Are you looking for a small pet and wondering whether a ferret might be a good choice?
Maybe you have friends or family with ferrets. After all, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) reported that ferrets are a popular pet in the United States.
Let’s learn more about ferrets, so you can make an informed decision about whether to get one for your household.
Yes, ferrets are undoubtedly social animals. They are so social that most ferrets won’t be truly happy unless you have more than one. Ferrets do best when they’re with other ferrets. Most ferret owners will have at least two of these animals.
It’s sometimes possible to have ferrets in a household with other kinds of pets, such as cats. Certain types of dogs can live with ferrets, too, in the right circumstances. There are some caveats to all of this, however.
When it comes to dogs, be aware that some breeds have a strong prey instinct. This means they feel compelled to pursue and even kill small animals, such as ferrets.
If you’ve only ever had dogs or cats, taking care of ferrets will be something new. There are some similarities between ferrets and more popular furry friends, but there are also significant differences.
One of the main challenges of caring for ferrets is that there are so many potential dangers for them in an average household. They love chewing, and they can get injured if they chew the wrong thing.
Many experts recommend setting up an area of your house, especially for your ferrets to play. Ensure there aren’t any potential dangers in that area. Take steps such as getting rid of any items that can break all appliances, blocking off any spaces behind cabinets, and blocking any openings in the walls.
A ferret is an intelligent animal, and it needs plenty of interaction with other ferrets and their human owners. This is not the kind of animal you can assume will amuse itself without you having to make an effort. To be a good ferret owner with healthy and happy pets, you must understand the animal and how it likes to play.
If you want a pet that doesn’t need much grooming, a ferret may be a good choice.
While ferrets do groom themselves, you should give them some help by combing its coat. If you’re like many ferret owners, you will probably want to shampoo your pet sometimes. These animals have a bit of a musky smell, and washing them will help. You shouldn’t do this too often, however.
The most frequently you should wash a ferret is twice a month. Once a month is probably better. If you wash a ferret too often, the animal’s skin will get depleted of necessary oils. Give your ferret access to water in a bowl that it can use for washing its face itself. Only use a gentle shampoo made specifically for pets when washing a ferret. Use lukewarm water.
Ferrets must eat meat. That is because they are obligate carnivores. If you fail to give a ferret enough meat, its health will significantly suffer. Your ferret’s diet should have a high level of meat-based protein that is easy to digest, as well as a lot of fat.
Most ferret owners give their animals a specialized ferret diet to satisfy all their dietary needs. An alternative to that (and what some people think is best) is to feed your ferret’s whole prey, including rats and mice. If you’re like most people, however, this idea won’t appeal to you.
No, you shouldn’t have pet ferrets if you have small children. That is because of how delicate these animals are. Kids often drop animals they try to pick up, and a ferret will quickly get injured if this happens. Ferrets may also bite and hurt you if they feel they are being harassed or mishandled.
Ferrets sleep much more than you might think. They may sleep for as long as 20 hours every day. If a child tries to harass them when they want to rest, this could result in bites and injuries.
Ferrets have an extremely playful and energetic temperament. Many people find they are a bit like kittens. In other words, they are incredibly sociable and active, as well as curious and playful. This temperament extends into adulthood for ferrets.
Ferrets are also intelligent, and you can even train them to do tricks. However, these animals also have limited attention spans, so teaching them might be difficult. Ferrets tend to be a bit fearful when it comes to loud noises or unexpected events, especially when they’re young.
When a ferret is scared, it will respond by screeching, fur puffing, or back hunching.
Make Sure Your House is Safe for Ferrets
There’s quite a bit you will have to do to your house to make it safe for ferrets. Below is a list of household items and places that may present dangers to ferrets.
- Sofa beds and recliners, where ferrets can get stuck in the springs and levers.
- Furnace ducts, which ferrets may get into
- Ferrets may knock over heaters and cause a fire hazard.
- Drawers and cabinets in the ferret’s reach that they can open, and their contents
- Plastic bags may suffocate ferrets
- Potentially poisonous houseplants
- Box springs in which ferrets can get trapped
- Appliances where ferrets may get trapped, such as refrigerators and dryers
- Toilets and filled bathtubs, where a ferret might drown
Most experts recommend adopting a young ferret (kit) between the ages of eight and sixteen weeks. This is ideal. You shouldn’t go any younger than this, as the kit won’t be ready. Once you get your kit, spend time properly teaching and training it. This is something you should learn about in advance and ask the breeder for information.
Be cautious about adopting older ferrets given up by other people. It’s possible the animal does not have the training, and you could end up with significant problems. You won’t be able to train an older animal in the same way you can a young one. Ferrets can be quite wild and are capable of biting.
Ferrets are good house pets but only in the right kind of household. If you have small children, never have a pet ferret. Always obtain your ferrets from reputable breeders, and get them when they’re at the appropriate age. Let us know what you think about ferrets in the comments below.