What to buy for a ferret for first-time owners
Ferrets are cute and sociable pets who have high amounts of energy, which can mean they are a big responsibility. However, they are very intelligent and can be trained, but it is best to introduce them to a family with older children, as smaller children could accidentally injure them, leading to the ferret biting. If you’re buying your first ferret, our handy advice guide can help you to provide the best home for your ferret, whilst making sure they’re happy and healthy.
Your ferrets will sleep in a dark enclosure such as a wooden hut, where they can make a nest for sleeping. Towels and similar fabrics make good bedding but will need to be washed frequently, and the cage itself will need regular scrubbing.
Ferrets are naturally very picky eaters and require a carnivorous diet. However, ferrets will not eat fish or fish-based products, with some ferrets choosing to starve rather than eat it. Ferrets also have a high metabolism, which requires them to have a large amount of animal fat in their diet and avoid foods with high vegetable or grain matter which can cause your ferret to become unwell. When giving your ferret meat, make sure it is properly thawed. Like other pets, ferrets need a fresh supply of water.
Ferret cages are usually designed with two levels and a place to hang a cosy hammock. Your ferret needs several litter boxes: one for the cage and several for playtime outside the cage. The best litters to use are shredded paper and newspaper-based cat litters. Heavy ceramic or lock-on bowls are good dishes for ferrets. Your ferret may tip over the water bowl, however, so supply a sipper bottle as well, which can fasten onto the side of their cage.
From time to time, your ferret will need to visit the vet’s office. To transport your ferret safely, you’ll need a pet carrier with gaps small enough that your pet can’t worm his way through them. A leash and H-harness will also be useful, so you can walk your ferret and keep it active.
Ferrets are naturally clean animals and need a bowl of water in order to wash their faces in the same fashion as a cat. Baths should be kept to a minimum, as regular bathing strips the natural oils off their fur and they get a lot smellier with dry skin. If your ferret becomes dirty, it’s best to just give them a wipe with a soap-free baby wipe or just a warm damp towel. You can also let them swim around in some water.
When washing your ferret, use very gentle shampoos which don’t strip all the oils from their skin. Ferrets have sensitive eyes and ears, so be extra careful to stay clear of the face when you do need to bathe them. Ferret ears do get quite waxy, so cleaning on a regular basis with a gentle pet-friendly ear cleaner with some cotton wool is recommended. Like other small animals, regular nail clipping is required; a small pair of human nail clippers is a perfect size. Always read instructions first on how to clip your ferret's claws, if you're still not confident on doing it yourself, your local vet or grooming parlour can.
Ferrets love to play and will bounce back and forth to show they are having a great time and some even wag their tails. Like humans, they even make small giggling noises when they’re happy. Ferrets also like to wrestle and play-fight and tend to play rough, but they learn to be careful with humans if they hurt their owners when they nip. Firmly tell them no and they will soon learn. Ferret tunnels are also a great way for them to play and travel about their living space.
- Ferret-proofing your house is a must as they are very curious creatures.
- If you have young children, a ferret isn’t a good idea. Children aged 12 and up are more likely to take care of a ferret.
- Changing foods or flavours abruptly will make the ferret sick. As a result, it is a good idea to ensure your ferret experiences a mix of foods at an early age so as to accustom them to different diets.
- Ferrets can be trained to use a litter box, which needs to be in the same room where they play, as their digestive tract is very short.