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Do Ferrets Make Good Pets?

Last Updated: 12.08.20


After reading this article, you would probably like to find out even more about ferrets, these unique pets. Ferrets are certainly different from common pets such as dogs or cats yet, at the same time, they are surprisingly easy to accommodate, considering the fact that they have been only recently domesticated. Ferrets have many great qualities, once you get to know them better.

Whether you are considering becoming the proud owner of a ferret, or simply want to understand more about this fascinating little creature, here are some of the most important facts about ferrets and what makes them good pets.


Are you allowed to keep a ferret as a pet?

An important distinction to know when it comes to ferrets is that wild ferrets are different from domesticated ones. Black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) are a wild species of ferrets that is actually not only rare but considered endangered in North America. Also, wild ferrets should not be mistaken for other similar types of animals, such as weasels, minks or wolverines.

Domesticated ferrets were not bred from the wild species of ferrets, but actually from different species of polecats or Mustela putorius. Although this domesticated breed had been used in Europe for hunting or rodent control for a long time, ferrets have actually begun to be seen as pets only from the second half of the twentieth century. 

That is why their history as pets doesn’t go too far back and that is partially why they are still somewhat controversial today. Although their popularity as pets has grown significantly over the years, in the US there are still places where specific restrictions are in order regarding ferrets. 

There are two states where ferrets are completely illegal, namely California and Hawaii. In California, it is considered that runaway ferrets or ones that have been abandoned could adapt to the wild habitat, to the detriment of the local wildlife. That is why home possession is forbidden. In Hawaii, owning a ferret is actually punishable by law, because ferrets could carry rabies.

People who are considering owning a ferret also need to be aware of the fact that there could be local regulations that make these pets illegal. For example, they are banned in New York City. Be sure to check your local regulations and keep in mind that they also could also change.

Do ferrets have a friendly and sociable personality?

Ferrets have undoubtedly an adorable look. With their funny looking faces and colorful fur, they definitely look cute. But are they as friendly and playful as they look? The answer is yes. Ferrets are not only playful and fun but also sociable and affectionate. These little furry guys are actually known for their high energy and love of toys. 

They love to play and you will enjoy interacting with them. Try to awaken their curiosity with special toys for ferrets and you’ll easily find out just how entertaining and funny ferrets can be.

It’s advisable to have more than one because they don’t like to be alone, but they will also get attached to their owner and show a sense of loyalty. Once you get to know your ferrets better, you’ll discover that they each have a unique personality and that they display a lot of emotions.


Ferrets behavior and training

These small animals are surprisingly intelligent. Owners have noticed that they are adaptable and even problem-solving, that is why they love toys and games that challenge them. Another great thing about ferrets is that they can be toilet trained, similarly to cats. Of course, it won’t be as easy, but if you are patient, your ferret pet will eventually get used to the litter box. 

What is having a ferret around the house actually like? Ferrets won’t bother anyone, including the neighbours because they are not at all noisy and they sleep most of the time. They become more active at dusk and at dawn and that’s when you should enjoy playing with them. Especially if you get a pair of ferrets, they’ll be fine by themselves even when you are busy.

One negative aspect of ferrets is that they can be dangerous for smaller pets such as hamsters and even smaller bunnies. Remember that they do have predatory instincts after all and should be kept away from any other small animals.

What do ferrets eat?

Another benefit of ferrets is that they are easy to feed. They don’t require anything other than water and food that is adequate for them. Since ferrets are such popular pets in the US, ferret food can be found in pet stores, just like any other pet food. In case you can’t find ferret food, kitten food is also suitable, as long as it is of good quality.

The one thing you need to remember about their diet is that they are carnivores that require animal protein and animal fat. Always check the label for food cans and make sure they don’t contain fish or too many vegetables. Also, ferrets don’t like changes in their diet and switching to different foods can be dangerous for their sensitive digestive system.

Don’t forget that ferrets need daily fresh water, especially because their body heats up easily and they have a lot of energy. They can drink from different types of bowls but they can also be trained to sip from drinking bottles for small pets. These are better because bowls could be easily tipped over.


Ferrets housing and environment

On one hand, ferrets are small pets that won’t take up a lot of space. They are usually kept in cages that should be tall enough and have several levels, in order for them to feel safe and be able to move freely. On the other hand, allowing ferrets to roam around is absolutely essential. They need to move around for at least four hours every day.

You can even make a habit of taking your ferret on a walk. They can get accustomed to leashes and need plenty of exercise. Just make sure there are no dogs around and keep them from touching or ingesting anything. Also, be very careful not to lose your ferret pet, as domesticated ferrets cannot survive on their own. 

There are people who keep ferrets in outdoor cages. However, this is not advisable because pets that are kept outdoors generally tend to be neglected. Plus, they are exposed to unwanted visits from raccoons or opossums, who could carry deadly diseases.

Ideally, ferret owners should have a spare room which could be entirely ferret-proofed, so that they would be able to roam around without restrictions. If that is not possible, there are certain things that should be considered when allowing ferrets to be out of their cages. Because they are so small and curious, they can easily get stuck or access dangerous appliances. 

Ferrets should not be allowed to roam around the entire house without supervision, as there are a lot of accidents that could occur. Try to have a designated area where it’s safe for them to play and make sure they exercise regularly, indoors or by taking them on walks.


Ferrets health

Ferrets usually live for seven to nine years, although it is possible for them to reach even the age of twelve. Considering that this a relatively short lifespan, ferrets are classified as ‘old’ when they are about four years old and they do need regular vaccines and check-ups, just like any other pet.

Ferrets that are sold as pets are usually already neutered. Keep in mind that premature neutering can be dangerous, that is why it’s best to seek advice from professionals if you happen to have baby ferrets or ferrets that have not been neutered. 

Another specific feature of ferrets is their distinctive smell. Some are not bothered by it, while others can find it overwhelming. That is why they can be descented, although simply giving them regular baths with shampoos that are adequate for kittens is enough to keep their musky smell at a minimum. 

As long as you provide them the appropriate living conditions, take care of their health and make sure they have space, exercise and toys, your ferret pet will prove to be a great choice for a furry friend.

Ferrets are adorable, playful, affectionate, as well as easily adaptable and low maintenance. If you are ready to welcome one or more ferrets into your life, you will soon discover that ferrets do make good pets.



Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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