Ferrets are fun pets that are ideal for people looking for interactive friends that can be kept in relatively small quarters. Since ferrets sleep a good bit, elaborate caging is not required. Time out of the cage, however, is important. This must be supervised interaction to avoid mishaps. Ferrets are bad about eating rubber items and also chewing electrical cords. They also are escape artists. Therefore,, they must be watched carefully when running free. Remember that ferrets must eliminate often. Therefore, expect accidents if pets are loose.....corners are favorite elimination sites for ferrets.
Ferrets do best on a commercial ferret food. There are a number on the market-both online and in pets stores. We prefer sipper bottles to water bowls, as ferrets tend to eliminate in their bowls and also tend to knock them over quite often. A towel that is of very fine texture is a preferred substrate for bedding. Course weave items tend to catch nails. (By the way, keep ferret nails trimmed short to help avoid such problems). Ferrets can be litter box trained, but generally not 100% of the time.
Illnesses are relatively uncommon until ferrets reach the 4-5 year mark. Ferrets are considered geriatric at that point in their lives. Lifespans are often only 6-7 years. Typical illness issues include adrenal disease with substantial hair loss as a symptom, insulin-secreting tumors that cause hypoglycemia with resulting seizures/comatose states, and intestinal issues-including various forms of diarrhea type disorders. As mentioned previously, watch for ingestion of rubber items (ferret proof, please) and hair balls are not infrequent either.
At All Creatures Pet Hospital, we see a number of ferrets each week. So we feel comfortable with their care. Remember that ferrets do receive both distemper and rabies vaccines each year, and need a complete exam every 12 months, too. Call us anytime if we can be of assistance.
Ralph Pope, DVM