asked, ferret lovers mention two qualities most often - the loving,
affectionate nature of their pets, and their entertaining antics - as
the attributes which have helped make the ferret the alternative pet
of choice for so many. Ferrets like people, and they like to interact
with them. They like to ride around on your shoulder, or in a pocket,
or in a purse or shoulder bag. When you are seated, they like to climb
around on you, sniffing your nose, licking your ear, or digging around
in your hair looking for mice. But most of all, ferrets like to play.
Life is a game, and young ferrets play it with an exuberance that is
fun to watch. A single ferret can make a game out of whatever is available,
or nothing at all. Two ferrets can be twice as creative, and if you
join in, it can really be fun. A toy on a string is great to chase,
and a towel dragged across the floor makes a great ride.
most people think the ferret is a wild animal, that is not the case.
The domestic ferret has been a house pet for over 3000 years, probably
beginning in ancient Egypt. The breed is thought to have originated
from a Eurasian weasel, or polecat, and was used to control the mouse
and rat population. Years later, cats would take over the job. While
similar in appearance, the domestic ferret is not related to the black-footed
ferret, the wild American ferret which is on the verge of extinction.
are small, clean, quiet animals, usually 15-18 inches long and weighing
11/2-3 pounds, and can be litter box trained in a short time. While
they normally get along fine with dogs and cats, they are a more difficult
pet to own. Part of what makes them so endearing, - their playful, inquisitive
nature - also gets them into trouble. Most ferret owners keep them in
a cage, and let them out every day to play, either where they can be
watched, or if unsupervised, in a room that has been made ‘ferret proof’.
Closet doors can be crawled under, cabinets can be opened and emptied,
book shelves can be climbed on, and plants can be dug up, if precautions
have not been taken to prevent it from happening. There are few openings
so small a ferret cannot squeeze through.
love to go outside, and will find a whole new world of adventures out
there. Special harnesses are available for use with a leash, so that
a walk in the neighborhood or a trip to the park is possible. Care must
always be taken to make sure the ferret does not escape. They can’t
fend for themselves in the wild, and couldn’t survive for long.
ferrets play with other ferrets, they play rough. There is a lot of
wrestling, biting, and squealing. It looks as if one of them is going
to get killed, but it is harmless. No one ever gets hurt. Their skin
is tough and thick, so the biting doesn’t bother them. Until taught
otherwise, many ferrets will attempt this type of play with humans.
It isn’t aggression; it’s just play, and they quickly learn not to do
are intelligent, energetic, social and inquisitive, and need to spend
time out of the cage playing, exploring and exercising. If you do not have
time in your day to play with your ferret, it might be better to choose
a different pet. A ferret left in a cage will be bored and unhappy.
of the curious habits of ferrets is that they like to choose where the
litter box goes. They will almost always pick a corner to relieve themselves,
and always use the same corner. Simply wait to see where it wants to
go, clean it up, and place the litter box in that corner. It’s easy,
and it beats having a battle of wills with a 2 pound animal, and losing.
are very susceptible to human illness, especially colds and flu. It
is best to avoid contact with a ferret when you are sick. Young ferrets
seem to do only two things, play and sleep. Frequently, a ferret will
be busy playing, doing ferret stuff, and a few minutes later, is lying
motionless in its cage. It won’t respond to talk or touch, and if picked
up, is limp and appears lifeless. At this point many new owners panic,
thinking their new pet is dead. Never fear. Experienced ferret owners
call it ‘playing till they drop’. It’s just a very deep sleep they fall
into, and it is very hard to wake them up from it. They wake up on their
own soon enough and are back to their old ways in no time.