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Are ferrets good pets?

White domestic ferrets make very cute pets

White domestic ferrets make very cute pets

Are ferrets good pets?

By Nisha Shankar on June 19, 2018

More and more people are asking the experts, ‘Are ferrets good pets?’

People seek to adopt pets for several reasons. Aside from being loyal companions, pets motivate us to play, be more affectionate, and to seek out adventure. Nothing is more fulfilling than the companionship of your pet, and that’s why people who own pets are generally healthier and happier. 

Are you thinking of getting a new pet? Have you ever considered how much you’d enjoy petting a small and furry ferret? What’s preventing you from getting one? Perhaps you’re considering the question: Are ferrets good pets?

Here’s everything you should know about ferrets before deciding on whether you’d like to have one as a pet.


Considering ferrets as pets

Not every one of earth’s 8.7 million species can be considered pets. A pet must be a companion animal. If you’re looking for a small creature that is both loving and easy to handle, a ferret should be one of your first choices.

So, what are ferrets? Ferrets are polecats who belong to the weasel family. There is a common misinterpretation that ferrets are rodents. These social, playful animals are actually not rodents, neither are they wild. They can form strong bonds with their families and owners. These tiny creatures grow up to 20 inches in length, including their 5 inch tails, and they typically weigh between 1.5 and 5 pounds. Their small size means you can carry them anywhere, provided you have permission (since ferrets are not permitted everywhere). 

Ferrets live fairly long for pets, and have an average lifespan of 7 to 13 years. If you work long hours and are wondering: are ferrets good pets for people with busier schedules, you’ll be pleased to know that these creatures don’t require much of your time. A ferret generally spends 14 to 18 hours a day sleeping, which makes them a great fit for the busy professionals among us.

As an added bonus, having a ferret can be useful to people dealing with rats and mice in their homes. Ferrets hunt, kill, and dine on rats.


Caring for pet ferrets

A pet, in spite of the breed it belongs to, is a big responsibility. It’s easy to be kind to your pet, but proper care for it will surely take up some of your time.

Ferrets are playful little weasels who do best when in groups. So, if you haven’t yet adopted one, consider getting a pair of them instead. They’ll be able to keep each other company when you’re not around. 

Caring for a ferret means focusing on its health, environment, food, and grooming needs. 

  • Health: Like most seniors, a ferret requires twice the amount of care once it reaches the elder stage of its life, which is 5 years and over. These little fellows carry a  high risk of fleas and heartworm. Hence, regular vaccinations and frequent checkups are recommended. Licensed pet specialists on JustAnswer do not recommend descenting ferrets, as there are risks involved.
  • Ferret Cage: Don’t judge these little critters based on their size. Remember, a ferret is not a guinea pig. Additionally, these hyperactive animals like to roam around freely, meaning lots of room for their bed, food, litter box, and play space. In other words, the cage should be a small ferret house complete with all the facilities they require.
  • Food: Being a carnivore, a ferret feeds on other animals. So you need to ensure that your ferret has enough protein rich food in its diet. Raw meat and formulated kitten food can be provided as an alternative to ferret food. Cher, a pet specialist and Expert on JustAnswer, recommends jarred baby food meats as snacks for ferrets.
  • Environment: Don’t let your ferret roam freely until your house is ferret-proofed. These wild creatures can get through any holes that are 1 inch across. Very much like dealing with toddlers, you’ll need to keep electrical wires, sockets, and breakable items away from them.

I told you they were cute, didn't I?
I told you they were cute, didn't I?

Can ferrets be trained? And where can I get one?

Ferrets are smart animals. They may not respond to your commands, such as sit or stand, but you can train them to do a few tricks, as well as how to use a litter box. You can start with a corner box inside the cage. Eventually, after few training sessions, they can be as good as any other animal when it comes to using the litter box.

Although animals don’t understand human language, they can still respond based on our tones and manner of speaking. So you should reward your little friend via verbal praise and treats every time they make progress in their training.

Ferrets are known biters. Nipping is a common behavior among these animals, as they bite anything and everything that comes their way. Although they are not wild animals, this particular behavior might take time to eliminate. However, with patience and love you can eventually train your ferret what not to bite.

Ferrets are not permitted in all countries. In some places it’s illegal to sell, import, or even  keep them as pets. Before you plan on getting a ferret, you should confirm that ferrets are allowed in your area. If so, you can find usually them in local pet stores.

Another option that you can look into is a ferret shelter. By getting a ferret from one of these shelters, you are helping an unfortunate animal find a forever home.

To learn more about whether ferrets are good pets, or for more information on caring for your furry friend, ask the Experts on JustAnswer.

Share your thoughts and experiences with pet ferrets in the comments section below.