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How to look after a Ferret | Kellyville Pets

   Download Ferret PDF care guide View Puppies Available View all small animal care guides here 

This comprehensive care guide will show you how to look after a Ferret in 3 easy steps

Fast Facts:

How long will my Ferret live? They can live for 6-9 years

How big will it grow? 30-60cm

What size of enclosure is recommended for Ferrets? A multi-level small gauge wire enclosure

What does a Ferret eat? High premium kitten food and meat

Ferret Housing

Small gauge wire enclosures with several levels inside provide the best home for your ferret as they allow good air circulation, are easy to clean and allow your ferret to see and be part of their surroundings. Whether it is an indoor cage or an outside aviary, your enclosure needs to have a litter tray, hammocks and/or beds, a ceramic food bowl, a water bottle and plenty of toys.

The litter tray should be placed away from food and bedding and filled with a dust free litter which needs to be changed daily. Ferrets sleep for up to 18 hours a day on average so a comfortable sleeping area is a must. Ferret hammocks make cosy beds as ferrets like to hide while sleeping.

Ferret Care

Hammocks and toys need to be washed weekly and the whole cage should be cleaned thoroughly once a week with a small animal safe disinfectant. Ferrets are extremely susceptible to heat fluctuations, so frozen water bottles in their cage and even a cool bath can help combat this problem.

Ferrets are carnivorous and require a diet that is high in protein. They should be fed a specially formulated diet for ferrets, or high premium kitten food can be used. Dry food is preferable for healthy teeth and gums, and should be put in a ceramic bowl that isn’t easy to tip over and should be available at all times. Raw minced meat can also be given in addition to their dry food. Raw chicken necks or wings are great for cleaning teeth so can be offered 1-2 times a week. Never feed dairy, chocolate, sweet biscuits, cooked bones, salt, or any hard vegetables that could cause blockages. Fresh drinking water should be available at all times.

Ferrets should be given Advocate monthly to prevent fleas and heartworm, as well as worming them every three months with a cat all wormer paste. Vaccinations should be done against Distemper and Hepatitis at 6–8 weeks old, again at 14–16 weeks old and then yearly.

Ferrets can be bathed in lukewarm water with a ferret or kitten shampoo to help control their musky odour. Washing too often can cause dry skin and promote oil secretion, which will increase their smell. Ears should be gently cleaned weekly by wiping away any wax or dirt from the folds of the ears. Nails should be regularly trimmed.

Desexing is highly recommended for both males and females, and should be done at around 6 months of age, as both sexes will be adversely affected if they aren’t mated, with males experiencing weight loss and females becoming anaemic, which can sometimes be fatal.

Ferret Play

Ferrets play quite roughly with their litter mates as youngsters so tend to be a bit nippy with their new owners. This behaviour needs to be shown as unacceptable right from the very beginning. If your ferret nips you, simply give a quick, light flick on the nose with your finger and give them a stern “no” to help discourage this unwanted behaviour. Find a treat that your ferret loves like meat and always reward good behaviour. Always handle your ferret calmly and with confidence and be consistent and patient with training.

Toilet training is usually relatively easy as the use of a litter tray is imprinted on them by their mother. If, however, your ferret doesn’t know how to use a litter tray, simply pick up their “accidents” and place them in the litter tray. Even when you change the litter, leave a little faecal matter in it to encourage them back.

Ferrets can become friends with cats and dogs if introduced at a young age. A harness is the best way to ensure ferrets are safe while out of their enclosure as they are inquisitive and will try to get into the smallest of hiding places.

Did You Know?

Ferrets are thought to be descended from the European Polecat, and closely related to the Skunk, Otter, Mink, and Badger. A female ferret is called a “Jill” and a male ferret is called a “Hob”. Young ferrets are called “Kits” or “Kittens”.

Ferrets can come in a variety of colours from the more common albino and sable, to black eyed white, chocolate, silver mitt, butterscotch and cinnamon.

We have created a Shopping list to show what you need to look after Ferrets:

  • Multi level, small gauge wire enclosure
  • Igloo hide
  • Litter tray
  • Paper pellet litter
  • Bedding substrate
  • Hammock
  • Rope toys
  • Ladders
  • Specially formulated ferret pellets
  • High premium kitten food
  • All wormer paste
  • Advocate
  • Shampoo
  • Small animal safe disinfectant
  • Food bowl
  • Water bottle
  • Small animal ear cleaner
  • Nail clippers
  • Meaty treats
  • Harness

Common health issues in Ferrets

Heat Stress: Ferrets can easily become overwhelmed by excessive temperatures. It is best to house them in a cool, sheltered area out of direct sunlight and provide them with frozen water bottles and cool baths through summer.

Hypoglycaemia: A drop in glucose levels which can result in a severe decrease in energy, sometimes to the point of loss of consciousness.

Anaemia: If females that haven’t been desexed are left in season, she will become anaemic, as high levels of oestrogen will stop the bone marrow producing red blood cells, which can prove fatal.

Red flags

Is your Ferret showing any of the signs of disease or illness? If yes, please contact your vet.

  • Lethargy
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Hunched posture
  • Dull coat or eyes
  • Laboured breathing
  • Excessive weight loss

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CARE GUIDE © Copyright 2016 Kellyville Pets - All information found in this care guide is based upon our own experience. The information provided is not the only information available. In any medical situations,  you should always consult your vet, including questions regarding your pet's diet.