Ferrets are members of the weasel family, but for almost 2000 years, they have been domesticated. While ferrets are not the first choice of many pet owners, those who choose them can say that they are playful and cute with an independent personality. Before you decide on getting a pet ferret, there are certain things to consider before taking the step.
Ferrets Are Social
By nature, ferrets are social animals, and they want to be in the company of other humans or animals. This is why when you get a pet ferret, you might need to get more than one to keep them entertained.
But make sure that if you do get more than one ferret, do not leave them alone until they have adjusted to one another. Ensure both of them have equal access to food, toys, sleeping area, and hiding area so that they do not fight and become friends.
Just as with cats, ferrets are also obligate carnivores. This indicates that they require meat in their diet to remain healthy, including chicken wings, rabbit, lamb, offal, and minced beef, amongst a few. Make sure that the diet of your ferret includes a high level of fat, which provides them calories. Along with that, the protein choice should be easily digestible for your pet.
If you want ideal food for your pet ferret, this has to be prey foods such as rats, mice, or even snakes. But of course, many pet owners might not be comfortable with such a diet and it might be disgusting to them. Hence, it is recommended to opt for high-quality kitten food that can be suitable for a ferret.
What Foods to Avoid
Vegetables, however, are not digested by ferrets. Vegetables can often cause dietary problems, skin issues, and even poor growth. Alongside vegetables, ferrets are also not able to tolerate fiber in their diet. Hence, make sure to avoid grains in their diet as well.
It is vital to check for the ingredients before giving them to your ferret, as it should not have fish. Because of their small GI tract, they can only digest food for three to four hours a day, for which they need high-absorbing food.
In terms of treats, your pet ferret can devour high-quality chicken or turkey meat. If you expand the taste buds of your ferret and allow them to develop a taste for a variety of proteins from a young age, they can adjust quickly to different diets as an adult. Undoubtedly, they should have fresh drinking water available at all times.
You need to check your city, state, and country regulations to see if it is legal for you to have a ferret as a pet. California, for example, has a rule that only neutered ferrets can be kept as pets. However, in Nevada, you cannot keep a pet ferret if you have a small kid in your home. It is best to check with your local wildlife and fish department to determine the rules and regulations.
They are likely going to provide you with license and permit requirements if needed. The license fees can differ in each area, but on average, it costs around $15.
How Much are Ferrets?
Before making a purchase, are you wondering how much are ferrets worth? Well, the price can range from $65 to $250 for a single ferret. But along with the initial costs, you will also have to pay an additional $150 to $350 for the vaccinations and basic supplies for your ferret.
A few things are going to be a one-time purchase whereas others would be recurring monthly or annual costs. You need to invest in your ferret to ensure its happy survival in your home. Initial supplies for ferrets can be a cage which can be between $50 to $300, litter for $30 monthly, and food for $50 monthly.
But along with the initial costs, you will also have to pay an additional $250 to $600 every year for vet visits and medications. It is important to remember that the annual costs can increase with the economy and inflation. Along with that, you will need money for regular vet visits, renewal of vaccinations, license, food, and litter, amongst many other needs.
Another cost to keep in mind is treatment for parasites in ferrets, which can cost $30 annually. You should ask your vet about how to properly treat the heartworms. Preventatives such as chewable tabs, pills and liquids can be given for your ferret. However, if your ferret is healthy, then it might not need regular vet appointments and your annual costs can be lower.
Make sure to also add in a budget for neutering or spaying your pet ferret in the future. Hence, take in these costs before you make the purchase.Before they reach six months of age, it is recommended to get them neutered or spayed. This is vital for female ferrets because if they come on heat, they will remain in that state till they are mated and this can cause fatal problems such as aplastic anemia. Hence, they must be treated before this problem develops.
Along with that, you will need money for regular vet visits, renewal of vaccinations, license, food, and litter, amongst many other needs.
Your pet’s cage needs to be of adequate size for them to move around freely to maintain their health. An average-sized cage for a ferret should be around 19”x18”x30”. Along with that, the cage should also have stairs or ramps to climb whenever they want.
But make sure the cage does not have big holes through which they can escape. You might be surprised how small of a hole these ferrets need to escape. Also, put bedding in the cage. Make sure not to use newspapers on the floors or wood flooring as they can be challenging to disinfect after your ferret has walked over there.
Just as with other animals, ferrets also need exercise and mental enrichment, and this is why they should not be caged for 24 hours. For specific hours during the day, you can let your pet outside but under supervision.
But make sure that the areas they are exploring are ferret-proofed, which means that there should be no electrical wiring, breakable items, or dangerous substances for your ferret there. Make sure that any gaps through which they can escape are covered, such as under the doors or vents.
Ferrets Can Be Litter Trained
Like cats, ferrets can be litter trained, but there might be some occasional accidents here and there. You can buy a high-sided corner litter tray from any pet supplier for your ferret. You can also use a cat litter tray and fill it with unscented cat litter.
The best place to keep the litter tray is usually where the ferret goes for the toilet. Make sure to clean their litter daily, and their cage should be cleaned weekly.
Just as with other pets, ferrets will also have their own set of issues that need regular vet visits. Annual vet checkups are recommended for ferrets till they turn five. Alongside, make sure to vaccinate your pet ferret for rabies and distemper. They can also get fleas, so do a monthly preventive treatment for fleas as well.
Before they reach six months of age, it is recommended to get them neutered or spayed. This is vital for female ferrets because if they come on heat, they will remain in that state till they are mated, which can cause fatal problems such as aplastic anemia. Hence, they must be treated before this problem develops.
Some ferrets can have aggressive tendencies. They should be taught not to nip or bite. Just as a cat is taught regarding appropriate or inappropriate behavior, exactly the same needs to be done for the ferret.
Once you consider all the above points, then make an informed decision if a ferret is an ideal choice for your home or not. Also, consult with your vet to get recommendations if a ferret is a suitable choice for you.