Ferret FAQ

The ferret is a small carnivorous mammal from the animal family Mustelidae that has been domesticated. Some Mustelid family relations from the wild include the weasel, stoat, otter and wolverine. The closest animal in nature to the domesticated ferret is the European Polecat. Ferrets have been reported to have been domesticated for thousands of years. Many opinions and research leads to the Greeks as the original domesticator. The domesticated ferret should not be confused with any of its wild relatives as it is not likely to survive on its own outside the home. They would likely suffer from dehydration, starvation and exposure if left to their own devises. Ferrets are smart, strong and flexible. Their bodies are built for burrowing. They have a triangle shaped head, long neck, five-toed feet and mobile shoulders. The shoulders allow for a wide range of motion, their long neck allows them to carry larger objects without getting in the way of their feet and the mobile shoulders provide a wide range of motion. Their five toed feet allow them to grasp and manipulate objects with an almost opposable thumb. Their rib cage and spine are almost spring-like and allow for them to turn around in a space not quite twice their own size. Accordion Sample Description
The ferret requires a high-quality diet high in protein and fat and low in grains and vegetables. A well-researched raw fed diet would be an ideal diet, however there are many commercial kibbles available that are marketed to ferrets and cats that will provide the proper nutrition required. Ferrets also need plenty of fresh water. It is not recommended to give your ferret his daily supply of water through a water bottle. They need a bowl to get their drink from. I suggest a heavy crock type dog bowl or one that secures to the side of the cage Many ferrets come to my shelter dehydrated from only being provided water from a bottle.
Owning any pet is a serious commitment. Ferrets are not the most common pets so doing your research will help you make the right decision. You will need to understand and commit to what it takes to give your ferret the best possible life. Ferrets are living, breathing and social creatures who will need to be fully accepted into your home. You can expect that a ferret will be with you as part of your family for about 8 years.
I tell people that ferrets are either zero or sixty. They sleep an average of 18 hours a day and when they are not sleeping they are smart, high energy, determined companions that retain their playfulness throughout their entire lives. While there is the rare occasion that you will come across a snuggly ferret, most of them will want to play with you and then go off to a dark hole to sleep. Ferrets are somewhat independent, but will still seek out interaction from their housemates. Ferrets have some natural behaviors that you need to be aware of. They can be mouthy, they like to dig and tunnel and they can be territorial. Ferrets love to wrestle and play. They use their hands and mouth to interact with. When playing with their other ferret friends what looks rough to us is normal to them. It is up to you to teach your ferret how to play with you properly. Do you have keep houseplants? expect your ferret to turn them out for you, all over the floor and carpet. You will either need to keep them out of reach or don’t keep them. You will do you ferret a big favor if you give them their own appropriate dig box of rice or beans. You may need to ferret proof your couch. Territorial issues may come up when trying to box train your new ferret or introduce a new ferret to your household.
Ferrets need to be kept clean, healthy, safe and happy. Ferrets require social interaction every day. While most people keep their ferret in a cage for the ferrets safety when they are not able to be monitored, they are not a traditional cage animal. If you do not have the time to dedicate to interacting with your ferret and letting it out to play and explore daily do not get one. Most ferrets do better when they have at least one other ferret buddy. Ferrets are clean animals who if they were a wild animal would live in a burrow in the ground. So they will enjoy dark places to sleep. They will want a safe comfortable place to sleep. I look for baby quilts and such when I am out at garage sales or second-hand stores. You can build them a sleeping box from cardboard or a basket with a blanket draped over it. I do not bath my ferrets. If you are concerned with your home smelling like a ferret wash their bedding every week or more rather than washing the ferret. It also helps to feed them quality food and keep the litter boxes clean. They are litter box trainable. You need to start small, be consistent and reward appropriate behavior. They do take more work than say a cat, but with some time, patience and ferret behavior understanding it can be done. Some do take to litter training easier than others. Keep in mid a ferret will usually need to go within the 1st twenty minutes of waking up from a slumber.
Make a list of items your ferret will need to live and be happy and begin accumulating them. Your local ferret shelter may keep some supplies on hand to help you with this. Ferrets are curious animals who will want to explore everything. I mean everything! If their head fits they are going in. You will need to ferret proof your home. Get down on your knees and check for any access to everywhere that you do not want to. Put up baby gates into rooms that you do not want them in or out of. A baby gate may need to be modified as they will climb them. And then plan on your ferret outsmarting you. Ferrets will open cupboards and drawers. I have seen them unzip zippers. Don’t be surprised to find your ferret on the top shelf in your closet, while you scratch your head trying to figure out how she got there.
Find a ferret knowledgeable veterinarian. Feed them quality food. Get them the needed vaccinations to prevent diseases. Set aside time to interact with your ferret every day. Keep them safe from dangers. i.e., neighbor’s dog, high ledges, reclining chairs, rubber objects Do not use cedar or pine chips as bedding or litter. Give them plenty of food and water
Ferrets do not tolerate heat much above 80*F. Keep them in a cool, shaded area away from noise. A ferret needs to be kept safe when you are not home to monitor them. Their room and/or cage will need to be escape proof. If you do not have a room to dedicate to your ferrets full time their cage needs to have a solid floor as their feet are not made for wire flooring. Any cage used to keep your ferrets in needs to have adequate room for your ferret to move around in that has plenty of floor space.
Ferrets are synonymous with trouble. They are smart, mischievous, curious and determined. The following list will get you started with things to consider, but you need to be on constant look-out for any dangers that can impact your ferret safety. Do not let them in your furniture, especially recliners and couches as they can be crushed when someone sits and/or reclines Watch for choking hazards such as erasers, foam, sponges, shoe insoles rubber door stoppers. Ferrets love to chew on foamy and rubber items. Be wary of other pets. A dog or cat can cause serious damage or death to your ferret. Open doors and guests. Sometimes it is best to put your ferret in his room/cage when you have guests over to avoid an accident with getting stepped on or lost out the door. Double check your appliances such as refrigerators, dish washers, clothes washers and dryers before closing the door/starting the cycle. They also like to sleep in your dirty laundry, carefully check your laundry pile before tossing into the machine. Watch your own feet. I have heard of many ferrets being injured by being stepped on. Ferrets will get under your feet, hide under rugs. They like to play tag and pounce your feet. Toilets, tubs, sinks and pails. Some ferrets like to play in water, beware of them falling into a full water tub that they cannot get out of, get tired, and drown. Find your local ferret knowledgeable veterinarian and have your new ferrets checked over by them shortly after bringing them home and whenever you ferret is not acting normal. Don’t use scented soaps or detergents to clean your ferrets environment.