With any pet, it’s important to know which animals one can and can’t bring around. In the case of a more unusual animal to keep, such as a ferret, it’s especially relevant to do thorough research on appropriate care measures.
Keeping chickens has become an increasingly popular activity, and for a good reason—they’re cute, fluffy, and can even produce eggs! But if you already have a ferret (or perhaps are looking to get a ferret and already have chickens), you’ll want to consider whether you can safely keep ferrets with chickens. After all, you might hope maybe they’ll be a cute odd couple!
The long and short of it is no, it isn’t advisable to keep chickens with ferrets for safety reasons. In this article, we’ll dive deep into whether you should keep a ferret with your chickens.
Generally, no. If chickens are kept safely in their own coop, and the ferret is in a separate area, it could be fine. But like with many predatory animals, livestock animals such as chickens will be at risk for being eaten given the right circumstances.
It’s helpful to explore the details of the risks of keeping a ferret near chickens to prevent any disaster scenarios. Why exactly are ferrets dangerous to chickens?
When keeping a ferret as a pet, it may be easy to make assumptions about its diet and care based on the assumption that it’s a rodent. But ferrets are a type of weasel, which is not a rodent.
Unlike a pet rodent, which is often fed vegetables or hay, weasels such as ferrets are typically carnivores. This means that ferrets need a diet based on proteins from animals to be healthy. And especially chicken and chicken hearts are an ideal food for ferrets.
This isn’t that unusual for a housepet, given that dogs and cats are also carnivorous, and there are plenty of meal options available for carnivorous pets. However, having a carnivorous pet impacts other types of animals that are kept in the same space.
Although a chicken probably won’t be the most appealing meal to a ferret, if the ferret is hungry enough, the chicken will seem like pretty easy prey for a quick meal. After all, the ferret bite is also strong enough to break the thin bones of chicken.
The same reason that humans eat chicken is why they’re such a tempting meal for ferrets: they have all the nutritional benefits that a ferret would be looking for. Ferrets thrive on high protein diets that mainly consist of small mammals and eggs. Chickens are not toxic to ferrets and are rich in protein, making them a pretty appealing food option.
Try to keep your ferret away from the chickens. If chickens are going to be kept in the same general area as ferrets, it is essential to have a safe and secure chicken coop arrangement.
The chicken coop should be designed with consideration for a ferret’s ability to access it. In particular, ferrets are talented climbers, so a low fence, open door, or open window could be a risky opening that a ferret could creep into.
Place the chicken coop on a secure, sturdy base with no crevices or holes that a ferret could crawl through. When the chickens are left alone, keep all access points securely locked.
Ferrets are not going to be friendly to your chickens. Ferrets are sneaky and pretty clever and require close supervision to keep them out of trouble. In the case of keeping chickens, if a ferret decides that they want to eat the chickens, they’ll be very determined to find a way in.
To keep the chickens safe, closely keep track of the ferret’s movements and location. Ideally, the ferret should be kept in an entirely different area on the property where they couldn’t possibly have access to the chicken coop. Otherwise, the ferrets and chickens may need to be constantly watched to keep all animals safe.
Overall, keeping both ferrets and chickens is a risky arrangement that will require a lot of attention and care to work out well. Since ferrets are carnivores, they are going to follow their natural instincts when exposed to livestock.
If ferrets and chickens do end up living on the same property, highly secure environments for both the ferrets and chickens will be necessary in order to keep them apart.