Spend Time with Some Ferrets
There are many photos and videos floating around on the internet that make ferrets look like adorable, fluffy little angels. But don’t be fooled! Ferrets are very intelligent and mischievous, as well as highly energetic animals that need a lot of human-supervised time. You need to make sure that their temperament is right for you.
Another thing that you need to consider is ferret’s smell. Like dog and cat owners, ferret owners typically get used to the way their ferrets smell, but you’ll need to make sure it isn’t too unpleasant for you. We recommend visiting a ferret rescue or shelter and spending some time in that environment to see if the smell is something you can live with.
Helping Your Ferrets Live Healthier, Happier Lives
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Do Your Research Before Buying a Ferret
As with any animal, it is important to know what you are getting into before you buy a ferret. While ferrets are small and sleep a lot, they can still be quite high maintenance. There are a lot of things you need to know about ferrets to keep them happy and healthy, including:
• What to feed your ferret for optimal mental and physical wellness
• The amount of exercise they require to remain physically fit and mentally stimulated
• What kind of cage will keep them safe and comfortable
• What injuries and diseases ferrets are prone to and how to spot them
• Understanding ferret behavior, so you know if your ferret is happy and healthy
• How to find a good vet who is experienced with ferrets
• How to ferret-proof your residence to keep your ferret safe
The good news is that you have found this website, which means that you are on the right track! We have put together a wealth of knowledge for you to learn about all these topics and more. But don’t think the education ends there. What we know about ferrets continues to evolve as they are better studied.
Where to Buy a Ferret
We always have and always will be the biggest advocates of getting your ferrets from a credible ferret shelter. Ferret shelter owners and volunteers are generally huge ferret lovers, with a wealth of knowledge gained through years of experience. They handle the ferrets in their care, get to know them, some toilet train them, vaccinate, and desex them, and they will be able to match you up with a perfect ferret to suit your needs. There are hundreds of cute little ferret faces waiting to be adopted into their loving forever homes all around the world in ferret shelters. Make sure to check if there is one in your area.
Reputable ferret breeders are few and far between. The best ones will breed ferrets that are genetically sound, and they will be able to show you their breeding ferrets’ family lineage. They will feed their ferrets an optimal diet, which gives the ferret a sound start in life. A credible ferret breeder will typically request or require that you continue feeding your ferret the diet it was raised on. They should also indicate that if your ferret is not suitable for you for any reason, the ferret should be returned to them. If a breeder does not want an unwanted ferret back, then they are probably a backyard breeder.
We do not recommend purchasing ferrets from pet shops or backyard breeders.
What to Look for in a Ferret
Unless you are an experienced ferret owner who is financially capable of looking after a sick ferret, then it is best to start off with one that is younger and healthy. That way you will have a bit of experience looking after a ferret before it gets older or sick. A good ferret shelter will help you pick out a ferret that is suitable to your needs. However, if you go to a pet shop or a breeder here are a few things you should look for:
- Age: A lot of bad breeders and pet shops will try to sell ferrets under the age of 8 weeks old to make more of a profit. (Babies are quite cute and can demand a higher price.) Ideally, if you are looking to buy a baby ferret, then you want to make sure they are over the age of 8-10 weeks old. Babies younger than 8-10 weeks old should still be with their mother to get the best start in life.
- Temperament:Is the ferret scared of humans? Is it overly nippy? (Note that most babies are pretty nippy and you will need to train them not to be as they grow up.) Is it unsocial with people or other ferrets? Pay attention to your potential ferret’s behavior, but know that a ferret that acts tired is not necessarily ill or lazy, since ferrets do sleep for most of the day.
- Health: Take a look at the ferret’s eyes; they should be wide open, inquisitive, and clear. Eyes that are squinting or crusty might indicate that the ferret is in pain or sick. Make sure the ears are clean. A coat should be soft and shiny; if it is dull and bristly, then it could indicate poor health. Take a look at the skin to make sure that there is no dryness or flakiness. You should always have a new ferret checked by a vet for fleas or ear mites, but both of these are easy to treat, so they should not keep you from getting a particular ferret. If all of a breeder’s or pet shop’s ferrets have fleas, however, it indicates that they are not keeping their ferrets in a healthy environment.
- Check their environment: Is the environment that they are living in clean? Are the litter boxes clean? In a healthy environment, there are not too many ferrets living in a small cage, and they should have plenty of clean blankets to curl up in. Ideally, the cage will also have some clean hammocks to climb up and sleep in as well. There should be separate areas for food and water and the litter box(es).
Food: Check which food(s) are being fed to the ferret. Not all commercial ferret foods are good for ferret health. Do your research on what types of ingredients you need to look for and which brands are best beforehand, as you may need to switch your ferret over to a healthier diet to keep it as healthy and happy as possible. Note that a ferret who hasn’t been fed a specific food before 6 months of age may not accept any new foods easily (you might need to transition them).
How Many Ferrets Should You Get?
Some ferrets prefer to live a solitary life, while others like living with other ferrets. We do not advocate having large groups of ferrets, as this can cause them to experience stress. Treat each ferret on a case-by-case basis. Don’t just assume ferrets will get along with each other and accept a new addition to the family because it doesn’t always work out. In fact, there are a lot of owners around the world who made this mistake and now need to cage their ferrets and exercise them separately, which costs more money and takes up more of your time. Also, you need to take your own financial situation into consideration. If you can only afford to feed, care for, and take one ferret to the vet regularly, then stick with one ferret! Ferrets can be perfectly happy living a solitary life with plenty of care and attention from you.
Make sure you are prepared for the increased cost, cleaning, cage requirements, food, and veterinary costs if you are thinking of getting more than one ferret.
Is Your Chosen Ferret Desexed?
Female ferrets when not desexed can suffer from a condition called aplastic anemia if they are not mated when they are in heat. Essentially, it is a build up of sex hormones that leads to a slow and painful death. Therefore, we recommend desexing your female ferrets if they don’t already come desexed. Male ferrets can become extremely smelly and aggressive when they go into rut. So it is advisable that you desex your male ferrets as well. In some countries around the world, ferrets almost always come desexed when you purchase them. Check with the place you are purchasing from to see if your new addition has been desexed or will need to be desexed.
Make Sure There's a Ferret-Savvy Vet in Your Area
Before you get a ferret, make sure there is a good ferret-knowledgeable exotic vet in your area. Ferrets need to see a vet for a check-up at least once a year when they are under 5 years old and twice a year once they are over 5 years. Ferrets are also prone to injuries and a variety of diseases, so you want to make sure you have a good vet nearby. Unfortunately, not all vets know about appropriate ferret care.