What should you expect from your ferret?

Ferrets are extremely playful, active, curious and good-natured animals that enjoy the company of humans and other animals. For these reasons they make wonderful pets, but also require a fair amount of attention. Ferrets love to run around free in the home, and can be taught to use a litter box like a cat, though you may need to place a litter box in the corner of every room or area where the ferret spends a great deal of time.

Ferrets are generally quiet. The only vocalizations they make are chuckles and giggles during play, squeals or screams when threatened, and sometimes cries when in pain.

What do ferrets do all day?

Ferrets are usually most active in the early morning and evening. They get into everything; they attack household plants, steal socks, and push things down from shelves. They will steal items they treasure and hoard them in several stashes around your home. They like to burrow into the backs of sofa, undersides of mattresses, pillow cases, drawers, ducts, boxes, and cabinets, and slip into very small spaces; wherever their heads will fit, their bodies will follow easily.

Are ferrets tame?

Ferrets learn quickly and can be trained to come to cues such as bells or whistles. They easily adapt to a harness and leash, and love to go for walks and to travel. A standard dog or cat carrier equipped with a smaller litter box is adequate for transporting your ferret.

Some ferrets may make a habit of biting or becoming covetous of toys; discipline and training when they are young or new to your household will eliminate nipping and biting when they are older.

What should you feed your ferret?

Ferrets need a diet rich in meat proteins and fat (approximately 30-35% crude protein and 15-18% fat). Ferrets cannot digest large amounts of fiber and do not need significant amounts of carbohydrates. Additional treats of fruit or vegetables should be restricted to 1 tsp/day, and sugary treats should be avoided. A commercially prepared diet specifically formulated for ferrets is recommended. If you have an adult ferret previously fed dry cat food, you can convert your pet to ferret food by mixing the ferret food in with the cat food, gradually increasing the proportion of ferret food to 100% over 2-3 weeks.

How can you keep your ferret healthy, happy, and safe?
  • Groom your ferret on a regular basis: bathe, trim nails, brush teeth, and clean its ears.
  • Provide toys for play in its cage when you are not at home: anything that it can bat around, roll, toss, or chew, but not ingest.
  • Check the play area for potential hazards.
  • Take your ferret to an exotic animal veterinarian, such as the ones at Saukville Veterinary Clinic, for an annual physical examination, fecal analysis for parasites, and dental cleaning.
  • Keep your ferret up to date on its distemper and rabies vaccinations.
  • Provide heartworm medication.
  • Avoid exposing your ferret to human influenza, to which it may be susceptible.

Housing for your ferret should:
  • Be restricted to a safe enclosure when the animal is unattended.
  • Have solid flooring, or if wired, be filled with bedding of shavings (no cedar!), newspaper or commercially available bedding made of recycled paper or cloth.
  • Have cage furniture, hammocks, muffs, corrugated tubes, dryer vent tubing and large pvc pipes for tunneling.
  • Contain folded fabric such as a sheet or flannel clothing for burrowing while sleeping.
  • Have average room temperature and humidity (avoid temperatures greater than 80 degrees and humidity over 55%).
  • Provide for a constant source of fresh water.
  • Include a litter box.

Things you must keep away from your ferret:
  • Table scraps or treats with too much fiber or salt
  • Foods with high levels of vegetable protein such as soy flour and wheat gluten
  • Sweets, dairy products, bones, and chocolate
  • Rubber or plastic toys that can be easily torn apart and ingested
  • Running loose in the home
  • Cedar shavings
  • Overheating
  • Dogs, birds, unsupervised children
  • Electrical cords
  • Towels or fraying fabrics with ingestible fibers

For more information visit: American Ferret Association