Ferrets are cute bundles of fur that have become a popular choice for pets. But there is a lot to consider before bringing one home. Here’s what you need to know:
Adopting a ferret is a commitment
Most ferrets have a lifespan of 7 years, but they can live to 10 or 12 years. So, you will need to be prepared for the commitment and devoted to caring for your pet over the long haul.
They will miss you when you are gone
Ferrets enjoy socializing with others. They also form strong bonds to their human family members, and they bond for life. Giving your ferret up or surrendering him/her to a shelter will cause the animal great distress. No animal wants to be abandoned, but your ferret will be deeply affected.
Ferrets MUST be spayed or neutered
Do not be surprised if you discover the ferrets available for adoption have all been spayed or neutered. Non-neutered males can be very aggressive, and aggressive animal may not make a great pet, especially in homes with small children. Female ferrets that have not been spayed produce high levels of the hormone estrogen and if they do not mate, the prolonged condition can lead to life-threatening aplastic anemia. Female ferrets should spayed before they are adopted out, in order to ensure the animals’ safety and well-being—and to prolong their lives.
They are clever
Ferrets are intelligent animals. They can learn their name, and are able to respond to it when called. They can also learn simple tricks—nothing too complicated—and can learn to use a litter box.
Space is important to them
It is not advisable to keep a ferret in a cage for long durations. They need to run, play, and explore their environment. They require ample time to freely roam the house. If you are not prepared to let your pet loose in the home, a ferret may not be right for you.
They are chewers
Ferrets love to chew—and they may chew on whatever they find, so you need to monitor anything they have access to for their safety. Electrical chords, medications, dishwasher and laundry soap pods, toxic houseplants, etcetera will need to be safely out of your ferret’s reach.
They are carnivores
Ferrets are meat eaters. Unlike rabbits and guinea pigs, ferrets do not want a diet of greens. Kitten food, which has a high-protein content, may be used if ferret food is not available through your veterinarian or local pet supply store. Like dogs and cats, ferrets should not be given chocolate. They also should avoid grains and dairy.
They are natural hunters
In the wild, ferrets are hunters. DO NOT bring a ferret into a home with any pet that could be prey, such as:
- Guinea pigs
They may have trouble fitting in
Large breed dogs may be too rough with ferrets, and hunting dogs could go after them. Cats may find ferrets too aggressive, especially senior cats that prefer being left alone. If you have other pets in the home, talk to a veterinarian or a breeder before bringing home a ferret.
Baby ferrets are vulnerable
Ferrets are born deaf. Their hearing does not develop until they are about a month old—usually when their eyes open for the first time. Newborns are therefore very vulnerable, and should not be separated from their mother too soon.
Like all pets, they require veterinary care
In addition to needing annual wellness exams, ferrets can become ill from time to time, like all pets. They are susceptible to diseases, including:
- Heartworm disease
It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of vaccines and preventative medications with a veterinarian. Not all ferrets respond well to vaccines, so it is important to avoid over vaccinating. You will however need to check the laws where you live concerning rabies vaccines. As rabies can be passed from animals to humans, often with fatal outcomes, preventative vaccines are legislated in many areas.
They need pet supplies, including:
- Pet bed
- Water and food bowls
- Ferret food
- Litter box
- Litter, natural is best
- Tunnelling/burrowing toys (tubes, digging pit, etcetera)
When you are ready to adopt a ferret, treat him/her with love and care and you will be rewarded with an adorable companion for many years.
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