Ferret Care Basics

If you’re in search of an animal companion that’s both adorable and full of energy, a ferret might be just what you need. Playful, mischievous and very, very cute, ferrets can be quite affectionate. Many also enjoy cuddling! Discover the fascinating world of ferret ownership as a local Lexington, KY vet shares their insights.

What Common Illnesses Affect Ferrets?

Ferrets are susceptible to various medical problems, such as influenza, distemper, parasites, adrenal disease, oral ulcers, lymphoma, and ear mites. You’ll need to take your tiny pal to the vet regularly. At home, watch for signs of sickness. These include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Weakness
  • Coughing
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble walking
  • Itching
  • Tremor
  • Patchy fur
  • Skin lesions/irritation.

Contact your vet immediately if you spot any of these. 

What Should I Know Before Adopting a Ferret?

Ferrets  are without a doubt both super cute and entertaining. However, these adorable little troublemakers will keep you on your toes.

They Can Escape Easily

One of ferrets’ well-known talents is escaping. They can escape through incredibly small openings, including shower drains! They are also able to access tight spaces under beds and couches.

They Require Ample Free Time

Your small companions need to have a spacious and cozy cage, but they will also require plenty of time outside of their enclosure. You’ll need to provide lots of fun toys, and just spend time with your little buddy every day. 

They Need Friends

Ferrets are quite sociable, and tend to get lonely without any pals. We generally recommend having at least two. 

They Like To Steal Things

Ferrets have a reputation for being quite adept at acquiring things that don’t belong to them. This can be both incredibly entertaining and incredibly exasperating. In fact, thieves’ rings used to train them to pick pockets! 

In other words, these adorable little guys have, well, sticky fingers.

They Hoard Stuff

Your cute pet has a strong tendency to hoard things. They will readily seize any item within their grasp and make off with it. That’s another reason it’s so crucial to petproof your home. It would also be helpful to closely observe your pet’s behavior and locate their preferred hiding spots. (Hint: It might not be in their cage.) If something goes missing, that’s the first place you should check.

They Nip Sometimes

Ferrets do bite sometimes, either when they’re playing or when they feel scared. It’s crucial to understand that this isn’t necessarily indicative of aggression. Ferret kits also engage in playfully biting and roughhousing with one another. However, their dense fur shields them from their boisterous housemates’ teeth. Our skin, on the other hand, is defenseless against those teeth. If you have young children, you might want to consider that.

Ferret-Proofing Is A Must

It is essential to ensure that your space is secure for your ferret. You’ll have to take all the necessary precautions to make your home child-safe, and then add a few extra steps. Just like with kids—as well as with cats and dogs–it’s important to keep any potential choking, strangling, or poisoning hazards out of their reach. Ferrets can also be quite mischievous, often snatching items and stashing them away for future use.

Here is a list of things to address:

  • Soaps and shampoos
  • Chemicals
  • Household products, such as cleaning agents, pesticides, and such
  • Medication
  • Plastic bags and ties
  • Small things
  • Money
  • Wallets
  • Phones
  • Keys
  • Rubber items
  • Anything small, sharp, or pointy
  • Personal items
  • Shiny things

Toxic plants are another concern. There are several plants that can be harmful if ingested. These include aloe vera, amaryllis, azalea, baby’s breath, begonia, carnation, castor bean, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, daffodil, gladiola, hosta, ivy, all lily species, milkweed, morning glory, oleander, poinsettia, pothos, sago palm, tomato plants, tulips, narcissus, rhododendron, and yew. 

It’s important to get down on the floor and see things from your pet’s perspective. It’s important to be aware that ferrets have a knack for squeezing into or under objects such as futons, recliners, and even couches. You’ll need to be extremely attentive.

Ask your vet for more information. 

Should You Bathe A Ferret?

Ferrets generally do not require regular baths, unless your furry friend happens to get something spilled on them. Ferrets have differing opinions on whether baths are fun or not.  

When bathing your ferret, it’s important to use a gentle soap. It would be best to get one specifically designed for ferrets. Another option is to try baby shampoo. Your pet should be able to comfortably walk in the water while keeping their head above the surface.

You should only bathe your ferret only every few months, if at all. It’s worth mentioning that some individuals believe that giving ferrets baths can help minimize their musky odor. That’s actually not true. In fact, if you give your furry friend too many baths, it could potentially dry out your ferret’s skin and lead to problems.

Regardless of your choice to bathe your pet or not, it is important to remember that they will still require regular nail trims and ear cleaning. Consult your Lexington, KY veterinarian for further details.

What Do You Feed A Ferret?

It is crucial to thoroughly consider this aspect before deciding to adopt a ferret. Ferrets require a specialized diet to meet their unique nutritional requirements.

Here are a few things to consider about ferret diets:

  • In the wild, they exclusively consume meat, so their diets should include significant amounts of protein and fat while being low in fiber and carbohydrates.
  • You’ll need to seek out a suitable ferret food. This should consist of approximately 40 percent protein and a minimum of 20 percent fat. Carbs and fibers should ideally make up less than five percent of your pet’s diet.
  • You must know what is unsafe for your pet, just like you would for any other. Some foods that are beneficial for humans can have harmful effects on your pet’s health. That includes sweets, dairy products, raisins, fruits, and vegetables, dark chocolate, grapes, avocado, corn, and natural xylitol.
  • Convenience may be an issue. You won’t be able to get food for your pet at any market or convenience store like you can for a cat or dog.
  • Ferrets can become fixated on a particular food, and may even ignore other options. This might seem adorable, but it’s actually quite risky. If your pet’s preferred brand is ever canceled, you may have trouble getting him to eat anything else.
  • Your furry friend could very well develop a liking for duck soup. Contrary to its name, this dish does not necessarily include duck. There are recipes available online. 

Consult your Lexington, KY veterinarian for personalized guidance, including recommendations on appropriate portion sizes, suitable treats, and a list of foods to avoid.

Will Ferrets Use A Litterbox?

Absolutely! This is certainly one of the advantages of picking a ferret as your pet. However, there is no guarantee that they will. It’s ideal to begin at a young age. Be sure to ask your vet for training tips. 

Make An Appointment With Your Lexington, KY Animal Clinic

Do you need a great exotic vet? Is your ferret due for an exam? Contact us, your Lexington, KY pet hospital, anytime!

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