How to care for a ferret?


The ferret is a simple animal to care for and does not require constant attention. Here are some tricks to keep your pet healthy and happy.

Ferrets are very curious animals, ready, fun-loving and sometimes, they are a little cats. Ferrets have been used for hunting and pest control since forever although nowadays more and more people have them in their homes as pets. They can sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day and are more active during sunrise and sunset.

Ferrets can live 5 to 15 years, although the average is that they live between 8 and 10 years. Both male and female ferrets mature sexually in their first spring, that is, when they are about 9 months old. Males tend to be larger than females and if they haven't s>

Comfort for ferrets

If you want your ferret to be happy by your side you should take care of him in conditions so that it is so. Ferrets need space to run and play If you want to have him in a cage for some time, the ideal is to be at least 3 meters long, two meters high and another two meters wide.

Ferrets love to dig and they are able to escape through the tiniest hole. To prevent it from disappearingRemember to have all possible escape routes well covered with meshes.

Ferrets need a safe place to sleep, it should be a good place to snuggle, without wind and without direct sunlight. Ferrets do not like extreme climates, especially at temperatures above 26ºC as they could die if exposed to temperatures above 30ºC.

Good quality hay or shredded paper can be used for your bed or also wood shavings. Although they also like soft cloths, hammocks or cloth boxes. If you put a small hammock inside his cage you will love to go to sleep within the comfort of your special place.

Ferrets love to play and climb

To play they love tunnels and climb, so they can use the shelves in your house to enjoy a good time of play. Too They really like playing with cat toys, they entertain them and they can have fun with you, since they will also demand your attention to be able to play and establish a better emotional bond with you.

To grow happy and healthy

Ferrets are carnivorous animals So your diet should be of quality in both feed and organic food. You have to monitor your diet so that you are not overweight especially for those ferrets that do not move too much, although it is normal for them to move because they are very energetic animals. You can also eat chicken or turkey and cans of special wet food for ferrets.

It is essential that you notice that you have a good diet so that you stay healthy, looking good and energized. If you see that your ferret is too off or that does not have skin luster or other unusual characteristics in your physique, go to the veterinarian to find out if something underlying happens or if you have to change the diet so that it is better.

Ferret character

Ferrets are very intelligent and social animals that grow better in small groups, for that reason it is advisable to adopt a pair of ferrets instead of a single specimen so that you have a partner with whom to socialize.

One of the ferret's instinctive games is to take small bites when excited or happy and training is required to ensure that your ferret learns that it should not bite humans.

In general, a ferret is not a good pet for a small child for different reasons, so it is advisable to adopt a ferret only if the children who will live with the animal are old enough to understand how they should treat the animal and teach them how to do it. right way. First, ferrets are relatively fragile animals that can be easily injured if they are manipulated by inexperienced hands. On the other hand, children could be injured by the ferret's sharp teeth or be scared when the animal shows teeth. A frightened child can injure a ferret by dropping it or hitting the pet, in retaliation, with an inappropriate force for the animal.

How should be the ideal habitat to care for a ferret?

Ferret cages are generally designed with two or more levels and a hammock to rest and play. The cage must also contain a dark enclosure, such as a wooden or plastic cabin where ferrets can make their sleeping nest. You should leave pieces of cloth or small towels so that the ferret can build his shelter and be comfortable and warm in it. Bedding should be removed and washed frequently as well as the cage. It is convenient to clean your ferret's cage every two or three days at most to avoid the bad smell, since, the ferret is a distant cousin of the skunk and has glands that can secrete a very strong smell.

The minimum dimensions that a ferret cage should have is about 90 centimeters long by about 60 wide and 70 high. This will be the minimum size, however, you should keep in mind that it is the place where the animal will spend most of its life, for that reason it is advisable to use as wide enclosures as possible so that they can release their natural energy.

The base of the cage must contain some kind of neutral sanitary sand suitable for pets or specific sand for ferrets that you can find in your pet store. The sand is necessary for the animal to make its feces in it. The rest of the cage can be composed of pieces of napkin or newspaper. Some people advise against using newspaper since, the animal could suck the paper and swallow part of the ink.

In addition to these basic elements, the cage must have a container in which to place food and water. A small ceramic container will be ideal for placing food on your ferret. For water, you can find special sip drinkers similar to those you would use for a hamster or guinea pig.

For visits to the veterinarian or when you take it out of the house, you will need somewhere to transport your ferret safely. You can opt for a travel cage small enough so that the animal cannot sneak through the bars or opt for a leash and harness suitable for ferrets that you can find in your pet shop.

How much exercise should a ferret do?

As we mentioned earlier, ferrets have a lot of energy, therefore, when caring for a ferret it is very important that we cover that need. One of the fun parts of caring for a ferret is that they love to play, they come and go and run like crazy sideways with their bare teeth and a fierce look. When you see this behavior it means that they will be inviting you and other ferrets to play with them. Take advantage of those moments to spend time with your ferret and they will be delighted and happy.

Another of the ways you can interact with him is to make small struggles to get a toy. You can offer a doll expressly for him and make small fights with the animal to get it. When making these games you must be careful that the animal in a state of excitement does not bite your hand and if it does, you must teach it that it should not do so. A simple "no!" It should be enough for the animal to understand that it should not bite people. Never use force to teach the animal that it should not do something, since your ferret is a sensitive and fragile animal.

Ferret feeding

The feeding of a ferret is not at all like that of a dog or a cat. The ferret has much more restricted foods to meet their special dietary needs. The correct feeding is one of the key aspects when caring for a ferret since, a wrong feeding increases the chances of getting sick.

First, we must ensure the ferret free access to a supply of clean water at room temperature. You can find in your pet store drinking fountains specially adapted for them.

Ferrets need a diet high in protein and animal fat with very few carbohydrates, in fact, ferrets are unable to digest plant fibers, so, unlike humans and other pets, fiber consumption does not It benefits at all.

The digestive systems of ferrets are relatively short with a transit time of only 3 or 4 hours. This means that your food must be highly digestible so the only grains or plant matter that can tolerate are those that have already been partially digested in the intestine of your prey.

Cooked foods, especially cooked bones, are also prohibited for ferrets since cooking changes the structure of food and its digestibility. Raw foods such as eggs and meat are an ideal food for a ferret, however, you should keep in mind that ferrets are not scavengers, so any meat you offer should be fresh and fit for human consumption.

Ferrets should ideally eat between 2 and 4 small meals a day. So you can divide the shots into two types, the dry foods that you will leave in your feeder to eat on demand and the fresh meat that you will offer promptly and you will withdraw in an hour if you have not eaten it. The ferret's diet can also vary depending on their age, for example, young ferrets are more active and require more frequent shots between 4 and 6 times a day. Older ferrets, especially those with pancreas problems, require continuous access to food.

When caring for a ferret, you should be aware that they have a habit of hiding any excess food, so you can get a bad smell if you decide to hide food around the house. To avoid this, you must offer the food for a specific period of time and then remove the leftovers.

Ferrets are hunters by nature, so giving them the opportunity to express that natural behavior by hiding food will help keep them awake and happy. You can also take advantage of the shots to play with your animal and reduce boredom, for example, you can use balls with cat cookies or simply place food in various places around the room to discover them through your nose.

In your pet store you will find food prepared for ferrets, however, not all industrial pet foods are properly balanced to ensure a proper diet for your ferret. It is convenient that, if you choose to use prepared food you make sure to read the ingredients and discard all those with a fish base. Fish-based foods will not provide your ferret with the necessary proteins and nutrients. On the other hand, you should always supplement a diet based on industrial food with fresh foods.

Here are several types of optimal diets to care for a ferret.

Live prey diet

Ideally, a ferret fed with live prey should be fed a variety of different meats such as chicks, mice or rats, however, in some countries it is illegal to feed pets with live prey. In these places, animals sacrificed compassionately must always be supplied before giving them to the animal.

For moral and totally respectable reasons, some owners are reluctant to feed their ferret with live food or fresh meat so as not to encourage the suffering of another animal and prefer to give industrial prepared food. If you decide to feed your ferret with a formulated diet, try to offer some varied meat and some raw eggs from time to time to complement your diet and provide all the nutrients he needs.

Raw meat based diets

Feeding a ferret with raw fleshy bones as a regular base diet is ideal. Usually, wild ferrets eat the whole animal including bones, skin and stomach contents, however, boneless meat will also be a good start. You can easily supplement a diet of raw meat with some prepared food for ferrets or cat food, that way you will compensate for nutritional deficiencies due to lack of calcium by not eating bones among other nutrients.

You should avoid the so-called "fresh" meat diets that you can find in the food section of your pet store, since they usually contain dangerous preservatives and not suitable for use in meats consumed by humans but, on the contrary, if they are allowed in pet food.

Diets with industrial prepared food

There are some brands of food for animals that formulate diets prepared for ferrets that meet the nutritional requirements for the animal without the need to feed it with raw meat or live prey. A food prepared especially for ferrets is difficult to find and is usually expensive.

You should make sure that the prepared food will contain between 32% and 40% animal protein and 20% animal fats on a caloric basis. Make sure that the prepared food does not have a fish base and you should avoid those that contain products such as soybeans, corn or other plant fillers that are used to raise the protein content but are not suitable for ferrets.

The ferret's toilet

Ferrets are naturally clean animals that care for their own skin carefully. They need to have a container with clean water that they will use to wash their face and the rest of the body will clean it just like cats do.

You can sporadically give your ferret a bath if it has been stained or smells especially bad for any reason. If you find yourself in need of bathing your ferret you should follow these steps:

  • Fill a shallow bowl with warm water. The ideal temperature will be a warm temperature that is comfortable for your hand.
  • Carefully soak your ferret in that water.
  • Gently rub your ferret with a gentle pet shampoo and "no tears" taking care of sensitive areas such as eyes. You can ask your veterinarian about suitable ferret soaps.
  • Rinse with plenty of warm water.
  • Dry your ferret with a towel and keep it there until your skin has completely dried.

The ferret and the vet

Ferrets live between 6 and 10 years and during that time it is advisable to visit a veterinarian regularly to stay healthy and strong. Ferrets are prone to different diseases such as canine distemper and heartworm, so your veterinarian will administer regular preventive treatments that will prevent your ferret from getting sick.

Unless you plan to breed small ferrets, it is advisable to sterilize a ferret before reaching sexual maturity. This will not only reduce the smell associated with the ferret's reproductive glands, but it is also essential to ensure the health of the females since, once they are put in heat they remain in that state until they mate. A non-sterilized female who cannot mate can suffer problems in the uterus with serious consequences for her health such as Pyometra.