Ferret reproduction is a complex subject. In fact, I advise ferret owners to refrain from breeding their ferrets if they have no experience in the matter. Well, because we have previously talked about ferret breeding, today we are going to talk about the baby ferrets. What is the average litter size for ferrets?
A ferret will have an average litter size of 4 to 8 kits at a go. However, there is no designated number of kits to expect. Sometimes a ferret will give birth to just a single ferret. Other ferrets will receive more than ten kits.
I have had the chance to see a ferret with a litter of 14 kits! However, the average litter size for ferrets is 4 to 8 kits.
For how long do ferret kits nurse?
Well, as I have mentioned above, breeding ferrets should be left for the experts. The good thing about rearing ferrets is that they mature quite fast. Now, once the kits are born, they will rely on their mother for warmth, food and basically everything.
A Jill should be allowed some time alone with her litter. These tiny hairless and blind kits will nurse multiple times a day. Now, depending on the number of kits and the number of nipples, the ferret will control nursing.
Different Jills will have a different number of nipples. This means that each ferret will nurse her kits at a time. Most ferrets will have 5-9 nipples. This means that only that many kits will nurse at a time. The good thing is that the mother ferret is able to have all this in control. She will keep them behind her until her first batch of kits has nursed.
Kits will nurse from their mother until they are about 6 weeks. At this stage, they have already grown teeth. These will enable the kits to chew soft food as they are weaned. Most ferrets at this age are ready to go to their new homes.
If the mother had two or just one kits, she could have problems producing milk. Two kits are unlikely to stimulate the mother to produce milk. Most breeders will result in using foster mothers or hand-feeding these kits. The latter can be such a difficult affair.
What do baby ferrets eat?
As the kits mature, they can start seeing and playing, at the age of 4 weeks. They have also started growing hair. You might want to introduce soft baby food for the kits. As I have mentioned above, kits will stop nursing at 6 weeks. Continue feeding your baby ferrets some soft food.
Note that ferrets are strictly carnivorous. Therefore, baby food should contain a high amount of proteins and very low carbohydrates.
By the time these kits turn 8-10 weeks, they already have their permanent adult teeth. They can now chew dry ferret food and drink water like an adult. You must now understand the proper diet for an adult ferret. At this age, the kits have already been separated from their mother.
Note that ferrets this age love to explore. They want to find out how everything works and it is exciting for them. Kits can be a little vocal but they eventually calm down as they grow old.
A 4-month-old ferret is the size of an adult ferret. Females become sexually mature between their 5th and 8th week. At this point, a ferret should be bred or already spayed or neutered.
What is the gestation period of ferrets?
Now, female ferrets are able to conceive at the age of 5 months. However, others might not be ready for reproduction until they are in their 8th month. Now, when ferrets go in the season, they must be bred. I advise all ferret owners to have their ferrets sterilized before this time.
Understand that once a female ferret goes in heat and left that way, it could cause an infection due to estrogen toxicity.
Well, if you are planning to breed your ferret, then it is only fair to get as much information as you can. The gestation period of a ferret is approximately 42 days. It will take six weeks for a ferret to receive her litter from the day he is bred.
Now, if your ferret is preparing to deliver, it is up to you to be prepared. You should allow your ferret some spacious private space in preparation for birth. It is not safe to have her in the same room as other ferrets.
Besides, you will notice that your ferret has started nesting. She might shed her own hair trying to make comfortable nests for her litter.
Ferret delivery process
As I have mentioned above, the average litter size for ferrets is 4-8 kits. They could be less or more, which is totally normal. You must be prepared for the delivery process, which could take some hours. In fact, labor could last for a couple of hours.
During this time, you should give your ferret some time alone. Ensure that she has everything he needs for comfort. Put some clean water and food for him. Also, you should not stay with your ferret in this state. However, I advise you to keep an eye on your ferret from a distance.
She should not feel bothered. It could lead to your ferret killing her litter. A ferret who is about to deliver should not be in distress.
When she starts delivering, stay closely but remain calm. Do not allow anyone else to come into the room. Watch your ferret to ensure that nothing goes wrong when she delivers. It is also safer to call your vet when your ferret goes into labor. Alternatively, have someone with experience handle your ferret until she safely delivers.
In conclusion, ferrets will have different litter sizes. Refrain from breeding your ferret if you have no experience. It is safer to ensure that your ferret is sterilized before she gets to her sexual maturity. However, if you go ahead with this process, then ensure that you take all the safety measures.
Our Ferret Care Guide
As can be seen in the About Us page my son Bobby and I have been lifelong ferret owners and breeders and have experienced every problem and question that may come up.
As ferrets are our passion we have compiled our very own ferret care guide which took us 6 months to complete. It is perfect for new and seasoned owners alike and should be by your side.
To also help other ferret owners select the correct items then we have the hand-picked items that we indeed use and are all available from Amazon. See them here.