Basic Ferret Care

13 January, 2020
They sleep for many hours a day and need particular care because of their unique traits. In this article, we'll share some tips for basic ferret care.

Ferrets are small carnivorous animals, usually weighing between 2.5 and 5 pounds. They make great pets and are typically very active and highly curious. They sleep for many hours a day and need particular care and attention because of their unique traits. In this article, we’ll share some tips for basic ferret care. If you’re thinking about getting one as a pet, read on!

An unconventional pet

The ferret was domesticated a long time ago because they were thought to be useful for pest control. These days, although it’s considered a bit unconventional, people often keep them as house pets.

By training them from a young age, they can adopt household habits and become a member of the family. They’re very active animals and need plenty of opportunities to explore and play.

A ferret out of its cage as part of basic ferret care.

Because of this, it’s important to take certain precautions. You mustn’t lose sight of them or expose them to hazards in the home. Always check in cupboards, drawers, and boxes to make sure that any toxic substances are well out of their reach.

Habits and peculiarities

They’re small animals and usually live for around 8 years, becoming an adult after a year of age. They tend to breed between December and June and can give birth to between 2 and 16 babies. 

Although they’re very active when awake, they’re nocturnal, sleeping between 14 and 15 hours a day. They need to do this in the dark so that they can regenerate melatonin during the photoperiod. This means that it’s important for them to have an enclosed, dark space in their cage to sleep in.

Basic ferret care

Cage and cleaning

For the best possible conditions, buy your ferret a wide cage, if possible, with a soft bottom surface. Bear in mind that their instinct is to dig. It’s even better if their cage has separate spaces for daytime and nighttime.

Their hygiene is particularly important as they can often smell quite bad. Make sure you clean and disinfect the cage with water and a neutral detergent at least once a week.

One good way to keep their cleanliness under control is to train them to go to the toilet in a specific sandy place in their cage. With some patience, this is perfectly possible.

Basic ferret care – diet

Ferrets are carnivorous and their diet is based on animal protein. Special ferret food or even kitten food are your best options. Raw meat is not advised since the bacteria can be harmful to them. They also need a diet with 5% fiber to maintain good digestion.

It’s often a good idea to include other vitamins in their diet but speak to your vet for the best advice.

Have the right vet

Basic ferret care also means good medical care, just like any other animal. Ideally, you should make sure that your vet has experience with ferrets and get them to carry out regular check-ups. Also, make sure your ferret receives the necessary vaccines and deworming medication.

Be careful with the heat

It’s important to know that this animal can be very sensitive to changes in temperature and in particular to the heat. They don’t have the same ability to regulate their body temperature like other animals, and they can be at risk of suffering heatstroke.

It’s a good idea to spray them with water during the summer and make sure they have bottles of frozen water near their cage. These are just two very simple ways of making sure that your pet doesn’t suffer.

Two ferrets kissing.

Keeping a ferret at home

Physical activity is important for ferrets, so take them out of the cage for a few minutes each day. But be careful with household hazards such as plugs, cables, balconies, etc. It’s best to have a leash and harness for them so you can walk them, just like with other animals.

Training ferret can take a while, but with patience, it can be done. The most important should be to train them where to go to the toilet.

By handling them carefully every day, a ferret can become very friendly and docile, although it will never be as obedient as a dog or even a cat.

Another final yet important part of basic ferret care is to regularly cut their nails, clean their ears, brush their hair, and, occasionally, give them a bath.