So you Want To Share Your Home With a Ferret?

Are ferrets the pet for you?

Ferrets are naughty and mischievous bundles of furry fun. When at play these carpet sharks, fuzzies or hooligans do not stop for breath. They walk where you want to walk and their motto is “what’s yours is definitely mine”. They feel that doors should never be shut, ferrets always want whatever is the other side and the word “no” they just do not understand. Don’t be fooled – that pretty, cuddly, furry ferret is really a monster in a very good disguise! Ferrets just want to have fun.

Oliver at play

Have I put you off from wanting your own ferret? No – then you best read on.

When acquiring a ferret (like any pet) you really do need to do your homework first. Ferrets should never be kept alone, they love company and if you are out all day at work then they would have each other to play with. Ferrets are intelligent (although they do their best to hide it) – they need stimulation or they will become bored.

You need to ask yourself, do you have time for ferrets? You could well find that you need to spend more time with your fuzzies than perhaps you would looking after a dog. Their living quarters need to be cleaned twice per day and exercising your ferret shouldn’t be a chore but a pleasure and spending time morning and/or evening playing with them should be fun. They will quickly fall into the routine you introduce – they really are more entertaining than watching the TV!

Stage one – where are your ferrets going to live?

The best rule of thumb is let them have the biggest hutch / shed / aviary you can afford and of course you have space for. They need a good, draft-free sleeping nest box. They need space to move around, a feeding and drinking area, a poo tray, a play area with some toys. They must have food and water “on tap” so a bowl of dried food and a bowl (or bottle) of water should always be available to them 24/7. Ferrets are great escape artists so locks on the doors are a good idea.

Stage two – where will you get your ferrets from?

I’m afraid I have to start this section with a number of DONT’S

  1. Do not purchase a ferret from a pet shop because, in most cases, the shop owner will not have sufficient knowledge about a ferret to offer you any help or guidance.
  2. Do not purchase a ferret from somewhere like a car boot sale. You don’t know where the ferret has come from and most importantly, has it been exposed to canine distemper? Canine distemper kills ferrets.
  3. Do not be tempted into buying kits (baby ferrets). They are absolutely gorgeous and look as pretty as a picture, however, kits need much more attention than an adult and, nothing puts off a first time ferret owner more than to constantly have fingers nipped. The more they nip the less you want to handle them and then you start to have real problems. Wait until you have been around ferrets for a year (or two) and then you will be ready to take on a kit!

Eric & Ernie as babies

As a prospective ferret purchaser the best advice that can be offered is to visit a local rescue, one that specialises in re-homing ferrets. They will be able to give you heaps of help and advice (for example – what food to give them) and then, what you have been waiting for, meet a number of ferrets that would be suitable to “new” owners. Prior to taking delivery of your new fuzzies, the rescue will send a representative to your home to vet your new fuzzies living quarters and make useful suggestions probably about things you may not have considered.

Bin babies

All the ferrets that they re-home will have spent time in quarantine, had a health check-up with a vet, will have been well handled and had any “bad” habits ironed out prior to moving into their new permanent home. All incoming ferrets will also have had their details posted on several “lost and found” sites and been checked to see if they have micro-chipped. All ferrets are neutered with the exception of kits; this procedure being carried-out, via the rescue, when they reached an appropriate age.

Stage 3 – they have arrived!

They have arrived and you suddenly you have to remember what you were told at the rescue, “you rule the fuzzies, they don’t rule you!”

You will find it increasingly difficult to say no to these whirlwinds of fur. They love playing on the sofa, they have found out how to move the fire-guard and (given half a chance) climb up the chimney. Cupboards and drawers hold a great fascination, there is always one who is a lot smarter than the others and can, without too much difficulty open them and empty the contents all over the floor.

Ferrets absolutely adore waste bins, there is always something inviting hidden at the bottom and so to reach this tasty morsel, everything else also needs to be emptied on to the floor.

It is the end of playtime and the fuzzies, one by one, will suddenly switch off. They go off to find their special sleeping or resting place and will await you picking them up and taking them back to bed.

The hooligans have turned into sleeping angels – careful, quiet, you might awaken them and the whirlwind will start-up all over again!

So you want to share your home with a ferret! Aren’t you glad you made that decision.

Stan in bubblewrapA few local rescues specialising in ferrets are:

  • STARescue – tel: 01189 690 435
  • Ferret Rescue Surrey – tel: 0845 837 9695
  • Ferrets United – tel: 07885 082 109

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