While keeping a pet ferret may not seem like the obvious choice for anyone that wants a pet, they have a lot to recommend them in certain situations-they are smaller and usually less hassle than cats or dogs, can still be enclosed and caged like smaller pets like hamsters and Guinea pigs, and for many people, provide the prefect balance between a high maintenance pet like a dog and a small, caged pet that is always interesting and will form strong bonds with their handlers.
However, getting a pet ferret is not something that should be done on a whim, or to keep the children happy-ferrets are not the low-maintenance pets that many people assume they are, and many first-time ferret owners find that without proper preparation and research, they are soon out of their depths!
It is vitally important to do plenty of research and get all of the facts before you plan to come back home with a pet ferret-done right, ferret ownership is neither particularly low-maintenance nor cheap!
In this article, we will share seven important pieces of information that anyone considering owning a pet ferret should know before committing to a purchase. Read on to learn more.
First of all, if you’re considering a ferret in favour of a larger pet like a cat or a dog because you don’t have the space for a larger pet, you might find yourself falling at the first hurdle.
Whilst ferrets live in cages as a general rule, we’re not talking about the cage that a hamster or gerbil would live in-ferrets need a lot of space, and in order to keep them happy, you will generally need to provide a tall, wide, multi-level cage, which can easily take up the best part of a wall and stick right out into the room as well.
Additionally, ferrets will not thrive being cooped up all day, even in the largest and most interesting of cages-they also need to be able to be let out into a ferret-proofed room every day for a reasonable period of time, to allow them to run around, play, and interact with you.
People who are not experienced with ferrets or that have not spent a lot of time around them are often a little wary of them-they can be fast-moving, behave in odd ways, and sometimes, be a little bit free with their teeth, particularly when they are excited and not paying too much attention to what they are doing!
However, a properly handled ferret is highly unlikely to bite or be aggressive to people, and if you do get nipped, this will be occasional and accidental. That said, ferrets that are not handled and used to people may be nervous about being handled, and so, may bite-regular handling and attention is important to keep your ferret tame, and fulfil all of their needs for love and care.
When planning to get a new pet, it is important to look at whether or not that pet will be happy on their own, or if they need the company of their own kind in order to thrive. Ferrets fall into the latter category, and as social animals, one lone ferret is apt to become bored and lonely, unless you can dedicate a significant amount of time each day to playing with them and entertaining them.
This means that you will likely need to look at getting two or more ferrets to provide for their need for company-but not all ferrets will get on, and choosing the right mix of sexes, ages and personalities is vital!
Many people wrongly assume that because ferrets are small caged animals, they do not need much in the way of veterinary care, such as vaccinations and spay or neuter. However, this is untrue-ferrets need the same preventative veterinary care as any other animal, and particularly, you will need to consider the appropriate options to keep them from breeding.
Female ferrets need to breed once they have come into heat, otherwise they will eventually die; this means that they will need to be spayed, allowed to breed, or kept with a male ferret that has been vasectomised and so, will not cause a litter of kits!
Ferrets are obligate carnivores, and providing the right type of food for them and in the appropriate quantities is vital. You can buy pre-prepared complete foods for ferrets, but this should also be supplemented by the odd scrap of lean meat, eggs, and other small treats.
However, ferrets should not be given all sorts of food and scraps, as a lot of things are unsuitable for ferrets, and may even be toxic.
Feeding a ferret the way that you want to can be a challenge, because most ferrets will go out of their way to scavenge for scraps and beg for treats! It is important to learn about foods that are dangerous for ferrets or generally not suitable for them, and keep such things well out of their way.
Finally, ferrets are among the most committed and cheerful of thieves in the animal kingdom-if they like the look of it, it is theirs, and it can be hard to convince them otherwise!
Ferret-proofing your home is vital to ensure that your ferret does not make off with things that they shouldn’t have or that might be dangerous to them, and this means securing all electrical wires and other hazards well out of your pet’s reach too.