Ferrets are mischievous fun loving pets, think of them as kittens that never grow up.
Inquisitive by nature, they will investigate every nook and cranny that they can fit into and are notorious for stealing and stashing much of what they find. Healthy ferrets live to play and can provide hours of hysterical entertainment. What are some things to consider if you are thinking about adding a ferret to the family?
Housing and husbandry: A minimum size cage for a ferret is 2 x 4 feet, and ideally more space for additional ferrets. Many cages will offer multiple levels. Sleeping areas should be provide in the form of hammocks, blankets, towels, and shirts. Corner litter boxes should be provided with low dust litter such as Carefresh Bedding or Yesterday’s News. Despite sleeping 18-20 hours a day, ferrets require a lot of exercise and socialization during awake periods. Play time should be provided 4 hours per day in a stimulating and safe “ferret proofed” environment.
Feeding: Fresh water should be provided at all times via a water bottle or secured bowl. Free feeding a high protein/low carbohydrate food is recommended. There are many high-quality ferret diets available, animal based protein should be the main ingredient with limited grains and sugars. Feeding a mixture of multiple diets may help to avoid food imprinting. Sugary treats and table food should be avoided. Laxatone or Ferretone can be given 2-3 times per week to help with hairballs.
Scent and grooming: Ferrets are generally purchased sterilized and “de-scented”. However, the coat still has a natural musky scent. This can be controlled by keeping the environment clean and changing bedding regularly. Ferrets can be bathed once a month with a pet-safe shampoo. Additionally they will need regular nail trims, teeth brushing, and periodic ear cleaning.
Ferrets can be an excellent choice for responsible children and adults.
Like any pet they require time commitment, monetary investment, and a safe environment. Annual veterinary visits are recommend until the age of three and then biannual visits and annual blood work for ferrets 3+ years. Please contact us if you have question about ferret ownership or if you are already a ferret parent and would like to meet one of our ferret friendly doctors.Dr. Charis Thompson graduated with a DVM degree from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Her special veterinary interests include preventive care, geriatric care, dentistry, and soft tissue surgery.