Taking any new pet into your home is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. One great thing any prospective pet owner can do is research the animal they’re interested in adopting. If you’re considering adopting a ferret, this guide will give you a great overview of exactly what you can expect.

What Is a Ferret?

Ferrets are animals that belong to the same family as the weasel and weigh between two and four pounds. The natural ferret lifespan is seven to ten years. Ferrets have been domesticated for almost 3,000 years, though some ferrets cannot be kept as pets. The black footed ferret, also known as the American polecat, is listed as endangered because of the small population size. Because of this, it is illegal to keep this type of ferret as a pet.

Are Ferrets Good Pets?

a small cute black ferret

Pet ownership is at an all-time high all over the world, with ferrets being the third most common uncaged pet Americans own. As long as you have the time and energy to provide, ferrets can make excellent pets. While they do require a lot of care and attention, you will be repaid with all the love any animal can offer. Ferrets are also known for their funny antics, which will have you laughing and delighted in no time.

Remember that any animal is a commitment of time, a ferret living nearly as long as a dog. You can expect this pet to live around ten years, a lot longer than a goldfish. On top of time and commitment, your ferret will also need some things to live comfortably in your home.

Most ferret owners have some type of cage set-up, where their pet can be kept when it is not out to play. Even ferret owners that allow their pets to roam the house have some sort of cage for their furry friend, a safe space they can escape to at any time. You should provide your ferret with a litter box as well, either within the cage or outside.

It is also very important to get your ferret spayed or neutered before they reach sexual maturity. Altering, along with de-scenting, will allow your ferret to be healthier and live longer, as well as be a better companion. In most cases, ferrets will already be altered upon adoption.

Pros and Cons of Having a Pet Ferret

Pros of Owning Ferrets as Pets

a yawning ferret

  • Are okay with being kept inside a cage the majority of the day.
  • Easy to feed and clean up after.
  • Goofy and entertaining when interacting.
  • Will love and bond with their owners.
  • Extremely playful and cuddly, they even work as good pets for children.

Cons of Owning Ferrets as Pets

a curious ferret under a blue material

  • Can have a strong odor of musk, which can require regular cage cleaning and baths.
  • Due to curiosity, ferrets will often make a mess and even chew on electrical wires.
  • Need to be out of the cage at least four hours a day, during which they need constant supervision.
  • Require more time and attention that many owners don’t initially realize.
  • Require lots of grooming, including nail-clipping, ear-cleaning, and tooth-brushing.

What to Expect

Ferrets are known for their amazing temperaments, as they are also playful and loving. A well-handled ferret will be goofy, inquisitive and can even learn tricks. These pets are known for being great around children, as long as the children don’t startle them.

If you have kids and are considering adopting, make sure to teach them the proper ways to pet and play gently. Ferrets especially like to bond with their owners, so you should be prepared for a pet that wants to cuddle all the time.

You’ll want to interact with your pet at least two hours a day, which will, in turn, be your two hours of entertainment for the day. Ferrets love to play and will even use you to bounce off and have fun.

If you have more than one ferret, you’ll easily be entertained by their shenanigans all day. Because they are so intelligent, you can train ferrets simple commands and tricks, much like you would a dog. These pets are known for easily learning and adapting to new behaviors.

Moreover, they are pretty easy to care for, though it will take some time out of your day. You can buy ferret food at most pet stores, and feeding is as simple as filling up the food bowl. They can easily be trained to use a litter box so that clean-up will be fairly easy and painless.

The best thing about ferrets as pets is that they don’t mind going without human interaction for most of the day. They’ll be plenty happy entertaining themselves while you’re out of the house for the day.

The Unexpected

a ferret in a cage and someone's hands next to it

One thing most first-time owners aren’t aware of is the smell of ferrets. While not entirely unpleasant, they have a natural odor that is musky. To keep the smell to a minimum, clean out the cage at least two times a week.

Also, be sure to bathe your pet regularly, though be careful of over washing, as the skin and coat can become dry. The best shampoo to use is baby shampoo found in any store. Bathing can typically be done once per week without a ferret’s skin becoming over-dry, though some ferrets can go a month or more.

Ferrets also need regular grooming, something many first-time owners don’t realize. Without this grooming, they can become uncomfortable. Nails should be clipped regular, or they can get too long, much like a dog. Ears also need to be cleaned, as bacteria can build up, causing infection. You’ll also want to brush teeth regularly, to clean off any food or residue that can cause tooth decay.

Bottom Line

Deciding on your next future pet is a big decision. Learning about ferrets and what you can expect will give you a great idea if they’re the pet for you. If you know something else important about ferrets that wasn’t included in our article, let us know!

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