Ferrets are animals which can divide even the biggest pet fans. Some people base their opinions on rumours and hearsay, assuming that ferrets smell bad, bite regularly and generally make bad pets.
Still others, however, know people who have ferrets and understand what fantastic pets they can make when you follow some simple guidance.
Indeed, even people who “think” they dislike ferrets are often converted in a very short space of time when they come into contact with a well-mannered pet ferret.
The Benefits of Ferrets as Pets
The reality is that with some basic information ferrets can make fantastic pets; no wonder they’re one of the most popular pets in the USA, though as yet this popularity hasn’t yet made its way “across the pond”.
Let’s start off by talking about personalities. Ferrets are intelligent animals and each one tends to have a unique personality, just like dogs. This can make them very appealing as you will get to know your own pet’s unique quirks and build a strong relationship with it.
Generally speaking ferrets are highly inquisitive and active animals. This means that they’re always “on the go” exploring and running around. While this can take some getting used to if you’re used to more sedentary pets like rabbits it can make for a truly exciting pet.
Ferrets are naturally very playful and will spend much time engaging with their owner, and will also benefit from toys to play with.
The flipside of this activity is that you’ll want to house your ferrets in the biggest possible cage, and to allow them out for regular exercise. Some keepers actually keep ferrets as house pets, giving them free run of their home.
It is interesting to note that ferrets can actually be house-trained just like a cat, and will soon learn to use a litter tray.
Problems with Ferrets as Pets
There are three common problems often associated with keeping ferrets as pets. As you will see, however, there are possible solutions to each of these issues.
One of the biggest problems associated with ferrets is their over-powering musty smell. For ferrets kept outdoors this might not be such an issue, but if ferrets are brought into your home the smell can be quite strong. It can also infect your clothes, requiring you to change after handling your pet. These problems are particularly associated with males (hobs) though even females have some scent to them.
An unusual part of keeping ferrets as pets is that females can really suffer if they’re not mated. Quite simply when a female (jill) comes into season, she won’t come off season until she has been moulted.
While this might not initially sound like a major problem, the reality is that this continual season can lead to uterine problems such as “pyometra” and anaemia. In extreme cases this can result in the death of the ferret, so is clearly something that should be avoided.
Willingness to Bite
Ferrets are flighty animals with large teeth. This means that less-tame animals can tempt to nip their owners – something which can be painful and unpleasant.
Equally it is important to say that well cared-for ferrets very rarely if ever bite, and only then when they’re scared. It is therefore critical to get your ferrets used to handling as early as possible in their life, and to handle them regularly to maintain this tameness.
As you can see, there are some potentially significant problems when keeping ferrets as pets. However there are also some very effective solutions. The most important of these is neutering and spaying.
In reality any ferret kept as a pet should be neutered or spayed before it reaches sexual maturity – something which normally happens between 6 and 12 months of age. Doing so will significantly reduce the smell produced by both sexes, and well as prevent any problems with females not getting mated.
Lastly the process can also have a positive impact on your pet’s personality, making them far less aggressive and willing to bite.
This, combined with regular and gentle handling, can help to eliminate any major problems associated with ferrets as pets.
Indeed, a neutered ferret which has been regularly handled can be as enticing, friendly and playful as a kitten. Indeed, in evidence of this, as mentioned previously ferrets are one of the most popular pets of all in the USA.
If you or a family member are considering purchasing one or more ferrets rest assured that these can make fantastic pets with just a little forethought.