Ferrets are intelligent curious pets who love to explore and get into everything. They are very playful and will amuse you for hours with their antics. When playing, they can get so excited that they bounce into walls! However, they are also quiet animals and make ideal apartment pets.
Their scientific name, Mustela putonous furo, means “little thief” and they live up to that name by stealing and hiding toys and other items like socks. Because they are so active, ferrets need playtime out of their cage several hours a day.
Ferrets are more like dogs or cats than most other small pets, and are best for adults and older children who want to have a lot of interaction with their pet!
ONE FERRET, OR MORE?
Because ferrets are so playful and social, it’s best to get two so they can play together. However, just one ferret can do well with regular play with its owner.
MALE OR FEMALE?
As adults, male ferrets are twice the size of females, but both sexes make equally good pets. The male ferret is called a hob and the female is a jill, while a neutered male is called a gib and a spayed female is called a sprite. The male’s penis appears like a large belly button.
Ferrets need to eat frequently, so provide constant access to a dry food made specifically for ferrets containing at least 30% protein from meat Treats are great for training and strengthening the bond between you and your ferret. Meat-based ferret treats can comprise 10% of their diet, with an occasional piece of fruit or vegetable.
Ferrets need a large, secure wire cage, at least 36” X 18” X 18” tall, and the bigger the better to provide room for lots of fun toys. The safest size mesh is 1” square. The floors of the cage should be solid, not wire, to protect their feet. Provide a large ferret lifter box on each floor of the cage containing a lifter made of recycled paper or organic pellets. Do not use clay litter or cedar shavings. Ferrets must be kept indoors at temperatures below 80 degrees F.
Ferrets prefer a water dish to a bottle, and a dish will encourage them to drink the proper amount. A dog travel water dish will help discourage them from splashing out the water. Food dishes should be tip-proof and easy to clean.
Clean the lifter box every day, or more often as needed. Provide fresh food and water daily. Wash the cage, accessories and bedding weekly.
Ferrets need their nails trimmed, ears cleaned and teeth brushed with a cat toothpaste and toothbrush every 2-3 weeks. You can put a few drops of a fatty acid supplement on your ferret’s tummy to keep him busy licking it off during grooming. A bath once a month is adequate and more frequent bathing actually increases their musky smell.
Ferrets must have a series of vaccinations similar to those for dogs and cats, and should have an annual exam. Pet ferrets must be spayed or neutered by about 6 months of age.
Young ferrets tend to be nippy and require patient training. Some first-time ferret owners may prefer to adopt a ferret at least 8 months old. All rooms where ferrets are allowed to play must be extensively “ferret-proofed.” Avoid any toys, especially those made of latex or foam rubber, which can be chewed apart and swallowed.
Ferrets live an average of 6-8 years, although it’s possible for them to live 15 years. They have a breeding season during the spring and summer. The gestation period is 40-42 days and the average litter size is 6-8. The babies are called kits and their eyes open around 5 weeks. The kits can be weaned at 10 weeks.
If you have questions about your ferret, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you choose a ferret care book for more complete information. You, your veterinarian, and the staff here at Art in Motion Pets will form the team, which will be responsible for your ferret’s well being.
Large wire cage
Litter box and litter
Cat toothbrush and toothpaste
Shampoo and conditioner
Fatty acid supplement
Bed, such as a hammock
Harness, leash and safety bell collar
Toys, such as tubes, balls, and interactive cat toys