Ferret Care – The Basics
Ferrets are fun, adorable, and sociable creatures that can make a great addition to your family. Like any other pet, ferrets require care based on their unique physiological and emotional needs. As their care giver, you must attend to their health, hygiene, diet, and overall well-being.
Love is to Neuter and Spay
The benefits of neutering/spaying your ferret go beyond the insurance against your house becoming a ferret farm. Ferrets can be fixed after they’ve reached 6 months of age. If left unneutered, males become aggressive towards other ferrets and mark their territory (and bodies) with pungent oils and urine. If left in heat for too long, unspayed ferrets (called “jills”) suffer from symptoms like bladder infections, weight loss, estrogen toxicity, and hemorrhages, to name a few.
Ferret metabolisms operate at the speed of light. It’s essential that they have constant access to food to accommodate their lightning-speed metabolic rates. Wet food might be better to feed sick ferrets, but dry food is preferable for everyday meals. You can also treat your ferret snack to bits of meat since they can’t digest vegetables or grain. Due to the high fat content in ferret food, discard all leftovers after meals and never serve them food out of a unwashed, recently used bowl.
Hello, Ferret Hygiene
Ferrets have sebaceous glands that emit that infamous smell that isn’t privy to everyone’s noses. If not washed semi-biweekly, the notorious ferret-stink will creep up. Plus, washing them too much leaves their skin parched and dry. Spoiler: ferrets need to be trained to use a litter box. Warning: bathing is usually not a favorite activity among ferrets. You can also dilate some baby shampoo as well, preferably tearless. Don’t bathe them too often because doing such puts their sebaceous glands on overdrive to replenish the skin oils that washed away. Although the frequency at which ferrets should be bathed is debatable, 3 is your new magic number because it is a safe monthly bath limit. Not at first, anyway. At bath time, toys are your new best friend.
Ferrets are not full-time cage dwellers. Ferrets might nap for an upwards of 20 hours a day, they still need to be active in order to be healthy. Ferrets love to explore and engage their environment. Play tag with your ferret by encouraging it to chase toys. To ferrets, homemade structures and tunnel systems made of empty tube are basically amusement park rides! In absence of other ferrets to play with, you’ll need to invest extra effort into entertaining your pet. Holding and petting them in most cases is a good way to get them moving!
One of your ferret’s favorite activities might be something you enjoy as well: socializing with humans. Ferrets love people, too. If your ferret obliges, introduce them to friends; exposure to humans and handling will help your ferret become more comfortable with social situations. They also enjoy playing with fellow ferrets. Rough-housing is their normal mode of play, so don’t be too concerned unless an injury occurs.
Just like cats or dogs, you can find plenty of ferrets for adoption. Please consider adopting instead of purchasing from a pet store. Petfinder is great way to search online for available pets that are in need of new homes.
Photo Credit: istockphoto.com