May 5 is National Ferret Day, and it got us thinking: what other animal can do tricks like a dog, use a litter box like a cat, but stay happily and conveniently contained in a cage? Yep, these little weasels (seriously, they’re members of the weasel family) are on their own level – and they require a special kind of caretaker to match their unique ways. In honor of National Ferret Day, here are a few quick tips if your next furry friend’s going to be a ferret.
- Time. As a general rule, ferrets live to be about 10, with the oldest ferret living to be 13. While a ferret’s home base will be a cage, they do require at least two hours of carefully monitored playtime outside their four walls daily. Which brings up our next important point…
- Ferret-Proofing. Ferrets are incredibly curious; they love to chew, dig, tunnel, and climb – and their small frame makes almost any hole or crevice fair game to explore. Our best advice is to designate a room or gated area in your home for playtime and make sure there aren’t any wires, air vents, or other dangers and escape routes within paws’ reach.
- Training. This can also be filed under ‘time,’ as ferrets do require the time to be trained and properly handled to ensure they grow into the fun, confident, and entertaining companion we know them to be. When excited, ferrets tend to nip – which can be a hard habit to break without scaring them out of trying to play. Consider a separate cage for brief ‘time outs’; the cage can be small and should only have water and a bathroom space (a.k.a. a no fun zone.) When they nip, put them in the cage for about three minutes – just enough time to get bored, but not enough time for them to forget it was playtime. Eventually, they will make the connection. Ferrets can also be trained to use a litter box, sit, shake, come to you, and roll over. (Hint: Just like with dogs, you’ll need lots of treats!)
- Cost. Just like other family pets, ferrets require food, shelter, regular vaccinations and a one-time de-sexing procedure if purchased intact. It’s important to know that ferrets are social animals that do best with a companion – so, if purchasing a pair, know that these costs will increase… but so will your pal’s quality of life.
It’s important to recognize that, because of their temperament, ferrets are not recommended for homes with small children. Older children, ages 7+, should be taught proper handling and behavior around ferrets to ensure they have a mutually enjoyable relationship.
If your pal of choice is a ferret, show us! You might see your ferrets on our Facebook page to honor the holiday.