Ferrets as pets are sociable animals that make wonderful pets, especially if handled and socialized well from an early age. Ferrets make fascinating pets.
They are domesticated animals, related to the European fitch or polecat. Ferrets are no rodents, with the domestic variety of ferret having being bred in captivity for centuries, originally for hunting vermin and then for the popular sport of hunting rabbits or ‘ferreting’.
They are fun-loving and playful animals, and very talented at getting into mischief! They are nosy and cheerful animals with traits similar to that of dogs as well as cats and can be easily trained to use a litter box.
Ferrets are not usually hostile if given appropriate care, though little children should be under supervision at all times to avoid nibbling.
Ferrets require high maintenance unlike other pets like; dogs and cats etc, which require an owner to give a lot of time and attention.
They require long hours of supervised exercise and play outside of their cage each day and can be quite naughty and destructive.
Ferrets get alongside cats and most dogs if socialized with them early but should be supervised. Avoid contact with pet birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats.
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Facts About Ferrets As Pets
As playful and mischievous animals, Ferrets can be entertaining. They’re cuddy, interactive and spunky. Before you nurse the thought of bringing in one of these little balls of energy into your home, there are a few things you should know.
1. Ferrets are just everywhere.
They burrow, dig and chew on everything especially when they’re young and they often seize and hide items in stockpiles, in closets, under beds, or in any secret place, they can find.
If an item isn’t nailed down particularly objects made of rubber or foam it will likely end up in your ferret’s mouth.
Foreign objects that are swallowed can lodge in their gastrointestinal (GI) tracts, potentially leading to obstructions. Electrical cords are also a potential hazard.
If you are thinking of getting a ferret, plan to watch him whenever he is out of his cage; make sure you ferret-proof an area in your home where he can safely run around; and put away all shoes, socks, and other interesting items he might find loose on the ground.
2. Being energetic animals, Ferrets need lots of Exercises.
While ferrets certainly love to take naps, in between their snoozes, they’re generally running, tumbling, and skidding. They tend to sleep a lot from18 to 20 hours a day and are most active early in the morning and evening. Young ferrets love to chase toys, nibble on toes, and generally getting underfoot.
If they aren’t allowed out of their cages, they have a tendency to overeat and become obese. If you’re going to have a ferret, plan for lots of playtimes.
3. Ferrets Need Friends
Generally, ferrets are social creatures who usually hunt down the corporate of their human family or other ferrets. Playing is simply such a lot more fun when you’re together with your buddies.
For this reason, many ferret owners find themselves getting quite one. Of course, like other sorts of pets, not all ferrets like all other ferrets. If you opt to urge quite one ferret, you’ll get to watch them closely together over several days for progressively longer periods before leaving them alone.
Also make sure that each ferret has equal access to food, toys, and hiding and sleeping places in order that they don’t fight over resources.
4. Ferrets Are Illegal in Some Places
Before you adopt or purchase a ferret, check on local laws. If you reside in California, Hawaii, or NY City, as an example, you’ll find that these fuzzy fellows are banned.
Many veterinarians in these areas will still treat sick ferrets, but finding a ferret-savvy vet in these locations can sometimes be difficult.
Therefore, if you reside in one of these areas, you would like to think about another sort of pet.
5. Ferrets Should Be Vaccinated
In many of the states during which ferrets are legal, the law requires that they be vaccinated for rabies.
Also, since ferrets are very vulnerable to the deadly distemper virus that commonly affects dogs, they ought to receive vaccinations against this virus also.
Just like puppies, baby ferrets should get a series of three distemper vaccines three weeks apart starting at 2 months old; they ought to get their first rabies shot at approximately 4 months old.
After that, they should get annual booster vaccines against both rabies and distemper viruses for life, even if they are indoor pets.
Even though your ferret lives indoors, you’ll track the distemper virus in from outside on your shoes and garments. Your indoor pet can also come in contact with wildlife, which can carry the rabies virus.
6. Ferrets are a member of the weasel family that weighs between one and a half and five pounds as adults and can live between six and ten years, according to the American Ferret Association (AFA). Male ferrets are called “hobs,” while female ferrets are called “jills” and baby ferrets are called “kits.” A group of ferrets is known as a “business.” They come in shades of tans, browns, and blacks, with various color combinations and patterns, and are usually neutered or spayed and de-scented once they are between five and 6 weeks old to reduce odor and aggression.
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Caring for Ferrets as Pets
Ferrets are inherently clean animals, well known for their musky odor. It never loses its smell no matter how many times he gets a bath. This scent is far worse in unneutered ferrets, but luckily most of the domestic ferrets in North America are neutered at the time of weaning, so we don’t have to worry about this.
- They even have a pair of anal glands almost like cats and dogs, with very strong-smelling secretions.
- They rarely express these anal glands unless very scared and therefore the scent often goes away after a couple of minutes.
- Again, most ferrets you find around here have already had these glands surgically removed, so you only have to deal with a mild musky odor from the oils in the skin.
- Bathing should not be consistent– at most, once or twice a month. Bathing a ferret shreds its skin and coat of all of the natural (mildly stinky) oils, which will cause the body to overcompensate and keep producing more and more.
- Ferrets tend to smell more if frequently bathed. They usually do a pretty good job of cleaning themselves much like a cat.
- If you give them a bowl of water, they’re going to use it to wash their face.
- Bathing is, however, good for relieving itchiness caused by fleas or dry skin. A pet-friendly shampoo and warm bathwater are advised for bathing a ferret.
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What can ferrets possibly eat? Ferrets are stringent carnivores. In the wild, they prey upon and eat, whole animals that contain meat, raw bones, other tissue, and digested substance.
They need a diet of meat/animal products that are very high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates and fiber. There are some retail ferret foods available in Australia but a daunting task to get a hold of them.
Human grade raw meaty bones may be offered every week to every weekend. It is important to only offer human-grade raw meat/raw meaty bones as pet meat products can contain preservatives that will be detrimental to pet health. They need food at all times due to their fast metabolism.
Never feed cooked bones as these may splinter and cause internal damage or become an ileus. Raw meaty bones must be large enough in order that your ferret cannot fit the entire bone in its mouth or attempt to swallow the bone whole.
Please ask your vet first that raw meaty bones are suitable for your ferret (e.g. some ferrets with dental disease may have difficulty chewing on raw bones).
If you would like to treat your ferret, small pieces of meat are the simplest option. Clean freshwater is of the essence and should be made available at all times in big bowls.
Nutritional supplements are not necessarily needed hence they have a balanced diet.
Ferrets are very curious animals and like to chew, hence one has to be careful of objects around the home or in their cage that may lure them.
Swallowed objects can become hazardous by way of ileus. Also ensure they cannot eat anything that may be toxic for them such as Xylitol (a sugar substitute found in some products such as sugar-free chewing gum, sugar-free baking goods).
Common Diseases That Affect Ferrets and It’s Remedy
Though fun, fascinating, and always handy at mischief. Ferrets make great pets but then they need to be aware of the diseases they are vulnerable to and how to prevent them.
Some common conditions of pet ferrets include diarrhea, distemper, human influenza, parasites, ringworm, and various types of cancer.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea is not a disease, but an indication of a gastrointestinal problem, which can have many causes. Intestinal parasites can be a cause of diarrhea in ferrets, as well as viruses and intestinal foreign bodies.
Proliferative colitis is a disease of young ferrets caused by a Campylobacter bacterium and results in mucous-like diarrhea containing blood.
The animal may also show anorexia (loss of appetite), weight loss, lethargy, and depression. Diarrhea in ferrets is often treated with several different medications, counting on the cause.
Infectious causes of diarrhea are treated with antibiotics, and fluid and electrolyte replacement may be required if severe.
Never give your ferret any medications or home treatments without checking with your veterinarian first and obtaining a proper diagnosis.
Distemper: The disease is 100% fatal in ferrets and every one ferret should be vaccinated against distemper at 8, 12, and 16 weeks aged, then yearly.
The time period is 7 -10 days and clinical signs are almost like those within the dog with thick eye and nasal discharges, fever, and loss of appetite.
Often there is a rash under the chin and groin area. The terminal phase of the disease is characterized by central nervous system signs, including muscle tremors, convulsions, coma, and death.
Affected ferrets must be isolated from other susceptible animals and supportive treatment could also be started until the diagnosis of distemper is for certain, when euthanasia could also be recommended.
Human influenza: Ferrets are also susceptible to the human influenza virus (flu). The incubation period is only 24 – 48 hours and the course of the disease is usually 5 days.
Clinical signs are similar to people with the flu (and to the early signs of distemper) with nasal discharge, sneezing, fever, and loss of appetite.
Treatment consists of decongestants and antibiotics if there is a secondary bacterial infection. Occasionally fluid therapy may be required.
Never give any human flu medications as ferrets, like dogs and cats, are often easily poisoned or killed. Isolate affected ferrets, especially young ferrets, which can be more severely affected by the disease.
Intestinal foreign bodies: Intestinal foreign bodies are a common problem, especially in young ferrets, due to their inquisitive nature. Many home items, like furniture stuffing, rubber bands, and parts of shoes and toys that are easily chewed into pieces and swallowed, can all cause ileus.
Signs of obstruction are common to several ferret diseases and include anorexia, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and gradual weight loss. Severe and projectile vomiting indicates a complete intestinal obstruction.
Any of these symptoms are a cause for concern and should be immediately investigated by your veterinarian for early diagnosis. Treatment of intestinal foreign bodies usually requires prompt surgical removal.
Parasites: Like dogs and cats, ferrets also are vulnerable to worm infections. Your vet can recommend a suitable worming product and a yearly microscopic examination of the droppings by your vet is recommended.
External parasites like fleas, ticks, mange, and ear mites also can infect ferrets.
Treatments utilized in ferrets are equivalent to dogs and cats, and where appropriate use those formulated for puppies and kittens.
Ferrets are also a natural host for the heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis, and should be placed on a heartworm preventative as recommended by your vet.
Ringworm: Ringworm is occasionally seen in ferrets and signs of infection, as in dogs and cats, is a circular area of hair loss with some scaly patches around the edges.
Ringworm can be transmitted to other pets and people so it is important to have the diagnosis confirmed by your vet.
Special cultures of the skin, scales, and hair got to be performed to differentiate the disease from other skin conditions with similar signs.
Treatment involves medicated shampoos, topical (external) medications, and oral medication in severe cases.
Cancer: Ferrets can develop cancer earlier in life compared to dogs and cats, sometimes as early as one year of age.
The more common cancers that occur in ferrets are the cancer of the pancreas (insulinoma), adrenal gland tumors, and lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphocytic white blood cells).
Any lump or abnormal swelling should be immediately investigated by your vet to detect cancer.
Many cancers in ferrets are often treated successfully by surgery, medical chemotherapy, or a mixture of both if diagnosed early.
Ferrets make excellent pets for people that have the time for them, and who bond well with animals. Ferrets are naturally quiet, friendly, inquisitive, intelligent, and companionable.
At certain points within the day, they’re also exceedingly active and capable of getting themselves into trouble unless they’re supervised.