12 Things to Know About Ferrets

As a pet parent to a ferret, there are certain things you need to understand about the unique personalities of ferrets. Tending to ferrets necessitate the purchase of certain products, as well as taking some specific steps to maximize comfort to ensure that your ferrets remain healthy and happy. 

Our guide explains why ferrets aren’t the same as cats and dogs and what specific care and provisions are needed for them.

1. Distinct play spaces

While they love playtime and have the curiosity to keep them busy, ferrets are known for needing a lot of downtime. In this regard, you should create a relaxing environment for your ferret.

Even though ferrets have an active lifestyle, they sleep just as much as they play.

ferret sleeping in a cradle

Ferrets generally need multiple spaces to get cozy. For starters, get a spacious and easy-to-clean cage. Also, you want to get soft bedding and a variety of sleeping spots for your ferret. Moreover, the cage needs to be draft-free and not too warm. 

The ideal temperature for a ferret is between 60-80 degrees F. They’re active and curious, so let them spend some free time outside their cage.

Make your home ferret-proof and install some measures to keep ferrets contained (read.. travel with ferrets).

2. Food and water

Since ferrets are obligate carnivores, they eat frequently. However, they can’t ingest nutrients from plants as they need animal proteins and fats to sustain their diet.

Eggs, meat, and fish are great food options for ferrets.

Avoid foods high in fiber or sugar, and grains aren’t recommended for ferrets since they have a short digestive system that can’t handle them. 

Ferrets have a high metabolism, so they eat every 3 to 4 hours. They also have a short digestive system that lets food pass through rather quickly.

Keeping this information in mind, you should have food readily available at all times, but unlike other animals, they don’t overeat. Plus, make sure they have access to clean, fresh non-chlorinated water. 

3. Adrenal gland disease 

This is the most common health issue affecting ferrets. The symptoms of adrenal gland disease include genital inflammation, hair loss, itchiness, irritability, or aggression.

Poor nutrition and lack of UVB light are considered contributing factors, and scientists believe early spaying of ferrets may also play a significant role. A veterinarian should be consulted about other potential health problems with ferrets. 

Some problems that ferrets suffer from are:

4. Digestive disorder

Ferrets often eat things they shouldn’t, including their own furs, so they tend to have digestive problems.

So if your pet ferret loses weight or can’t keep food down, or isn’t defecating normally, that might be a sign of some kind of gastrointestinal obstruction. In this situation, you should consult a vet right away. 

5. Dental problems

Dental issues can disturb ferrets, so avoid giving them kibble. Ferrets teeth are meant for tearing, and kibbles won’t just do it.

Provide ferrets with suitable toys or brush their teeth to prevent tooth decay and cavities. If a ferret has a diseased tooth, the only option is to have it removed by a trained veterinarian. 

6. Ferret lymphoma

This is typical cancer that attacks a ferret’s lymph node. It’s usually fatal, and there are no preventative treatments. 

7. Ferret dilated cardiomyopathy

This is a heart issue that can cause sudden death in ferrets. Lack of taurine in ferret nutrition is thought to cause this affliction.

The problem is like heart failure in humans where the animal begins to get weak, wheeze, and lethargic. 

Additionally, this condition must be diagnosed by a vet. Some treatments are available if it is caught early, but there’s no cure yet for dilated cardiomyopathy. 

8. Distemper

Fortunately, rabies has been eradicated with the help of an effective vaccine. And yet, this fatal condition, which happens to be highly contagious to humans and other animals, still exists in some places.

Symptoms include inflammation of the face and watery eyes.

9. Purchasing your ferret

If you purchase a ferret as a pet, make sure you deal with a reputable breeder with a track record of vaccinations and no health problems.

Yes, it may likely cost a bit more than going to a pet store, but you are most likely to get a ferret that has been taken care of and is healthy (read.. different kinds of ferrets).

10. Ferrets and odor

Ferrets have a reputation for being smelly pets. It’s true that ferrets have a musky smell, but it’s not overpowering or offensive.

A ferret’s scent gland is similar to that of a skunk, and they will release the contents if agitated or threatened. 

However, ferrets scent gland secretions are less offensive as compared to skunks. Plus, the smell dissipates quickly and washes away quite easily.

While you should bathe them occasionally, just understand that constant bathing won’t get rid of the smell and may make it worse.

As the ferret’s skin gets dry, it tends to produce more musky smelling oil in an effort to fight the dryness.

11. Fun things

a ferret playing with a ball
brown ferret in front of white background

Another way to show your love for your ferret is to give them attention and toys. Given that ferrets are curious, they’ll love puzzle toys and other toys that challenge their intelligence and curiosity.

In this regard, you want to get them toys so they won’t get bored when you’re not home.

12. Outings

Whenever you can, take them in a stroll to get their daily exercise. This is also a social way to care for your ferrets, as they are sociable animals.

On the plus side, you might learn that ferrets are great conversation starters, as people who see you walk them may ask questions.

This is also a fun, simple way to get to know people and make friends. 

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