a ferret sitting on a piano (1)

Problems With Keeping Ferrets As Pets

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Ferrets are small domestic animals whose name is derived from a Latin word that means “Little thief.” This animal is known for its smartness and inquisitive nature.

The animals have some exceptional features and unique needs that require your attention in order to keep them safe and healthy.

Why Keeping Ferrets as Pets?

  • Keeping ferrets as pets because of their personalities is one of the reasons why they make great house pets. Ferrets are usually highly intelligent animals, and they tend to have unique personalities.
  • Ferrets are naturally curious and active animals that make them always ready to explore. Ferrets are naturally friendly and playful, spending much time engaging with their owners. 
  • It is easy to provide shelter for them. All they need is a cage, litter-boxes and lots of toys…. 

Adopting Ferrets As a House Pet

Ferrets are social and affectionate house pets, and they require to live in an environment conducive to their stay. Ferrets should be fed healthy food. Maintain their hygiene. Ferrets can be potty-trained like cats. 

Problems With Adopting Ferrets as Pets

Ferrets aren’t problematic animals, but there are a few things you should look after. The main difficulties are: 

  • Smell: Ferrets have a musky smell to them. It can be quite intense and annoying. 
  • Mating: Ferrets breed between March and September. As the days get longer, female ferrets (jills) start coming into heat (oestrus). The constant high level of oestrogen can cause serious problems for female ferrets without access to a male, since only mating or the end of the breeding season can stop the heat. This condition could lead to anaemia which could be deadly. 
a ferret sitting on the hand of its owner, gently biting it
cute and defenseless ferret tries to escape from the hands of a person, a wild animal shows aggression and anger, social advertising in a shelter for pets, advice on the health of exotic animals.

What are the Possible Solutions for these Problems?

Female Ferret

Spaying

Removing the female reproductive tract will prevent cycling long term and reduce the smell of the jill.

Mating

Mating with an intact male will stop the heat – but most likely result in a litter. Unless you plan on breeding ferrets, this is obviously not a great solution. 

Mating with a Vasectomised Male 

This will stop the heat, but will not reduce her odor. This needs to happen several times during the breeding season. Additionally, a false pregnancy could cause nesting behavior, aggression, and milk production. 

Hormone Injections

The so called Jill Jab will suppress the heat. It must be given at the start of the breeding season and might prevent the heat for the full period (until apx. September) 

Male Ferret

Castration 

Removing the testicles might reduce the odor and the drive to mate too.

Vasectomy 

A small portion of the sperm duct is removed. The male ferret will still mate with the female ferret since the vasectomy does not remove the testosterone production, nor does it remove the smell.

Hormons 

Hormone implants in male ferrets last up to 16 months. The smell is reduced, and no impregnation can occur.  

What to Feed your Ferret

ferret eating kibble
The old ferret eats dry food from its cup

Ferrets are obligate carnivores and need a sumptuous meal to stay healthy. They have high metabolisms and need to eat numerous times a day. 

Ferrets can eat human-grade meat, as they are carnivores. Serving them clean and hygienic water will keep them hydrated and keep their body temperature in range.

The food and water must be served in a big bowl to avoid spilling. As ferrets feed on a meat-based diet, leaving things around the house that they might chew on could be very dangerous. 

Other Animals

Ferrets are hunters. And as such they most likely would injure or eat any rodents they could get a hold of. If you happen to own a rabbit, mice, make sure to not leave your ferret and them unsupervised!

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