Ferret Feeding Plan

Here we layout a comprehensive plan for feeding your ferret. We discuss feeding frequency and the number of meals a ferret needs each day. Other important points we discuss are what types of food to feed your ferret and the best ways to make sure your ferret maintains a healthy weight. So let’s get to it! First up we provide some background information about ferrets and their ideal situation.

Ferrets and Food

Ferrets are carnivores, this means their diet should be primarily meat. Because of this they need special foods. Cats and kittens are similar in that they should also limit their carbohydrate intake as much as possible. Dogs are completely different and can tolerate a relatively High carbohydrate diet when compared to ferrets.

The ideal meal for ferret is whole prey. This usually means small rodents that have been humanely killed and kept refrigerated to guarantee freshness. You can find these at your local pet store. Ferrets are not scavengers and should not be fed raw meat that has not been kept refrigerated.

Alternatively, you can get specialty ferret kibble that will also do the job well. If you are really in a bind then look for premium kitten food that lists meat as the first ingredient. It is very important to make sure that carbohydrates are kept to an absolute minimum.

If ferrets consume too many carbohydrates it will increase their risk of developing certain cancers. Specifically, the cancer they are more prone to developing is called insulinoma. That link is to an article detailing the effects and symptoms of insulinoma in ferrets.

In some kinds of cat or dog food these carbohydrates will come in the form of vegetable or grain material. Because of this it is necessary to check the ingredient list.

How often should I feed my ferrret?

Ferrets also have very fast metabolisms.  Young ferrets need anywhere from five to six meals every single day. They need to eat two to four meals a day when they are adults. Some ferrets kept as pets are good at maintaining their weight when given free rein to eat as much as they want. However, in the wild a ferret would need to hunt for every meal they eat.

It can be very difficult to mimic the multiple feedings during the day that a ferret would normally experience. One thing you could try is using a tray style automatic pet feeder. They can feed your ferret up to 6 times a day. make sure to look for one that runs off of batteries. If you’re keeping the feeder in your ferrets cage while you are away you will want to make sure that the ferret cannot chew on the cord. Here is a link to an article on unhumid.com that provides some reviews on this type of pet feeder.

Using a tray style pet feeder will not allow you to feed your ferret whole prey. You would only be able to use this for the ferret specific kibble. We recommend starting off with a tray style feeder. If you leave a big bowl of food for your ferret while you’re gone, your ferret may end up overeating and become overweight.

Once a ferret becomes overweight you will need to put it on a diet. Just like humans ferrets get very cranky when their calories are restricted to the point that they are losing weight. Good could make playtime less enjoyable for both of you.

Ferret Feeding Plan

So to wrap it all up here is a quick summary:

  • Ideally feed your ferret a whole prey diet
  • Use ferret-specific kibble
  • Space out 4 to 6 meals throughout the day, possibly with an automatic pet feeder

Thanks for reading! Our next article will take a closer look at ferret diets and recipes.

How much exercise does a ferret need?

The first posts of this website are all dedicated to learning about ferrets and things to be aware of before you bring your new pet home for the first time. In the last article we covered some basic things about ferret safety when they are outside their cages.

In this article we are going to talk about the fun times your ferret spends outside of its cage. The main consideration is understanding some of the body language and signals ferrets use to communicate.

Ferrets really enjoy playtime in fact it is important for their health.According to drsfostersmith.com

Ferrets should have at least four hours out of their cage each day, and you should spend at least two hours of that interacting with them. Ferrets that spend too much time in their cage and not enough time playing tend to be obese, lazy, and have poor muscle tone.

In addition to their playtime requirements, ferrets have a few unusual behaviors that may look a little weird to people used to interacting with cats or dogs.

We go over some of the similarities and differences between ferrets and a more traditional pet like a cat or dog. While it is possible that you do not own other pets besides ferrets we feel that comparing them to more common animals is a good way to add context.

Ferret Playtime Behaviors

One way that ferrets are similar to puppies and kittens is their propensity for biting and nipping. It is important to reinforce good behavior and discourage biting early on in your ferret’s life. Once they’re older they can still be trained but it is more difficult to break them of the habit. because ferrets can be a little rough when they play it is important to supervise them when they are interacting with children or other pets in the first months that they are in your home.

When ferrets play they like to bounce around. This is an invitation for you to come play with them. Ferrets will sometimes bare their teeth in a way that looks like a snarl. When dogs exhibit this behavior it is generally a show of aggression. however this is a playful and fun behavior when a ferret does it.

Another behavior that may give you some pause is a ferret puffing up its tail. In cats this behavior is very aggressive and it is a way they communicate that they want you to back off. In this case also, puffing up their tail should be understood as the ferret having a fun time. Some dogs also puff up the hair along their spine and above the shoulder blades up their front set of legs. This is generally a show of excitement but it can mean that they are feeling aggressive as well.

Exercise Activities

Ferrets are quite interesting when it comes to playtime. They are a mix of cat and dog really. On the whole, they enjoy the following activities:

  • playing tag
  • chasing a small toy on a string
  • wrestling with your hand or arm, be careful of biting
  • running outside in the grass, be sure to use a harness

Ferrets and Speed Bumping

Some ferrets like to do an interesting thing that is commonly known as “speed bumping.” This is when a ferret could be in the middle of a fun play session jumping around and running and they simply stop and lie down on the floor holding completely still. Since they are long and narrow animals, they look somewhat like a speed bump on the road when they do this.

When the ferret does this they believe that they are camouflage and not visible to whoever else is in the room. It is up to you how you would like to react to this. It is fun to play along and pretend that you cannot see the ferret. each parent is different though so you will have to feel out the situation and see if your ferret responds better to being “found” or remaining invisible.

That’s it for this article! We hope you enjoyed it. Our next article will discuss ferret feeding plans.

Ferrets and Safety

The first posts of this website are all dedicated to learning about ferrets and things to be aware of before you bring your new pet home for the first time. In the last article we covered some basic things about ferret health.

In this article we are going to talk about the time your ferret spends outside of its cage. The main consideration is making your home a safe space for your ferret. This is important because it can prevent damage to your home and harm to your pet.

Making a house ferret proof is a difficult task. However if you stay organized and have a solid list of things to consider it should not be a problem. Ferrets have fluffy fur that makes them look a lot bigger than they actually are. They can actually get through spaces that are barely more than an inch across. it is important to think about what furniture they can get behind and places they could possibly get stuck.

Ferret Proofing Your Home

One dangerous place for ferrets is the entertainment console in your home. There is often space underneath or behind this cabinet. Additionally there are wires that some ferrets are prone to chewing.  Cats and dogs the sometimes exhibit this behavior as well.

Escape Artists

Another place you may not have thought of is behind your dryer. Some ferret owners have reported there ferrets escaping through their dryer vents. You can actually see some fun videos on YouTube of ferrets running through a clear dryer vent hose. While we are mainly talking about safety in this section of the article it is an interesting thing to think about for a play time activity.

Especially in the first days with your new ferret at home we recommend following them everywhere. This way you can see what things they find that you had not considered a possible safety hazard. For example a reclining chair that rocks can be a very dangerous place for a ferret. There is a lot of space for them to climb up into the rocking mechanism. These metal components perform a scissoring action when using the reclining portion of the chair or when rocking.

Ferrets and Appliances

If you are the type of person that leaves their dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer open you may change your habits once you are a ferret owner. These are all fun spaces for ferrets to climb into. It also makes them feel like they are concealed and protected. Similar behavior can be seen in cats when they jump into boxes.

The last thing we will mention when it comes to the safety of your ferret is temperature.  Ferrets do not do well in very warm weather. If the weather gets above 80 degrees Fahrenheit be sure to monitor your ferrets closely. They may need extra water, fans or even ice packs to help them keep cool.

Next Time…

Next time we cover the fun part, playing with your ferret. The next article we post will talk about the exercise your ferret needs to stay healthy. We cover things to think about and be aware of when playing with your ferret. See you next time!

Ferrets 101

Ferrets are fun pets to have. They are high energy and very curious.  Humans have been keeping threat to have as pets for over two thousand years. This is not as long as we have been domesticating dogs but don’t let that keep you from discovering the fun and friendship ferrets have to offer.

Ferrets are members of the weasel family and do great in small groups with either other ferrets or other pets. They do require care and maintenance just like a cat or dog would. There are some specific things that must be attended to when keeping a ferret and we cover those in this article.

How long do ferrets live?

A normal ferret lifespan is anywhere from 6 to 13 years. Some of the things that can help your ferret live a long and healthy life are the same things you would do for a cat or dog. These include flea and heartworm preventative measures and vaccines.

For the first 5 years veterinarians often recommend an annual checkup for a pet ferret. After that however they are considered seniors and should check in with your vet about every 6 months. Like any health related problems this sooner they are found the easier it will be to treat.

Do ferrets get spayed or neutered?

Yes! You should definitely consider getting your ferret de-sexed very early on.  They will reach sexual maturity as early as 6 months old and for sure by the time they are one year old. There are a few reasons that this is important. ferrets that still have their reproductive organs and glands have a very distinct and unpleasant odor.  Having these removed is a sure way to keep your house smelling fresh.

For female ferrets it is especially vital that they have this operation. Once they enter heat they will stay in that condition until they have made it. If you do not plan on breeding your ferret this can be very dangerous. It is possible for female ferrets stuck in heat to get a condition known as pyometra that affects their uterus.The consequences of this condition are very serious and can lead to death of the ferret.

Can a ferret be trained?

Absolutely, ferrets must be trained.  One of the ways that they play is by nipping and biting. It’s really important to make sure they understand this is not okay. Because ferrets begin their life with these habits they are not suitable for homes with small children.

What if I have other pets?

ferrets do socialize with each other and with other small animals. Some people recommend adopting two ferrets at the same time so that they have another animal to play with that is just like them.

Ferret-proofing

Just like you would for a baby, a dog or a kitten –  you will need to ferret proof your home. They are very inquisitive and intelligent animals. it is important to set up your home so that they can not get caught underneath anything or stuck behind furniture. This can be as simple as putting rolled towels underneath the edges of your couch.  Be sure to check every piece of furniture.

Ferret related items you will need

  • Ferret cage – this needs to be a dark enclosure where they can build a nest and sleep easily
  • Bowls – look for either bowls that will attach to the cage or heavier bowls made out of material like ceramic. This will prevent your ferret from tipping over the bowl and spilling their food and water inside their cage.  For water specifically, a sipper bottle is a great idea.
  • Bedding –  Towels and other similar Fabrics are great material for wedding. it will need to be washed frequently and you must clean the cage as well
  • Litter boxes –  your ferret will most likely need two litter boxes. One for inside their cage and the other for outside their cage when they are playing. The best litter for ferrets is either shredded newspaper or newspaper based cat litters.
  • Pet carrier –  You will need a pet carrier to get your ferret from your home to the vet office for their annual checkups. Be sure to check the weight limit on the pet carrier.
  • Leash and harness –  If your ferret is going to spend any time outside of the home will you recommend a leash with an H style harness. Even if the only place you plan to take your pet is the veterinarian office we still recommend getting one of these.

That’s all the time we have for today. Be sure to check back for our next article!