Other Livestock

5 Things Every Ferret Owner Should Know

Ferrets love to interact with humans and make great pets, but unfortunately, they are prone to some potentially deadly health issues.

Adrenal Disease

80% of all ferrets will develop adrenal disease or insulinoma. Since ferrets who are over three-years old are considered geriatric, owners should expect to have at least one surgery during that ferret’s lifetime.

Play Time

People often associate ferrets with rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice because of their small stature and furry bodies. That’s about the only things ferrets have in common with these other animals. Ferrets are not cage animals. They need to play around the house like a cat or dog. They need constant stimulation, enrichment & interaction. Ferret owners should have large cages for their ferrets for safety, since they cannot be supervised around the clock.

Blockages and Hairball Prevention

Laxatives made for ferrets should be given about twice a week, as they are needed to help prevent hairballs. Unlike cats, ferrets cannot throw up a hairball. Some ferrets are very fond of eating things they shouldn’t eat, such as rubber, cotton, cloth, etc. All those things can cause a potentially deadly blockage. Laxative helps but it cannot remove all blockages and sometimes surgery is necessary.

Diet

Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means they are strict meat-eaters. Anything with fruits, vegetables, or sugar should never be fed to ferrets. A diet free of sugars and low in carbohydrates may help prevent insulinoma. If you are unsure what to feed your ferret, ask your veterinarian.

Games

Most ferrets enjoy mock combat, chase, tug-o’-war, hide-and-seek, and so forth, with each other or with you. They like to explore new things and places, sniff new smells, dig and roll in the dirt. Most of them love human interaction and will gladly include you in their play if you make the time for them. It may take you a little while to learn what each ferret’s favorite games are, but soon you’ll be one of their best playmates. Ferrets also love to swipe things and drag them into the most inaccessible location possible so protect your keys and wallet. If your ferret jumps back and forth in front of you or tugs on your pants leg, he wants to play. An appropriate response would be to get down on your hands and knees and chase him around, or to dangle a washcloth in front of him and start a tugging game. If he dances around and starts bouncing off the walls, he’s having fun.

Here are a few more specific game suggestions. Note that many of these games need you to supervise (or join in!), to make sure the ferrets don’t get hurt or stuck or swallow anything they shouldn’t

Bowl Me Over

Buy one of those inexpensive plastic bouncing balls and cut a couple of ferret-sized holes in it. Use more than one hole, so there’s no chance the ball could roll onto its hole and trap a ferret inside to suffocate. Fill the ball with plastic bags or giftwrapping cellophane and watch the fun. Watch for chewing the materials, otherwise quite safe.

Suction Cup Chase

Use two large suction cups and stick one to each side of a room. Thread a washer or ring on a string, then tie the string from one suction cup to the other. Tie a string to the washer and the other end to a toy or waffle-type practice golf ball. They will go nuts trying to get the ball in a hidey-hole.

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