Why Ferrets Are the Happiest Pets

Gable has owned ferrets, and their lively antics always improved her mood. She enjoys sharing her experience with these fun and funny pets.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy: Ferrets Will Make You Smile

I have owned a number of ferrets, and even when I was in the worst mood, releasing one of these furry slinkies could make me smile. A ferret's whole life seems dedicated to either sleeping like the dead for 20 hours a day or playing joyfully with anything that moves, crinkles, or can be snatched up in their teeth.

Their happiness is contagious to everyone, from the small child to the elderly great-grandparent. I dare you not to smile!

A Short History Lesson

The origins of the domesticated ferrets are unclear, though it is believed they are descendants of either the European or Steppe polecat. DNA analysis has determined that ferrets were domesticated about 2500 years ago.

The name "ferret" comes from the Latin word "furritis" and means "little thief".When you discover their penchant for stealing and hiding all sorts of objects, you'll realize it is the perfect name.

First Uses of Ferrets

Humans first use of ferrets appears to be for hunting rabbits and other rodents. Their slim size and curious temperament were perfect for flushing quarry from its hiding places.

Ferrets Today

Ferrets are still used in certain areas of the world for hunting and controlling pest populations. They are also used in medical research. However, the main purpose of ferrets today is as a household pet. If you would like to own one, check your local, state, or country's laws and regulations.

Sable Ferret

Ferret Colors

  • Albino: Pink nose and eyes, white fur.
  • Black: Black eyes, nose and fur.
  • Chocolate: Brown eyes, pink or tan nose, milk chocolate fur.
  • Cinnamon: Brown eyes, pink or beige nose, reddish brown coat.
  • Dark-eyed white: Black eyes, pink nose, white fur.
  • Sable: Brown eyes, brown nose, and dark chocolate brown coat. This coloring is most similar to its wild ancestors.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Ferret

  • In the United States, most ferrets are neutered or spayed before being sold to the public. This practice ensures a happier, healthier, more docile pet. Ferrets in the U.S. are also de-scented by removal of their scent-producing anal glands. They will still have a distinct odor, which can be lessened by bathing and frequent bedding changes.
  • Though ferrets sleep up to 18 hours a day, they still need room to exercise. Ensure they have adequate room in their cage to move around and play.
  • Ferrets have short digestive tracts, and they need to eat and defecate frequently.
  • Ferrets are diggers. Do not let them out unsupervised or your carpeting or furniture may be clawed when your ferret attempts to go under a door or couch.

Helpful Ferret Hints

  • The ferrets I had loved their giggle ball. It is a hard rubber dog ball that "giggles" when you shake it. They would come running when they heard it. It was a quick way to round them up.
  • Make your ferret poop before letting it out of its cage. With a little patience, you can teach them that in order to come out and play, they need to poop. Return them to their cage every hour to avoid accidents. Make them "go" before letting them out again.
  • Ferrets love tubes! There is no need to buy the expensive tubes sold in pet shops. Flexible plastic pipes from the hardware store work just as well and are much more economical. I also rigged up runways made of this tubing in the ferrets' 3-tier cage so they could play when I was away.
  • Ferrets also love paper bags. I don't advise letting them play with plastic bags as they may choke or suffocate.
  • Do not leave small objects where they can reach them, or you will have to hunt for their hidey-hole. It is amazing the variety of items they love to steal.

Bathing Ferrets

But That Smell!

Even though ferrets in the U.S. have been descented, they will still have a slight odor. It may seem logical to bathe them often, but that strips the ferrets of the natural oils in their fur. A twice-monthly shampooing should be fine. Use a gentle shampoo, preferably one made for ferrets. Also, their body temperature is higher than ours, so make sure the bathwater is not too cool.

The best way to combat the smell is too keep the cage and litterbox clean. I recommend a daily scooping of poop and a weekly scrubbing of the litterbox. A monthly scrub-down of the cage will reduce the smell, as well as a weekly washing of all bedding and toys.

What Do Ferrets Eat?

A ferret's teeth should give you an indication of what its dietary needs are: those sharp little teeth are designed for tearing and eating flesh and bone. Ferrets are true carnivores, and with their short digestive tracts, they require a diet high in protein to meet their full nutritional needs.

I don't recommend feeding your ferret cat food unless it has a protein content of at least 30%, and a fiber content of less than 3%. Ferret's digestive systems are not designed to digest fiber or carbohydrates.

Some people do feed their ferrets fresh meat and the occasional live baby mouse. With the quality of today's ferret foods, this isn't necessary. When checking the ferret food labels, make sure taurine is listed as an ingredient. This nutrient is vital to a ferret's heart health.

Ferret Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is a un-spayed female called?
    • Fretchen
    • Jill
  2. What is an un-neutered male called?
    • Bob
    • Hob
  3. What is a young ferret called?
    • Kit
    • Pup
  4. What is a group of ferrets called?
    • Business
    • Chuckle

Answer Key

  1. Jill
  2. Hob
  3. Kit
  4. Business

Enjoy Your Exuberant, Chuckling Ferret!

Ferrets dance and "chuckle"—called dooking—when they get excited. The dance is a stiff-legged, sideways dance with the tail bushed out.

Every time a ferret is let out of its cage, it will act like has been released from a life sentence. It will chuckle and run with wild abandon. Who could possibly not smile at such exuberance!

Funny Ferrets

Adopt a Ferret!

  • Ferret Shelter List
  • Ferrets for Adoption - Search & Adopt a Ferret
    Search Ferrets - View pictures, and read profiles of Ferrets for adoption near you.
  • American Ferret Association: Ferret Shelter Directory
    American Ferret Association, Inc. Home Page; Promote, Protect, & Provide for the domestic ferret
  • Ferrets : The Humane Society of the United States
    Cute and inquisitive, domestic ferrets aren’t rodents, but belong to a family of animals that includes weasels and mink. Check out our tips on how to adopt, care for and give a ferret a lifelong home. Also, learn how to help stop their commercial bre

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on July 27, 2020:



They are so much fun!

iluvferrets on July 23, 2020:

i have loved ferrets for a long time and finally with research and persuasive words i have convinced my parents to buy me ferrets. eeeek im so excited thank you for helping me out.

ferretboi on June 12, 2020:

im gettin uno but thinkin about dos

Insanity Wolf from Vukojebina on September 27, 2018:

You can't help but to be happy when you're playing with a ferret they're so much fun....Attila is always happy and energetic

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on March 18, 2016:

Me, too Ryan!

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on April 28, 2013:

I didn't know that. I love animal facts. Thank you!

Shaddie from Washington state on April 28, 2013:

I have heard of a group of ferrets being called a "business" before, but there is another word used to describe a ferret group too! It's called a "fesnyng" and it apparently derives from a Middle English word, or a botchery of the word "besynys" (business). It's a very old word, regardless. I wish more people used it!

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on March 28, 2013:

A pair would be best - double the fun!

John D Nathan from Dallas, Texas. USA on March 28, 2013:

Nice article.

I never had a ferret, however they look like the kind of pet I'd like. Probably best to get them as a pair so they always have someone to play with.

There’s no denying just how cute those little faces are, so if you’re after an adorable furry friend, ferrets are a top choice. They live for about 6-10 years, which is a lot longer than many of the other more popular, small and cute pet choices, such as mice, hamsters, and gerbils.

Ferrets love company, so much so that it might be worth keeping more than one. Ferrets benefit greatly from the company of other ferrets but this isn’t essential. If you decide to just have one ferret you should be prepared to lavish lots of attention on it to keep it happy and healthy.

Being such social creatures, ferrets can be a handful sometimes, so it’s important to ensure you follow the best ferret care guidelines to keep them in good shape.

Ferret Pets - 5 Reasons Why Ferrets Make Great Pets

By Seth Evans | Submitted On May 19, 2009

If you're planning to purchase your own pet and if you've decided to own a ferret, well, you're in for a wild ride! Some say that having a ferret in the house is just like inviting your own amusing tornado inside. Others think that having a ferret in their lives make it more thrilling and interesting. Do you want to know which is which? Read on.

Ferrets have "distinctive, engaging personalities and a playful and fastidious nature." They are so active when awake. But when sleeping, nothing can wake them in their 18 to 20-hour slumber. They prefer humans as their playmates though dogs and cats can be a substitute playmate when you're not around. Their way of playing can sometimes hurt due to their nipping. Just understand that their thick skins make it okay for them to nip each other. They just did not anticipate that human skin is a lot thinner than theirs. They can play with all kinds of toys. When I say all kinds, that means, ALL the things in your house, even those with sentimental values.

Speaking of toys, they really like to play with everything they can put their little paws on. In case they become obsessed with one object, say, your favorite watch, they will never stop until they get it from you. And when they have already stashed it, there's little chance that you'll get it back. Sometimes, they get it from their hiding place and transfer it somewhere else. That's your chance to get it back. for now.

When you're happy and you know it.

Ferrets can be really happy when they want especially when you're around. They unconsciously make fun of themselves when they are so enthusiastic. They can jump off furniture, bounce from one chair to another, make their dooking sounds and so on. Their way of expressing joy can really make your day. You can even be their personal audience of their dance of joy. This performance is not just for one night only, mind you.

Two have always been better than one.

If you have one ferret, life is bliss. If you have two, it will be like having circus shows every day. Like clowns, they make you laugh because of their antics. Like ringmasters, they command your attention. Like acrobats, they can do their own stuff such as prancing, wrestling, dancing, hunting other pets (and people, too) with glee! Better yet, the more the merrier!

Life is good.

A ferret's life is simple. He just wants to have fun and in doing so, he wants you to have fun, as well. Sure, they can cost more than the usual pet. Yes, they can be somehow be highly maintained but remember that in their average life span of 5-10 years, they can give you so much more. They can be a source of laughter when your day has been a little rough. Also, they can change you in many ways. You're patience will be tested every time they play with something that is not considered as a toy in the human perspective. Best of all, you'll learn how to be more creative with your sense of humor especially when your ferret sees your family heirloom as his new obsession.

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15 Ferrets as Pets Pros and Cons

Ferrets are a domesticated species of the European polecat. As a mammal, they belong to the same genus as the weasel. Most have fur that is white, black, brown, or mixed in some way. The males are typically much larger than the females, although both genders typically have a natural lifespan of about 7-10 years. When living in captivity, it can be up to 20% longer. Most owners keep them as pets in cages, since the average length of the animal is just 20 inches, with one-third of that length attributed to the tail.

The history of domestication for the ferret is not entirely known. Some experts believe that the first human attempts to have them as pets occurred over 2,000 years ago. Owners use these mammals to help them hunt for rabbits in some parts of the world today, even with the prevalence to keep them as a pet.

Because the ferret is closely related to polecats and weasels, they can cause significant damage to the natural landscape if they are released or escape to become semi-feral. Because of this issue, there are countries which impose restrictions on ownership.

If you are thinking about the addition of a pet to your home, then these are the pros and cons to consider of having a ferret as a pet.

List of the Pros of Having Ferrets as Pets

1. Ferrets love to play games with you.
You won’t find a more playful pet out there today than the ferret (sorry dog and cat owners!). These intelligent animals love to play a game of hide-and-seek when you have them out of their enclosure for some controlled bonding time. They will dart away when you try to catch them, hide under your furniture, and look for the tiniest spots where they can squeeze their flexible bodies through. If you have more than one ferret at home, they will even team up to make the process of catching them even more difficult, but it is still a lot of fun – even if it can be frustrating at times.

2. Ferrets are highly intelligent animals.
You can train ferrets to perform tricks or exhibit specific behaviors rather quickly. It might not be easy to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can achieve this outcome with adult ferrets rather easily. When you work with them right away on potty training issues, handling, and the ever-popular biting habit, then you can experience results right away that can make it a lot easier to keep these animals as pets. Most learn successfully by following the same principles that you would follow when training a small dog.

3. Ferrets are very social animals.
Once you have worked with your ferret to accept handling, you will discover that they are very sociable creatures. They are a colony animal in the wild, so there is a need for constant companionship. If you can own more than one at a time, then they can offer each other social interactions when you are not around to provide them. Once you get to four animals, it might be a good idea to stop because then they will work on setting up a social hierarchy which could dictate which animal receives your attention, and in what order.

If you are unable to provide a single ferret with the attention that they need, then this is not the pet for your home. When these animals are unable to engage in social interactions, then it can impede their mental health. Their lifespan can be reduced significantly if they are exposed to frequent and extended periods of loneliness.

4. Ferrets have high levels of energy all of the time.
When you have a ferret in your home as a pet, then you will want to keep a large enclosure available for them so that they can burn off their excessive energy every day. Most owners use the type of cage that would be suitable for a large rabbit when bringing them home. You will want to create a specific open space in their living quarters that can serve as their bathroom because these animals have very specific toileting habits that they prefer to follow. Then add ramps, tunnels, and toys that allow for independent play when you are unable to provide these interactions on a personal level.

5. Ferrets are often trained before they are offered for sale.
When you look for ferrets at the local pet store or from an experienced/licensed breeder in your community, then you will discover that many of them are trained to use the bathroom or perform some tricks before you even bring them home. Adult ferrets will usually pick up on the cues that you want them to follow if you are patient with the process over a couple of weeks. Since the average lifespan is up to 10 years, even an adult at the age of 2 can become a long-term addition to your family while you can avoid the entire training issue altogether.

6. Ferrets have access to numerous animal-specific options.
When ferrets were first becoming popular as pets in the United States, it could be challenging to find the specific foods that are necessary to maintain their health. Over the past 20 years, there are a number of ferret-specific items that have become available globally through pet stores and other retailers that you can purchase to meet their specific nutritional needs. You will also find that there is a large selection of treats and toys that are available. Even veterinarians are more familiar with them in recent years, helping you to avoid the cost of finding an exotic vet to treat your animal.

7. Ferrets can be self-sufficient when they have a friend.
When you own at least two ferrets, then you don’t need to be social with them for hours on end every day. They can entertain themselves, often sleeping for long periods together throughout the day. Then you will experience a few hours of high-level energy. Most of them will eventually match their schedule to work with yours, waking up ready to play when you get up for the day. When you don’t give them enough attention, they will quickly remind you vocally that you’re not doing your job right.

List of the Cons of Having Ferrets as Pets

1. Ferrets are known to bite in certain conditions.
Ferrets are generally animals who are loving, friendly, and loyal. They do like to explore, with their curiosity being strong enough that you would not want to let one loose outside without fencing restrictions. The problem that many owners face is the likelihood that a ferret will bite them, which typically occurs when the animal feels like it is being handled too roughly. Each individual has a different tolerance level, so the combination of a sensitive ferret with younger children may not be suitable for some families.

2. Ferrets want to escape whenever they can.
When you have a ferret as a pet, then you must keep your doors and windows closed at all times. These animals do not like being locked up in cages or kennels because it prevents them from being able to explore. You will need to get into the habit of shutting down everything all year long, even with the ferret in its cage, to prevent them from escaping. These intelligent animals can often figure out the locking mechanisms on their enclosure, and it only takes one successful to escape to potentially lose your ferret for good.

That means you must take the time to ferret-proof your home. They will find every small space that is available, and then explore it. There are stories of people losing their ferrets in their walls, behind appliances, or even getting into the plumbing in the bathroom. Because it can be challenging to know if they are in pain or not, your best option is to reduce the risk of an injury proactively instead.

3. Ferrets do not like being around other animals.
Animals that come from the weasel family can be exceptionally ferocious when they come around other creatures. Ferrets are no exception to this rule. They are highly territorial when they come around other pets, even if there is a significant size difference between the two. If you have dogs at home, then you will need to keep them separated at all times for the safety of both animals. Cats and ferrets can sometimes get along, but they often antagonize each other. Unless there is no other option, any pet-to-pet encounters that involve a ferret should be personally supervised, and then the ferrets should live in a different area of the home than your other pets.

4. Ferrets have a distinctive odor that never really goes away.
Even when you clean their cages frequently, the odor of a ferret is something that will become the dominant smell rather quickly when you have these animals as pets. It is a smell that is rather musky thanks to its production from the anal glands of the animal. Even long-term ferret owners say that their initial impression of this odor was bothersome until they got used to the experience. You can curb this odor by giving them a monthly bath, trimming their nails, changing their bedding, and keeping their ears clean, but it never really goes away.

If you are renting a home, then you may find that the property owner or the management agency for your landlord may not allow ferrets because of this issue.

5. Ferrets are a high-maintenance pet.
If you own a ferret as a pet, then it can be challenging to find someone who will care for them because of their maintenance requirements. You will need to feed your new pet 3-4 times per day to ensure that they are receiving adequate nutrition levels. If you try to place all of the food for your ferret in their enclosure at the start of the day, then you might find yourself taking care of a sick animal later because they tend to gorge themselves. You will also need to clean out their litter box or cage every 2-3 days to prevent the strong odors from wandering around the house.

The reason for this issue is that ferrets like to eat a lot, which means they produce a lot of waste. Their gastrointestinal transit time is quite vast, so they are going to the bathroom all of the time.

6. Ferrets require a specialized food product for their health.
You will need to feed your ferrets a specific diet to ensure that their health and wellness is always at its maximum. That means they are a little more expensive to care for than your average pet since you must purchase specific items from your local care provider. Like dogs and cats, you will also want to consider spaying or neutering your ferrets (called “de-sexing”) since the females will stay in perpetual heat if this does not happen. It will also improve the odor levels in your home.

You must keep ferrets away from any other foods because they will eat anything that is close to them. Grapes are toxic to them. You should avoid giving them access to any dairy products because they cannot digest lactose. Chocolate is also a problem, as are any sugar-free food items. Try giving them some scrambled eggs, cooked meat, or even some raw meat if you want.

7. Ferrets will need plenty of space to play.
You cannot leave your ferrets cooped up in their enclosure all day, every day and expect them to expend all of their energy. You must allow them to have space to play in your home in ways that are safe. Even if you give them an entire room that they can keep to themselves, it may still be inadequate to meet their needs. If you are unable to give them time to roam, then it can impact their overall health in numerous adverse ways.

8. Ferrets like to collect things.
You will find that the antics of a ferret can help to keep you entertained for hours on end. They will explore everywhere you allow them, and their reactions to unexpected circumstances can often produce a laugh. The one annoying trait these animals have is the desire to collect things that they find to be interesting. It’s not just small or shiny objects that they’ll collect either. Ferrets have been known to steal entire balls of yarn, remote controls, and even your keys if they can grab them.

The pros and cons of having ferrets as pets must all be evaluated in each home. If you have older children who understand the care needs of this animal, then having them as pets can be a successful experience. If you are not home very often, have young children, or can only afford one ferret at the moment, then now might not be the right time to bring one home.

Why are ferrets good pets for children?

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of the ferret-child combination. We will now have a look at 3 reasons why they make sensational pets for kids, and in the next section we will analyse 3 reasons why they – sometimes – aren’t the best match at all. From then on, it will be your call whether to welcome or not that little furry into your home.

#1 – Ferrets don’t mind being handled

Ferrets have plenty to offer children (and adults too!). They are incredibly cute and fluffy. They don’t like being held all the time, but they do enjoy being picked up and snuggled occasionally.

Not all pets particularly enjoy being squeezed and fussed over. Cats, for example, can be quite temperamental in that regard sometimes. Ferrets are no different, each of their personalities is so varied they may love cuddle time, or they may not.

#2 – Ferrets are stimulating creatures

These critters are very intelligent, many new ferret owners are amazed at how clever they are. In some cases, they are even capable of utilizing a tool to help them with whatever it is they’re trying to achieve.

They won’t exactly be using a screwdriver but they will use sticks or other small items to help themselves out. Watching these little critters work can be interesting and funny, your kids will love it and so will you.

#3 – Ferrets create a sense of responsibility

Owning a pet can be a great character-building opportunity for children. They can give them some of the responsibilities of ownership can help develop them into a more well-rounded person and grow.

This is easier for older children who may be able to care for the ferret mostly on their own, but younger children can still help out too.

Having your children feed and provide water for your ferret will help them grow closer together. If they’re mature enough you could even teach them how to wash, brush and clean the ears of your new ferret.

It’s best that the ferret has been in the family for a little while before anyone but you try to do this, it may take your furry friend a little while to become calm and relaxed going through the health and beauty section of your weekly routine. Remember, bubble baths and Q-tips are not exactly common in the animal kingdom.

You will find here is a useful guide on keeping your ferret nice and clean

Total Annual Cost Of Owning A Ferret

Keeping a pet ferret isn’t cheap. These fuzzy little creatures are well worth the time and effort, but they certainly aren’t the right pet for everyone. Unless you’re confident you can cover the cost to keep your ferret well, you may want to consider another pet.

The annual cost to keep your ferret includes everything from monthly costs like food, bedding, and litter to annual costs like vet exams and vaccinations. You should also keep in mind that if your ferret gets sick you’ll need to pay for an additional visit as well as any treatments or medications.

Here’s a quick summary of the estimated annual cost for keeping a ferret:

  • Purchase/Adoption = $75 to $300
  • Cage and Setup = $400 to $900
  • Annual Veterinary Costs = $80 and up
  • Monthly Food and Supplies = $55

Keep in mind that these figures are estimates and actual prices will range depending where you live and how many ferrets you keep.

It’s always a good idea to set aside a little extra money in case of emergencies, just so you’re prepared.

How much does a ferret cost?

The cost to purchase a ferret depends where you go. You may be able to adopt a ferret for as low as $75 or a bonded pair for $150. Buying from a pet store will cost $100 to $250 while buying directly from a breeder can cost up to $300.

How much does it cost to neuter/spay a ferret?

Spay surgery is usually more expensive that neuter surgery, so you’re looking at an estimated $50 to $100. If you also plan to have your ferret’s scent glands removed, you should consider doing it at the same time. The total cost should be under $300.

How much does a ferret vet checkup cost?

You’ll need to find an exotics vet or a veterinarian experienced with ferrets. The average cost for a vet checkup is about $45 and your ferret will need two vaccines every year, estimated at $15 each.

How much does it cost to microchip a ferret?

The average cost to have a pet microchipped is about $45 and it is a one-time fee. There’s little point in having a small pet microchipped, but since ferrets are often let loose in the home it couldn’t hurt.

How much does ferret food cost?

Ferrets are still fairly small, so you shouldn’t have to spend more than $20 per month on food and treats. The cost depends on the quality of your pet’s diet and how much meat you feed him.

How much does a ferret cage cost?

The ferret is not an animal that can be kept in a small cage, so this will be a considerable investment. Look for a three-tiered cage made from sturdy materials. You can expect to spend $100 to $200.

Watch the video: Pet Advice: Do ferrets make good pets? (June 2021).