Ferrets are very sociable animals and are happiest when they have company. They can make wonderful pets, especially if handled and socialised well from an early age. However they do require an owner who is willing to give a lot of time and attention. If you are considering a ferret as a pet you need to ‘ferret-proof’ your house to prevent the possibility of escape and injury. Block all holes in the house, block spaces under and behind the fridge and washing machine, and prevent access to cupboards.
Exercise: Ferrets will sleep up to 18hrs a day. But they sure do they make up for that when they wake - fitting in as much revelry and mischief as they can! They need several hours of supervised exercise and play outside of their cage each day but be warned – They can be quite rascally and destructive. They love to dig up plants, scratch at carpet and steal whatever takes their fancy. In fact the name ferret is derived from the Latin “furittus”, meaning "little thief". Ferrets are masters of escape and can squeeze through the smallest of spaces. Ferret harnesses and leads are available for exercising your pet ferret outdoors.
Cleaning: To help reduce ferret odour, they can be bathed with ferret shampoo designed to be gentle enough for these small animals. We recommend not bathing your ferret more than once a week as it removes oils from their coats resulting in dry skin if washed excessively.
Ferrets have similar grooming and cleaning habits to cats and are very easy to litter train. The cage should be cleaned daily with the litter in the litter tray replaced.
Diet: Ferrets are meat eaters and need a high protein diet. A balanced diet of high quality dried cat food and red meat such as mince is appropriate.
As ferrets are prone to heat stroke, fresh water must be provided at all times.
Health: Ears need cleaning and nails need clipping regularly. Due to their mischievous nature and knack for getting into trouble they may at some time suffer injuries which require surgery. Like all pets they need regular vet checkups to maintain good health including annual vaccinations. They are also susceptible to the human ‘flu’ virus.
Parasites: ‘Revolution’ is a good preventative option for ferrets as it will protect against fleas, ear mites, worms and heartworm – all of which your ferret is susceptible to. However it is best to check with your vet before commencing treatment to ensure your ferret is of the appropriate size and age for the product.
Heatstroke: Ferrets do not tolerate heat well. In fact they do not feel comfortable in temperatures over 26oC. If you know temperatures are going to be high provide relief in the form of a frozen water bottle covered in a towel.
Desexing: If you don’t plan to breed your ferret then desexing is a must. When a ‘jill’ (female) comes into season, unless she is mated or receives injections from the vet, she will remain in season and there is a 90% chance that she may die from anemia. The ‘hob’ (male) also comes into season at about the same time, during which his odour will start to become very strong and unpleasant, and no amount of bathing will eradicate the smell. He may also become quite aggressive and will try to escape to find a mate. Desexing will overcome these problems and is recommended at about six months of age.
If you wish to discuss your ferrets health care further please give us a call.