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!

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