Ferret Care Guide

Obtaining ferrets as pets might not be your first thought when looking for a new furry companion to keep you company.

While a ferret may not be your first choice, don’t write off the small domesticated polecat just yet.Ferrets are affectionate, calm, playful and intelligent animals that can bring you endless joy. They are also quiet, small and unlikely to bother neighbors, making them ideal apartment pets. Since ferrets are unlike other pets, it’s important to educate yourself about proper ferret care to make sure that they stay healthy and happy.

Although ferrets may sound like the ideal animal, many residents still ask “Are ferrets good pets?” So, before buying a ferret and bringing it home, research the cost of owning one and how to properly care for it. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before making the commitment to adopt.

Basics of Ferret Care

A basic requirement of ferret care involves spending quality time with them. They enjoy both playing with their owners and hanging out by themselves. To stimulate your ferret’s mind and stave off depression, you should play with it for an hour or two each day. However, these animals also sleep up to 18 hours a day, so do not be alarmed if you find your pet sleeping a lot. When ferrets are awake, they should be very playful and active. If not, this can be a sign that something is amiss.

The ferret lifespan ranges from six to 13 years. When you first get your new pet, bring it to the vet for a check-up. Domesticated polecats are at risk of contracting canine distemper, so it may need vaccines to prevent this and other potential ailments. Also, ferrets need heartworm and flea pills as a preventative treatment. They should be taken to the vet once a year for a routine checkup until they are five years of age. At this age, ferrets are considered to be seniors and will need wellness exams twice a year.

When considering getting ferrets as pets, you should think about getting them fixed before they mature. Typically this should be done when they are between six and 12 months of age. Female ferrets’ reproductive glands give off an unpleasant odor if they are not fixed. An unfixed female can also develop an infection in the uterus. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

What do ferrets eat?

Many prospective ferret owners ask, “What do ferrets eat?” Domesticated polecats are carnivores by nature and need a diet that is high in meat, protein and fat. However, that doesn’t mean you can feed your pet scraps from the dinner table. Ferrets burn a lot of calories playing throughout the day, so they need to stay well-fed in order to maintain their energy levels.

Ferrets need food pellets that are high in protein. Check the ingredient list on the back of the food bag to make sure that your pet is getting the proper nutrition. Dry pellets are recommended to keep their teeth clean and provide optimum nutrients and vitamins. You can buy ferret food from your veterinarian’s office, local pet shop or online from authorized retailers.

When feeding your furry companion, you should avoid giving it food with high vegetable and grain content. If you want to give your ferret real food, you can serve it a small portion of chicken or egg alongside its food pellets. These animals naturally shed fur and molt twice a year. However, they may begin shedding fur excessively if their diet is inadequate.

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Do not feed your ferret fruits, vegetables or any other food item that is high in sugar and carbohydrates. Their stomachs are not equipped to handle these foods. Ferrets typically eat between eight and ten small meals throughout the day, so they should always have access to food. If you do not have access to food that is specific ferret diet, you can substitute with kitten food that has a high fat content. You can also give your pet fatty acid supplements. Moreover, remember to provide fresh and clean water for your ferret throughout the day.

Pros and Cons of Ferrets as Pets

Ferrets as pets are smart and playful. However, owning this type of animals does come with some disadvantages. Before you add a ferret to your family, you should consider the pros and cons to determine if the animal is a good option for you or not. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are deciding whether or not to buy a ferret.

PROS

  • Ferrets are very affectionate and have playful temperaments.
  • They are smart and take quickly to the litter box and new commands.
  • Ferrets are loving and loyal companions.
  • They do not take up much space and are quiet, making them ideal for apartments.

CONS

  • It is illegal to own ferrets in California, Hawaii, Washington D.C. and New York City.
  • Ferrets put off a strong and musky odor.
  • They can be destructive when left alone.

Costs of Ferret Care

The cost of owning a ferret may not seem like much at first, but the bills can add up fast. Like other pets, these animals need food, a large ferret cage with accessories, towels, medical care and more. While the total cost vary among individuals, it is important to make sure that a ferret fits into your monthly budget. Also, you must factor in the cost of buying the animal. Ferrets can range in price from $75 to $200, depending on where you get one.

Keep in mind that ferret care involves seeing a vet once a year until the animal is five years of age and then twice a year after that. The cost of a vet exam visit will depend on the clinic itself, but you will also have to pay for vaccines, medications and other possible expenses. This kind of care is imperative for the health of your ferret. You will also need to pay for upfront surgery costs like spaying and neutering, which can run you anywhere from $50 to $300.

Additionally, if you have your heart set on owning a ferret but live California, Hawaii, New York City or Washington D.C., you will need to move. Consider the cost of relocating and whether that is worth the cost of owning this animal. It will be pointless to ask, “How much are ferrets?” if you cannot even own one where you live.

In addition, if you are renting, your apartment complex may charge pet rent. This expense is often overlooked when bringing a new pet into your home. Inquire about what the cost of the pet rent is before you adopt or buy a ferret. Ferrets can live up to 13 years, so you should be financially prepared to care for the animal throughout its life.

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