Top 10 Questions Answered About Ferrets

ferret with toy AMagill flickr

Ferrets are friendly, intelligent animals with many misconceptions. Here are some of the top questions about ferrets answered:

Are Ferrets Difficult to Keep?

Ferrets make great pets for people young and old. They are active pets that are more demanding than cats and dogs. Curious, playful, quiet and amusing are some words to explain a ferret. They can dig, hunt, hide and chew through various things. If you keep more than one, you will be filled with many hours of entertainment as you interact with them and watch them interact with one another.

Like any pet, you should try to get a ferret as a kit and spend time with training. Sometimes children are too excitable for ferrets, but this should not necessarily put you off. All interactions between children and animals should be supervised for their mutual benefit. Like people, no two ferrets will be the same. What one likes, another might not. You will be able to make the most of the individual traits that you like.

walking ferrets - hans s - flickr ferrets in washing basket - tribbles1971 - flickr ferrets being handled - hans s - flickr

Are Ferrets Smelly Pets?

All mammals have a scent that is associated with them. You will notice that smells differ as animals age – you will possibly be familiar with the smell of puppy compared with an adult dog. Scent is a very important aspect of mammalian identification due to hunting and other instincts making use of the ability to smell.

Ferrets have oil glands in their skin. Many mammals, including ferrets, also have anal glands used to mark their territories and used to identify themselves to others in the area. A pet ferret can be neutered or spayed and this helps to decrease the amount of odour produced. Male ferrets are more pungent than female ferrets. You can have the anal glands removed but this will not remove the general smell that your ferret has, but it can stop accidental or deliberate scent marking especially in unneutered males.

Other things affect your pet’s odour from diet to cleanliness. It is important to feed a ferret a varied and healthy diet. Due to their diet, you may need to review your pet’s oral hygiene to prevent a built up of food and tartar that can create bad breath. Fish also strengthens the odours. You can reduce other odours by maintaining a clean living environment for your pet. Keep the bedding clean by regularly removing and replenishing the material. You can also bathe your ferret a few times a year, too. Try not to continually bath your ferret as you will encourage the oil glands to produce more oil.

Are Ferrets Wild Animals?

While some ferrets can be similarly marked to their ancestral polecat relatives, many domestic ferrets would find it difficult to exist in the wild. Its ancestors were first domesticated over two thousand years ago, long before our feline friends. From the 12th to 14th Century, ferrets were kept by noble Englishmen. In other countries, there are pockets of feral ferrets. You may also have seen pictures of the American black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), which is a rare relative. Pet ferrets have become dependent on human care and would quickly die if left to their own devices.

ferret sleeping - stacey cavanagh - flickr ferret with toy ball - AMagill - flickr ferret in bag - Isa Coasta - flickr

What Are Ferrets Related To?

Many people consider ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) as either rodents or related to weasels. Domestic ferrets are descended from the European or Siberian polecat. All ferrets are mammals and are not related to rodent s. They are related to animals such as ermines, minks, otters, wolverines, badgers and skunks.

Do Ferrets Spread Disease?

Ferrets are not a species known for passing on disease in the same way as dogs can spread rabies for example.

Ferrets are bad for Biting?

Any pet that has a tendency to bite is usually a learnt or reinforced behaviour. As a kit, a young ferret needs to socialise with other ferrets and people to know what acceptable behaviour is. Bad behaviour should not be physically punished as this would not correct your ferret. Patience and positive reinforcement of good behaviour can reduce biting behaviour. If a normally happy, affectionate ferret bites you, then there may be something else going on. Check their body for injuries and if there is nothing obvious get your ferret checked over by a veterinarian to rule out internal injury or a health issue.

Are Ferrets More Active During the Day or at Night?

Ferrets are mostly active around dawn and dusk; however, they will adjust their activity levels to fit in around that of their owners. They will be active at different times of the day and night to exercise, eat, drink and answer calls of nature. They will also want to change and move their sleeping position every so often.

You will want to ensure that you house your ferrets in cages that have sufficient space. You should not just keep your ferrets in a cage, as they should be given ample opportunity to exercise and explore their external surroundings. They can be exercised using a harness and lead or given free reign within the home for supervised exercise periods. These periods outside the cage are important for improving the physical and mental health of your pet. A ferret is an intelligent animal that enjoys companionship and time playing.

Ferrets prefer some ability to move to areas that suit their temperature range. You should not house your ferrets in temperatures regularly above 26 degrees Celsius, so you may have to provide some temperature controlled housing.

You may need to ferret-proof aspects of your home before your pet disappears through a hole or knocks over an expensive antique heirloom. They will chew and bite things and try to hide and bury items. Watching and supervising your ferret can help to ensure no harm comes to them or items in your home.

Can I be Allergic to Ferrets?

It is not easy to tell if you could or would be allergic to a ferret. Like most things, you may be allergic to cats but not ferrets and vice versa. If you have concerns about this, then spend some time with a breeder or owner of a ferret to test your reaction to them.

How Long Does a Ferret Live For?

You can have a ferret that lives up to 10 years or more, although they are likely to live for about 6 years on average.

Do Ferrets Come in Different Colours?

Generally, all ferrets change their colours subtly with the changing seasons by appearing lighter in winter and darker in summer as well as with age. Many people will be familiar with colours such as albino (white fur with red eyes), but there are also other varieties such as sable, cinnamon, chocolate and silver. Some are nearly all one colour and others have patterns of white patches or white stripes on the head and feet.

6 thoughts on “Top 10 Questions Answered About Ferrets

  1. naturalbirdslove says:

    No, it’s not true that ferret difficult to keep. I have a ferret pet, and he is adorable. I like to play with him. He is naughty and very active animal. I am spending more and more time with my pet, and I like it.

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