Little thieves, as ferrets are called in Latin, is the perfect name for these cunning, quick, and extremely intelligent animals. They have been domesticated for a long time, and more people are starting to enjoy the company of ferrets. Even though they are said to make great pets, there are many things that people need to learn about ferrets before they decide to bring one into their home.
Ferrets are carnivorous mammals that spend almost 14 hours of the day sleeping, which means they are awake in the late evenings and early mornings. Although you can always try to change their sleeping habits, it will not be easy to make them suit your routine. When brought home as kits (the term for baby ferrets), you need to ensure they are always under supervision. Kits are similar to puppies, they must be given the right amount attention; otherwise there is a risk that they can become aggressive. They live up to the eight years, which is a lengthy commitment to ensure that you remain a responsible care giver to this adorable and attention seeking pet.
Choosing a ferret as a pet
Before bringing home a ferret, you need to make sure all the people in your house support your decision. You should bring a ferret home only to find out that it has to be returned to where it was purchased. The second most important thing is to check if ferrets are legally allowed to be kept as pets. It is illegal to keep ferrets as pets in the Northern Territory and in Queensland; in the states of Victoria and Australian Capital Territory, a license is required. This is because ferrets are not native to the country, and there are some controls due to feral populations. Even within individual states, it is worth contacting your local council to check the requirements for keeping a ferret.
After you have the right permission, find a pet store that sells kits. Check out the pet supplier or breeder a few times to make sure they are not doing any illegal trading or being cruel to the animals. Once you are confident about the supplier or breeder, meet the kits a few times. Ferrets are sold when the kits reach 40 days, which means you will be seeing many energetic, jumping, and active ferrets. Pick one that is most active, looks healthy, and is not wounded in any way. Always ask for a receipt for your purchase. It helps keep these documents together. Some pet shops ask for a license and do a background check on you before giving you the animal. Make sure you have the right information and records, as you do not want to have someone take your pet away and possibly destroyed because you have the wrong documentation.
Bringing home a ferret
Before bringing home your new pet, make sure you have decided where it will be sleeping in your house. As ferrets like marking their territory, you need to ensure they have a territory that they can call their own, create a space by either setting up a cage with a box and bed where they can rest. Keep a litter box ready, similar to cat litter boxes. Unlike cats, ferrets have to be potty trained, so make sure you are ready to clean up around the house before they understand how to use the litter box.
While bringing the kit from the pet store, buy basic things like a mild shampoo, vitamin supplements, deodorant for the litter box, etc., just so that you do not have to make too many trips to the pet store. On your way home ensure that your kit is safe and locked up inside a cage because they can distract you while driving if they are roaming freely in the car. Later, you can train your ferret to sit quiet during a car ride. If you need your kit to reach that level of discipline, you will have to spend days training him, and giving him the attention that he needs.
If you have other pets at home, do not immediately introduce them to the ferret. Let your new pet settle in, create a space of his own, explore his new home and then make friends. It is not unheard of having a ferret and a dog or a cat living in the same house, and even becoming friends. However, you need to supervise the interaction in the beginning making sure no harm is done to either party.
Raising a ferret
Ferrets are similar to dogs in that they need attention, especially while they are growing. It is in their nature to nip and bite, but it is up to you to make sure they do not. Constant companionship is good, but it can cause your ferret to be lonely when you are not around. Spend certain amounts of time in the day with your pet, but let him learn to keep busy at other times as well. If your ferret is comfortable with your other pets, he will keep busy by either following them around or playing with them.
If they are your only pet, you can buy them different toys that are not easily breakable or with too many parts in them, as they can swallow a few pieces that could cause intestinal damage. Build a play area that is filled with holes and burrows in your back yard or a wooden box near their bed that they can go in and out of to entertain your ferret. A few people build a maze of burrows and hide treats in them, which keeps the animal busy for a while.
All important documents, gadgets, and gifts need to be hidden from your pet. Many people do not realise that ferrets are good climbers, and they can get inside small holes as well; it will not be too long before they bite through exposed TV wires or crash a few vases while climbing along the cupboard. Ensure you keep them distracted at all times, and keep them from entering certain places of the house such as the kitchen and the storeroom.
Nutrition and hygiene for your ferret
As these animals are carnivores, they require high amounts of protein. From when they are kits, train you ferret to eat different food items such as chicken, fruits, vegetables etc. Do not restrict their diet to only protein. Ask the pet store if they have any special ferret foods available. Many pet stores keep treats and biscuits made specifically for ferrets. From the beginning, train your ferret to eat only when served in its bowl, this reduced the chances of it going through your rubbish bin and raiding the cupboards.
Ferrets have fur, very sharp teeth, and a strong musky smell. Like cats, they are also prone to hairballs from grooming. While bringing the ferret from the store, make sure it has no skin infection or any other health condition. Give your pet a bath once every three weeks, and dry him thoroughly. As he becomes successfully potty trained, clean out the box every day, as it tends to develop a very strong smell, so make sure you clean it well and deodorise it.
Ferrets are fun loving, active, and extremely intelligent animals. They can make great pets for teens and people who work from home. They are always up to mischief. Make sure they are housed securely to make sure when you go to work you do not end up coming back to house that has been rummaged through by your furry friend.
If you want a fluffy companion who will follow you around, can be disciplined, and will have the funniest antics that will make you laugh, then buy a ferret, as you will not be disappointed. Ferrets are worth the effort and they will reward you many times.