Ferret Care Discussions from DDDFRJump to a topic:
- kitten on speed! (they can be a lot to deal with)
- Ferrets have a short life compared to dogs or cats (~6-9 years) with high medical bills (start saving!)
- litter box hit rate rarely approaches 100%
- they require more care than a cat
- having a ferret requires a lot of ferret-proofing of the house - it's like having a toddler that can fit through a 2 inch hole (kits can fit through a 1 inch hole). They jump, they climb, they destroy, they eat stuff that a vet has to go in and remove.
- they play with their teeth, and they can be rough. They know they have tough skin. they don't know that you don't!
- they have a strong odour
- can't find your keys? A ferret will hinder, not help
- kitten on speed! (they stay playful throughout their lives)
- they are affectionate and can form strong bonds with humans and animals
- they require less care than a dog (if you don't count ferret-proofing)
- they have a lovely smell - ferret owners don't pay for musk cologne
- they don't need a lot of room - excellent apartment pets (but are not caged pets)
- they're small and easy to take along (or even sneak in - see FFZs)
- Sleep cycle - ferrets sleep up to 20 hours a day, although some sleep less than that. They are crepuscular, but will happily match their human's schedule
- When very excited, ferrets will war dance, bouncing around like crazy with their mouths open. Their tail may look like a bottle brush. This can look aggressive, but it's just the ferret having a lot of fun
- Ferrets sleep very deeply, sometimes to the point of appearing dead even with handled. This is called DFS (Dead Ferret Syndrome) or SND (Sleeping, Not Dead). Kits and deaf ferrets tend to do this more often. Test if the ferret is alive with some ferretone under the nose, or hold up to your ear and listen for a heart beat
They are obligate carnivores, and require a meat-based diet ideally with no carbohydrates. If they are fed kibble, it should be a high quality kibble with as much meat protein as possible. They have a high metabolism and should generally have access to food at all times. Meat based treats are recommended.
Ferrets are intelligent, as carnivores they are capable of problem solving and will get bored without stimulation. They love new experiences, but will quickly get bored with just about anything.
Some examples of ways to keep ferrets entertained:
- exploring new places - ferrets live to explore, and will often choose exploring over treats
- play with them
- digging box - ferrets love to tunnel
- scented toys - ferrets have an excellent sense of smell and are very interested in new scents - the nastier the better (paper take-out bags, raccoon urine, etc)!
- Toys to stash
- Some ferrets love to play with balls
- Things to knock down, knock over, dig up, or just generally destroy
- Dook! This is a happy, excited noise
- Hiss! This mean the ferret is really annoyed.
- Bark! Usually when surprised or scared
- Scream! This only happens when they're in pain, scared, or fighting
- Crash! This means the ferret has knocked something over (probably something valuable)
- Common Illnesses - Adrenal, Lymphoma, Insulinoma
- Communicable Diseases - Aleutian Disease, Epizootic Catarrhal
- Enteritis (ECE)
- Vaccinations - Canine Distemper, Rabies
Do You Have Kids? Kids and FerretsSeroius concerns about children under 6 with ferrets in the home (even with adult supervision):
- Grasping/squeezing the ferret too hard (resulting in being bitten by the ferret or the ferret being harmed).
- Grasping and not letting go, and getting bitten by the ferret.
- Stomping on the ferret from excitement or from being mad because of being bit (resulting in broken bones, bruised body, death of ferret).
- Poking the eyes, nose, teeth of the ferret resulting in a possible nip to the child by the ferret.
- Biting the ferret (resulting in a possible bite due to the ferret trying to protect its body).
- Not realizing ferrets are under a blanket and stepping on them (the ferret's body is very fragile and bones are broken easily).
- Kicking at the ferret (resulting in broken bones of the ferret and a huge vet bill or the death of the ferret)
- Throwing the ferret (again resulting in broken bones or bruised body, or death of the ferret).
- Putting their face on or in the face of the ferret and getting nipped.
- Letting the ferret out of the cage with no supervision available.
- Hitting the ferret with a toy, or hand (resulting in broken bones, bruised body, or death).
- Dropping or sitting on the ferret.
- Getting nipped because the ferret thinks the child is playing with them and the adult misunderstands and punishes the ferret).
- Accidentally/on purpose slamming the ferret in a door.
- Dropping a book, toy, another animal on the ferret.
- Trying to get the ferret to swim in the toilet, bathtub (resulting in possible drowning).
- The ferret out of fear, "bites" and doesn't let go, and the adults hit, pull, whatever to get the ferret to release their teeth from child, causing harm to both child and ferret).
- Children "ganging up" on the ferret and causing stress and fear and possibly resulting in all getting hurt, or death of the ferret.
- Angry parents because the ferret bit the child and they punish the ferret by hitting or kicking the ferret, or putting it in the cage and not letting it out for an indefinite period of time, causing emotional and physical harm to the ferret.
When to Take Your Ferret to the Vet
- If your ferret stops eating or drinking for more than a day.
- If your ferret's stools are small, oddly-shaped, or have an unusual appearance. If your ferret has completely stopped passing stools (14-20 hours since last movement), or seems to be straining and unable to pass stools, see a vet immediately as this is a sign of an intestinal blockage.
- If your ferret is lethargic, seems depressed, doesn't seem to be as active/playful as usual.
- Hair loss should always be checked, but if your ferret is losing his or her hair in a pattern beginning from the base of the tail up over the hind end, or on the top of the head, or seems to be balding anywhere other than the tip of the tail, this is a very serious sign of adrenal disease. In female ferrets this may be accompanied by a swollen vulva, in which case surgery should be considered immediately.
- Weakness in the hind legs, difficulty walking, or if your ferret is staring off into space frequently.
- Any rapid weight loss or weight gain should be checked by a vet.
- Vomiting that has been ongoing for more than a few hours, or any vomiting that seems to cause your ferret pain or discomfort.
- If your ferret has diarrhea you should closely monitor his/her behavior for a day and check for improvement; during this time you must keep your ferret hydrated with lots of water and Pedialyte (the kind for children). If the diarrhea persists for more than a day or so it must be checked.
- Dehydration is very serious in ferrets. If you suspect any kind of illness in your ferret, check for dehydration. Do so by pulling the skin on the back of the neck up, and then letting it go. If the skin quickly returns to its normal position, your ferret is not dehydrated. The longer it takes for your ferret's skin to return to place, the more dehydrated he is. Skin that stands taut and does not go down is extremely serious and must be addressed immediately.
- Again, ANY other behavior that is uncommon or unusual for your ferret should be checked by your veterinarian. Period.
Recipe for "Duck Soup" (or, as we call it, "Dook Soup")Ferrets who are ill or having problems often have trouble eating. And ferrets who have blood sugar problems (such as those caused by insulinomas) need to be given regular snacks throughout the day. It's often recommended to make a soft food for these purposes. This is our recipe for "Duck Soup" to feed to ferrets who need it, and most ferrets really like it.
- 1 or 2 chicken breasts, cooked until tender
- 1 cup of Kibble (soaked in boiling hot water until soft)
- 1 Tbsp ferretone & 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/4 tube of Nutrical or Ferretvite
HOW TO SERVE: Take a teaspoonful or tablespoon out and place in container. Add warm water until it makes a "soupy broth". Then serve warm.