The domestic ferret is a cute little social animal with plenty of energy, which is why he ranks among the best of pets. Playful and very curious, this lively, furry little pet is also something of a trouble maker. The ideal owner is one who knows what the ferret might get up to and takes preventive action. Where does this funny ball of soft fur come from?
This gracious little animal is a descendent of the polecat and has been domesticated for a few thousand years now. Documentation in which ferrets appear dates to 400 years before Christ! The domestic ferret, contrary to what you might think, is not a feral animal, and anyone who thinks they are doing them a favour by releasing them into the wild is actually condemning the poor creature to certain death. Ferrets rely entirely on man for their existence.
Graced with a cute little pointy nose, little rounded ears and deep black or brown eyes (red, if it’s an albino), it is often very erroneously mistaken for a rodent. Nothing could be further from the truth. The domestic ferret, in fact, belongs to the Mustelidae family (along with weasels, otters and minks) and, as such, is a carnivore. Rodents are a nice source of nutrition for them, seeing as his diet is made up of meat. While he can live peacefully alongside dogs and cats, it’s best not to put him in the same household with rabbits, rodents or birds…
A PLAYFUL FRIEND
Ferrets are especially playful little creatures, they are friendly and sociable, so they suffer when left alone too much. They also like to be with other ferrets. Intelligent and curious, your ferret will go around the house and explore every nook and cranny if he’s allowed to roam freely. When you leave him free, make sure you damage-proof the room and ensure he can’t get out. Any hole or fissure larger than 3 cm must be closed, electrical wiring needs to be put away, just like anything that can be broken, bitten or that might be hazardous. Not only, but if it’s the first time you let him roam the house, follow him around so that he doesn’t get into serious trouble or find a way out of the house.
A lively and active creature, he gets bored when left alone without something to do. His cage – where, we repeat, he should not be kept all the time – must be spacious and be high, it should have a hammock (a favourite for naps), a bed/house and various types of toys to play with. Remember that ferrets love to explore little places, they utterly adore tunnels, so one of those should also be put in the cage for him to have fun with.
ACCESSORIES HE’LL NEED
Another accessory he’ll need is a little litter box to use as a toilet. Ferrets aren’t like cats (who instinctively know where to go when nature calls) and need to be patiently toilet-trained. In the end, he’ll go in the right place. The room where you let him roam freely should also have a little box of litter, as ferrets are not really good at holding it in!
The cage he lives in will also need a source of water and a food dish that should be filled with meat or with high-protein ferret kibble. Any kibble made with too many cereals will fill his tummy, but it will not provide him with the nutrition he needs.
If you consider leaving him to roam around the garden, please be aware that his curiosity may lead him to leave the premises and, unlike cats and dogs, ferrets can’t find their own way home. So if you want to let him explore the outdoors, then get him a harness and a lead so that he can go out and enjoy the world together with you.
Before you adopt a ferret, remember that this lively, friendly animal has a lifespan of from 6 to 13 years, and deserves your commitment and love for the entire time.