care that it requires, then, by all means, go for it.
Ferrets may not be a good idea if you have very small children. Children often roughly handle animals, and your ferret could get injured. Also, the ferret’s nipping and biting may hurt the children. A child 12 years or older would be better.
Remember, you’re looking at a 6 to 10-year commitment. Good luck, and have fun.
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