You may have recently bought a ferret or maybe doing some research to discover if you’d like to be a new ferret owner. Whatever the case, we’ve got this handy guide for you to peruse. We go over the basics on how to take care of a ferret and some other interesting stuff to get you off on the right foot. Ferrets are growing in popularity and make wonderful pets. You’ll find a cage of ferrets in almost every Petco nowadays!
Ferrets are pretty different from other types of pets. There are a number of things you should consider before deciding to own a ferret. Most importantly, you need to know how to take care of a ferret. The leading factor is whether or not you have the time for one. If you’re in college and working 2 part-time jobs a ferret is probably not for you. Ferrets need time to bond with their owners. Furthermore, they are very active little guys and are prone to getting into trouble if they are left alone for too long. At certain times of the day, ferrets are very active and love to play.
How to Take Care of a Ferret: Care Tips, Diet, and Ferret Facts
In this section, we touch on the basics of ferret care. You’ll learn how to take care of a ferret and provide a loving home.
Care Tips: How to Take Care of a Ferret
Ferrets are energetic pets and they do need your attention. They love to play. The more they play, the less mischief they will get into. They can get very naughty if left alone for too long. As long as you play with them a few times a day, they are usually okay. Because they are so intelligent and inquisitive they are typically able to keep themselves entertained when you’re not around.
Having lots of toys for your ferret to play with is essential. If you don’t give them a toy, they just might find or make one! The best types of toys for ferrets are small and durable. They are harder on toys than a cat would be and sometimes their chew on their toys with their chompers vigorously. Other great toys for when you are away are ferret hammocks, swings, and tunnels. It is very fun to watch a ferret play with these and other toys.
Ferrets are not wild animals. They are not like their cousins the weasel, otter, and badger. Ferrets were domesticated by humans as early as 60 BCE. If a ferret escapes to the outdoors it is highly unlikely that it will survive for more than a few days. This makes it especially important to have a safe environment for your ferret. Make sure the room(s) it dwells in is “ferret-proof” so to speak.
Most ferrets will require a good deal of training. They require a good deal of care, affection, and understanding. They retain many of their wild tendencies but usually are never aggressive or vicious unless abused. A well-trained, healthy ferret will never bit. Without training, they are known to nip. Even so, ferrets have a lower bite rate than other household pets such as dogs. Young ferrets will often nip in response to pain, loud noises, or if they are afraid. They do not intend to harm humans and the best thing to do is remove whatever they are responding to. For example, if your child is holding it too tight, show them the right way. If there is a loud noise that is startling them, find a way to muffle or remove it.
Unlike cats, ferrets do not naturally take to using a litter box. They can be trained though. Start with a small little box in the corner of their cage and then gradually move it outside of the cage in the room the cage is located. Use lots of verbal praise and treats every time you see the ferret uses the litter box. When they are first learning, you don’t need to clean the litter box frequently. Leaving a little bit of waste will help the ferret understand what the litter box is used for.
Ferret Diet: What do Ferrets Eat?
Ferrets need an abundance of freshwater. They are active creatures and need to stay hydrated. In turn, they also burn a lot of calories. Ferrets are carnivores and the best food for them is digestible animal protein. They have a very fast metabolism and short digestive tracts. This means they eat a lot and they eat often. Ferrets only eat because of caloric needs, which means they will not gorge themselves just because food is available as some other pets would. That means ferrets can have access to food at all times.
Ferrets require a diet high in protein and fat. These sources of calories are easily converted to energy to sustain ferrets for longer periods of time. Until recently, there have been few pet foods created specifically for ferrets. Many ferret owners would feed their ferrets cat food, and some still do. The important thing is that this cat food is at least 36% protein and about 20% fat. The interesting thing about ferrets is that can also subsist on whole prey diets in captivity. They will eat frozen mice, chicks, etc. akin to reptile’s diet.
One very well known brand is Kaytee. This ferret food is perfectly formulated for ferrets’ nutritional needs. If you can’t buy special ferret food just make sure to stay away from cat foods that contain fish. Also, dog food doesn’t work with ferrets. They won’t get all the nutrients they need from dog food. Be warned that many human foods are toxic to ferrets. Chocolate, tobacco, caffeine should never be fed to a ferret. They are already hyper enough as it is! Milk and onions are also big no-no’s.
It is okay to give your pet ferret treats. This is a necessary part of training them and rewarding them for doing good behaviors. There are special ferret treats you can buy online and at some pet stores. Vegetables and fruits are okay too. Remember, this must be done in moderation. Ferrets’ digestive system is not great at digesting large amounts of fruits or vegetables. That is why many people say not to feed them fruits or vegetables at all. Too much sugar, even sugar from fruits could lead to intestinal problems and even some types of cancer.
Ferret Facts: Interesting Info about Ferrets
- A male ferret is called a “Hob.” Female ferrets are known as “Jills.”
- Baby ferrets are called “Kits.”
- Ferrets range from $65 to more than $250 depending on the seller and breed of ferret.
- Expect to pay another $150 to $400 for vaccinations.
- The ideal age “kit” or baby ferret for a new owner will be between six and sixteen weeks old.
- Ferrets weigh 1 to 5 pounds.
- Average lifespan: 8 years.
- Average body length: 15 inches.
- Ferrets aid hunters in flushing out rabbits and defend farms from rodents.
Do Ferrets Make Good Pets?
Ferrets do make good pets. Ferret enthusiasts like to say that ferrets take on the best qualities of cats and dogs with some unique features of their own. Like dogs, they are affectionate, enjoy human interaction, and are eager to please their owners. Like cats, they are inquisitive, quiet, and can be independent at times. A unique trait of ferrets is that they are playful and entertaining even into old age. Some ferrets are mischievous and clever which can make them very fun to watch. Their intelligence makes them able to learn lots of fun tricks.
Remember owning a ferret is a big commitment. Ferret care isn’t easy. They are almost as big of a commitment as a dog. You need to set aside money to buy leashes, harnesses, deodorizers, and of course food and litter. It is also a good idea to budget for routine veterinary care. If the previous owner or store hasn’t vaccinated them, this is another upfront cost that should be taken care of. If you are going to buy a baby ferret he or she will require more work and time, but it is worth it becomes of the bonding experience. They will also adapt better to your environment and tendencies. Plus, it is a lot of fun to watch ferrets grow.
For most younger children, they are not recommended pets for children under 6 or 7. They need a responsible caregiver that will give them attention on a consistent basis. Most younger children lack the maturity required to own a ferret. If you’re going to have a ferret around a baby or infant it is very important to supervise these visits.
Ferrets are typically able to socialize and get along with cats and dogs. The best thing to do is slowly introduce your new pet ferret to your cat or dog. Have one person hold the ferret and another person the other animal. Let them sniff each other and get used to each other’s scents. Gradually let them interact freely. Close supervision should be the norm until they become pals. If you can accommodate a second ferret, domesticated ferrets love to play with each other and are a good way for a ferret to vent their energy. The best way is to get both ferrets when they are young so they can grow up together.
Ideas for Ferret Names
Here are a number of popular ferret names.
- A: Albert, Angel, Axle
- B: Bailey, Bandit, Bilbo, Binker, Blinx, Boots, Bullet
- C: Casey, Casper, Charlotte, Chipper, Chloe, Chocolate, Comet, Cookie, Cooper, Cubby, Cuddles, Cujo
- D: Daisy, Dakota, Danger, Darby, Darla, Delilah, Diego, Diesel
- E: Eddy, Ellie, Elf
- F: Fidget, Frosty, Foxy, Frisky, Fitch
- G: Gidget, Gimly, Gracie
- H: Holly, Hardy, Hobbs
- M: Mash, Maverick, Monty