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Having Ferrets as Pets

Everything You Need to Know About Owning Domestic Ferrets

Stella, our youngest ferret. 

So to start this off, I myself have six ferrets so I do know quite a bit about caring for them. I am obviously not a professional so you should definitely do your own research as well, but this is at least the basic to help you get started.

1. Ferrets are very social.

When getting ferrets you should always get at least two. Most shelters or pet stores will offer you a pair that is already bonded and work well together. Because ferrets are so social and playful the more of them you have the better they will be since they have many to play with and socialize with.

2. Ferrets need at least twelve hours of pure darkness.

Ferrets are naturally burrowing animals who come out around dusk and dawn, so their eyesight isn't that great either. Since they are burrowing animals, darkness is vital for their health since not having enough can lead to changes in hormones which can lead to adrenal disease, the number one killer of ferrets.

3. Ferrets need specialized vets.

Since ferrets are not considered 'normal' pets to have, not every vet knows how to treat them. You will need to find a vet who is specialized in ferrets and is able to treat them, I would suggest figuring out where there is one around you either before or as soon as you get them because it would be best to know in case of an emergency.

4. Ferrets are very time-consuming.

Since ferrets are so social they need to spend time with their owner too. You should spend at least four hours a day with them. This doesn't mean that you need to be continuously playing with them but you need to at least be with them. My mother gets in her time before work and after work when she cleans up their area, whereas I spend time with them after school and when possible I do my homework in their area with them around me or I will bring them to my room while I'm relaxing so I can be with them.

5. They should not be bathed more than once every six months.

Honestly, they shouldn't even be bathed that often, just don't try to bathe them at all. Ferrets have oils on their skin and in their fur which keep them healthy and washing them removes those oils and makes them itchy and their fur turn yellow. If you do have to wash them though, I would recommend baby shampoo over ferret shampoo since it's easier on them.

6. Your ferret will smell.

So this goes with the bathing one. Ferrets have stink glands that work much like a skunk does. They release this musk when scared or uncomfortable to help drive predators away. When you first get a ferret it will most likely smell for a while but as I stated before don't bathe them. Instead, keep their area clean and the smell will go away as soon as they begin to trust you and feel more comfortable.

7. Ferrets aren't litter trained.

Some websites you go on will say this and it's not true. Ferrets are corner trained, meaning that they will back themselves in a corner before they go so that way nothing can sneak up behind them. People use this to their advantage and put their litter box in a corner and some will use the litter box but don't rely on that. We have one ferret who actively seeks out the litter box before they go and we have another who will move the litter box out of the corner before going, it all depends on the ferret. If you do decide to use litter boxes do not use cat litter, it is harmful to them. Use either paper or pine litter, it's more of a hassle on you but safer for them in the end.

8. Ferret-Proofing

This would be, in my opinion, one of the toughest parts of having a ferret. Imagine toddler-proofing, but this toddler can get under anything with more than an inch gap. You should have all electrical plugs covered, everything valuable placed higher than they can reach (ferrets are good climbers) nothing hanging (curtains, blankets) in places you don't want them to reach. If you think to yourself "Can my ferret get over/through/under this?" the answer is probably yes so you should try to fix it. We have three feet of plexiglass keeping out ferrets in their area and one of our ferrets figured out that he can launch himself from his toy basket to get over the glass after getting a running start. That basket was two feet from the glass. Like I said, ferret-proofing is hard and ferrets are smart, you may not think that they can figure it out but they can. Changing around their environment helps since it's almost like a new area for them to explore, so for at least a short amount of time they'll be content.

This isn't nearly everything, truthfully this is what I wish I knew before getting ferrets. In my opinion, they're totally worth it, although six is our limit. If you're seriously thinking about getting them, ask around and do your research, if you do choose to get them I doubt you'll be disappointed.

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