Bringing a new ferret home soon? Well, you will probably need to research intensively about what to know about ferret care. It will include learning the ferret temperament, health, and diet. In this article, I am going to highlight everything To Know About Ferret care
Before I go on, it is only fair to recognize ferrets as the third most popular pet in the world. For this reason, you will not face many challenges when looking to purchase ferret essentials. Well then, without further hesitation, let us look at what you must know to take care of your new friend.
Ferrets are members of the weasel (Mustelidae) family, they are known for their wit and active nature. Believe me when I say you are going to enjoy having a ferret as a pet. It is because of the following ferret qualities:
They are playful
Ferrets are probably the most playful pets anyone could keep. They will play with you when you let them out of their cage. Sometimes your ferret will play with his toys in the cage. It is quite entertaining to watch your ferret solve puzzles.
And because they are playful, you must provide at least 4 hours per day out of his cage. Well, you see, you will need to always spare some time with him. During this time, engage in entertaining and stimulating games such as letting him chase you around.
Do not forget to have your house ferret proofed. I mean, you do not want him to run off to the outside during play. They can be quite mischievous if let out of the cage without supervision.
Also, purchase several toys to keep your ferret occupied when he is in his cage. Avoid stringy toys that he can easily chew and swallow. It could cause him intestinal obstruction which is often fatal for ferrets.
Ferrets are energetic and active
Their playful nature also comes with high energy levels. Now, before I go on, ferrets do sleep a lot, about 18-20 hours a day. They will sleep for five or six hours before waking up to play for an hour or so. Well, when you observe your ferret during the active hour, you will surely recognize their high energy levels.
Your ferret will run around his cage and climb up, especially when you have a multi-level cage. Well, they might be crepuscular but when awake, ferrets are very active.
They are friendly
Ferrets are very friendly with people and even with other people. However, young ferrets can nip and bite people and even other pets. For instance, they can be very good with your cat. If your ferret has not learned that biting is unacceptable, you will have problems.
Well, the key to having a friendly and happy ferret is training biting inhibition, as well as spending time with them. The more they socialize with people the friendlier they get. Besides, your ferret is going to love you and show it but playing and seeking your attention.
Note that ferrets will rarely display any signs of aggression. Even the nipping is usually playful even though he can bite you painfully. Otherwise, aggression is a sign that everything is not well with your furry friend.
Feeding your ferret is part of providing care. Well, ferrets are obligate carnivores. This means that their diet should contain high protein content and fats. On the other hand, you should avoid foods with a high fiber content of starch.
I have said it before that ferrets cannot digest complex carbohydrates. It is because they have a short digestive tract, which results in faster metabolism. So what should you feed your ferret?
Commercial ferret foods
Assuming you have already purchased food and water bottles for your ferret, commercial food is a great start. Well, I always advise new ferret owners to consult the pet store technician about the previous foods your ferret was on.
While I agree with changing the diet occasionally, I must also warn you it should not happen drastically. You should introduce new foods gradually by mixing his food.
You might find ferret specific food in your local pet store or order your preferred brand of ferret food online.
Raw ferret diet
As I mentioned above, ferrets are all carnivorous. You could supplement your ferret’s diet with raw diet such as meat. Some owners will go for pre-killed whole prey. It will provide all the nutrients he would need in the wild. However, if you go for a raw diet for your ferret, it should be frozen.
Alternatively, you can always get animal organs from your local butchery.
You are going to need treats for your ferret. After all, it is the only way you can show affection and approval to your ferret. For instance, during training, you will need treats to reinforce each trick. Well, you can always get nutritious and delicious treats for your ferret in the pet stores.
Alternatively, you can feed him homemade treats. Eggs, scrambled, boiled or raw yolks, make excellent treats. You can also use pieces of cooked chicken or lamb as treats for your ferret.
Foods you must avoid
Now, when I say that ferrets are obligate carnivores, I mean they do not feed on anything but meat, and eggs. Therefore, you must be observant of the ingredients in the food you feed your ferret. For instance, their digestive system cannot digest complex nutrients such as lactose. Therefore, all dairy products could make your ferret sick including chocolate, milk or ice cream.
When you do not have immediate access to ferret-specific food, you can opt for dry cat food. However, I do not always encourage new ferret owners to use cat food as it may contain ingredients that would harm your ferret.
Also, if you are making homemade meals for your ferret, avoid using some ingredients such as garlic and onions. These are toxic to your ferret.
Also, avoid other foods such as raw egg whites, vegetables and fruits or seeds. His digestive system will not be able to digest these foodstuffs. And besides, all the nutrients would be useless to your ferret’s body.
Keeping your ferret healthy
When well taken care of, ferrets can enjoy a healthy life for their lifespan. If you are getting a baby ferret, you will need to take him to the vet for an examination. Enquire about all the vaccination needed to keep a ferret healthy.
Once you are sure that everything is okay with him, it is up to you to ensure that he stays as healthy. You will also be required to go for a check-up annually for the canine distemper vaccination.
This, however, does not mean that ferrets do not get ill. They are prone to respiratory diseases, usually from exposure to dust. Well, make sure to use a dust-free type of litter for your ferret’s beddings and in the litter box.
And because ferrets tend to steal small stuff, I suggest you ferret-proof your house. This is to ensure that he does not get to chew or swallow small or stringy stuff. These could easily cause intestinal obstruction for your ferret. This can be fatal and will require emergency surgery.
Well, as you can see, it all goes back to how well you take care of your ferret. Other serious illnesses could include insulinoma, ferret lymphoma, and even human influenza.
Grooming your ferret
Ferrets are clean creatures, which means you will have to keep up with his cleanliness. Well, it should not be as difficult to take care of your ferret in terms of grooming. First of all, you only need to bathe him once a month.
The same case goes for ear cleaning. However, their nails tend to grow way too quickly and you may need to trim them at least twice a month. You will need to purchase the essentials to do this. These might include gentle small pet shampoo, nail clipper (preferably for kittens), ear cleaner and cotton buds.
Use ferret body temperature water to bathe your ferret. Well, you want to bring everything with you to the bathroom before you begin. Make the process as comfortable as you can for your ferret to avoid resistance.
Cleaning a ferret’s cage
Above, I mentioned that you will need to keep your ferret’s cage clean. You must clean it at least weekly while at the same time change the beddings. I would advise you to wash his food bowl and water bottle as often as you can.
Now, when cleaning his cage, you will need to take everything out of the cage. You should start by sweeping his floor to remove food particles. Then a bucket of disinfected water and clean the cage. It is easier to do this in the bathroom.
Use a brush to wash the cage bars and to remove any particles stuck in the corners of the cage. Ensure that your ferret’s beddings are washable. Use bleach to clean them and dry them before setting the cage up once again. Spare at least one day in a week to clean your ferret’s cage.
You can probably use a spare cage when cleaning his main cage. Or, you could have a collar and leash so that you can supervise him out of his cage. Only put the cage back when it dries.
How to handle or pick up a ferret
On some occasions, you will need to pick up your ferret. Well, it could be that you want to pet him or cuddle him for a while. Nevertheless, you will need to pick him up when bathing and grooming him. Also, when cleaning his ears, you need to restrain him on your laps.
Well, when picking him up, use both your hands. However, avoid startling him when you pick him up. This means that you should only pick him up when he is fully awake and alert of your presence. Startling him would arouse your ferret’s defensive senses.
During ear cleaning, it would be wise to have someone to help you hold him. Otherwise, you can scruff him by the neck to keep him still.
It is always a good idea to have a few treats in your hands. I mean, you want to associate picking him up with a positive outcome. He will always be aware that when you pick him up, there is always a prize. Refrain from picking up your ferret when he is asleep.
Leaving your ferret at home
Having a pet is an addition to your responsibilities. While it is easy to handle the day to day tasks, going away for a while can become a handful when you have a ferret. Now, going to work every day should not worry you for as long as you provide enough food and water to get him through the day.
However, if you are going to be away for a few days, you might consider getting a pet sitter. If they understand how to care for a ferret, it is going to be all smooth. This is especially because ferrets do not get anxiety issues from being left alone.
Be sure to leave your contact details as well as those of a vet in case something happens when you are away. Since they are playful, ask the pet sitter to provide as much play as possible outside the cage. If you leave him with a friend, then I suggest you write down your daily routine with your ferret to guide them.
We have handpicked for you all of the essential items you will need when taking a new ferret home.
Our Ferret Care Guide
As mentioned in the about us page my son Bobby Grover and I have been ferret owners and breeders for all of our adult lives.
Some time ago we realized that there wasn’t a comprehensive guide to keeping ferrets.
So, what we did was to write a guide ourselves to help people just like you. There is no other complete guide anywhere like it and is suitable for newbies and experienced ferret keepers alike.