Some animals are social by nature and can actually die if they live alone. What about ferrets? Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) are descendants of European polecats who are mainly solitary. During the 2000+ years they have been domestic animals, they have learned to live in groups.
Can ferrets live alone? Absolutely. However, the decision on whether to keep one or more should come after weighing all the risks and benefits of owning a solitary ferret or multiples.
Ferrets are sociable creatures, and the consensus among ferret owners is that they’re happier with a companion ferret. While a ferret may be more comfortable if it lives with another ferret, it can still be satisfied alone if its human gives it plenty of attention.
The average ferret lifespan is five to ten years, although some live as many as 15 years. It’s the ferrets who live in more stressful environments who live shorter lives. If they are locked up, rarely play with their human, and don’t have a ferret companion, this can lead to a shorter life.
Most ferret owners suggest owning ferrets in pairs. While the American Ferret Association identifies seven ferret colors and seven ferret patterns, there aren’t different breeds to consider when placing them into pairs.
The main reason not to have more than one ferret would be related to cost. The initial purchase cost and cost of food, kitty litter, and vet visits would be double to start with two ferrets.
The average price of keeping one ferret is $250-$600 per year, so the cost of maintaining two would be $500-$1200 per year. It’s necessary to consider a future where multiple ferrets might have emergencies when deciding how many are affordable.
Benefits of Having One Ferret
- The ferret will have a closer bond to its owner.
- It is less expensive to own one ferret.
- If your ferret has an emergency, you may have more money set aside to help.
- If you have one ferret, you don’t have to worry about it someday losing its playmate.
Risks of Having One Ferret
- The ferret may become lonely and even depressed if the owner doesn’t play with it enough.
- The ferret may become destructive if the owner doesn’t give it enough time.
- The ferret may have a shorter life if it does not have a good quality of life.
Benefits of Having Multiple Ferrets
- The ferrets will be happier having constant playmates.
- The ferret won’t become lonely if the owner doesn’t play with it enough.
- The ferret will not become destructive out of boredom.
Risks of Having Multiple Ferrets
- The ferret’s bond with its owner will decrease.
- The ferrets may not get along well together.
- Yearly expenses increase exponentially.
There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of how many ferrets you should own. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the cons on both sides.
A ferret owner can successfully keep just one ferret as long as they devote time to taking their ferret out of its cage and playing with it every day.
However, if an owner does not have much time to play with their ferret, getting a second ferret for a playmate might be better. Bored ferrets are also more likely to become destructive. However, having new toys doled out to them over time can help relieve boredom.
If a ferret is overactive and over-destructive, this is a huge sign that it’s not getting enough interaction and can benefit from having a companion.
Once a ferret gets a companion ferret, the bonds with its owner will weaken. The ferret may no longer be as cuddly or spend time playing with its human after gaining a ferret friend. It also may not instigate human play as much.
Once female ferrets reach sexual maturity at age 4-6 months, they will stay in heat until they breed.
Maintaining such high estrogen levels over time can lead to a severe condition called aplastic anemia and, ultimately, death. However, it’s unnecessary to own a male ferret to mate with a female if the female is spayed.
Can You House a Ferret Alone?
Since ferrets come from a background of loners, it’s okay to house a ferret alone. Even if an owner has multiple ferrets, it is not essential to accommodate them together as long as they have time to play together.
On the other hand, depending on how well a pair of ferrets get along together, it’s possible to house ferrets together. You’ll find them curled up together anyway, and they’ll have far more fun together. A double-story ferret cage will provide a pair with extra space to play.
It is possible to leave a healthy ferret alone for a couple of days, but it is safer to get a friend to come over and check on it. However, it’s essential to leave enough water and food for the time that the animal will be alone.
If the ferret is prone to gobbling up all its food in one sitting, it’s worthwhile to invest in a timed food dispenser. The ones for cats will work just fine. A larger automatic water dispenser can also help make sure they have enough water.
Can ferrets live alone? Most ferret owners suggest having multiple ferrets. While ferrets can live alone, the risks of having just one ferret far outweigh the benefits. On the other hand, while there are risks involved with having multiple ferrets, the benefits balance them out.
The main reason not to have multiple ferrets is the increased expense. If the cost isn’t a deterrent, then having at least a pair should be at least a consideration.