How to Take Care of Your Pet Ferret| Guide By Ultimatepethub
Ferrets, like all other pets, require maintenance and care. It takes time and energy to care not only for your ferret but also your ferret’s supplies. Always make sure you have the available time and energy to invest in your pet before making the decision to bring a ferret into your home.
Ferrets are able to live up to 10 years or longer depending on how well you take care of them. Just like owning any other pet, it is your responsibility to provide your ferret with special care that will keep them comfortable and happy. This serves as a guide to help ensure your pet ferret is in the best hands possible.
Basic Ferret Care
The most important thing to understand about Ferrets is that they are nocturnal creatures. They sleep during the day for up to 18 hours or more. Once awake they are very active; this is usually the best time to let them out of their cage so you can play with them and let them explore their room.
Ferrets need food that is rich in protein and low in fat. You should never feed a Ferret any food that is high in sugar and carbs as this may cause health problems later in your Ferrets life. Also, for obvious reasons, never feed your Ferret food that is intended for other animals.
Your Ferret should always have fresh water available to him via a bowl or a water bottle hung from the side of his cage. Ferrets can quickly become dehydrated so make sure that there is always water for your Ferret in his cage.
A Ferret should have a nice, roomy cage which should measure at least 18” x 18” x 30”. The best type of cage is one that has multiple levels so that your Ferret can run up and down instead of just staying on one flat level all the time. The cage should also be escape proof. The last thing that you need is to come home and find your Ferret has gotten out of his cage and is somewhere in your house!
Toys are a great way to keep your Ferret both stimulated and happy. Make sure that the toys you buy for your Ferret can withstand their razor sharp teeth because otherwise they may swallow it. Teach your Ferret to get used to wearing a harness, and then you will be able to take your Ferret outside on a leash for walks. This is a great way for you and your Ferret to get some good exercise together.
Never let your Ferret out of his cage without proper supervision. They are very inquisitive and quick little creatures. By watching them carefully and Ferret-proofing your house, you will prevent them from chewing cords, carrying away small objects, swallowing things or escaping outside of your house.
Ferrets should be potty-trained and this is quite easy to do. Simply purchase a litter box and place it in your Ferrets cage. They will quickly know that that is the place to go. More on this below.
You can also teach your Ferret a few tricks and reward them with tasty treats. A great trick to teach your Ferret is to have him come running back to you whenever he hears a bell. You can also teach your Ferret to fetch, play dead or roll over.
Don’t forget to bring your ferret for his regular checkup and vaccinations with an Exotic Veterinarian.
Ferret Safety In The House
Ferrets are curious and mischievous by nature. They can wiggle their way into tiny holes, jump and climb to places above your own eye level, open bags left unattended as well as drawers and cabinets. It is in your best interest, as well as your ferret’s, to supervise him when he is roaming through your house. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a huge mess, or worse, an sick ferret.
If you are going to allow your ferret free rein of your home when you are not able to supervise him, consider limiting it to one room. Within that room, cover each and every hole or crack. Pay special attention to walls and windows. You do not want to lose your ferret into a wall or outside.
Make sure there are no pieces of furniture or appliances that your ferret might crawl up and into, such as couches, chairs, mattresses and refrigerators. Keep houseplants away from your ferret. The plants may be toxic, which could make your ferret sick, or he may just dig through the dirt and make a mess. Avoid having electrical appliances and wires near your ferret. If you must have wires of some kind in the room, coat them with a non-toxic pest repellent to defer your ferret from chewing through the wires.
If you find your ferret digging through your carpet, try covering it with heavy duty plastic. Be sure to lock all drawers, cabinets, bottles and bags. Ferrets are remarkably adept at opening things. Do not forget to pay attention to areas above or below your eye level. A ferret can climb and jump to places up high, and crawl to tiny, hidden holes.
Again, your best plan of action is to cage your ferret, or confine it to a very safe room when you are not able to supervise him. Ferrets can be wonderful and rewarding pets. However, it is important to ensure the safety of your ferret within your home. Be sure to take the necessary precautions within your home to make it a safe haven for your ferret friend.
Litter Train Your Ferret
Though it may be rare to come across a fully litter-trained ferret, it is possible to encourage your ferret to use his or her litter box. As with any training regimen, remain patient and start small. With time and perseverance, you can have your ferret trained to use the litter box.
Before you can expect your ferret to willingly use his box, you need to ensure that the litter box meets ferret standards. Be sure to choose a box that is large enough to hold your ferret’s entire body. For safety and convenience, find a way to attach it to the side of the cage. Ferrets are playful animals and may attempt to throw a loose box around a cage.
Next, take care to choose the proper litter. Ferrets have sensitive respiratory systems and many dusty litters are irritating for them. Avoid wood shavings or dust, sand and scented litters. Instead, opt for solid pellets. Alfalfa pellets, like those used as rabbit feed, work well. However, if you find your ferret trying to eat the alfalfa pellets, consider clay or newspaper.
Training your ferret requires careful observation of his habits. After feeding your ferret in his cage, watch for him to use his box before taking him out to play. This may take up to three hours. Once he uses the box, praise and reward him. He will be eager to repeat the behavior if he associates using his box with attention and playtime. After he becomes accustomed to using his box, you may begin to let him run free anytime. Keep the cage and box open so that he is able to run in to use it at his convenience. Always remember positive reinforcement to ensure repeat behaviors.
Be sure to clean your ferret’s litter box frequently to ensure his comfort and continued use. Empty the box regularly and wash with warm water and a gentle soap. When you re-fill with new bedding, be sure to add a little of the old bedding to the mixture. The bits of old bedding will remind him to continuing doing his business in the box.
Sometimes despite your training and encouragement, some ferrets will still insist upon using corners of the house as their restroom. If your ferret is of this disposition, lay newspaper in his chosen corners for easy clean up. Do not feel disheartened. Over time, you can have a litter trained ferret.
Ferret Dental Care
If you are an experienced ferret owner, you probably already understand the importance of your ferret’s dental care. With ferrets, as with most pets, it is important to regularly brush their teeth to prevent the build up of plaque. An excess of plaque hardens and turns into the more serious tarter. Along with the tarter, your ferret will probably have inflamed gums, thus increasing its chances of developing a disease due to bacteria entering the body through the gums.
Once your ferret’s dental health has declined to this point, it may be time to consider scheduling a professional dental scaling for your ferret. Even if you take care to regularly brush your ferret’s teeth, a professional scaling once or twice a year may still be beneficial to your ferret.
A dental scaling is the scraping away of the hardened tarter on your ferret’s teeth. While brushing helps to remove the plaque before it turns to tarter, it does not always take care of all of the plaque. Scaling will remove any unexpected build-up and turn your ferret’s mouth into a clean slate. By investing in professional scaling for your ferret, you are greatly decreasing his risk for periodontal disease, which is the infection of the gums and jaw.
Because a ferret’s mouth is so small, a professional dental scaling will usually take only 30 minutes. However the procedure is more intense than regular brushing. Ferrets are often put under anesthesia for the treatment. This enables the scaler to complete the job safely and efficiently and allows the ferret to leave the procedure pain-free.
As ferrets age, they are not as equipped to handle anesthesia. It is important to maintain regular brushing throughout their life, in case they reach a point where dental scaling is no longer an option. Always remember to use a toothbrush and toothpaste made specially for ferrets when brushing your ferret’s teeth. Also avoid feeding your ferret large amounts of wet food. Wet food increases build-up on teeth while dry food helps to remove plaque.
Remember that your ferret’s dental health is an important part of his overall well-being. Be sure to provide regular, proper brushing and scaling of your ferret's teeth.
Keeping Your Ferret Odor Free
Ferrets are playful and rewarding pets for many owners across the world. However ferrets do have some offensive qualities as well. One of the most common complaints of ferret owners is the odor of their beloved pets. Luckily there are some steps that ferret owners can take to reduce the scents of their pets.
Ferret odor control begins with a high quality diet. Remember that whatever you put into your ferrets must somehow come out of your ferret. Your ferret’s body is only capable of absorbing the nutrients, and must rid itself of the waste. Often times that waste results in an unpleasant odor coming out of your ferret’s pores. Feeding the purest and most natural of foods can help to significantly decrease much of this odor. Your ferret’s droppings may even smell less offensive.
Additionally, be sure to keep your ferret’s cage clean and tidy. Clean the litter on a daily basis, and reserve a large chunk of time each week to thoroughly clean the entire cage. Ferrets clearly relieve themselves on a daily basis, so it is important to avoid letting it sit and scent your entire house. It is also much better for your ferret’s health and well-being to clean his environment frequently. Do not forget to wash your ferret’s bedding as well. Remember that any blankets, pillows, etc, must also be cleaned regularly.
Although it is tempting to over-bathe your ferret when you notice the smells, avoid it. Your ferret naturally produces oils to keep his coat and skin moisturized. The oils also help ferrets in the wild mark their territories. Though it seems that bathing your ferret will remove the oil, the opposite actually happens. Your ferret will simply produce extra oil to make up for the lost oil. Not only will you have even more odor to deal with, but you may also damage your ferret’s skin and coat in the process.
If you still cannot live with your ferret’s odor, consider talking your veterinarian for alternatives. He or she may be able to pinpoint a more specific health issue with your ferret to help you further reduce the odor.
Cleaning Up After Your Ferret
With a ferret, you can expect to partake in daily cleanings. It is essential that you scoop your ferret’s litter box at least once a day. If you have more than one ferret, you may want to scoop the litter box a couple of times each day.
Once a week, you will need to completely empty and scrub the little pan. Be sure to use a pet-friendly soap and water when scrubbing the pan each week. This is a very important task as it prevents disease from preying upon your ferret. Re-fill the litter pan with clean litter and continue scooping daily until the next week’s cleaning.
Once a week you should also clean your ferret’s bedding and toys. Most blankets, towels and stuffed animals can be cleaned in your washing machine and dryer. As for plastic toys, it is best to scrub them with pet-friendly soap and water and to thoroughly dry them before returning the toys to your ferret.
It is important to clean your ferret’s food and water dishes a couple of times a week. It is best to give them a rinse on a daily basis but you will also have to scrub them with soap and water to remove build-up and bacteria.
Once a month, clean your ferret’s cage. Remove everything from inside of the cage and scrub every inch of the cage, including the walls, floor and ceiling. Your ferret will appreciate a clean home environment and you will keep him free from disease and infection.
While these may seem like a lot of tasks for your ferret, they are absolutely essential. Your ferret is a living animal and requires clean and sanitary conditions in order to remain happy and healthy. Investing the time and energy to keep your ferret’s supplies clean will lead to a greater relationship with your ferret and a more rewarding ferret experience.
Remember To Keep Your Ferret Cool
In the wild, ferrets live in burrows. These burrows are built into the earth, shaded from the sun and protected from the elements. However, in a domestic setting, ferrets usually live in crates or cages, very far removed from their natural burrow home.
While most house ferrets are perfectly content in their above ground abodes, the summer months or hot climates can present challenges to the ferret’s well being. Without a cool, dark burrow, ferrets may be terribly uncomfortable and may even become ill with heat stroke. It is crucial to keep your ferret cool and comfortable in hot weather.
First and foremost, place your ferret’s cage in the coolest area of your home in the hot summer months. Often times, a basement is actually ideal for the pet ferret. However, do not simply stick your ferret into a dark, unfinished basement all by himself. It is best to accommodate another area of your home to suit your ferret where you can keep an eye on him.
Avoid placing your ferret in line of direct sunlight. If you have a darker room in your home, keep him in that room. Likewise, you can always get blinds or curtains to keep the sunlight from overheating your ferret. Remember that as seasons change, the sunlight changes. While one area of your home may be shady in the winter, it may get direct sunlight in the middle of summer. Pay attention to the sunlight and how it hits your ferret’s cage.
If you have air conditioning, keep it running in the summer time, especially if you live in a hot and humid environment. Even if you do not have central air, consider investing in a window air conditioner for your ferret’s room of the home. While it may cost extra money, your ferret’s health is most definitely worth the investment. Do not freeze your ferret with the air conditioner, but be sure he is comfortable.
Lastly, always maintain regular health check-ups to stay on top of any conditions that may be caused or worsened by the summer heat. Additionally, be sure to keep up a regular grooming schedule to remove loose hair and debris from your ferret’s coat that adds extra weight and insulation in the hot weather.
Carol is a head content developer for ultimatepethub.com and mother of 2 adorable chocolate labs(and one child). Growing up on a farm, she has handled all kinds of animals and pets. When Carol isn’t taking her two labs to the park, you can find her researching products and topics to keep you updated with the latest info for your pets!