September 14, 2010

An Introduction to Pet Ferrets

Filed under: Ferrets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:57 am

In recent years, ferrets have become an increasingly popular pet.  They have been domesticated animals for somewhere around 2000 years and were first brought to North America as pets around 1700.  Still, some regions do not recognize ferrets as domestic animals with regards to the law and keeping animals in captivity.  Moreover, not all ferrets have been domesticated and the black footed ferret is often confused with its domestic cousin.  Because ferrets are related to badgers, wolverines, otters, and weasels, some people think they will not make good pets, but this is simply not true.  They are highly adaptive animals with a playfulness that makes them an excellent pet.

Generally speaking, ferrets live between 6 and 8 years but can live up to 12 years.  Males are slightly larger in length and weight than females but behaviorally there are few differences.  In North America, most ferrets have been spayed or neutered but if you get a pet ferret that is not, it is highly recommended to have the procedure for health and behavioral reasons.  As they are predators, ferrets sleep around 18 hours per day and they tend to be more active at dawn and dusk.  However, ferrets are well known for changing their sleeping patterns to adapt to their owners.  They are very playful animals with poor eyesight but excellent smell and hearing.

If you are interested in getting a pet ferret, you may have heard about their smelly reputation.  Ferrets certainly have a distinct smell but this musky odor is not particularly strong so you should not find it offensive.  Regardless of whether your ferret has been de-scented, their skin glands release this musky odor.  Moreover, while bathing is important, it will not eliminate their smell.  Finally, while ferrets make good pets for children, it is best not to expose them to very young children.  Being relatively small, ferrets do not enjoy rough play and small children often do not understand their own strength.

About Dr. Amber Reed

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