Keeping ferrets as pets
Thinking of keeping a pet ferret? Here are some things you need to know:
- They need a high protein diet and also enjoy raw meat. Be sure that you are happy to handle raw foods and be aware that anyone that is immunocompromised could be at risk as a result of handling raw meat.
- There are some veterinary costs involved, as ferrets may need neutering and vaccination against distemper. Your vet can give you advice about what is needed depending on your circumstances.
- Ferrets have a musky odour. It can be minimised by regularly cleaning and changing bedding and housing but some scent is likely to remain. Some people choose to keep their ferrets outdoors as a result.
- Ferrets can be trained to use litter trays!
- A happy ferret loves to explore and will be really curious. They need lots of activity, space and toys to keep them occupied.
- Sleep is a priority and they can sleep for us to 20 hours a day. Ferrets will use hammocks or nesting boxes to snooze and may enjoy curling up as a group. Your pet ferret can sleep quite deeply and may even resist being disturbed. The older your ferret is, the longer they will tend to sleep.
- Ferrets are really sociable but tend to be individual about the company they keep. Some ferrets like to live alone and with people, some like to live in groups and some form bonded pairs.
- Although ferrets like a confined space to sleep in, they also need room to exercise and explore. As well as a hutch they will need a larger indoor or outdoor area to run around.
- Ferrets love to dig so a box of soil or rice can be a great way to keep them occupied.
- Ferrets are natural predators so keep them out of scent, sight and sound of other small pets to avoid them becoming frightened or stressed.
- Ferrets prefer sold flooring and washable carpet or lino can make a good base layer, with bedding placed on top.
- Ferrets use scent a lot and their eyesight is quite poor so be careful to protect them against falls in their cage or enclosure.
- A pet ferret can be really rewarding but they need owners who can give them time and attention. Most ferrets live for six years but they can live for ten years. Be prepared to be around for a long time and to be able to offer them care through their lifetime.