Ferrets are adorable and have become one of the most sought after pets in the past 5 years. They are everywhere on social media and you’d know that caring for them has now become some sort of a trend. But what are ferrets?
According to Wikipedia, ferrets are mammals that are closely related to the weasel family. They are highly social animals and have a lifespan of 5-7 years. Although they’re like cats that sleep an average of 20 hours a day, they are highly active and playful when they are awake.
Ferrets, being not so-usual household pets, there are things that you should consider and understand first before deciding to adopt one. Here are 5 things you should know before owning a ferret:
Ferrets are considered exotic animals and in the United States, only 48 out of 50 states allow legally owning them. California and Hawaii prohibit ferrets from being kept as pets because they are potential carriers of rabies. As for the other states, obtaining a license to keep is necessary. The best way to know the guidelines and laws regarding possessing ferrets as a pet is to consult your local wildlife office and obtain a copy of the current ordinances.
- Maintenance and Training
Ferrets can have sudden outbursts of energy manifested by full-on vigorous play. They are fond of crawling in tight spaces such as makeshift tunnels, pipes, and boxes. These cuties also tend to play rough and would often resort to nibbling which can be uncomfortable to some pet owners.
It is also ideal to have a litter box on the corners of your house as ferrets are eager of relieving themselves in safe corners. You can use your standard kitty litter and even newspapers for this purpose. Place several around your home. Ferrets have short gastrointestinal tracts and therefore require alleviating themselves more often than usual pets. They also do not cover their “businesses” unlike cats so you have to be on the lookout and scoop them often.
It may not seem like it, but ferrets are obligate carnivores. They rely on prey diet or to put simply, ferrets have a similar nourishment requirement to a snake which includes mice. However, some owners do not feel comfortable feeding them small animals. In such cases, you can always solicit suggestions from your veterinarian on what to give to your pet. There is a specialized ferret food available in vet clinics or you can feed them top of the line kitten food that is not fish-based.
Ferrets should not be given fruits or vegetables because they cannot metabolize plant protein. They should not be given dairy as well. If you are to give your pet a treat, avoid ferret kibbles available on the market. They usually contain grains and sugar which is bad for your pet’s health. You can go for high-quality meat like turkey or chicken which is better.
As mentioned earlier, ferrets do have short GI tracts and they need fresh water available all the time.
- Housing and Other Supplies and Equipment
Ferrets are wily creatures when it comes to escaping their cages so they must have a wide cage that has everything they can need to remain entertained. The cage that they will be living in should also have narrow gaps and a lock that cannot be easily opened. Avoid pine chips or similar materials as flooring because they can cause respiratory issues to your ferret. Blankets and other washable cloth would suffice.
It would be wise to provide your pet a hammock and an elevated area they can perch in. Tunnels are also a must as they love enclosed spaces. For toys, small balls or feather toys would be nice. Ferrets sure can chew so having rubber toys can prove dangerous.
Their cages should be kept in shaded areas and should not be directly hit by sunlight. They can suffer from high temperatures so during summer, having a fan for your ferret is ideal.
- Health Care
Regular visits to the vet are a must if you have a ferret because of their health issues that are different from your other pets. They should also be properly vaccinated against rabies and distemper because they are very prone to this. As responsible owners, you should also consider having them spayed and neutered at around 8 to 12 months where they are considered sexually matured. This is also to protect their reproductive health from diseases such as Pyometra.
Other common diseases that ferrets develop include skin tumors, pancreatic cancer, green slime disease, and heart diseases. At the earliest manifestation of these, it is highly recommended to consult your veterinarian without delays.
Caring for ferrets may require a lot of work and effort. They may have unconventional needs and you would really put in extra care to ensure they live a healthy life. However, seeing your ferret grow into healthy, mature adults can be quite rewarding. They are unexceptionally intelligent and fun. There is never a boring moment with these firecrackers. Whether they are buzzing about or just sleeping, it certainly is nice and exciting to appreciate them.