Caring for Ferrets

Filed Under: Pocket Pets, Ferrets, General Care

Ferrets are playful and energetic, and bond well with their human friends. Some ferret caregivers compare ferrets to cats, but a ferret is in general much more energetic than your average cat. In some states in the U.S., owning a ferret is illegal. If you’re thinking of bringing a ferret into your home, check first to find out if any state or local laws prohibit you from keeping a ferret.

A ferret will live about 6 years, and is mature at five months old. Female ferrets are called "jills," and males are referred to as "hobs." Ferrets are known for giving off a distinct odor, hobs in particular. Having your ferret neutered will effectively reduce this odor, but will not eliminate it completely. Jills should be spayed to prevent the estrogen imbalances that are common to adult female ferrets.

A carnivorous animal, the ferret requires a high-protein, high-fat diet of animal origin. Cat food is often recommended for ferrets, but there are commercial ferret feeds in pellet form as an alternative. A ferret will process food in a matter of hours, so frequent meals are necessary. Ideally, your ferret should have constant access to food and fresh water.

Typically ferrets are indoor animals, living in wire enclosures, with specific sleeping and bedding areas. If your home has been carefully ferret-proofed, consider allowing your ferret to roam outside of his enclosure for play and exercise—but only under your supervision. Ferrets, with their long and agile bodies, are very good at getting almost anywhere they want to be, including outside. Make sure you’ve eliminated all escape routes before letting your ferret out. You can use a litter box, either inside your ferret’s wire home, or in your living area. Clumping cat litter is not recommended for ferrets; shaving or pellet litter—such as Feline Pine—is much preferred. In very mild climates, and with good shelter from the elements, a ferret can successfully live outdoors.

Just as a ferret can wriggle through almost any opening, he can also escape very easily from your grip. Handling a ferret takes some practice. Handle your ferret gently and often from an early age, and they should be quite accustomed to it. Anytime your ferret needs to be very still—such as brushing or nail trimming—a firm grip on the scruff of the neck will restrain them. A gentle rub on the tummy will keep them quite calm.

Ferrets are fun to watch, especially during playtime. Provide them with lots of toys, tunnels and ramps and you—and your ferret—will be highly entertained. Any toy for your ferret shouldn’t be too soft, because ferrets do have a tendency to chew, and any small pieces might be swallowed. Keep some toys inside the enclosure, and—if you let your ferret roam—build a play area where your ferret can burn off some his energy. Above all, give your ferret lots of love!

Topics: adoption

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