How to Take Care of a Ferret Once You Get It Home
Updated on September 10, 2018
Providing a home for a pet ferret is a big responsibility because ferrets need a lot of attention. They need a clean cage to sleep in, fresh food and water, toys to play with, occasional baths and nail trims, and visits to the veterinarian. Ferret lovers know that the effort needed to take good care of a ferret is well worth the joys of raising one.
Setting Up Ferret Cage
Ferrets spend part of their time in a cage and part of their time outside the cage. Large, wire cages work well for ferrets. Cages range from simple, single-level ranches to multilevel mansions with guesthouses.
The cage you choose depends on your taste, and what you can afford, both financially and spatially.you should work on creating as stimulating an environment as possible. Cover the floor of the cage with linoleum tiles, old towels, or another soft surface, so the wire does not hurt your ferret's paws.
Do not use cedar chips or shavings in your ferret's cage. Cedar can make it hard for your ferret to breathe. Do not use a glass aquarium as a house for your ferret. There is not enough air, it is very difficult to keep clean, and only the largest aquariums would provide the amount of space required to keep a happy ferret. A ferret's cage needs to have plenty of space, including an area for sleep, an area for a litter box, and an area for food and water.
Making Your Ferret’s Bed
Ferrets can be quite deep sleepers and can sleep for up to 20 hours each day. Do not worry if your ferret takes long naps and it is difficult to wake it up. Ferrets love sleeping in hammocks.
Other soft bedding, like old T-shirts, towels, sweatshirts or pillowcases are also good for naps. Simply snip off the legs of an old pair of pants or blue jeans. You can also buy custom ferret snooze sacks and fabric tunnels at any major pet supply store or online ferret supply store, but if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can easily make them. These accessories are attractive and cozy. Most ferret owners choose a washable material, so it is easy to keep ferrets sleeping area nice and clean.
Feeding Your Ferret
If ferrets seem like they are hungry all the time, it is because they are! When ferrets eat, the food passes through their digestive system in just about three hours. That means ferrets need to eat every few hours, too. Have food available to your ferret all the time.
Usually, ferrets will only eat what they need, so there is not a large risk of a ferret becoming overweight. If your ferret seems to be eating too much or not enough, ask a vet to take a look. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means they must eat animal protein.
Vegetables are not easily digested by ferrets. There are some ferret foods available made especially for ferrets. Other ferret owners feed a high-quality kitten food. Either is fine, but do not feed puppy food or dog food. Dog food does not contain certain nutrients that ferrets need to survive.
Like all animals, ferrets need constant access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Use a bowl with a solid base so your pet cannot accidentally or playfully tip the bowl over.
Like a dog, a ferret doesn’t come preprogrammed for use. You teach a dog how to sit, come, and heel; you must teach a ferret certain things, too. Like how to mind his manners, use the litter box, and tolerate a harness and leash. Some people have successfully trained their ferrets to come when called, beg, roll over, and play live with your ferret dead, among other tricks.
Find a good time for training sessions, such as after a ferret has been playing for a little while. Training sessions should not be longer than a few minutes at a time. Reward your ferret for doing what you want it to do by giving it a treat, such as a raisin. Do not punish your ferret if it does not understand right away. Training takes time and patience, but it can be a lot of fun.
If a ferret is nipping, try scruffing it grasping it firmly but carefully by the back of its neck as a mother ferret would to her baby. Say “no” firmly, and then place your ferret on the ground. There is a spray you can use on your hands that tastes bad to ferrets, which will discourage them from nipping at your skin.
You should never, ever physically punish a ferret. That means no hitting, flicking, bopping it on the nose, pinching, kicking, or spanking. To train your ferret to stop doing something bad, you can try scruffing it and telling it, “no,” placing it in its cage for a few minutes, or simply refusing to play for a while. Giving a ferret a treat when it is behaving well will help your ferret learn how to act on its best behavior.
Grooming your ferret is a natural bonding tool. The activity mimics the way the ferret’s mother and littermates would groom him in a familial environment. You should practice grooming rituals on a regular basis to enhance your bonding experience with your ferret. Any ferret owner can tell you that ferrets have their special scent.
Remember, ferrets are cousins of the skunk, and they have scent glands that give off a musky odor. Some people do not mind the ferret scent. With proper grooming, you can keep your ferret clean. Some ferret owners give their ferret a bath every month or so, while others think ferrets should only get a bath if they get very dirty.
One thing is for sure: giving your ferret a bath too often makes it smell even stronger. When the oils are washed away, the glands work overtime to replace them. That can lead to an even stronger musky odor. If you bathe your ferret, use a mild shampoo, such as baby shampoo. Hold your ferret firmly but gently, wet the fur and lather up.
Make sure you rinse the suds from your ferret's fur very thoroughly. The water should be warm, but not too hot. One good way to help your ferret dry off is to offer lots of towels for your ferret to burrow through.
Did you know ferrets can get hairballs mass of undigested hair just like cats? Brushing your ferret every so often, especially in the spring and fall when ferrets shed, can help keep your house fur-free, and can also prevent hairballs.
You can also try feeding your ferret a gel every few weeks that help prevent hairballs. All ferrets should have their toenails trimmed. Ask your ferret's vet to demonstrate the proper method of trimming a ferret's toenails safely. Nails should be trimmed carefully because cutting too close can cause bleeding.
Ferrets also need to have their ears cleaned out periodically. Ferrets are prone to getting eat mites, which can lead to infection. Cleaning your ferret's ears will help prevent mites and other ear problems. Moisten a cotton swab with a small amount of baby oil or an ear cleansing solution designed for ferrets or kittens.
Make sure the cotton swab is not saturated: a little bit will do. Hold your ferret by the scruff, or the back of the neck. Gently swab the ear, being careful not to place the cotton swab too far into the ear. Make sure you can always see the tip of the cotton swab: that way you know you are not going too deep.
If you are unsure about the proper method of cleaning your ferret's ears, ask the veterinarian to demonstrate for you.
Play with Ferret
Ferrets need frequent human interaction to remain happy, and you can provide this interaction and bond with your ferret by playing with him. Ferrets have quite a bit of energy, and providing the appropriate toys can make playtime even more exciting not to mention safer.
Ferrets love to tunnel through tubes, under blankets, and in pockets. Offer a variety of toys so that your ferret does not become bored. Balls with bells inside, cardboard tubes, boxes, hard plastic cat toys, and squeaky toys are all good ferret playthings.
Ferrets can be mischievous little creatures. If there is something they are not supposed to get into, the chances are that is the thing they are most interested in! When you allow your ferret out of its cage, make sure it is confined to one or two rooms that you have ferret-proofed.
Make sure there are no holes in the floors or walls through which your ferret could escape. Ferrets can fit into tiny spaces any space 2 inches or more should be sealed up. Make sure there is nothing valuable your ferret can steal and hideaway. Keep wires and cords off the floor so your ferret cannot chew on them.
If you have a reclining chair or a pull-out sofa, be very careful that your ferret does not get trapped when you open or close them. Many types of houseplants are unsafe for ferrets. Besides, they would love to burrow in the dirt, making quite a messy game!
Check piles of laundry and the empty washer and dryer for hiding ferrets before you wash your clothes. Ferrets will often run around underfoot, so be careful not to step or sit on your ferret. When you have guests, remind them to watch out for ferrets!
Ferret Health and Treatments
Health issues are inevitable for most creatures, and ferrets are no different. To keep a healthy, happy ferret, you must provide regular care from a veterinarian.
When you first get your ferret, schedule a visit with a local vet. Your ferret's vet will make sure that the ferret is in good health overall. Ferrets are mammals, which means that they are capable of contracting and spreading rabies a potentially fatal virus spread through saliva.
One of the first things your ferret will need is a vaccination against rabies. Pet ferrets should also be spayed or neutered early in life, which means that surgery must be performed to make the ferret unable to reproduce. One main reason for this is to prevent unwanted ferrets from being born without a good home to go to.
For female ferrets, being spayed is a health concern. Female ferrets who are not spayed and do not reproduce are at risk of developing a fatal illness. Some ferret owners descent their ferrets. Descending means removing the glands that produce a ferret's musky odor. Often, ferrets sold by pet stores are already spayed or neutered and descented.
Your ferret will need regular visits to the vet throughout its life to keep it healthy. If you notice signs of illness or if your ferret is injured you should make a special visit to the vet. Ferret owners know that the work that goes into keeping a ferret happy and healthy is worth it. With the proper care, attention, and love, ferrets can live a long, healthy life.
Taking care of your ferret is fairly simple, but you’ve got to ensure that all their needs and requirements are met.
Following our advice above will make sure that all of those needs are met and that your ferret/s are as happy as possible in their new home.