Ferret husbandry plays a massive role in the health and behavior of your animal. Due to this, taking a look at how your ferret is bred and treated during the earliest parts of its life is an important step in ownership. Lets look at how to tell if a breeder is safe and reputable.
A topic of much debate, it seems that everyone has an opinion on if it is acceptable to buy a ferret (or any animal) from mass pet retailers like PetCo, PetSmart, or other such chains. This is due, in part, to the fact that many of the animals sold in such stores are kept in cramped conditions with less than stellar husbandry and sometimes come from mass breeders who do not pay special mind to blood lineage and genetic factorization.
First, understand that not all pet stores are bad. In fact, many privately owned shops are fantastic and feature employees and owners that really, truly care about the wellbeing of the animals they carry. On the flip side of the same coin, some breeders are not great and actually contribute to the problems surrounding mass pet retailers.
Both, if chosen wisely and thoroughly researched, are viable options that can provide great pets and stellar advice. The power is in your hands to make the decision here and there really is no wrong one as long as you make efforts to ethically source your pet and avoid places that treat their animals poorly.
That being said, lets look at the factors that make a breeding operation reputable.
What to Look For Before Choosing a Ferret for Adoption?
When selecting a breeder, there are a few things to look for.
For starters, your breeder should be knowledgeable. They should know what the personality and preferences of the animals they sell and be able to advise you on which should best suit your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Additionally, they should be offering their pets and bred, for sale animals both a healthy diet and lots of space to play. Animals for sale require the same care as animals to be kept for oneself and if you notice a stark difference in the quality of life for the two categories, it might be a good idea to skip that particular place.
A good breeder will be mindful of inbreeding and will not breed ferrets who have genetic issues. Both of these situations can perpetrate the spread of illnesses and disease and create litters with significant health problems that can drastically shorten each animals life and end up costing the babys new owner quite a bit of money.
They should be able to tell you the lineage of their ferrets as far back as when they owned the first ones in the furry family tree. There should be no inbreeding and if a ferret has an infectious disease or genetic abnormality, it should be excluded. There is no excuse for selling animals that are potentially ill.
Make sure that any animals you are looking to bring home are free of parasites and illnesses, especially if you are bringing them to a place where you have other animals. The last thing any owner needs is a disorder spreading through their entire ferret colony. The breeder should be honest and remedy the situation if you notice anything wrong; do not take a sick pet though, under any circumstances.
It is for the best that a breeder make you wait until the animal is twelve weeks, though many release kits at eight weeks, which is acceptable. Babies younger than eight weeks should still be with their mothers. If you are offered a younger kit, refuse. They are much more prone to illness and stress at these younger ages and may end up actually dying. Be safe, think of the animals needs first, regardless of how precious tiny baby ferrets are.
Ask if your ferrets mother saw a vet during her pregnancy. It is vital that a good breeder have the ferret checked out to make sure everything is going smoothly. Chances are if they skip out on this step, they are not as serious about their breeding as they should be. Some breeders do prefer not going to a vet but it is generally very recommended since ferrets are notorious for adrenal issues and other health problems that can pose a serious risk to the health of the mother and babies alike during pregnancy.
The babies should be checked out by a vet as well before being sold. This is to check for any abnormalities since ferret pregnancies in general are very tricky.
How much should a ferret cost? Ferret costs can vary based on the coloration and age of the animal, as well as if they are intact and your location/the breeders location. Due to this, it can be hard to give an estimate on the cost of purchasing a house weasel but, in general, a basic ferret will cost you anywhere from sixty dollars to three hundred.
Shop around and find a reputable breeder within your price range to work with. Keep in mind, though, that on top of this initial purchase price, you will also have to pay another one hundred or two hundred dollars for vaccinations (including rabies) and a general check-up to ensure your pet is healthy. Cage costs and food/toy expenses will also come but, like the cost of the actual animal, this can vary quite a bit.
Does cheap mean bad? No! Some people just sell their ferrets for less than others. You do not have to buy a three hundred dollar ferret to ensure your pet is healthy. You should look past the price and check out the husbandry of the animals and knowledge the person selling the ferret has. Sometimes people just choose to sell cheaper and seek out good homes more so than a paycheck; others want money and for their animals to be well cared for. Both are entirely normal and acceptable!
There are other things you should look for, like cleanliness of the cages and what food and stimulations and activities are used for the animals on a day to day basis but these are the absolute basics. If you are questioning whether a breeder is reputable, chances are they may not be. Go with your gut and you will be okay.