Ferrets are in the Mustelid family, along with weasels, badgers, otters, minks, and other carnivorous mammals. Most ferrets will come already spayed or neutered and de-scent-glanded, although they will still have a natural musky body odor. Ferrets typically weigh between 1-3.5lbs and live 6-10 years in captivity.
Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to get all of the nutrients necessary for them to thrive. Ferret foods should have a meat based protein and a high fat content. Ferrets have a fast metabolism; therefore, they must eat frequently throughout the day. Treats can include cooked eggs and meat, as well as store bought ferret treats, however, obesity is a common problem in domestic ferrets so treats should be given sparingly.
An ideal ferret habitat is a large, two to three story cage. Because ferrets sleep 15-20hr, a day a comfortable sleeping area is necessary; hammocks and hide boxes with nesting material are both great options. Ferrets can be litter trained; a corner litter pan with a litter made from recycled paper products. Do not use cat litter as ferrets may ingest it, resulting in GI obstructions, it also can cause a ferrets’ coat to be dry and brittle. Ferrets cannot tolerate temperatures above 80oF, their cage should be kept in a cool, dry area, away from direct sunlight.
Ferrets are social, curious, mischievous animals that bond strongly with their humans and other household pets. They are very food motivated and can be trained to do tricks. Ferrets need time outside of their cage every day to exercise and explore. It is important that they be always supervised when out of their cage as they have a tendency to chew on electrical cords and eat string.
Ferrets need a series of distemper shots when young, a yearly rabies vaccination, and flea and heartworm prevention. Just like dogs and cats, ferrets should have yearly wellness exams by your veterinarian to check for illness. Ferrets commonly suffer from dental disease, adrenal disease, insulinomas (a pancreatic tumor), back injuries, and foreign body ingestion.