Over 300,000 American households own a ferret. If you’re planning on joining them, you should make sure you can take care of your new pet properly.
So what do you need to know about taking care of a ferret? We’ve got you covered.
Read on to find out some of the basics of ferret care.
Ferret-Proof Your Home
Ferrets are curious and mischievous creatures that love to explore their environment. Ferret-proofing your home is essential to keep your pet ferret safe and prevent any accidents or damage.
Ferrets are small pets that can squeeze through tiny spaces. So it’s important to block off any areas where they could get stuck or injured. Use baby gates or barriers to keep them out of rooms or areas that are off-limits.
They’re known to chew on wires, which can be dangerous for them and cause electrical hazards. Keep wires and cables out of reach. Use cord protectors, hide them behind furniture, or secure
These animals are also notorious for stealing and hiding small objects. Keep items like jewelry, coins, buttons, and small toys out of their reach to prevent ingestion or choking hazards. them to the wall.
Many household plants and common cleaning products can be toxic to ferrets. Remove any toxic plants from your home and ensure that cleaning products, pesticides, and chemicals are stored securely in cabinets or high shelves.
When you’re a pet owner, you need to ensure that your ferret gets the nutrients it needs. Ferrets are obligate carnivores. That means that they require a meat-based diet.
Look for a ferret food that contains at least 30-40% protein. The protein should come from animal sources such as poultry, beef, or fish.
The foundation of a ferret’s diet should be a high-quality, commercially prepared ferret food. Look for foods that are specifically for ferrets and meet the nutritional requirements for their age and health condition.
Avoid using cat or dog food as their primary diet. These foods do not provide the necessary nutrients for ferrets.
Ferrets have a fast metabolism and require frequent small meals throughout the day. Feed them 2-4 meals per day. Treats such as cooked meats can be given sparingly. Fresh water should be available at all times.
Ferrets have a limited ability to digest carbohydrates. While small amounts of carbohydrates can be included in their diet, they should be minimal. Avoid foods that are high in carbohydrate content, such as grains or fillers like corn or wheat.
Ferrets need a spacious and secure enclosure. A large ferret cage or a multi-level cage with ramps and platforms is ideal. Make sure the cage has solid flooring, as wire mesh can cause foot injuries. Provide hiding spots, hammocks, and bedding for comfort.
Provide soft bedding material, such as fleece or towels, for your ferret to snuggle and sleep on. Don’t use materials with loose threads that could be a choking hazard.
Ferrets are sensitive to temperature extremes. Keep their habitat in a well-ventilated area and maintain a temperature between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 27 degrees Celsius) to ensure their comfort. Protect them from direct sunlight and drafts.
While the cage serves as their main habitat, ferrets require supervised playtime outside the cage to exercise and explore. Create a safe and ferret-proofed space in your home where they can roam freely under supervision.
Start socializing your ferret as early as possible, ideally when they are kits (baby ferrets). Young ferrets are more adaptable and open to new experiences, making it easier to socialize them.
Handling your ferret regularly helps them become comfortable with being touched and held. Gently pet and stroke them, gradually introducing them to different touches and handling techniques. This is especially important if you need to trim their nails or clean their ears.
Spend quality time with your ferret every day. Engage in interactive play, such as with toys or games that involve chasing or hide-and-seek. This not only provides physical stimulation but also strengthens your bond.
If you have multiple ferrets, allow them to interact and play together. This helps them develop social skills and provides companionship. Ensure that the ferrets are properly introduced and supervised during playtime.
Introduce your ferret to various people, including family members, friends, and visitors. Ensure that each interaction is positive and gentle. Encourage others to offer treats or engage in playtime with your ferret. This will help reinforce positive associations.
Respect your ferret’s comfort level and progress at their pace. Each ferret is unique, and some may require more time to adjust to new people, animals, or environments. Be patient and provide a supportive and gentle approach throughout the socialization process.
Train Your Ferret
Begin by teaching your ferret basic commands like “come” and “stay.” Use treats as rewards and positive reinforcement when they respond correctly. Keep training sessions short and frequent to maintain their attention.
Ferrets respond well to positive reinforcement, so reward them with treats, praise, and playtime when they perform the desired behavior. This encourages them to repeat positive behavior.
Consider using a clicker as a training tool. Clicker training involves associating the sound of a clicker with a reward. Click when your ferret performs and then follow it up with a treat. This helps them understand what behavior is being reinforced.
Training a ferret takes time and patience. Be consistent with your commands, rewards, and expectations. Keep training sessions short, as ferrets have short attention spans. Remember to be patient and understanding if progress is slow.
Ferrets can even be litter-trained like cats. Use a litter box with low sides and place it in a corner of their cage. Clean the litter box daily to maintain hygiene.
Entertain Your Pets
Ferrets are intelligent animals that benefit from mental stimulation. Provide puzzle toys, tunnels, and interactive games to engage their problem-solving abilities. This helps prevent boredom and encourages them to use their natural curiosity.
Provide a variety of interactive toys that stimulate your ferret’s curiosity and engage its hunting instincts. These can keep them entertained while providing mental stimulation.
Ferrets have a natural instinct to dig. Create a designated digging box filled with clean, safe materials like rice, shredded paper, or non-toxic diggable substrate. Let your ferret explore and burrow in the box.
Provide a stimulating environment by adding new items or rearranging their habitat periodically. This will help keep them engaged and entertained.
Like with any creature, you need to ensure that healthcare is readily available for your ferret.
Find a veterinarian who has experience with ferrets and schedule regular check-ups for your pet. Annual wellness exams are recommended to monitor your ferret’s overall health, detect any underlying conditions early, and discuss preventive care.
Ferrets should receive vaccinations to protect against certain diseases. Common vaccinations for ferrets include distemper and rabies vaccines. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for your ferret.
They’re also susceptible to external and internal parasites. Regularly administer preventive treatments for fleas, ticks, and heartworms as recommended by your veterinarian. Deworming medication may also be necessary to prevent internal parasites.
While ferrets are generally clean animals that groom themselves, they still require some grooming assistance.
Ferrets have short fur, but they can still shed. Regular brushing helps remove loose hair and reduces the chances of fur ingestion and hairballs. Use a soft brush or a grooming glove to gently brush your ferret’s fur. Brush in the direction of the hair growth and be careful around sensitive areas like the belly and tail.
Ferrets have a natural musky odor. Occasional baths can help keep them smelling fresh. Use a ferret-specific shampoo that is mild and gentle on their skin. Fill a sink or tub with warm water and gently wet your ferret. Avoid getting their head wet.
Apply the shampoo and lather it into their fur, then rinse thoroughly. After bathing, dry your ferret with a towel or a low-heat blow dryer on a gentle setting.
Ferrets have anal glands that can become impacted and cause discomfort. Regularly check the area for any signs of swelling, redness, or discharge. If you notice any issues, consult your veterinarian, as anal gland expression should be done by a professional.
Caring For a Ferret: Now You Know
Ferrets may be small, but that doesn’t mean their care is simple. There’s a lot that goes into taking care of these creatures.
Do you want to learn more about taking care of your furry friends? Read the rest of our blog for all the information you need.