The Right Pet for You?
When choosing your ferret kitten it is advisable to note whether Ferrets are lively, playful and easily tamed, but they need a lot of space and can be expensive to feed. They can also inflict severe bites and emit a strong musky smell. Before getting any pet, you should think very hard about whether you can provide everything it needs.
What do Ferrets need?
- Companionship - to be with other ferrets and to have human company.
- A diet of raw, fresh meat twice a day.
- Any uneaten food must be removed daily.
- A constant supply of fresh, clean drinking water in a drip feed bottle with a metal spout.
- A large home that is kept up off the ground, in an open shed or indoor area out of direct sunlight and strong winds.
- Separate areas inside their home.
- A deep, clean layer of fresh meadow hay for bedding. They also like to curl up in an old jumper or socks and are very fond of an old slipper to curl up in.
- Toys to play with, like cardboard tubes and wooden cotton reels.
- Their home to be tidied every day and thoroughly cleaned every week.
- A very large, secure area to play in.
- Injections to prevent certain serious diseases.
- To be visited by a vet if they are ill or injured.
- To be looked after when you are away on holiday.
Life Span Ferrets live for about eight years.
Ferrets need to be with other ferrets and it is unkind to keep one ferret on its own. Either male or female ferrets from the same litter can live happily together. Although ferrets can appear very tame, they are not easy to look after as they need a great deal of space and may try to escape.
Pick up a ferret gently but firmly using both hands, one around its hindquarters and the other around the shoulders. Hold it close to your body. It is important to handle ferrets regularly to keep them tame.
The DSPCA strongly advises that you do not breed from ferrets as it is very difficult to find good homes for the young. The best way to ensure that ferrets do not breed is to have them neutered. Male ferrets can be vasectomised. Female ferrets come into season (a time when they can get pregnant) from early spring until September. If you keep female ferrets, they will become sexually mature at about eight months old, and you should seek expert advice on their care before this stage.
Ferrets must be vaccinated against the potentially fatal disease canine distemper. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise you on this. If the ferrets' home is left in direct sunlight, ferrets can suffer from heat exhaustion. They should recover if moved to a cool dark room and given plenty of water, but the situation is easily avoided. Ferrets can catch the influenza virus from humans, and you should keep away from ferrets if you have flu. Keep an infected ferret away from the others and seek veterinary advice straight away.
If a ferret is constantly scratching, producing bald patches in its fur and broken patches in its skin, it may have mange. Seek veterinary advice straight away. Ferrets can suffer from parasites (tiny living things which live on other creatures) if their bedding is not kept clean. Check ferrets' ears and coat regularly and seek veterinary advice if there is any sign of mites. If you have any concerns about the health of your ferrets, ask your veterinary surgeon for advice.
Remember - a pet needs your time and interest for the rest of its life.