Ferrets are closely related to badgers, otters and weasels. In fact they are also known as ‘bad smelling weasels’ or ‘MUSTELA PUTORIUS FURO.’ Ferrets were mainly used as an effective means of rabbit control and today, they are becoming increasingly popular as pets.
If you decide to bring these cute bundles of curiosity home, the rewards would quickly become obvious to you as well as your family. That’s right. Ferrets make great companions and with the right feeding and care, they can live up to 12 years. These intelligent mammals are known for being playful and intelligent.
Young ferrets love to test their teeth and you would often find them chewing, playing and chasing each other. While they are not nocturnal animals, they are generally most active at dawn and dusk. The good news is that ferrets are extremely clean and they can be trained to go to the toilet. Sometimes ferrets might have an awful smell, but happens when your pet is frightened. Their anal glands produce a disgusting smell which does disperse after a short while. A male ferret will secrete a musky smell that would attract female ferrets.
Looking After Your Pet
Ferrets need to be kept in a clean environment with water and food bowl in an accessible spot. Also, you need to have a litter tray that could be used as the toilet. Nice, warm bedding is also a must for all ferrets and you can find a group of ferrets curled up together in one ‘bedroom’ or sleeping space.
Perhaps the most important thing you need to keep in mind is that ferrets can suffer from heat stroke. In fact, they may die from heat exhaustion if they’re exposed to sunlight and their body gets very hot. Simply put, ferrets are able to withstand cold temperatures, snow and even rain, but they are not good at regulating their body temperature in the heat.
It’s best to hold your ferret in a position they feel comfortable and secure. You can hold them under their front legs so that they build a strong bond with you. Once your ferret recognizes you, they can be placed in the arm and even your lap where they will fall asleep.
It’s important that you clip your ferrets’ front claws that are often used for digging. Remember that ferrets love to dig and they wouldn’t shy from escaping. You will be surprised to know that ferrets can easily escape through doors that are not shut properly.
Play Time and Exercise
Ferrets are entertaining creatures and they need plenty of physical activity to prevent boredom and stay healthy. Both young and old ferrets love playing with toys and household items. They are also extremely inquisitive so ferret proofing your home is a must. Also, you need to supervise your pet during play time so that they don’t get caught behind, between or underneath furniture or other household items.
Feeding Your Ferrets
Adult cat and even dog food is never recommended and should never be given to your pet. You can find high quality dry ferret food that can meet your pet’s nutrition requirements and is healthy. Remember that a ferret’s diet should be high in protein and low in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Fat or oil content in the diet is important for healthy skin and coat along with minerals such as calcium and phosphorus for good dental health.
Always make sure there’s constant supply of water especially if your pet is eating or playing outside. In warm weather, ferrets may drink more water.
Ferrets live for 6 to 8 years on an average and during that time, you need to take them for regular vaccinations and veterinary checkups. Ferrets are also at risk of fleas and hairballs. As stated earlier, ferrets like to nibble and chew and this means they can chew almost anything – pieces of plastic, rubber and even bedding. Ferrets can get hairballs from self grooming. Symptoms such as loss of appetite, difficulty defecating and vomiting are all clear signs of a blockage.
It is seen that ferrets are susceptible to flu. If your ferret is sneezing, coughing or has wheezing and runny nose for longer than a week, take him to a vet immediately.
Ferrets can catch fleas easily and if you find your companion scratching more than usual, your best bet is to contact your vet immediately. You must also clean the cage and bedding along with the rest of your home including carpets and furniture to prevent the annoying parasites from coming back.
You can get a multi-level cage for your pet. The space can contain a dark enclosure such as a wooden box that can be used for sleeping. Paper towels make good bedding and can be changed frequently. From time to time, the cage itself will need regular scrubbing along with water bowls, food bowls and of course, the litter box.