These small, cuddly and friendly mammals make excellent pets, but there are quite a few things you need to know before bringing one home. Ferrets (on an average) live for 6 to 8 years and this means you will have a companion for a long time. Of course you must be excited to bring home a ferret so here’s what needs to be home before your home is prepared for your first ferret.
Most importantly, make sure you have enough time to conduct some research about the ferret like any other pet. Also, consult your vet or local ferret specialist so that you would know about their special needs.
Where Can I Buy Ferrets?
The best place to buy these cute companions is trusted pet stores. In addition, you can also get them from licensed breeders and rescue organizations.
Ferrets come in a range of exciting colors. You would find pure albinos and then there are chocolate brown, white, silver, cinnamon brown and even sable furry balls. Some ferrets come with special markings on their feet (mitts), body (panda ferrets for example have dark head and legs with white body fur) and face.
Interestingly, you can also buy Siamese ferrets – ones with dark legs and tail which look quite similar to Siamese cats.
Male ferrets weigh around 2.5 to 3 pounds and some expensive breeds can be large and heavy and weigh more than 5 pounds. Female ferrets as you can guess are smaller and weigh roughly about 1.5 pounds.
The average length of ferrets does not exceed 24 inches (2 feet), but you can find a few ferrets that exceed 24 inches.
How do you choose a healthy ferret?
When you decide to visit your local pet store or breeder, make sure you look for the following signs
- Curious nature
- Playful, active attitude
- High level of alertness
- Clean teeth
- Trimmed nails
- Bright, shiny eyes
- Soft fur
- Glossy coat
- Clean ears (shouldn’t be any discharge)
- Healthy skin. There shouldn’t be any cuts, scrapes or infections.
You should never choose ferrets with obvious medical issues such as watery eyes, runny ears or nose. Also, avoid ferrets that are kept in dirty cages or unhygienic environment. Of course it’s heartbreaking to see ferrets living in dirty cages, but filthy environment is a breeding ground for infections and they could be transferred to other pets, even humans if you bring the ferret home. If you know about ferrets being kept in cruel conditions, notify the related authorities you could take proper action.
Your Decision should be based on Personality
When picking the right ferret, don’t focus on coat color or gender of the pet. Interestingly, ferrets are known for changing the color of their coat. Simply put, a young ferret will change color several times during his life because he will not stay the same color for the rest of his life.
Similarly gender of a ferret doesn’t matter unless you want to breed them. As stated earlier, the difference between male and female ferrets is that males are generally larger and heavier. When selecting a ferret, check for shiny eyes, bright coat, clean nose and ears, shiny whiskers and the skin should be free of infections, bumps, cuts or red swollen patches.
You also need to check that the ferret can walk and run around with no wobbling or limping. The nails should not be broken or split and tiny foot pads should never look dry or scaly.
What is a winning personality?
Is the ferret alert and interested in playing with you? Does he want to be cuddled? Remember that if a ferret is scared, not interested in playing or running away from you, it might not be the right pet. However, you can spend some time with the animal to give him time for interaction. Sometimes ferrets might act unfriendly and this usually happens if they are hungry or tired.
Some breeders and pet shop owners say that female ferrets are more active and boys are cuddlier, but all this depends on the ferret.
Last, you should ensure that the pet is vaccinated. In most cases, ferrets are ‘fixed’, but if your female ferret is unspayed, or male is unneutered, make plans to get it done before your pet is 6 months. Remember that unneutered males can become very aggressive and unspayed females are most likely to die if they are not bred after they go into heat.