Ferret Time

It has been a while since I blogged about a spe­cific species and my good friend has recently reminded me that fer­rets could use a lit­tle more air time. So here it goes…

There are some com­mon mis­con­cep­tions regard­ing fer­rets includ­ing that they are a type of rodent. This is not the case. Fer­rets are in the weasel fam­ily, aka Mustel­idae. Fer­rets are related to otters, skunks, weasels, and pole­cats. In fact, fer­rets have odif­er­ous scent glands sim­i­lar to a skunk  that have to be removed prior to enter­ing a home but they can still carry a nat­ural musky scent. Fer­rets are true car­ni­vores with a high pro­tein and low carbohydrate/fiber need. They need good social­iza­tion espe­cially as kits (babies) to pre­vent issues of bit­ing later on. They need plenty of sleep and ide­ally at least 4 hours of play time a day. They can learn how to walk on a leash, use a lit­ter box, and get a long with cats and dogs. They are play­ful, joy­ful, affec­tion­ate creatures.

In gen­eral fer­rets have a 7–9 year lifes­pan but after the age of three,they are con­sid­ered senior pets. If you are famil­iar with fer­rets, you are prob­a­bly aware of the mul­ti­tude of dis­eases that they are pre­dis­posed to. Almost every fer­ret will even­tu­ally be diag­nosed with one or more of the fol­low­ing: Adrenal dis­ease, insuli­noma, lym­phoma, and/or heart dis­ease. Many of these dis­eases can be man­aged to help improve a fer­rets qual­ity of life, but it is not cheap and often an older fer­ret requires alot of med­ical care at home and at the vet. Because of this, many shel­ters are over run with fer­rets because peo­ple buy the adore­able juve­niles but are not pre­pared for the expense and ail­ments that come with time. Most peo­ple aren’t even aware that fer­rets should be vac­ci­nated yearly against rabies and dis­tem­per, let alone have yearly to bi-yearly blood screen­ings. Also, fer­rets love to chew soft rub­bery­ob­jects and the eat­ing of for­eign bod­ies is a com­mon enough prob­lem in the young­sters which requires sur­gi­cal inter­ven­tion.
I hope peo­ple are not dis­suaded by this post from adopt­ing (ide­ally from a shel­ter) a cute, smart, enter­tain­ing fer­ret. But I do want peo­ple to know what to expect. I highly rec­om­mend doing some research on spe­cific food and cage setup rec­om­men­da­tions as well as cre­at­ing a sav­ings account for the med­ical care. You can get pet insur­ance for fer­rets but check into what is and is not covered.

Check out these sites for great resource information:

Amer­i­can Fer­ret Association:www.ferret.org
Washingonferret.org
Ferretsmagazine.com

As much as this infor­ma­tion comes from my vet­eri­nary knowl­edge, I am also speak­ing from expe­ri­ence. I have had so many won­der­ful expe­ri­ences of own­ing fer­rets of my own. I have also expe­ri­enced the dif­fi­cul­ties of man­ag­ing adrenal dis­ease, insuli­no­mas and lym­phoma (amongst 5 dif­fer­ent fer­rets). I hope this pro­vides some insite into the world of fer­rets. They are not like cats or dogs, but are crea­tures unto themselves.

 fer­ret exhibit­ing hair­loss asso­ci­ated with adrenal disease.

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