Ferrets are adorable, playful members of the weasel family that can make for fun, engaging pets. Today, our Palmdale exotics vets share the best tips for looking after these smart, inquisitive animal companions.
Any new pet requires preparation, including learning their specific social, diet, habitat, and wellness needs.
Ferrets Are Social
Ferrets enjoy socializing, and do much better when with a compatible companions or groups (although you must have them spayed/neutered to prevent unwanted litters, in addition to other health benefits.) Ferrets are predators in the wild, so it is strongly discouraged to house them with other small species of animals (especially prey animals like rabbits).
Spaying/Neutering Your Ferret Is Vital
Like cats and dogs, ferrets gain a number of benefits from being spayed or neutered. This is especially true for female ferrets, who are 'in heat' until they mate. Other issues caused by not having your ferret neutered include anemia and ovarian cancer, which can have fatal results. Ferrets can undergo saying or neutering between four to six months old.
Ferrets Are Carnivores
Ferrets are obligate carnivores – in order to survive, they must consume animal protein and products. They require a high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fiber diet, but your veterinarian will give you specific advice for your unique ferret's needs.
Good foods to feed your ferret include:
- High-quality commercial ferret food (high-quality commercial dry kitten food is also suitable)
- Human-grade uncooked meaty weekly; these must be large enough that your ferret can't swallow it whole.
- Ferrets can have very small amounts of fruits and vegetables as treats. They must be soft for easy digestion and must only be given on occasion.
- Chewing gum
- Milk and milk-based products (e.g. cheese, ice cream)
Ferrets Are Smart!
Your ferret will need daily play and interaction to thrive; supervising them as they explore outside their enclosure is a great chance for them to develop a closer bond with you and any of their ferret friends. Provide more enrichment with ferret-friendly toys, boxes and plastic tunnels for them to rummage and 'burrow' through, and rearrange items in their enclosure to keep them mentally stimulated.
Ferrets Need Routine Care
Ensure your ferret is receiving regular health checks from your exotics veterinarian, as well as their annual canine distemper vaccines, flea control, and heartworm and parasite prevention.
Keep an eye on your ferret's drinking, eating, and toileting habits, as well as their weight (gaining or losing). If you notice changes in their routine behaviors, contact your vet. Regularly inspect your furry friend's feet and coat for signs or injury, irritation, or parasites.
Like puppies and kittens, ferrets are adventurous and fond of chewing, so it's important to make sure any dangerous objects are out of their reach.
Be very careful during hot weather; ferrets are extremely prone to heat stress, which can quickly become fatal. Your ferret's enclosure should be in a sheltered area that is well-ventilated, out of direct sunlight, and away from strong wind. They must always have somewhere to shelter from the sun.
Ferrets Need Room To Stretch Out (Literally)
Your ferret's cage or enclosure should be as large as possible; they are agile, active creatures and don't do well being cooped up. The area should be well-ventilated and large enough for the ferret to turn around, walk, and stretch to their full length easily. They will also need a smaller sleeping area with pet beds. To the delight of many ferret fans, they also enjoy sleeping in small hammocks.
Luckily, ferrets are easy to toilet train! Provide a litterbox filled with shredded paper, or cat litter made of recycled paper.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.