Learn about ferrets, a funny, delightful, friendly little animal related to the weasel. Though their appearances are similar, their mannerisms are not. The weasel reminds me of a dysfunctional weed eater or a rabid sewing machine with their sharp, little teeth. Ferrets are normally lovable and friendly. The pet ferret is a remarkable little animal and an exceptional pet for the right person.
Meet one of my ferrets, her name is Missy.
Ferrets have been an important part of our household for many years. They often brought joy to my life when there seemed to be only dark clouds. They are more entertaining to watch than any television show, especially right after they have had a bath. A wet ferret is a disabled ferret! A damp ferret loses all sense of good judgment. They stagger like their drunk, cannot walk, roll, and rub against anything and everything trying to get that nasty old water off them. Ferrets are extremely intelligent. Many people will tell you they are more intelligent than a dog or cat. I think they are just as intelligent, just differently. Adjectives that describe the personality of a ferret are conniving, devious, tricky, sly and wily. That pretty well covers the description.
Ferrets usually have a life span of 6 to 10 years. They normally remain alert, active, and playful well into their "golden years." I have a ferret that was born blind. He has gotten along fine for having a sensory disability. He is now seven years old and is still king of the mountain.
Many people will tell you not to buy just one ferret it will get lonely. I have seen numerous people with just one ferret. As long as you spend a great deal of time with them and supply them with lots of toys, and get down on the floor and play with the ferret he will do just fine. I unfortunately have never been able to have one of anything. In our house, traffic lights are necessary to direct all the miscellaneous fur balls running around.
Male Ferrets are Hobs and Female Ferrets are Jills. Neutered they become gibs or sprites. If you get a bunch of ferrets together, they are a business of ferrets or a busyness of ferrets. Nothing could be closer to the truth. A baby ferret is a kit and a bundle of joy.
Ferrets come in several different colors, sable, albino, silver, cinnamon, and chocolate just to name a few. Like any animal, every ferret has its own distinct personality.
Ferrets love to play! They like to play with lots of different toys and they like to play games with you. If he is jumping up and down in front of you or pulling on your pant leg he wants to play. Get down to his level and play with him! They love to play tug-a-war or chase. If the ferret is running around looking spastic and making funny, chuckling noises, he is having fun. Fun with you or his other ferret friends is like watching the cartoon, Tasmanian devil. They exert so much energy so fast, and then they are down for the count, ready to nap.
Cat toys will work great for ferrets. I knotted men's socks; they are great tug a war toys as well as carry around toys. They love tunnels. Dryer hose makes a great tunnel to play in. They love to carry stuff around. I had seven ferrets at one time. Each liked something "best" and different. One loves little stuffed animals. One, we called techno baby, had a love for cell phones and remote controls. Another loved metal objects for example, pipe fittings, anything metal. Strange little critters they are and the best little thieves around anywhere. They were so good they would make my raccoons blush from thief inadequacy!
A sleeping ferret may seem like a dead ferret. One time I found a ferret, cold, stiff, and seemingly not breathing. With tears flowing down my face, I informed my family that our beloved pet was dead. We picked up the cold, stiff little ferret as he looks up and asked what do you want? Another words, they are dead to the world when sleeping. The body temperature drops considerably. In fact, when they wake up they often have what we called the wake up rattles. They will shiver to bring up their body temperature, no reason to be concerned.
Ferrets often have scratching emergencies. In the middle of everything they will stop and frantically scratch. In the middle of a deep sleep, they will jump up all of sudden and scratch. Usually for no other reason than they itch. Fleas can be a problem with ferrets. None of the prescription flea controls like Front line or Advantage has been tested on ferrets. Nevertheless, many people have used it with no adverse affects.
Before you bring your ferret home for the first time make sure you are ready for him. They can and will get out of the tiniest of holes, heat vents, and dryer vents, mouse holes, any hole! Make sure your home is ferret proof. Any ferret owner will tell you the little dears do get into trouble! I had a house up in Northern Minnesota it had been a summer lake home that we turned into a year around house. I diligently ferret proofed the place. However, it didn't take me long to realize I would never find all the tiny exits a ferret can escape through. All the exits came out under the house. I put a ferret "trap" under the house which consisted of a nice warm blanket. They would wear out, snuggle in the blanket and I would simply reach in, pull them out and return them to their bedroom.
Consider animal adoption from an animal rescue or animal shelter. You may even find a ferret rescue nearby.
The ferret cage needs to be big if not bigger. A large multiple layer cage is a great example. Make sure the wire is fastened securely so that little toes don't get stuck.
I mostly housed my ferrets in their own bedroom. If they are housed in a cage, make sure the cage is no smaller than 2 X 3 feet and 2 feet high. Add hammocks for them to sleep in. Let them out to play with you frequently. Make sure the door latches are secure with locks if you have children.
You may post an advertisement for free ferret cages. Make sure you sanitize the cage. I got a free baby ferret from someone who had just bought the ferret, in fact I got the free ferret, free cage, free food, free toys, everything free. They got the ferret home and realized they didn't litter box train themselves overnight. Imagine that.
Plenty of fresh water should be available all the time. Ferrets require a very high protein food. You cannot feed them dog food! They are meat eaters and do not have the ability to digest grains, vegetables or fruit. Cat food does not have enough protein for a ferret. A high quality kitten food comes close. I used Iams kitten food and the ferrets thrived. This is before it was sold to another company and the formula was changed. I tried Science Diet kitten food and the ferrets got very dull and dingy looking. I use Marshalls ferret food now. Many times when my old blind little ferret started to fail, I would soak ferret food in hot water and restore him with the broth every hour, supplementing it with Pediaylite and vitamins. They love treats. Give them healthy treats though I am sure they will tell you otherwise. Ferrets should always have food available they have fast metabolism and can starve after a few hours. There is an excellent food comparison chart located at Food Comparison Chart
Ferretone and Linatone are two great vitamin supplements. Ferrets love these supplements so much that the supplements make a good treat or reward. You can also bribe a Ferret with either of these supplements. Need to cut their toenails? Ha! Drip a few drops of Linatone on their tummy and they will be so busy licking you can cut their nails.
Ferrets require vaccinations both canine distemper and rabies. After the first shots the ferret should receive a booster once a year. Check with your veterinarian for their advice and recommendations.
Ferrets do not do well in the heat. Anything about 90 degrees is stressful and can kill them. Keep their cage out of direct sunlight. Cold weather can be very hard on them also. Ferrets are an indoor pet.
Litter box training a ferret is possible but you do have to play by their rules. They like to void in corners. Put a litter box in a few corners and watch where they chose to go. If you are lucky they used one of the litter boxes. If not, do not despair; simply put one of the litter boxes in the same place. Grab a tissue and place the poo in the litter box. Keep this up for a while, you have been properly trained.
This is Missy's litter box, it fits great in the corner of the cage.
Ferrets should be spayed and neutered and their scent glands removed. You will usually buy them descented, spayed, and neutered. They will spray, well, not really spray, but ooze when frightened if the scent gland has not been removed. I accidentally bumped one in the rear one time and it stunk! While they are small, they will retain some odor for a short while. Expect to pay about $150.00 to $250.00 for a descented and neutered/spayed ferret.
Ferrets do not make good pets for small children, but again, I do not believe any pet is good around small children, unless supervise 100% of the time. Each child matures differently so there is no set age. There have been far more numerous dog attacks on small children, compared to a rare ferret bite. Ferrets will sometimes bite just in play like a kitten or puppy. Baby ferrets can be a bit nippy. I was checking out the ferrets in a Minnesota mall and talking to a group of people. Out of habit I raised a little baby ferret up to give him a kiss. He bit my lip and hung on. Here I am telling everyone about the joys of having a ferret when I had one hanging from my lip. Check into the legality of the ferret in your area. Laws can be different from state, county or local government Ferrets are great little pets and baby ferrets are as cute as a bug's ear. They are a blast to watch and are very funny animals. Above all, enjoy your new pet!
My series about pet ferrets from proper nutritional needs, playing, toys, equipment, ferret supplies, personalities, training ferrets, baby kits, ferret care, breeding, death and euthanasia and much more! Learn more about ferrets.
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Ferrets: A Complete Guide available in paperback and Kindle. By Diana Geiger (me:) Five star reviews! now available at Barnes and Noble online.