Would you like to adopt a ferret? This new pet (Exotic Pet) is the third most popular animal after the cat and the dog, especially in Europe. Here is all the useful information you need to know about your future little companion.
The origins of the ferret
The ferret is not a rodent but a carnivore, belonging to the mustelidae family, of the mustela genus (like ermines and minks).
Domesticated from the wild polecat, during the first millennium BC, we find its trace in the 4th century. During the Antiquity, Romans and Greeks used it for deratting or hunting rabbits in burrows.
Later, it was exploited for its fur. In the 20th century, it was also used as a laboratory animal, especially for virology research. Then, from the 70s, it gradually entered the homes to become a pet.
The character of the ferret
The ferret is very sociable and can be an excellent playmate for you or your dog/cat. With a gregarious temperament, they need their owner’s attention on a daily basis.
Curious and intelligent by nature, he appreciates being able to get out of his cage to explore one or more rooms in your home, or else he will die of boredom. However, it is better to keep him under supervision, because he is so agile that a domestic accident can happen quickly.
If you take him outside, make sure the garden is well fenced in, so that he doesn’t get lost, or put a harness on him when he goes for a walk.
You should keep in mind that ferrets are heavy sleepers. In fact, they sleep between 12 and 18 hours a day. During this lethargic state, his temperature drops from 39° to 37°. When he wakes up, he has to shake for a while to warm up again.
It can happen that the ferret bites, especially when it is young and playing. Good training will put an end to this.
The ferret’s physique
There are two main types of ferrets:
- the albino, without pigmentation, with white fur and red eyes;
- the polecat, with pigmentation, which comes in multiple colors and coat markings.
Twice a year, its short hair, semi-angora or angora, changes color during the moult. In case of fear or strong pain, it can give off an unpleasant smell with its anal glands.
As for its morphology, its body is about 60 cm long (tail included), with a triangular head, small round ears, short legs and a tail measuring between 10 and 15 cm. Females weigh up to 1 kilo and males up to 2 kilos. Their life expectancy varies between 5 and 10 years.
The ferret in everyday life
This small carnivore needs a daily intake of animal proteins and fats (no fiber or vegetable proteins, which it could not digest).
If you can’t give him small prey, such as poultry carcasses or mice, you can give him kibble adapted to his diet and age. Different brands are available in pet stores.
Hygiene and health
Ferrets groom themselves. So there’s no need to bathe him. However, it is necessary to brush its coat regularly, to make it shiny by eliminating dead hairs. Its claws and its teeth must be supervised. He relieves himself in one or more litter boxes, left within his reach.
Your ferret will be quite resistant, but should still be vaccinated against distemper (and rabies if he travels). He should also be dewormed every 6 months, have an up-to-date vaccination record and be chipped.
For the well-being of your pet, its cage must be spacious (at least 1 m long, 0.50 m wide and 0.50 m high). Prefer a cage with tight metal bars, to prevent him from hurting himself. Moreover, the Zolia MALO ferret and rodent cage provides an ideal and comfortable environment for your small pet.
Inside the cage, there is a litter box, a place for his food and water bottle, a comfortable resting area (hammock or shelter) and something to play with (tunnel, suspended ladder,…).
When you take your ferret out of its cage, you can place it in a playpen, so that it has more space while remaining safe.
Reproduction and sterilization
As soon as your ferret comes into heat, in the ninth month, it can reproduce. The gestation period is about 42 days, after which she gives birth to 8 ferrets, twice a year. These are weaned at 6 to 8 weeks.
In order to suppress the ferret’s heat and an overproduction of estrogen, which could cause anemia, it is preferable to spay her. It is better to opt for chemical sterilization, with an implant, which is less dangerous than surgical sterilization, which can cause adrenal disease.
For the male, the castration is not compulsory but attenuates the musky odors, amplified during the period of rut.
So, are you convinced by the qualities of this little animal? All you have to do is choose one!