I’ve only had one ferret in my lifetime, but I would totally have more if I was able to. I adored that little gal and had a blast raising her. I took care of her mother and siblings for a friend who went on vacation and was offered the pick of the litter when my friend came back. Of course, I picked the runt of the bunch, like always. I learned quite a few things about ferrets before taking on the ferret-sitting job. Here are just 7 tips on caring for ferrets that I thought I’d share with you.
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Like all pets, ferrets need their yearly visit to the vet. Some people find a ferret’s smell to be offensive enough to look into de-scenting. Supposedly spaying or neutering a ferret will cause this odor to be less potent, as will de-scenting. My ferret was both spayed and de-scented, but she was still just as smelly as before. A regular bath was the only way to lessen this odor. Even if you aren’t getting your ferret altered in any way, taking him to the vet for a check-up is highly recommended.
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Most ferret food consists of hard pellets, which is necessary for keeping tartar from building up on their teeth. High quality kitten food can also be used, if your ferret turns his nose up at the ferret food. My ferret preferred kitten food over the smelly ferret pellets sold in pet stores. As long as there is at least 32 percent protein, 18 percent fat, and taurine included in the kitten food, then it has the necessary ingredients for keeping your ferret healthy.
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Light-weighted food and water containers aren’t very useful, since ferrets tend to knock them over constantly. I’ve also read that using a water bowl for ferrets is better, since water bottles can damage their teeth and don’t enable them to get an adequate supply of water daily. My ferret was raised using a water bottle and she lived to be 8 years old, which is the top age most ferrets reach. A heavy water bowl will allow your ferret to get plenty to drink without working hard for it, but be prepared for lots of mess. They like to wash their face from time to time and end up getting more water on the floor of the cage than on their face. I used to let my ferret play in a shallow dish of water in the bathtub. This gave her some play time in the water, but kept her cage much drier.
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Did you ever make cardboard houses when you were little? Ferrets love these! One of their favorite pastimes is tunneling. Use wide cardboard tubes for mailing posters, empty oatmeal containers, blankets, towels, or anything that might be able to be made into a tunnel. Make sure the ferret is safe from areas with high traffic and isn’t able to get stuck behind anything. Also, look around the room for any shelves he might be able to reach and fall off of. You’d be surprised where a ferret will end up!
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A ferret cage needs to be large enough that the ferret can run about when he must be confined. It’s difficult to make a ferret stay in his cage all the time and can actually cause him to become unhappy. Ferrets are curious, playful, and love to run around wide open spaces. The cage should be for sleeping, eating, and using the litter box. If you start to notice your ferret biting the bars of his cage or rattling them, then this is a good sign he wants out. My ferret learned how to open her cage on her own and I would come home to a fuzzy lump of balled-up ferret under my bed covers.
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Training a ferret to use a litter box is almost easier than a puppy, in my opinion. It’s best to make sure the ferret has a well-established location before letting him out of his cage all the time. Ferrets need to relieve themselves right after waking up. Once this is out of the way, letting the ferret run around for short periods of time might be a good idea. When you know for sure that he’s going back to the litter area for his bathroom needs, then he can be a bit freer with his coming and going.
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I never had a problem with my ferret not wanting to use her litter box. She didn’t make messes and would climb back in her cage to relieve herself. Thankfully ferrets like to use the same spot for their latrine area and will go to this spot no matter how dirty it is. However, the stench can be nearly unbearable if not cleaned regularly.
Some people can’t get past the musky odor ferrets have or their weasel-like appearance. I personally find it extremely easy to look beyond their smell and enjoy their fun-loving and inquisitive character. Plus, I think weasels are cute too! If you are thinking of getting a ferret or have recently acquired one, then be sure to do some additional reading up on them. The more informed you are, the better prepared you will be to provide a loving and exciting life for your ferret. What has been your experience with ferrets? Do you have any other tips a new ferret owner might find useful?
Top Photo Credit: the internerd
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