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Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. February 22, 2017
Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines

There is an old saying that says "curiosity killed the cat", and it could perfectly be applied to the ferret. In fact, ferrets are among the pets with the highest rate of accidental death: this is why we at AnimalWised have listed common situations that may be dangerous for pet ferrets.

In this article, you'll learn about caring for a ferret and we'll share some basic safety guidelines. Don't forget to vote and comment if you also have a ferret; we want to know your experiences!

You may also be interested in: Caring for a Goldfinch: Basic Guidelines

Find a specialized vet

A ferret, like any other pet, needs to see a competent veterinarian. It is best if you look for a vet that specializes in ferrets, so that they are used to the problems and conditions this species is prone to. It is very important to understand that you cannot have a ferret - or any other pet - without paying for basic veterinary services, and they're not cheap. Keep that in mind before adopting a ferret.

The veterinarian will provide the necessary vaccines, and they will also regulate any vitamin or nutritional deficiencies your ferret may suffer. It will also be essential to neuter the animal. If you want to know more about the health of ferrets, take a look at our article on ferrets as pets.

Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines - Find a specialized vet

Cleaning a ferret's cage

It is vital to keep your ferret's cage neat and tidy. This will help to prevent possible diseases for your pet, and also to keep your home from smelling like a zoo! Here you will find more tips to reduce a ferret's odor if that's something that worries you.

Use suitable cleaning tools that are specific to the care of your ferret. To clean the cage, you will need a scraper, a cloth, a sponge and gloves, which should be kept exclusively for the cleaning of the cage.

You must use unscented detergents to disinfect and remove odor. The frequency with which you clean the age will depend on the dirt that accumulates, but once a week is usual. It is very convenient to train the ferret to do its business in cat litter. It is not easy, but it is possible.

Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines - Cleaning a ferret's cage

Heat stroke in ferrets

During the summer, ferrets are prone to heat stroke. This is a serious illness and should be treated immediately. Take preventative measures to avoid heat stroke in the first place.

The ferret lacks the capacity of thermoregulation that other animals have. To protect your pet from heat stroke, you should keep it in a cool environment. A bottle with frozen water near its cage is a good option if you live in a hot climate. A damp cloth over their cage will also help to cool the cage down in periods of intense heat.

The water container from which your ferret drinks should always be full and fresh so that it can hydrate. During the summer, when it is very hot, you can spray your ferret with water.

Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines - Heat stroke in ferrets

A ferret's diet

The ferret is a carnivorous animal, so your pet's diet must be rich in animal protein. It should consume between 40% to 45% animal protein in its daily intake, while animal fat should make up between 15% to 20% of its diet. Fiber should make up about 4% of the intake in order to prevent digestive problems.

Vitamins are also important. Your veterinarian will supply them or will advise you on the best feed for your ferret. On the market you'll find specific quality feed for ferrets which should contain all of the required nutrients for your furry friend. Here you can learn more about what is the best diet for a pet ferret.

Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines - A ferret's diet

Do ferrets need a light cycle?

Ferrets need to rest in total darkness for 14 hours a day. This is due to their need to regenerate melatonin. This process is impossible with light.

For this reason, you should provide a compartment within the cage with a small hole wide enough for the ferret to pass through. If the cage is small, you should provide a little den in the corner of the cage where the ferret can rest in darkness. Serious health problems may arise if this light cycle is not respected.

Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines - Do ferrets need a light cycle?

Household safety tips for ferrets

Home security is a huge problem with ferrets. Bear in mind that a ferret is a mustelid, and these species are not easily afraid; in fact, they're a bit reckless. If we add to this a sense of curiosity, you can probably guess that ferrets are very prone to accidents.

Common accident sites for ferrets:

  • Balconies
  • Windows
  • Plugs
  • Pipelines
  • Potting soil (toxic on account of the fertilizer)
  • Drawers
  • Shelves
  • Electric cables
  • Folding chairs
  • Blankets
  • Quilts
  • Doors
  • All types of holes

These places cause many accidents, some of which can be fatal. If you look closely at the list, you'll see that they are the same risky areas to look out for when a baby starts to crawl.

Dangerous places for ferrets:

  • Washing machine: Whenever your put clothes in to wash, make sure that the ferret hasn't slinked in without you realizing.
  • Oven: You may open the oven to check on the food and suddenly take a phone call. In this short period of time, the ferret may try to climb inside for some nibbles, which will most likely be fatal. Put the ferret in its cage before opening the oven door.
  • Suitcase: You might be packing your suitcase for a business trip and leave it lying open for a moment as you quickly pop to the bathroom. You come back and finish packing, shutting the cage with the ferret inside. Put the ferret in the cage before packing.

This list could be endless, so we advise you to be aware of your ferrets whereabouts at all times, and put it in its cage when you will not be able to monitor it.

Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines - Household safety tips for ferrets

If you want to learn more about caring for ferrets, take a look at the following AnimalWised articles:

If you want to read similar articles to Caring for a Ferret: Basic Guidelines, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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