Do Ferrets Make Good Pets?

Ferrets are becoming more and more popular in the USA. Ferrets are fun to have and cute to look at. They are always up to something a little naughty, and you can’t help but wonder what. You can find ferrets in most pet shops around the country today. So it might be tempting to go out and get one for your family. But before you make a last-minute purchase, you might ask, “Do ferrets make good pets?” Answering the question isn’t a simple yes and no, and today we are going to find out why.

Do Ferrets Make Good Pets?

Ferrets can make unbelievable pets for the right owners. They are a playful bunch that loves to explore. Ferrets will leave no part of your house untouched. For the experienced pet owner, ferrets can be a great addition to the family.

However, for a first-time pet owner, these rambunctious creatures might be a little too much to handle. Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons to see how a ferret will fit into your lifestyle.

group of four ferret of various colors on white background
Group of four ferrets, 5 years, 6 years, 3 years, left to right

Pros Of Owning A Ferret

  • Ferrets are a highly intelligent creature that can make for a fascinating pet. They will never cease to amaze you on what they can get into and figure out. Ferrets are so smart that they can learn their names and do tricks. You can even teach them games like fetch.
  • Ferrets are also very playful. They have high energy that never seems to die down. You will never have to worry about playing too much with a ferret because they never want the games to end. You might even notice your ferret bringing you toys to play with.
  • For those looking for a social pet, ferrets are definitely a contender. Ferrets love to be around people and playing as much as possible. They even like to be with other ferrets, so you can get pairs without worrying.
  • Another great plus for the ferret is that they are easily litter trained. This usually takes no time, and barely any thought. Since ferrets instinctively will use one are for a toilet, all you need to do is add a litter box.
  • Small pets usually have a bad rap for not living as long as dogs or cats. But ferrets can easily live 5-8 years with proper care. More time equals more fun and cuddles!
  • Since ferrets have taken off in popularity within the last 20 years, you can easily find commercial foods for them. Before this popularity, many people had to substitute or make their own foods. But now you can find whole aisles that cater to ferret needs.
  • Since ferrets are so popular, you can also find reputable breeders all across the USA and in most pet stores. If adoption is the way for you, there are many ferret adoption shelters in just about every state.
  • Spaying your ferret is usually no issue because most females are spayed before being sold. So that is one less cost for you. But if you have a male, the procedure is quick, and your ferret will be running around in no time.
  • And finally, ferrets come in so many colors that you will have a hard time choosing which one you love most.

Cons Of Owning A Ferret

  • The biggest con of ferret ownership is that they are costly. Start-up costs for basic needs can be anywhere from $400-$900, and that doesn’t even include the ferret price. Then you have your monthly expenses, which can be $50-$100. And let’s not forget vet visits that cost about $300 annually for check-ups, vaccines, and dental cleanings. And this cost doesn’t even consider if your ferret gets sick. Ferrets can be prone to cancer, heart disease, viruses, and even intestinal issues caused by swallowing non-food items.
  • Ferrets are also big escape artists. At some point or another, they will get out of their play areas or cages. And once they are out, there is no telling where they went. People have found them in their furniture, dryer vents, and even outside. If you have other animals or young children in the house, this could be a disaster waiting to happen.
  • If you have ever walked by the ferret cages at the store, you know already that they have a distinct smell. Ferrets have musk glands around their mouths that they use to mark their territory. Once upon a time, it was normal for ferrets to be “descented” where they remove these glands at a young age. But the removal of the musk glands does little to prevent their natural odor, and most vets consider it mutilation now. So a smelly ferret is something that you will have to learn to deal with.
  • Like most weasels, the ferret is very territorial. These pets will defend their homes, toys, and food from other pets in the house. They don’t typically get along well with cats or dogs and should never be allowed to free-roam with them.
  • Biting is another part of ferret ownership that is unavoidable. Most ferrets (especially young ferrets) like to play and explore with their teeth, which means they likely may sink their teeth into your hand. For this reason, we do not recommend ferrets for children under the age of 10. Biting isn’t something that you have to live with forever. It takes training and redirecting to teach your ferrets not to bite.
  • You can’t trust a ferret alone in a room outside the cage. Ferrets love to hide, hoard, and burrow into anything they can. Their sharp teeth and claws destroy anything that they touch. Ferrets will chew through couches, cords, and even walls. It is best to always play in a ferret-proof area with constant supervision.
  • Ferrets are great for people who have a lot of time, but if you don’t, then owning a ferret could be difficult. They need a lot of time to play and interact with you, even if you have more than one. It also takes a while to clean their cages every day. If you work a lot, then a ferret probably isn’t the right fit for you.
  • The ferret cage is also a lot bigger than what people usually expect. Since they take up substantial amounts of space, it can be difficult in small apartments. We will talk more about exact cage requirements later.
  • And our last con is that in some areas ferrets are not legal. States like California have outlawed them to protect their wildlife. And some counties and cities have also prohibited them. So before buying a ferret, you will want to make sure they are legal.

Basic Ferret Care

If you can look at those pros and cons and not run away, you might be a great ferret owner. And now that you know that you are a good fit, you can learn about care. This list is the very basics of ferret ownership, and you should do a little more research before getting one.

CAGE – We mentioned that ferrets require a larger cage, and the larger, the better. Since ferrets are very active, a multilevel cage with lots of tunnels, hammocks, and toys are the best option. The smallest cage one ferret should be in is at least 40 inches tall and even taller for more ferrets. Cages like the Ferret Nation or Critter Nation are excellent options and made from solid metal that they can not chew through.

BEDDING – Most ferret cages do not have pans that can hold litter, but you could always use fleece covers to keep the pans comfy. You can buy these covers pre-made, or you can DIY them. They are easily washed and reused so that you can cut back on bedding costs.

LITTER – If you stick a litter box in your ferrets “dedicated corner,” they will most surely use it. These litter pans can be ones for kittens or made for small animals. All you need to do is use a little pine pellets or paper pellets that will be changed daily. If you notice that your ferrets start going in another corner, keep moving the litter box until they start using it. It might take a few weeks, but don’t give up!

TOYS – Toys are a vital part of caring for your ferret. Toys that crinkle and have bells are great for ferrets. Cat toys of all kinds are a huge favorite. These toys will keep them preoccupied while you are away at work.

EXERCISE – The average ferret needs 4-6 hours of playtime outside of the cage. It is safest to use a playpen or a special ferret-proof room to let them run and play in. You could even fit them for a harness for the occasional outside walk.

DIET – Ferret food has come a long way since it was first introduced to the market. But, some owners still prefer to buy a higher quality cat food with no peas added to feed their ferrets. Other owners still prefer to make a completely homemade diet. Both of these options are fine. But you will still need some supplementing, and your ferrets are getting all nutritional needs.

Are Ferrets Good Pets For You?

Now that you have learned the basics of owning a ferret, do you think you are a good match? Ferrets are a blast to have in the home. They can be as mischievous as a cat and as loving as a dog. You never quite know what they are capable of until you’ve owned one.

Related Questions

How much do ferrets cost?

The cost of purchasing a ferret is going to vary depending on your location and where you purchase your ferret. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100-400 for a ferret. Buying from a local pet store like Petco is typically cheaper than ferrets from a reputable private breeder. There are also many ferrets looking for a forever home in shelters across the U.S. with average adoption fees about $75-100.

Do ferrets make noise?

Ferrets do occasionally vocalize. However, for the most part, they are pretty quiet animals. The most noise they will make is if they are very frightened or injured and will let out a hissing sound or scream. When they are happy or excited, they make a chirping sound or ‘dooking’; it’s an odd little that sounds a bit like a chicken clucking.

For more articles on ferrets, you might want to check this out also.

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