Why A Ferret?
If you are looking for a smart, loving, very energetic companion, a ferret may fit the bill. Ferrets are extremely sociable, they love human and animal companionship. They are quick learners with a wide range of vocalizations to express their feelings. Ferrets have many nicknames; Bandit, Fuzzie, Carpet Sharks are just a few, all of which they live up to. The "Bandit" will steal anything of interest and hide it where only he/she knows where to retrieve it from.

Ferrets come in a wide variety of colors, Sable and Albino being the most common. You may also see a Siamese, Panda, Cinnamon, and Silver Mitt.

These small cute members of the weasel family are wonderful companion pets with some limitation. Ferrets and children under the age of 5 generally do not get along well. As with other pets, most ferrets get along well with cats, dogs, and birds; however, some breeds of dogs were born to chase small animals and are not good housemates. Ferrets and reptiles must be watched closely.

What is a Ferret?
The domestic pet, ferret, is a small, furry mammal in the Mustelidae family. The average life span of a ferret is 7 to 9 years and they weigh anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds.

Ferret History
The ferret was domesticated more than 500 years before the house cat. The Egyptians domesticated them over 4000 years ago. Many historians believe that they were introduced to Europe by the Crusaders of the 10th and 12th centuries, and at one time, ferrets were the favored pets of the English nobility.

 Are Ferrets Smart?
Yes! They can recognize their name, learn tricks, and learn to use the litter box. It has been observed that some ferrets can "problem solve" their way into trouble.

Do Ferrets Make Good Pets? 
Yes! Ferrets are small and easy to care for; and like cats and dogs they enjoy being around people. They retain their playfulness through most of their lives.

Are Ferrets Vicious Animals?
No! Any ferret that has been raised with love and taught the difference between ferret and human should not bite. Keep in mind that all animals will bite in pain and fear. The ferret has a much lower bite rate than cats or dogs.

What About Children and Ferrets?
As is the case with any animal, small children should never be left alone with the pet, no matter how trusted the pet may be. Very young children (under age 5) are not recommended to be with ferrets. With that in mind, ferrets can make very good playmates for children. Ferrets are naturally very playful, and can make a nice companion for a child. The child should first be taught how to hold and care for the animal so as not to cause injury to the ferret.

What About the Smell?
All Animals have some kind of scent. Ferrets have a musky odor naturally. The best steps to reducing the odor is to spay or neuter the ferret and regularly cleaning the kennel and bedding. They have a scent gland which is used in defense. They can be removed, but this will not affect their natural scent.

What To Feed Them?
Ferrets have a very fast metabolism. They can "graze" all day on feed high in fat and protein. Fresh water should be available at all times. Treats such as Ferretone oil, fruits, and veggies are good if given sparingly. Ferrets should never be given dog food, chocolate, sweets, raw meat, or dairy products.

What About My Other Pets?
Because ferrets are so playful, they do get along well with most other pets. It is a good idea to introduce your ferret to other pets under supervision and they should probably not be left alone. It is not recommended that you introduce your ferret to birds, rodents, or reptiles.

Should Ferrets Be Kept In A Cage? 
For their own safety, ferrets should be kept in a kennel or a "ferret proofed" room when you are not with them. Ferrets are good at getting into stuff. Ferrets need and want at least one hour of play and companionship with you each day.

Should A Ferret Be Neutered/Spayed?
Females (jills) go into their heat cycle and do not come out of it until they are mated. This long cycle induces supression of red cell production and they run the risk of "aplastic anemia" which is usually fatal. Male ferrets (hobs) have a much stronger odor when they are not neutered. It is recommended that all ferrets be fixed at 6 months of age.

What About General Health Care?
All Ferrets should be vaccinated for Rabies and canine distemper. Distemper is almost always fatal in ferrets. On February 7, 1990 the USDA licensed the first rabies raccine for use on ferrets. It is known as IMRAB, a killed virus vaccine.

Ferrets do not tolerate temperatures above 90 degrees or below 68 degrees well. They should have good ventilation in their living area, and lots of bedding to curl up in.

Toys should be of hard rubber or plastic, soft rubber or latex can be broken into pieces and if swallowed could cause internal blockage which may be fatal. Most ferrets love anything that makes noise, such as a paper bag or pie tin.

Because ferrets are susceptible to respiratory illnesses, clumping cat litter, wood chips, and sawdust should not be used in their litter box. Good alternatives are pelleted vegetable matter, wood stove pellets, or recycled paper pellets.


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Last updated on Mar. 1, 2011.

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