Ferrets - frequently asked questions

Ferrets might not be your average household pet however they are highly intelligent and friendly little companions who can live a long life compared to other small animals. Here are some frequently asked questions to help unravel the mystery of the ferret.

Do ferrets live better as a group?

Ferrets can live as individuals however ferrets are social by nature and by keeping two or more they can keep each other company. However, introducing a new young ferret to an older individual ferret can cause some challenges.

Do ferrets bite?

Just like puppies, ferrets will often play-bite, so they need to be taught from a young age that biting humans is not acceptable. You can do this by using verbal commands, such as using a loud ‘No' sound when nipping occurs. Like all animals, the ferret has the ability to bite but will only do so if they have a reason to. For example being agitated or alarmed or when fighting with other ferrets.

Is it true ferrets only eat meat?

Ferrets are carnivores. They require a meat diet and can be fed a very small amount of fruit and vegetables.

Is it true ferrets will only eat the same type of food they ate as kits (young ferrets)?

Yes, ferrets develop a dietary preference by 4 months of age. To prevent your ferret from being fussy you should expose him/her to several food varieties and raw meaty bones from an early age.

Is desexing really a must?

Yes, in particular for female ferrets who will remain on heat until mated. This can lead to complicaitons which can be fatal. Once a female ferret has been in season for more than 4 weeks, she will begin to develop oestrogen-induced bone marrow suppression, and will start to become anaemic. Other problems include pyometra, a condition of the uterus and ovarian cancer. Desexing can be performed from the age of 4 - 6 months.

Does desexing reduce ferret odour?

Desexing assists in reducing the sometimes musky smell of ferrets. Contrary to common belief the main smell of a ferret comes from the skin and not the anal glands. The practice of removing the anal glands to control odour is unnecessary. Removal of the anal glands is only necessary if there is a medical problem with these glands, as one would do with cats and dogs.

Are ferrets related to rodents such as rats and mice?

No the ferret is actually related to the weasel, stoat, mink, otter, badger, skunk, pine martin and wolverines family - Mustelidae.

Can you toilet train a ferret?

Ferrets can be toilet trained as they prefer to go in corners. By placing a litter box in each corner of your pet's cage or play area you can encourage your ferret to always use the same place. Multiple trays are necessary as the ferret has a short gastrointestinal tract and will require frequent toilet trips.

Can you take a ferret for a walk?

Ferrets love to explore and enjoy exercise. You can purchase a ferret harness which will allow you to take your pet safely for a walk on a lead. If you intend to visit public places we strongly recommend vaccinating your ferret against Canine Distemper.

 

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