Gawler Veterinary Services (Willaston)

08 8522 2055

Ferret Care

Ferrets can make great pets - they are fun, inquisitive, playful, and enjoy interacting you.  They are intelligent, can be trained, and have great personalities.  Since they are most active at dawn and dusk, they will also work well for people who work during the day.

Housing:

Ferrets need good housing to keep them safe and entertained when they cannot be out with you in the house.  Good ferret cages, made with mesh walls, will have a couple of levels for ferrets to climb around in, and no holes through which an inquisitive ferret could squeeze.  Hammocks are great for ferrets to snooze in, and also include tubes or blankets for them to tunnel through.  And feel free to re-arrange and redecorate their house - ferrets are easily bored, so will enjoy exploring a new place again.  Always cover the floor to protect their feet from infections and trauma to the pads.  Ferrets also need time for exercise outside of their cage, so ferret-proof your house before releasing them - no exposed cords they could chew, lock any cupboards or drawers you don't want them to explore, and cover any small holes or air ducts they could reach.  It is surprising how small a hole they can squeeze through!

Ferrets can easily be trained to use a litter box, but generally need a box in each room that they have access to.  They also enjoy other training for treats, and playing with you, but be aware that they do explore by nipping, so you will need to train away from the nipping behaviour.  Rubber toys, including dog toys, are good to keep ferrets entertained, but change the toys around each day so they don't get bored.

Ferrets can also be harness-trained - a great way to give your ferret exercise by taking them on walks around the neighbourhood securely.  They love to explore any new surroundings and have little adventures.

Feeding:

Ferrets are carnivores, so need to be fed primarily meat, a good-quality ferret diet with high protein and low carbohydrates, or a good-quality dry kitten food.  You can give raw meaty bones as a treat occasionally to keep their teeth clean.  It is also worth giving them a small treat each day of some soft food, such as canned kitten food or baby food, so that if your ferret is sick and not eating their normal food, you can at least encourage them to take some nutrition in a soft food.

Veterinary Care:

Ferrets need to be vaccinated for distemper, a virus that is fatal for ferrets.  This is a yearly vaccination, and your ferret will also be given a full health check at each visit.  There are a few problems that are particularly common in ferrets, so these will be looked for at each health check.

Ferrets are one of the few animals that can catch your human flus and colds, so don't be surprised if your ferrets are sneezing and unwell when you are also under the weather.  They can also pick up other diseases, such as ringworm and mange, from other animals.

It is also important to desex your ferrets.  Female ferrets will come on heat and remain on heat until they are mated - if they are not bred, their oestrogen levels will build up until other problems develop that can be fatal!  So all females not used for breeding must be desexed.  Desexing males is also important, and can help reduce the musty smell that they develop once they are adults.  Many people used to think ferrets needed to have scent glands removed in order to reduce their smell, but we now know that this does little for the smell - desexing does more to reduce the smell and is a much safer operation for your ferret.