Buying & equipment
Ferrets are very demanding animals. They are therefore usually kept by animal lovers who have already gained experience of domestic pets and are well aware that every species has its own specific needs.
Tips for buying ferrets
Before deciding on a ferret, you should arrange to speak with other ferret owners to benefit from their experience. You will learn, for example, that males and females not only differ in size, but that males also give off a stronger scent. Your vet will also be able to provide information about neutering your ferret, which is recommended in most cases. Potential ferret owners often have friends or acquaintances who already own these animals, in which case it is a good idea to call by and gain an initial impression of their lively behaviour.
Healthy ferrets can be purchased from a responsible breeder. You can obtain addresses from your vet, ferret association, online or your local pet shop. Animal shelters and private rescue centres also often have ferrets looking for a loving new home. You should also take into consideration that ferrets should not be kept alone and require at least one companion of their own kind.
Signs of a healthy ferret:
- Lively and animated behaviour
- A thick, clean coat
- Dry, warm nose (free of discharge or mucous)
- Clear eyes
- Clean ears
- A clean behind
Checklist for initial equipment
To really feel at home, ferrets need certain accessories in addition to food:
- A large and spacious ferret cage. You could use an aviary, for example
- Accessories suitable for a ferret, such as tunnels and shelters
- Food bowls (e.g. stainless steel) and a drinking bowl
- A sleeping box with nesting material, e.g. cotton rags
- A cat litter tray with an edge that curves inwards
- Litter that absorbs odour, e.g. Compact ultra for ferrets or cat litter from Vitakraft
- Litter shovel for removing litter containing urine and waste
- Toys to keep your ferret occupied, e.g. a small ball
- Carrier for when visiting the vet
- Main food for daily nutritional requirements, e.g. Vitakraft Menu
Caring for your pet
Creating the right living conditions for your ferret is the key requirement for ensuring a healthy and happy life. In addition to a sufficiently large cage and a suitable diet, ferrets also require company of their own kind, plenty of exercise and a range of toys and activities to keep them occupied.
Grooming and cleaning
Ferrets are very clean animals and will clean themselves thoroughly several times each day. You can provide a helping hand during the moulting season by brushing your ferrets on a regular basis.
Many ferrets need to have their claws clipped on occasion. Ask a vet or breeder to show you how to do this properly as cutting the claws back too far can damage blood vessels.
Ferret cage and toilet
Remove dirty litter from your ferret litter tray on a daily basis and top it up with fresh litter. Rinse out and disinfect the toilet on a weekly basis. You should also clean out the cage itself every week and wash it using hot water. Since ferrets have sensitive noses, you should not use strong household detergents.
The perfect diet
Ferrets are domesticated descendants of the European polecat. Like the polecat, ferrets are still hunters by nature. Their bodies are therefore designed to process meat and high-quality, easily digested proteins.
Ferrets have a particularly short intestine and therefore digest food quickly. As a result, their food needs to be of high quality and easily digestible. Any food components that are difficult to digest will simply leave their bodies without being absorbed.
The short digestion time and fast metabolism of ferrets mean they should never be allowed to go hungry and need feeding several times each day. The best option is to ensure your ferrets have a sufficient amount of Menu dry food available at all times.
A number of cat treats are also ideal for ferrets, such as Soft-Snacks made from 96% pure meat with natural vitamin B complex.
- Ferrets needs to eat several meals at different times of the day
- Always serve wet food at room temperature
- Measure out just enough wet food in each portion to prevent any being left over
- Remove perishable food leftovers
- Wash out bowls after each meal
- A sufficient amount of dry food can be left in the cage at all times
- Provide fresh water at all times
Behaviour & familiarisation
New members of your family
To collect a ferret from the breeder, the best option is a secure pet carrier with straw and a small sheet as padding.
Once your new pets have arrived home and have been placed in the cage you set up in advance, you should leave them alone for a while to get used to their new surroundings in peace. Depending on the ferrets' behaviour, you will need to wait between a few hours and a day before starting to initiate contact or letting them out for their first run. The ideal location for a run around is a room that is not heavily furnished and that does not offer too many hiding places. You should always ensure that a cat litter tray is nearby.
Making friends with your ferrets
Most ferrets are inquisitive animals and not at all timid. You can therefore initiate contact quickly. With the right treats and a few games, you you will soon be able to strike up a firm friendship.