Anyone who has encountered a pet ferret knows that these creatures are smart, friendly, and very curious. However, unlike the cats and dogs that many of us had as children, how to care for a ferret is not something you’re likely to have learned from friends or neighbors.
This guide offers a brief overview of how to take care of a ferret properly.
Ferret Exercise and Attention
First, it’s important to recognize the commitment that you are making to your new pet. On average, ferrets tend to live between six and eight years when in good health.
Ferrets are extremely outgoing, curious, and playful creatures that require a great deal of attention from their owners. Many ferret owners keep a pair of ferrets in order to provide a constant companion for these sociable animals.
Ferrets have very active metabolisms, so although they spend about 18 hours a day asleep, they wake up briefly every three to four hours to eat.
Due to the insatiable curiosity of ferrets, you will need to closely supervise your pet to prevent any injuries. Make certain to check appliances, closets, and so on to ensure that the ferret does not become trapped accidentally. Your ferret needs to be able to roam free within your living quarters, and it should be caged only when this is required for immediate safety reasons.
Ferret Sleep and Litter Training
Your ferret will need a quiet, dark place where it can sleep. Ferrets enjoy burying themselves in bedding materials such as old sweaters or towels.
Your ferret will also require a litter box to be placed in a sheltered corner near its nest. Just like cats or dogs, ferrets need to be litter trained in order to know what to do. This is a process that can take several days. Ideally, you can build up to the point where your ferret has a small litter pan available in each room.
All litter materials will need to be refreshed every day.
Feeding a Ferret
Ferrets enjoy playing with their food and are likely to attempt to tip over their water and food bowls. It is best to buy bowls that cannot be tipped. If this is not possible, another alternative is to place a mat beneath the bowls to catch spills.
Your ferret will need an open water bowl rather than a water bottle. Water bottles can damage their teeth for one, and does not let the ferret wash its own face.
Make sure that you keep plenty of fresh water and food available to your ferret, whose quick metabolism requires feeding at least every four hours. Ferrets should be fed a quality dry food for ferrets or kittens, avoiding foods that contain high amounts of oil or fish meal (which can make your ferret smell bad).
As a treat, you can offer your ferret many types of fresh vegetables or fruit, such as cucumber, bananas, grapes, carrots, or apples. Ferrets also appreciate dog biscuits.
Keeping a Ferret Healthy
To maintain your ferret’s health, regular veterinarian visits are a must.
You will need to take your ferret for annual vaccinations, including canine distemper, as well as frequent checkups. Although dental cavities are a rarity for ferrets, it is possible for them to break a tooth during rough play, so a dental exam is also a good idea.
Your veterinarian will also encourage you to have your ferret spayed or neutered to protect its health and avoid a musky pheromone odor. An occasional bath with baby shampoo will take care of normal odor build-up after the animal has been fixed.
Some owners choose to have their ferrets de-scented, which involves the removal of an odor gland similar to that of a skunk, although this procedure is optional.