Many people are now considering ferrets as pets. This animal is the third most popular pet in the United States according to the pet industry, despite the fact that it is illegal to own one in California, one of our most populous states.
You may be thinking of getting a ferret.
Just don’t make the mistake of assuming this curious, independent creature is like any other pet you’ve ever met.
The ferret is a small, long-bodied, low-slung creature closely related to weasels, skunks, wolverines, and badgers. Their slender bodies and thick, soft fur reveal their close relationship with the mink, while their intelligence, wit, and playfulness mark them as relatives of the otter. All these animals are carnivorous, and the ferret is no exception.
Since a ferret can live 7-9 years or even longer, you need to really understand what you’re getting yourself into before adopting one of these little animals as a house pet.
For the ferret’s well-being and yours, adopting a ferret should be a decision made after long and careful thought.
For example, you shouldn’t assume that the ferret is a good substitute for your young child’s hamster, as ferrets require a lot of attention, playtime, and affection. They are very social animals and cannot stay locked in their cage forever without companionship or companionship. If you can’t spend several hours a day playing and socializing with your ferret, you should consider a goldfish instead.
Ferrets are also much less forgiving than the small hamster or placid guinea pig, and will fight back if hurt by a small child. Any child under the age of 6 (and many older children) will not have the feeling or coordination to pick up a ferret without hurting it. These animals are not recommended for homes with young children for that reason.
Ferrets have sharp teeth and will use them for protection.
Ferrets should have a cage where they can sleep peacefully (18-20 hours a day), but they cannot stay in their cage all the time. When they go outside, they’ll act like a kitty on steroids, with an extra dose of curiosity and independence.
They love to play and if they have been properly socialized they will love to play with you. But this also means that they will find a lot of things to play with that you might prefer them to leave alone, and some items that they decide to chew or fight with can be dangerous for the animal.
That means close attention should be paid to ferret-proofing your home (before bringing your new pet home) to protect your pet and your possessions. If you were thinking that your new ferret would just stay in his cage all the time, you should reorganize your thinking or forget about the idea of keeping one of these animals as a pet.
And if you thought that they would stop being playful, as many cats do, you are wrong. However, they sleep for much of the day, so they are active for only a few hours, and are usually willing to schedule their play at a time that is convenient for their owners.
Unfortunately, many people get ferrets as pets without carefully considering the decision. As the ferret becomes more popular as a pet, many ferrets are abandoned at the local shelter or rescue organization or simply taken out into the field to starve when their owners tire of them. This is almost always certain death for the formerly loved pet ferret.
Wild members of the weasel family are highly efficient killers who learn to hunt from their mothers, but domesticated ferrets don’t have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to help them survive in the wild. When left outdoors, most ferrets will survive for only a few days before becoming food for a cat, coyote, or fox, or simply starving.
Unfortunately, many animal shelters will not accept a ferret that its owner no longer wants.
Since giving up any pet is emotionally traumatic for the owner and potentially fatal for the animal, the decision to adopt a ferret as a pet should only be made after careful study and consideration.