What to Expect with a Full Grown Ferret


Cute photos of baby animals can be absolutely alluring and contribute to a lot of impulse pet purchases that can sometimes cause new owners to be unprepared for what comes with owning an animal. If you are visiting this article, chances are you are taking the right steps and trying to be prepared for your new addition; good on you! Let’s look at what to expect when you own a fully grown adult ferret.

The Basics

With a ferret, the exact behaviors and preferences an adult develops will vary from one animal to the next. Ferrets are very intelligent animals and develop very unique personalities and interests. This is part of what makes them so fun to own! Despite this, there are a few general consistencies across the species that you can anticipate.

For starters, ferrets reach their adult size at around four months of age. At this point, they will stop growing in length and reach a weight that will likely remain their average for the rest of their life if they are kept on a healthy, balanced diet and provided with plenty of exercise opportunities.

Male ferrets, known as hobs, weigh in at around two and a half pounds on average, with some being a bit bigger. Males are lazier and will generally weigh a bit more than the females, known as jills, who only get to be around one and a half pounds, give or take a few ounces.

Male ferrets are also quite a bit longer, measuring around sixteen inches from the tip of their nose to the end of their tail. Females only get to be around twelve inches in length but can sometimes be larger, especially if they come from larger parents. There are, of course, variances in these numbers but you can use sixteen and twelve inches as a rough guide to help you figure out just how big your new weasley friend will be.

Dietary Needs

Unlike other omnivorous small animals that are popular in today’s pet market, ferrets are strict carnivores. In the wild, ferrets hunt, kill, and eat other animals, including their meat, bones, tissues, organs, and other odds and ends.

Due to this, a ferret requires a slightly different diet than other similarly marketed pets. Commonly marketed commercial pet foods are often lacking in nutrients and frequently contain fillers made of grains, corn, and other things that do not offer a substantial nutritional benefit to your pet.

Due to this, many people are turning to creating their own ferret foods and feeding them a primarily raw diet of meat, bones, and other animal products. Eggs are quite popular, as well, and provide a bit of enrichment when the shell is left intact.

Despite ferrets benefitting from raw foods, it is important to never feed your pet live prey. This can cause them to become injured if they are not hungry. Some people try feeding chicks or small mice to their ferrets; if the ferret does not eat the animal right away it can, in turn, become stressed and actually end up attacking your pet. Live feeding can also potentially give your pets parasites or otherwise make them ill, as well.

Spatial Needs

Ferrets are high energy pets that require more room than a traditional hamster cage. Due to this, you might find yourself looking at some rather expensive housing arrangements. Each adult ferret needs at least eight square feet, though thirteen and up is preferred since they enjoy exploring. If you have multiple ferrets, you should add on an additional eight feet minimum for each additional animal in the housing area.

Additionally, ferrets have delicate paws, much like rats and other similar pets. It is a good idea to opt for a flat bottom cage or one without criss crossed wires on the bottom to prevent paw injuries. If you choose to keep fabrics in the cage for bedding or other enrichment activities, be sure to check and make sure your pets are not eating the cloth. Wash each piece regularly to ensure everything remains nice and clean; use scent free detergents to protect their respiratory system, as well.

Out and About

Ferrets need to be out of their cages for a minimum of four hours per day. They are naturally curious and playful animals who get horrifically bored if confined to their quarters for too long. Let them out to romp a bit with supervision and enjoy watching them run about.

Ferrets love enrichment activities like ball pits. To make one, just fill a kiddie pool or other non-inflatable container with plastic balls and let them go to town. They will absolutely adore diving through the balls, especially if you hide some tasty treats in the play area.

Other fun activities include taking your ferret on walks with a properly fitting harness and leash set up or to parks where they can have some leashed fun on the jungle gyms and other areas. Some parts of the world do not permit having ferrets out in public, though, so be sure to check your laws and the rules of your park before taking them out.

Ferrets love being out in the world so excursions and outings are a great way to bond with your pet. Just be sure to leave time for naps, as ferrets love to sleep and can snooze up to eighteen hours per day, on average!

Illnesses

In general, ferrets are rather healthy animals. They have survived for decades in captivity and are well adjusted to life in a suitable home. That being said, there are a few illnesses that plague the species.

Common health issues include diarrhea, intestinal foreign bodies, parasites, heart disease, and various kinds of tumors. All of these are, unfortunately, fairly frequent within the species but can be prevented or treated with proper vet care, which should come with owning any pet.

Additionally, female ferrets can enter a prolonged heat if they do not mate, resulting in adrenal issues. Male ferrets can develop this disorder, as well. Generally, getting your ferret spayed or neutered can help ease the risk of adrenal gland disease development, especially if it is done at a young age. Other benefits of spaying and neutering includes prevention of unwanted litters, decreased aggression, and a distinct decrease in the odor produced by your pet.

Related Questions

Are adult male ferrets aggressive?

Sometimes, adult male ferrets can become aggressive, especially if they are hoping to mate with a nearby female or feel challenged by another male. This can be prevented by neutering your male ferret or giving him hormonal suppressants that temporarily “neuter” him chemically. Some ferrets will have a grumpier demeanor than others, as they are individuals with unique personalities.

How your ferret will act will depend on their own personality entirely. Generally though, handling them regularly will help create a nice bond with humans and prevent aggression to their handlers; this is a good idea to practice from a very young age.

Conclusion

Ferrets are absolutely excellent pets that, like any other animal, have some specific care requirements. If you are here reading this article, you are on your way to providing a safe, happy life for your new friend. Do your research and make sure you understand what owning a fully grown ferret entails before picking up your new pet. If it seems doable for your lifestyle, then you should have no issues enjoying the rewarding and enriching companionship that comes with owning a ferret!

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