If you are here, chances are you are considering owning a ferret of your very own. These lovable weasels are absolutely adorable and make for a fantastic, entertaining pet that you can easily bond deeply with. Despite this, there are some pretty specific care requirements and intense situations that can come with ferret ownership.
Let’s take an indepth look at what it actually means to own a ferret and break down the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision!
Some positives that come with owning a ferret include:
- Bonding: Ferrets are very intelligent animals and will form deep, loving bonds with their owners. They will recognize you, snuggle you, and love you much like a dog does. Ferrets are brilliant little creatures that form opinions of things rather quickly and can become incredibly close to their humans!
- Energetic: Ferrets love to play and are an absolute delight to watch romp about. Ball pits, tunnels, tubes, and tubs all make for great toys and their fun is only bound by your imagination. They do well on leashes with harnesses and enjoy being taken out and about frequently. They are the perfect pint sized companion and love accompanying their humans through day to day life. They are a bit mischievous, but that is just part of the ferret fun!
- Litter training: Ferrets, due to their intelligence, are fairly easy to train to do a variety of things. From tricks and games to more practical applications, you can help your pet learn tons of different activities. Included in this is litter training. Litter training means you do not have to worry about massive messes since they typically “go” in one area of their cage. Ferrets like being clean so this is usually an exceptionally easy task to train!
- Longevity: When you compare the average lifespan of a ferret to that of other small animals, they tend to live much longer. Rats, for example, live to be around two to perhaps three years old. Ferrets, alternatively, routinely make it closer to a decade. This means you get to spend more time with your furry friend and have more years to look forward to! This is not to say ferrets are in any way superior to rats, but it is something to consider when looking at getting a pet. Are you emotionally equipped to say goodbye so soon? Will more time make it harder? These are hard questions you need to ask yourself.
- Personality: Perhaps one of the best things about ferrets is their individuality. Ferrets are funny in that they each tend to have their own likes, dislikes, interests, preferences, and personalities. One might be lazy while another from the same litter is a kooky ball of energy. One may love fish while the other despises it. Learning about your pet’s unique quirks is incredibly fun and can create some deep bonds that last a lifetime.
Like any pet, there are some downsides to owning a ferret:
- Expense: Ferrets are not cheap pets. No animal should be cheaped out on at all but with ferrets, it simply is not an option. Cages that are adequate in size and accommodation tend to cost close to a hundred dollars or more with higher quality ones reaching more than one hundred and fifty dollars routinely. On top of this, you will have to regularly buy bedding, high protein foods that are safe for ferrets, treats, enrichment items, vet visits, and other things that can add up rather quickly. If you cannot afford these things, a ferret is probably not the pet for you.
- Time consuming: Since ferrets are so active and bond so deeply, they are time consuming little critters. They love to be out of their cage and need at least four hours of supervised time to romp per day. Additionally, they want to be near you and will try to follow you if you let them. Due to this, they are not suitable for people who are not home frequently or who do not have a lot of time and patience to commit to their activity needs. Being engaged and enriched is vital to their general wellbeing and preventing depression, so be sure you are prepared to accommodate their needs!
- Stinky: Ferrets are funky. They are very smelly little animals and not everyone can handle this fact. Ferrets produce oils from glands on their anuses and other scent glands on their bodies. These oils are funky and stick to surfaces they touch, meaning your sweater might get a little ferret-y if you play with your pets before work. The smell lingers and can potentially be quite pungent, especially if you have more than one ferret in your home. Spaying or neutering your pet can help negate this smell but it will always be somewhat present unless you make your pet undergo a descenting procedure which is highly controversial and poses potential risks to your pet’s health. Fun fact: some people actually like the smell of ferret funk and compare it to popcorn or corn chips!
- Illnesses: Like all other animal species, ferrets are prone to certain illnesses. For example, adrenal issues are very common, especially in females who are not fixed. Females can enter into a prolonged heat if not mated, resulting in fatal complications. Due to this, you should strongly consider getting your pet fixed or at least chemically altered. Diabetes and a host of other health issues are also present, making regular vet visits a must to ensure your pet is in tip top shape!
Are ferrets difficult to take care of? This is a bit of a loaded question that depends entirely on your definition of difficult. If you define difficult as having to frequently clean cages, prepare foods, and provide enrichment, then yes, they are.
Ferrets require a lot of care and need their humans to be on top of a lot of things at once. They need to be fed high protein, high fat diets that are low in carbs, sugar, fiber, and other potentially harmful substances.
They need enrichment for four hours a day minimum and require supervision when out of their cages due to their mischievous nature. Ferrets can be quite the handful with their potential health problems and can live up to a decade, making them quite the commitment.
That being said, if you know what you are getting yourself into and are prepared ahead of time, the learning curve of ferret care will not be particularly hard and you will get the hang of things with no problem! If this sounds like a lot, you simply may not be ready for a ferret at this point in your life, which is absolutely okay!
Ferrets are wonderful animals that are wicked fun. Chances are if you are considering getting one and do your research ahead of time to fully understand the life of a ferret owner, you will be just fine. Good luck! They are truly fantastic pets!