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Do Ferrets Make Good Pets?
Do ferrets make good pets for all people? No. Ferrets are illegal in many places, including the state of California. Ferrets are also high-maintenance pets that need to see a veterinarian regularly and need to be properly trained. If a person is willing to do all of this, then a ferret can be ideal.
Ferrets, also known as polecats in the UK, make great pets for people who are committed to learning about ferrets. Ferrets are challenging pets because of their energy and their illegality in places like the state of California. Ferrets can cost hundreds of dollars a year to maintain. Just the cost of a cage can be about $500, according to EverythingFerret.com.
Ferrets can cost up to $200 to purchase but are usually less than $100 to adopt. Ferrets need large cages where they can climb, snooze and tumble about. Cages should be furnished with:
- Litter tray, litter, and litter scoop
- Food dish
- Water bottle
- Old blankets or specially made sleeping bags or hammocks for ferrets
- Ferret-safe toys such as balls and tunnels
Ferrets also ideally should be leash trained. Use a chest harness instead of trying to place a collar around the neck. If the ferret is dead set against a harness and leash, then a pet carrier needs to be purchased. This not only can get the ferret safely to the vet but can also help quickly get the ferret out of the house in case of an emergency.
Ferret Information Rescue Shelter & Trust Society (FIRST) describes ferrets as “like puppies or kittens that never grow up.” Ferrets are extremely playful, highly intelligent, and easily bored. Like a puppy, a bored ferret will become a destructive ferret if its tremendous energy cannot be channeled in constructive ferret exercise.
Ferrets need supervised playtime outside of their cages for at least three hours a day. Ferrets love to burrow and hide. All furniture or small holes in walls need to be blocked off so the ferret does not get inside them. Be sure to overturn all furniture cushions before sitting down as the ferret may be hiding under them.
After playing with a ferret for the first time, many people wonder, “Do ferrets make good pets for anybody?” Ferrets have sharp teeth and are strong for their size. But ferrets can be trained not to bite. However, this needs a patient and persistent trainer. Ferrets should never be hit because they could be easily injured. Hitting a ferret will also encourage the ferret to bite.
Ferrets Health Care
Like dogs and cats, ferrets need annual vaccinations, especially against canine distemper. It is also best to microchip a ferret because it may decide to wander outside when the owner is not looking. Ferrets in North America get neoplasms or tumors as they age.
According to Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP, tumors are the second most reason for ferrets needing to see a vet, behind only routine vaccinations. Sometimes these tumors can be cancerous but often they can be treated.
Before purchasing or adopting a ferret, make sure there is a veterinarian in your local area that is familiar with treating ferrets. If you do live in an area that allows ferret ownership, check to see if the ferret needs to be spayed or neutered. It is essential that female ferrets are spayed because they will die if they go into heat and are not bred.
In order to help with veterinary expenses, many ferret owners now choose to get pet health insurance for their ferrets.
Do ferrets make good pets? Only for those people willing to be true caretakers of ferrets, willing to spend money and time in order to care for these charismatic fur balls. The more time spent with a pet ferret, the better socialized and behaved the ferret will be.
Owners that spend time getting to know the individual ferret’s character can then quickly notice when the ferret eats, sleeps, or defecates differently. These changes indicate when it is time to call a vet. Many ferret ailments can be treated but only if caught in time.
- Schilling, Kim. Ferrets For Dummies. Wiley Publishing; 2000.
- Getting a Pet Ferret: https://pets.webmd.com/getting-a-pet-ferret#1
- Ferrets: https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/ferrets/index.html
- Williams, Bruce H. DVM, DACVP. “The Bad Marriage of Ferrets & Tumors.” Critters 2007 Annual. Bow Tie Press; 2006.
- Image from Wikimedia Commons/ Cgros841