Are Ferrets Good Pets? Let’s Find Out.

May 9, 2018 in Articles

Cute and Curious Ferrets

 

In case you are curious about whether ferrets are good pets, the answer would be whether or not they are with the right owner.  So, if you are thinking about having a ferret as a pet, there are several things you need to learn about these interesting animals.

Each animal has its positive and negative character traits. In some cases, the negative traits may be greater than the positive ones.  It now depends on if you can handle the negatives and love the animal, regardless and, unconditionally.

Before you can make the decision if ferrets are good pets or not, you have to understand what it takes to own one because introducing a new ferret to our home takes a lot of patience and perseverance. 

Ferrets are the domesticated form of the European Polecat.  They are close relatives to weasels, otters, and minks. You will find that ferrets are highly intelligent, sociable and affectionate.  And, with proper care, training and attention, they can make a very entertaining and loving pet.

Personality

Like humans, no ferrets are the same; they all have their own distinctive personalities. They can be easily taught how to do tricks just like dogs (for example, sitting, shaking paws, and toilet training).

I’m sweet!

It is important to teach them not to nip or bite humans, at an early age, because it can become a habit as they grow up.  It is so much better to have your ferret learn from the start because it is not fun getting bitten.  They are smart enough to understand this.

Ferrets are curious creatures and extremely playful. They hide (or keep for themselves) anything they lay their eyes or paws on.  You will have to ferret-proof your home, ensuring items like jewelry, phone chargers, socks, electrical cords, or hair ties are out of their reach.

It is usually recommended adopting a pair of ferrets as they are highly social animals.  Ferrets live well in groups and will be happier when they have a furry companion to play with.

Health

Ferrets can be easily affected by a variety of diseases such as cancer, canine distemper, and influenza.  Although they are treatable, it can be quite expensive.  It is wise to take your pet to the vet for recommendations. 

Getting a checkup at the vet’s office

 

They have a lifespan of 7 – 10 years, and throughout those years, they will need regular health checkups (by a veterinarian) to prevent diseases and ensure a long, healthy life.

  •  Ferrets have to be vaccinated yearly against distemper and rabies and checked regularly for internal and external parasites.
  • They only need to be bathed monthly and their nails have to be trimmed regularly.
  • It is advisable for ferrets to be spayed or neutered if there are no plans of breeding them. Mature female ferrets will stay in heat for six months until they are mated. This can lead to health complications and behavioral issues.  Males that are not neutered can be temperamental and ooze a very strong odor during the breeding season.
  • Did you know that ferrets can easily catch a cold and flu from humans?  For this reason, they have to be kept away from any sick person with these symptoms.

Signs of a Healthy Ferret

  •  Alert, sociable, gentle, curious; appears happy
  •  Clear, big and bright eyes which are free of discharge
  •  Pink and dirt free ears
  •  A moist and smooth nose which is free of scales
  •  Long, soft and full whiskers
  •  Clean and smooth fur which is free of fleas, bald spots or sores
  •  Smooth skin that is free of lumps, bumps or sores
  •  Clean and dry genitals and anus
  •  Firm and evenly distributed muscles

Red Flags

  •  Screaming or shaking violently: These are symptoms of cancer or feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
  •  Loss of Appetite: This may be due to kidney failure, stomach infection or liver failure
  •  Loss of muscle or skin tone: These are possible causes of cancer
  •  Heavy Panting: This is a symptom of heat stroke as ferrets cannot survive in temperatures above 80 degrees  Fahrenheit. To assuage this effect, place them in cool water.  If there are no changes after 10 minutes, they should be taken to the vet immediately.
  • Excessive scratching: This is a sign of flea and tick infestation
  • Color changes: A change in the color of a ferret from yellow to green can be due to anemia, bladder infection or heartworms. A change in the color of the gums, lips or nose is also a symptom of anemia
  • Limping or walking abnormally
  • Having trouble urinating: A possible cause is an enlarged prostate (in male ferrets)
  • Trouble breathing: This is another symptom of cancer, heart disease, infections or trauma
  • Eye crustiness or rashes: This may be due to distemper

Vets knowledgeable in ferret care are rare to find, and if found, their fee may be a little high.  Ferrets have to be closely monitored daily and their behavior should be regularly checked in order to prevent any major health crisis.

 

Ferrets enjoy a meal

Diet  

Like cats, ferrets are carnivorous in nature, so their diet has to be rich in protein and fat, but the diet should not be restricted to only that, as it can cause malnutrition.

· Ferrets should have access to a constant supply of fresh water, especially those on a dry diet, and when the climate is hot.

· Dog foods contain a high level of carbohydrates that are indigestible by ferrets and can cause health issues so they should be avoided.  Although cat food has protein contents, it is lacking some important nutrients and are low in fat, and should not be fed to ferrets.

· They can be fed cooked meat, cooked egg, cat treats, liver, organ meats and linoleic acid coat conditioners all in limited quantities.  

·  Snacks which are high in sugar contents like marshmallow, peanut butter, and ice creams should not be fed to ferrets since it can lead to obesity, tooth decay, and other health problems.

·  A fish-based meal, vegetables, and fruits should also be avoided.

 

Here is a very good ferret food to keep your pet healthy. It has organic chicken as the first ingredient, plus it contains probiotics and prebiotics, also immune- boosting, heart-healthy omega-3’s. Click image below to purchase this food:

Click Image to Purchase

 

Ferrets should eat a specialized ferret food diet which contains all the nutrients that are needed to keep your pet healthy.  It is advisable to mix different food brands together so they will get used to different flavors as they can become addicted to a particular food brand.  They are also picky eaters, so food should be bought in small quantities.

Housing

Ferrets are natural adventurers and are well known to be capable of escaping through any space or hole no matter how small, so the cage has to be fully secured and escape-proof.  They need their space.  The cage should be large enough for the ferret to move about freely, and also well ventilated.  Two-to-three story cages are ideal.  Below are 2 different ferret cages to choose from.  Check them out by clicking on the respective cage.

2-Level Ferret Cage – Click Image to Purchase

 

6-Level Ferret Cage – Click to Purchase

The cage should at least be: 

Length: 36 inches

Width:  24 inches

Height: 50 inches

The floor of the cage should be covered with a washable pet rug or any other solid flooring apart from wooden, as it is difficult to wash or disinfect after it has been defecated or urinated on.

 

The cage should have pet blankets, sleeping hammocks, tubes, and ladders for the ferret’s comfort and fitness.  Avoid woodchips for the same reason as the wooden floor. Metal mesh is also a bad idea; they are bad for a ferret’s paws and may lead to swollen feet.

Being notorious escape artists, you should escape-proof the ferret’s cage.  This can be done by blocking or sealing off any space or hole you know their head can fit into with thin plywood or hardware cloth.  Plastic materials, rubber or vinyl objects should be kept out of their reach, as they are known to chew on or swallow these objects which can lead to major health complications.

The cage should be kept away from direct sunlight and in a well ventilated and shaded area.  Any temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit can be dangerous to a ferret’s health, they are sensitive to heat stroke which can easily kill them.

Ferrets are not supposed to be entirely confined to their cage all day, they are highly active and sociable animals, so they need at least 2-4 hours of supervised playtime and companionship on a daily basis or else they will become depressed and possibly develop health issues.  They need between 15 and 20 hours of sleep daily, so the sleeping area has to be as comfortable as possible.

Since ferrets can be trained to use a litter box, a pelleted litter should be placed in a corner of their cage.

Housing Maintenance

1. Daily Routine

· Clean the cage daily to remove urine or feces, water spills, and stained bedding.  It is always advisable to have two
cages, so the ferret can be placed in a clean cage until the soiled one is washed and dried up.

· Uneaten food should be removed, and food and water bowls should be washed thoroughly in warm water and properly dried.

Playtime

· Replace worn out or torn toys and bedding  

· You have to ensure that there are at least three spare beddings, just in case.

While cleaning the cage, you should check for any signs of changes in behavior or illness in the ferret.

2.  Weekly Routine

· Take out all items from the cage, then wash with mild detergent and disinfect with a diluted chlorine solution. The cage should be properly rinsed and dried before placing the ferret back in.

· Clean the litter box thoroughly.  Also, replace disposable bedding.

· Cage items such as toys, sleeping hammocks, tubes, and ladders should be properly washed and disinfected.  Rinse well and dry it under the sun.

Conclusion

Although ferrets are fun-loving and playful creatures (and will be great to have as pets), it takes a lot to own a ferret.  You need the energy, patience and time that it requires to properly care for these special animals as your house pets.

Before taking your first ferret home, you may find this article by PetMd very interesting.  Click on the following link for more information about becoming a first-time ferret owner:  Getting Your First Ferret

It is important to do proper research into what it actually takes to own a ferret, and ensure you have the strength (they can be a handful), finances (they can be expensive to keep) and a great deal of time (they will need a lot of attention) before becoming a ferret owner.  Giving a ferret a loving, forever home is a very special thing to do!

A Precious Sight – Dog and Ferret Snuggling

Are Ferrets Good Pets? Let’s Find Out.

18 Comments

    1. Luke says:

      I have never considered a ferret as a household pet but this article has me a bit more curious. They seem like interesting characters!

      Your article has detailed just about everything you need to know about a ferret and certainly have made the decision in obtaining one as a pet much easier.

      The one aspect that caught my eye has to do with the overall maintenance of the ferret. Seems to be quite involved but I do understand the importance in taking these steps in keeping the ferret healthy.

      As a dog and cat owner throughout most of my life, I have never considered a ferret as a new pet. Would you recommend a ferret to a household where dogs and cats are living?

      Thanks Cathy, I look forward to your response.

      Luke

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Luke,

        Thank you for leaving a comment on my post about ferrets. Glad you found it interesting!

        To answer your question, in a household with cats and dogs, I would be very careful to keep the ferret safe. While in its cage, it would be safe. But, if you let it out and the cat or dog attacks it, this could be a terrible thing!

        I would have the ferret in a separate room where the dogs and cats could not get ahold of the ferret. However, if you introduce the ferret to your dog, for example, and see that your dog is not interested in biting the ferret, then that’s a different story. I would just be very careful since they could not fight off a large animal easily.

        You would have to see for yourself how each individual pet reacts to the ferret; otherwise, I would not ever let it loose where any other animal could get to it and bite it (or worse).

        Thanks for visiting! Please come back again in the near future.

        Cathy

    2. Jeff says:

      I found your post amazingly interesting, I never knew so much about Ferrets before reading your post. You have tempted me to consider adding a couple of Ferrets as pets in my own home in the future after my dog has passed.

      Where would I find Ferrets to purchase online, I have no pet shops near where I live?

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Jeff,

        Thank you for visiting and commenting on the post! I am so happy that you found it very interesting.

        Where I reside, there is a Petland just a few minutes away from our home and they sell ferrets there. Since you have mentioned that there are no pet shops near your home, you may want to consider adoptapet.com when looking to adopt a ferret.

        I actually adopted one of my puppies from that site. Hope you visit again.

        Best wishes!

        Cathy

    3. I always like to see ferrets at the pet store but never knew if ferrets really made good pets.

      I’ve read about them before, and know that ferrets were actually domesticated long before we had house cats. After reading your post, I’m pretty sure they take a lot more money and attention to keep happy and healthy than most cats and dogs.

      What do you think? Do ferrets make good pets? Ever known anyone with a ferret? I’ve heard ferrets will hide things like my keys and stuff?

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for the comments left!

        Yes, ferrets are very cute! The first time I saw one was at our local Petland store.

        As with most any pet, they did require time and patience, and TLC, of course! : )

        I would say, yes, they do make good pets. I have a few friends that own ferrets and they absolutely love them!

        You’re right about them hiding stuff! : )

        Thanks, and I hope you visit again.

        Cathy

    4. Hi Cathy. Wow! I used to have a friend when I was younger that had Ferrets for pets. I have to say I had no idea you could train them like a dog. (Sit, shake and toilet training) I thought they were like cats and very difficult to train.I am also surprised that you mentioned that smell could be from males ready to mate.
      Personally I think they seem like they could be a ton of fun to have as a pet. But they also seemed like they would be a lot of work. I am so thankful for you sharing all of this great information with us.

      • Cathy says:

        Hello Melissa,

        Thank you for stopping by and reading the post.

        That’s great that you had the opportunity of coming in contact with these very fun pets … ferrets!

        Yes, they are a lot of fun and also require a bit of work — but it’s so worth it, too! : )

        Thanks for commenting.

        Cath

    5. Sheryl Cash says:

      Like others mentioned I have never considered a ferret as a pet. I have always heard they were mean tempered, are you sure they make good pets? I think I would feel safer with adults or teenagers. The picture of one with the dog is certainly cute.

      • Cathy says:

        Hi.

        Actually, ferrets are not mean at all. I don’t know where you heard that but sometimes people are just not suitable for certain pets or do not take the time (or have patience) to train a pet.

        Ferrets do like to cuddle and can be great house pets, as long as you train them correctly. Just like any animal, they need TLC, training, and just a good home!

        Thanks for commenting.

        Cathy

    6. oliver says:

      My perception of ferrets and the idea of having them as a pet never entered my mind.
      After reading this very interesting and intriguing article my thoughts and probably misconceptions have changed
      I suppose whenever I thought about ferrets it was always a picture of this mean- spirited creature. There appears to a lot of patience, vigilance, hard work and a big learning curve attached to owning one as a pet.
      I’m sure they are fun and worth the effort if one could devote their full attention to them.

      why do you think its so difficult to find a knowledgeable vet on ferrets?

      Thanks for sharing this great info

      Oliver

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Oliver,

        Glad you enjoyed reading this post and that it has given you insight into the actual characteristics of ferrets. They are not mean-spirited at all. Yes, they are playful and can be mischievous at times, but really are lovable pets!

        Just talking with friends and clients throughout the years, I have found that in some areas, the vets do not treat these animals. Where I live, however, I have seen ferrets at the vet numerous times. Before buying or adopting a ferret, it would be a good idea to see if there are vets in your area who will care these animals.

        Thanks for commenting and please visit again

        Cathy

    7. Alenka says:

      OMG! I want a ferret as a pet! Now! They are so cute. I had no idea they were that sociable. 

      Also, it’s surprise to me that they can learn tricks too. How amazing. 

      I like the fact they like to be in pairs. It’s always nice for animals to have their own in the vicinity.

      My children would absolutely love a couple of ferrets in our house. Are ferrets good with children?

      Thanks!

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Alenka,

        You’re right, they are SO cute!  : )  I have a friend who has a couple of ferrets and they have not tried to bite me.  I guess, like with a lot of animals, it is possible for them to nip at you.  However, they are not vicious.  You may want to consider getting one that is young and “train” it. 

        I haven’t heard bad things about them and they seem to do fine with children as long as the kids do not squeeze them or scare them.  Approach them in a calm manner and allow the ferret to become used to you and then it should be fine!

        Please let me know how things work out and if you get a couple of them.

        Thank you!

        Cathy

    8. Taylor says:

      I have always been hesitant about ferrets. I was bitten when I was younger, so they make me nervous now, but, after reading your article, they seem like interesting pets. However, they seem like quite the handful, and not something I’m ready for at the moment. I do love the fact that they seem so silly and playful though! Next time I come across one, I won’t be so nervous.

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Taylor,

        I’m sorry that you had that experience!  Was it your own pet or someone else’s?  I have not had any problems with them.  I guess it’s possible since some animals feel intimidated (at first) or scared because they are not sure what to expect from us.

        Yes, ferrets are very playful and can be silly at times, too!  Just like with most pets, they require some time to care for them and to spend time, giving lots of TLC.  : )

        If you approach the ferret in a calm manner and just let him get used to you, I believe there would not be any problem.

        Thanks so much for visiting!

        Cathy  : )

    9. Sharlee says:

      Hi Cathy

      I stumbled upon your very interesting and informative website and the subject of this post peaked my curiosity – since I’ve never hear of ferrets as pets! What a delightful and informative read, thank you!

      And that last photo is absolutely adorable! While reading your post, I was wondering how they adapt to other pet, but since you said no to ferrets are the same, I guess it depends on the “individual”, right?

      Wishing you a lovely day, Cathy!
      Sharlee

      • Cathy says:

        Thank you, Sharlee, for your comments!

        They are adorable creatures, I agree. And, yes, it would depend on the individual ferret as to whether or not they would get along well with other pets. I would not recommend leaving them unattended, though, with cats or dogs previously living in the home … unless you observe that they get along with each other.

        Have a blessed day and I hope you will visit again!

        Cathy

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Are Ferrets Good Pets? Let’s Find Out.

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