How to take care of a Ferret?
For over 2,000 years now, the weasel family has been domesticated. Ferrets are a part of this family. They are extremely energetic animals and are curious by nature. Ferrets are a huge responsibility and require a lot of care, even more than cats and dogs, at times. They are wonderful pets.
However, there are certain things that you need to know before you bring one of these into your home.
Ferret Health Care – How To Take Care Of A Ferret? Ferrets Care Guide For Beginners
Ferrets have a lifespan ranging from 6 to 13 years. Throughout their lives, ferrets need to be vaccinated on a regular basis. Frequent and timely visits to a vet are also very important for a ferret to stay healthy.
FERRET HEALTH CARE
Ferrets are susceptible to infections caused by heartworm. These infections can cause a ferret to suffer the effects of a disease called ‘Heartworm Disease’. In addition to this, fleas that feed on cats and dogs can also infest on ferrets. This makes it very important to protect that from parasites. Preventative treatment for cats can be used to protect ferrets from parasites and this should be done on a monthly basis. Vaccination for ‘Canine Distemper’ is highly recommended and should be given annually.
Till ferrets reach the age of 5, health checkups should be done annually. Beyond the age of 5, the frequency of checkups should be increased to twice a year. Even the slightest concern should be brought to the attention of your vet as early as possible. Ferrets are good at hiding their illness to prevent other animals from preying on them. So, you have to be very aware to figure out if they require medical help.
Ferrets reach sexual maturity anywhere between 6 months and a year. Female ferrets with working sexual organs face health risks if not mated. Pyometra, a uterus condition which is fatal for female ferrets, can occur if they are not de-sexed. Therefore, it is very important to have your ferret de-sexed. Also, reproductive glands in ferrets have a smell which gets significantly reduced once you get your ferret neutered.
ADOPT FERRETS IN PAIR
Adopting ferrets has become very common. Ferrets are an expensive pet to buy. A cheaper option is adoption. It reduces the risk factor as well. The people at the organization that you would adopt a ferret from, know everything that needs to be learned about ferrets before a adopt one, and will definitely help you out.
If you really want to adopt a ferret, it’s better to Adopt a Pair. Ferrets, like humans, are highly sociable. They bond well with other ferrets. To live happily, they require a companion. Ferrets care a lot for their friends. If you separate a pair while adopting, ferrets can suffer from depression. This depression can even be the cause of a ferret’s death. You should prepare yourself for the commitment of having two ferrets living in your home.
Adopting a pair of ferrets is no easy task. Ferrets require their own personal space. Space has to be comfortable and open enough for them to run around and play. They need constant care and supervision or they might get themselves into trouble. Ferrets need to be fed appropriately. Food for two ferrets will add to the expense. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Apart from food, costs of vaccinations, health checkups, etc will also be doubled with two ferrets. It is crucial that you budget your money well.
Looking past all the hiccups, owning a pair of ferrets is rewarding, to say the least. Watching them run around and play is kind of fun. Ferrets being pro-active animals will be great pets if you have children. Kids love to be in the presence of ferrets thanks to the playful nature of ferrets.
If you adopt two ferrets that are strangers to each other, they will need to some time to develop a bond and liking to each other. Don’t be discouraged if they aren’t as playful as you might have thought at the beginning. They’ll certainly get there. Also, if you adopt male ferret(s), make sure they are neutered. During breeding season, male ferrets get very aggressive if they aren’t neutered.
EXERCISE AND PLAY/ HOW TO PLAY WITH FERRETS
Ferrets love playing and running around the house. They bounce around in all directions while having their teeth out which makes them look ferocious. No need to worry though. It’s just their way of inviting other ferrets and their owners to play along with them. Bounce around when they do, and they will get excited. Like dogs, some ferrets use tail wagging as a show of happiness.
Ferrets sometimes stop suddenly, fall to the floor and lie still. This is called a ‘Speed Bump’. Do not touch them when they do that. They are supposed to be invisible when they speed bump, so a touch would probably cause them to become sad. Act surprised and ecstatic when they get up and start running around again.
What do Ferrets Like to Play With
They also like wrestling and play-fighting. When wrestling, they tend to get a bit too rough. They might nip at you. Make sure to show them nips hurt you. They learn quickly and are careful in the future. Firmly refusing to let them nip you will also work.
Ferrets chew on things. Toys that tend to break up when chewed must be avoided. Ferrets like swallowing things. Toys made from plastic, rubber, latex, and foam should never be given to ferrets. Tunnels and swings make great toys for a ferret. They enjoy going through tunnels over and over again. Other small toys are also good but they have to be durable. Otherwise, your ferret will easily break them as they are hard on their toys.
Appliances and cable wires should not be present in the playing space or room of a ferret. They can break appliances and choke on small metal or plastic parts. They can also electrocute themselves if they chew on a wire that is plugged in.
FEED RIGHT FOOD TO YOUR FERRET
Being obligate carnivores, ferrets require meat to survive. Due to their high metabolism, animal fat should be very high in ferret’s diet.
A wide variety of high-quality foods are available in the market for ferrets. However, some of these are based on fish. Food with fish should not be served to a ferret. Be sure to check the ingredients when buying food for a ferret. Foods that are high in the vegetable matter should also be avoided. Insulinoma is a kind of cancer known to affect ferrets. Avoiding food high in grain and vegetable matter helps dispose of the risk of insulinoma.
Many foods available for ferrets are a modification of mink food. Fish is good for minks and is therefore found in most ferret foods. Ferrets don’t like fish-based food. They would rather get starved.
Like cats, ferrets are picky eaters. It is better to buy food in small amounts at a time. It might go stale if it sits for a while because of ferret’s nature of being picky eaters and not accepting the same food at times. Suddenly switching to a brand of food which has different flavors, may make your ferret sick. Giving different flavored foods regularly to a ferret at a small age can ensure their ability to eat foods with different flavors. This helps if the preferred food of your pet isn’t available at some point in time. Availability of fresh water is absolutely essential all the time.
HOW TO GROOM YOUR FERRET
Ferrets are clean animals by nature. They take care of their fur. Put a bowl of fresh water in a ferret’s water for them to wash their own faces. They clean their coats just like a cat does. Ferrets should not be bathed regularly. It may seem like a good idea to bathe your ferret regularly as it reduces the amount of smell. However, bathing regularly will strip away all the oils that naturally produced by a ferret’s skin. To counter this, they will produce more natural oils. This makes them smellier than before and their skin dries out as well.
Ferrets should be cleaned with a warm damp towel or maybe even a baby wipe that does not contain any soap. The better choice would be the towel. Additionally, ferrets can be allowed to swim in shallow water. Baths should be limited to once per quarter. Natural soft shampoos should be used and should be followed up by a conditioner. Very gentle shampoos that are specifically made for ferrets are available in the market. These shampoos do not strip away their natural oils. Soap should not be applied to a ferret’s face as their eyes and ears are very sensitive. The ears of a ferret tend to get a bit too waxy. Cleaning them with a gentle ear cleaner should be done on a regular basis.
A small sized nail clipper made for humans is perfect for clipping the nails of a ferret. Nails should be cut regularly. Clipping for the first time should be assisted. Make sure to talk to your vet.
TRAIN YOUR FERRET
The learning capacity of ferrets is amazingly high. Despite what people will have you believe, ferrets are very intelligent. They can be taught to do various tasks and tricks with the help of training. It isn’t a quick and easy process. You need to put in a lot of time and energy. Appreciation and praise are very important to the training process. Your ferret needs to know how much you appreciate even the smallest task that he/she is able to do. Treats as a reward whenever your beloved pet performs a new trick can prove to be a great catalyst.
‘Nipping’- It is an issue with all ferrets. They not just nip at humans, but ferrets as well. Ferrets don’t get hurt due to their thicker skin. However, every nip is like getting stung by a bee for us humans. To them, it’s part of playing.
Punishing them doesn’t get the job done. They might even start biting more out of fear. A break from playing is a successful way of stopping the nips. Stop playing with them for a few minutes and maybe even put them in a cage (not their sleeping cage). However, do not leave them in the cage for more than 5 minutes. They might forget why they were put in the cage.
Not reacting at all to nips is known to work as well. If they don’t get a reaction, they tend to stop doing it. Just be sure to not use punishment as it will only make your ferret aggressive.
Toilet Training- You can certainly toilet train your ferret. It requires you to be very patient as these skills cannot be developed overnight by a ferret.
Ferrets hate that Apple Bitter Smell. Whenever your ferret defecates anywhere other than his/her litter box, spray some Apple Bitter on that very spot. The ferret will start avoiding that spot. If there’s a spot that your ferret prefers, move the litter box there. Lemon juice is a good alternative to Apple Bitter. It can be used if you can’t find any Apple Bitter.
Another way is to be alert and whenever you feel he/she is about to take a tinkle, pick them up and place them in the litter box. They will soon catch on and start going to the litter box every time.
You also need to clean the litter box of your ferret one or two times every week. If it’s kind of full, your ferret might go somewhere else. If they defecate outside the litter box, pick the dropping and put it in the litter box. This lets them know the appropriate spot for their droppings. Start by only putting out one litter box in their cage. As they slowly catch on, place other litter boxes in different places. Extend their playing space slowly every time they have learned to use the new litter box.
Other tricks- Ferrets can learn to do many tricks like shaking paws, sitting, rolling around and jumping through hoops too!
Simple tricks like shaking paws and sitting are easier to teach even though they take some time. Teaching them to roll around, coming to you when called and jumping through hoops is very difficult and requires a lot of time and persistence. One simple way to make learn these tricks is to give them their favorite treats whenever they do something well. They will do them again and again for treats and eventually master these tricks.
We hope that you have got enough knowledge about how to take care of Ferrets. We hope that you will like this article on ( Ferret Health Care – How To Take Care Of A Ferret? ). Please do like, share and comment.