One of the reasons ferrets are such popular pets is their rambunctious nature and amusing antics. These curious little creatures can keep one entertained for hours. However, having a ferret as a pet is not the same as keeping a cat. While they do not essentially require more care than your average cat, they do require a different kind of care. Which is why, before you decide to bring home a ferret, you should ponder upon the pros and cons of having one as your pet.
Ferret Nature: What to Expect
Keeping a ferret means having to deal with their natural curiosity, which translates into most of their waking hours spent in frenzied activity. They do well in pairs, and will 'dance', play, wrestle, and chase each other. However, if you have a lone ferret, be prepared to be involved in the game, with either you attempting to catch the ferret or the ferret trying to catch you. Ferrets will explore the house and make nests. They will steal things from all over the house and hide them. They are specially likely to make off with bags, keys, boxes, socks, and rubbery items, and it is not unusual to find them repeatedly making off with the same object. Your ferret may also supervise your activities, and often enough, would try to join in. One can see the likeness between a ferret's actions and reaction to a child of two to four years of age. Between these hours of hectic activity, ferrets will sleep for eighteen to twenty hours of the day, waking up to eat, check their domain, and address other needs.
Excited ferrets perform a series of actions commonly termed as the 'weasel war dance', involving sideways hops and soft clucking noise. Recognize this as an invitation to play as well as a display of happiness, and not as a threat. The only thing you have to worry about at this time is your ferret tripping over an object or its own feet and getting injured in the process.
There is difference of opinion over whether a ferret should be kept in a cage or not. Most people do, but let them run free whenever they (owners) are home, and during their ferret's waking hours. If you decide to keep your pet ferret in a cage, ensure that it is a roomy one. While ferrets can be litter trained, they aren't as consistent as cats. They are likely to use the litter box within their cage, but also likely to select a few spots in the house as toilet areas. Ideally, place multiple litter boxes all over the house, especially at these spots. Needless to say, the litter boxes and areas should be cleaned frequently. Your pet food options are more than one. Some owners feed their pets whole preys such as mice and rabbits, along with raw meat. Your other option is commercial ferret food products. A good product should contain at least 32% meat-based protein, 18% fat, and a maximum of 3% fiber. While ferrets may display a liking for sweet foods like raisins, bananas, and peanut butter, these should not be fed to them.
You need not give them frequent baths. You also need to clip their hind nails once a month and their front nails every two weeks. They usually shed twice a year in the spring and fall. It is very important for them to be spayed or neutered before they reach sexual maturity. Females who aren't and do not mate, will succumb to aplastic anemia and die a painful death. Ferrets require check-ups at least twice a year, and annual inoculations against canine distemper.
Bringing ferrets for kids is a very bad idea. They are suitable pets for older mature children, who will handle them with care and not neglect them. Keeping ferrets with cats is also not entirely advisable, as the animals together will require constant supervision.