How do I know if a ferret would be a good fit for my family?
So, how do I know if a ferret would be a good pet for our household? As with our consideration of any potential pet, we want to think about what's unique to the animal – their behaviors and their traits – and if that fits with a lifestyle and environment we're able to provide, long before we bring that animal home. Ferrets are very inquisitive, very curious, very active pets and even a munchkin that can tend to get into trouble from time to time. With that being said, ferrets are very loyal, playful, and can easily be a pet that you can form a very strong bond with. Just ensure that you have the time, make sure that you have the environment, the space, and the willingness to invest in an appropriate habitat and nutrition because these are pets that require a lot of ongoing care.
Should my ferret have a companion?
So, another common question I get: “Is it okay to just have one ferret or do I need to consider getting more than one?” As amazing as the human animal bond is, and as beneficial as our relationship with our ferret companions can be, it will never replace the relationship and the social bond that your ferret should and can have with another ferret. We want to spend the time, effort, and energy to invest in that relationship. But, one of the single best things that we can do to ensure longevity and quality of life for our pet is to consider getting them another partner.
What should I look for in a ferret diet?
Just like all of our pets beyond ferrets – dogs, cats, and others – nutrition is the single most important decision that any pet parent can make. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means they rely on high amounts of protein and fat. So, number one, we want to focus on diets that provide that. Most importantly, we want to provide that from animal protein sources.
Secondly, we want to understand that in wild environments, ferrets naturally have very small amounts of fiber and starches that are part of their natural diet. Namely, the only place those would occur would potentially be from the gut contents of prey animals. So we want to understand that and try to mimic that in the diets that we feed them, focusing on protein and fat and very limited and very small amounts of appropriate starches and fibers.
Beyond the nutritional makeup, we want the diet to be uniform. We also want to consider additional supplemental foods. Supplementing the ferret diet with additional amounts of animal proteins and appropriate nutritional treats should all be part of that overarching nutritional profile.
What type of enrichment is appropriate for ferrets?
We talk a lot about enrichment and how important it is in all of our exotic companion mammals, and that's especially true in ferrets. These are our natural predators, so they are very active. They are very playful and they spend a lot out of time physically evaluating and investigating their environment. So, it's extremely important that we provide ample amounts of appropriate and healthy environmental enrichment for these animals. Their desire to play, to forage, to explore, to burrow, and tunnel are all natural behaviors. Any environmental factors we can provide that stimulate these behaviors are very, very beneficial for them long term.
What type of habitat is ideal for ferrets?
Equally important to nutrition is selecting the right type of habitat. Number one, it needs to be a habitat that is specifically designed for ferrets. As predators in their natural environment, ferrets spend a huge amount of time exploring, digging, and tunneling. So, we want to provide a habitat that provides as much horizontal and vertical space as possible. That means selecting a habitat that has multiple levels. As important as it is to select the right habitat, it doesn't diminish the importance of ensuring that these animals have time outside of their habitat to explore and be mentally and physically stimulated.
Ready to learn more about ferrets? Check out these great resources: