Are you planning to adopt one or more ferrets but you don’t know what to expect? Read the following article attentively, as the dominant and hyperactive personality of the ferret does not suit everybody.
1) Life Expectancy
In captivity ferrets usually live between 5 and 8 years.
2) Sleeping Habits
A ferret’s sleeping cycle is similar to cats. Normally, they sleep from 14 to 18 hours a day. Depending on the owner’s sleeping cycle, they can be diurnal, nocturnal or crepuscular.
Ferrets are group animals. They love playing with others. The interaction between two or more ferrets can be quite funny. Rarely does one refuse his own species, but it’s not impossible. Matching two or more with the same level of energy is preferable as baby ferrets might disturb older ones. When adding a new one to the pack, constant supervision is necessary to insure a good integration, without conflict, among others.
Ferrets like to play rough and it might be difficult to distinguish it from a fight. One thing is sure, it is not a good sign if a ferret grinds his teeth in the presence of another. They usually have a good complicity with dogs and cats. It is not recommended to put a ferret in contact with birds or rodents, as a disaster may happen (after all, they are predators).
The ferret’s behavior is quite similar to a mix between a cat and a dog. They are predators and carnivores, like cats, they like to hunt. They are extremely smart, playful and sociable. Ferrets are hyperactive and always in need of stimulation, which places them in the high- maintenance category. They are not suggested for young children as they may bite.
Their sharp teeth can easily tear into flesh. NEVER put a ferret that you don’t know or trust near your face or ears, as you may find yourself in a bad situation. In general, ferrets may need to be trained not to bite, especially young ones. If a ferret bites you and refuses to let go, don’t panic, you can simply hold him by the scruff (like a kitten) to stimulate him to open his mouth. They demand constant supervision because they are destructive and they may accidentally harm themselves ; they can break walls, puncture furniture, chew on wires, etc.
5) Spaying Or Neutering
In most countries, it is mandatory for young ferrets to be spayed & neutered before being adopted. Usually, the surgery is performed at the breeder’s location when ferrets are only a few weeks old, before they are distributed in pet stores.
Although spaying & neutering ferrets is necessary for avoiding various health issues, it may actually bring undesired results, like adrenal disease for example, but the benefits overcome the negative outcomes. They can usually be spayed or neutered starting at 4 months of age, unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise. The sooner the better as younger ones recover faster & they encounter less risk. There are many perks to getting your ferret fixed, especially for the maintenance of good health.
- Consider it humane to spay your female since the mating process is a very painful experience & a ferret cannot be constantly used for breeding purposes.
- Female ferrets that are not spayed and not mated, or that fail to ovulate are susceptible of suffering from anemia due to high levels of estrogen in the bloodstream, also called hyperestrogenemia. If left untreated, it is rapidly fatal. Uncommon diseases of the reproductive organs such as an infection of the uterus, also called pyometra or the appearance of tumor(s) on the ovaries may occur.
- In male ferrets that have not been neutered, their have been reported cases of tumors of the testicles, prostatic enlargement usually associated with adrenal gland tumors which cause problems with urination.
- Ferrets have an unpleasant smell but getting them spayed or neutered will not only help reduce odours but it will have a positive effect on their behavior by lowering aggressivity levels.
Like dogs & cats, ferrets should be vaccinated annually even if they’re always indoors. There are 2 main vaccines: rabies & distemper. Even though your ferret is more at risk of contracting the canine distemper virus, it is suggested to get the rabies vaccine done as well (especially if your traveling with your companion) unless your veterinarian advises otherwise. The Canine Distemper (CD) virus is airborne & particles from an infected dog can attach themselves to the owner’s clothing & shoes, which is then transmitted to the ferret. It is a very aggressive virus that is considered to be fatal in nearly 100% of all reported cases.
The most common illness known to ferrets is cancer, such as insulinoma (pancreatic cancer) or lymphosarcoma. Adrenal disease is another familiar ferret ailment. The growth of the adrenal glands can either be related to cancer or hyperplasia.
Notorious viruses such as the coronavirus (FSC for ferret systemic coronavirus), canine distemper (CD), epizootic catarrhal enteritis (ECE), aleutian disease virus/parvovirus (ADV) & influenza can be transmitted to your ferret. Other less fatal and more curable health issues such as respiratory infections, hairballs & dental tartar can occur when dealing with ferrets.
8) Litter Training
Ferrets are clean animals if well trained from a young age. Adults may still be litter trained but with a lower success rate. While in the training process, the litter box should not be entirely cleaned out. It is recommended to leave a small chunk of poop in the litter box after each litter change, as the smell will help reorient the ferret in the appropriate area; where he should be doing his business.
When it’s time to go to the bathroom, ferrets just love corners. If they have a tendency to do their business elsewhere than in the spot designed for this purpose, it might be wise to block any access to corners to encourage them to use the litter box instead. If your litter box is not heavy enough, it is recommended to attach it to the cage, as your ferret will most probably try to flip it.
Heavy litter such as Yesterday’s news, which is made of recycled news paper, will reduce messes, as it will prevent your ferret from digging it out of the box. Recycled news paper pellets contain very little to no dust compared to other types of litter. Dusty ones such as pine or cedar shavings can easily be spread all over the place & they are known to cause respiratory infections.
The only section that should contain litter is in the litter box. The rest of the cage should be covered with blankets, fluffy mats, beds, etc. When taking your ferret outside of the cage, you may place the litter box in the room that he is exploring. If you have 2 litter boxes, then you can leave one inside the cage and the other one on the outside.