When you think of a furry pet, not everyone’s first thought is a ferret but anyone who owns one will tell you it should be. Highly intelligent and fun, yet not for the faint-hearted, a ferret has different needs from your cat or dog but once you get to know them better, they can be a loving addition to a home. Still, it is better to do your homework so you know the best way to take care of them. The following is a list of considerations for anyone thinking about owning a ferret.
They Get Everywhere
It’s not unlike pets to be curious but ferrets, in particular, like to see where they can get to in your home. They can disappear pretty fast and before you know it they are rummaging around a cupboard or somewhere they shouldn’t be. Because of this, they face a lot of hazards unless you supervise their time out of their cage. Be careful around wires and electrical items as they like to chew. Speaking of, watch what they put into their mouth as they can get over eager and choke.
If you’ve ever visited ferret owners home you may have smelt the ferret before you see it. Since they make their territory from a scent sac near the anus, the scent can be quite strong. However, it does pass pretty quickly and can be masked if using a litter tray or with a solvent.
They Can Be Toilet Trained
This is going to make ferret ownership a lot easier and in the same way that a cat can use a litter tray, ferrets can also be trained. Start by introducing it into the cage and leave some droppings in there to give them an idea of what it is for. This can be moved around the cage eventually until you have found the ideal spot. You should work to detract them from any corners they like to mess in during the training period.
Ferrets Need Quality Food
As a carnivore, ferrets require a diet high in protein as well as fats. Although it can be difficult to find, it is better to buy ferret food than substitute it for something similar. A lot of people use cat or dog food when they are desperate but this is not ideal for their needs. Avoid giving them human food as a treat as they may have a sensitive stomach.
They Need Plenty Of Exercises
Although they like their long naps like a lot of pets, ferrets are highly active when awake this means lots of playtime between the pet and owner as this can also serve as mental stimulation. They like to run full pelt as well as climb and generally mess around. Playtime can be an opportunity to break out some toys for your ferret to chase. Ferrets also need a bit of attention or they can get bored. Try not to leave them in a cage all day as less active ferrets can put on weight pretty fast.
Ferrets Are Highly Social
Because they enjoy the company of other ferrets, a lot of pet owners make sure they get more than one. They aren’t only social with other ferrets and are happy to interact with their human comrades as much as possible. However, when purchasing more than one ferret be wary as they don’t always get along. It can be a good idea to neuter two males to give them a better chance of getting along. Keep an eye on how they play and socialize with one another, and give them separate spaces for food and water.
Any home with young children or other pets should think about how they will integrate a ferret into their home. As friendly as these furry creatures can be, a ferret will react differently to other pets so if your child is young as used to be able to play rough with the family dog, it will not be such a good idea with a ferret. It is advised that houses with children under the age of 8 wait until they are a bit older and any interaction with visiting children and babies should be supervised at all times.
Some dogs have hunting instincts so this is another thing to be mindful of before you purchase. On the other hand, ferrets are also predators so if you have birds, rabbits, fish, rodents among other pets, a ferret will need to be kept well away.
They Need Vaccinations
Part of responsible pet care is being up to date with their vaccinations and ferrets are no different. It is a legal requirement for them to be up to date on their rabies vaccinations but it is also wide to give them immunity to canine distemper as they can contract it. Since this can be brought in from outside on your shoes, it is a good idea to keep their jabs up to date even if they are a strictly indoor pet.
Ferrets Are Illegal In Some States
The first thing to do before you consider whether or not a ferret is a pet for you, make sure it is legal to do so. Some states including California and New York City among others have banned the keeping of ferrets as pets so although you might be keen, it might not be possible.
They Get Hairballs
In the same way a cat has to deal with self-grooming and loose hair, a ferret will cough up a hairball so don’t be surprised to hear this at any point. Because this can cause blockages and some discomfort, it is a good idea to brush your ferret regularly. Two or three times a week should be enough but during periods of excessive shedding, this can be increased.
The price of a ferret can vary depending on where you live but typically you should expect to pay anything from $75 to $250. This isn’t where the expense stops though as, on top of the cost of a cage and supplies for the interior as well as their food, there are vaccination fees. These can cost as much as a ferret to start with although booster jabs will not be so costly.
The cost of neutering or spaying should also be taken into consideration before you make the decision.