View Full Version : Ferrets

02-10-2005, 02:59 PM
I'm thinking of gettign a ferret one day, after I move out. I've been researching them and they seem like fun pets. I always see them in the petshops and they look sweet and playful.

I do have some questions though...:)

Is it important to get the ferret a playmate? Obviously he will be out of his cage alot to play with me and get exersise, but will he need a cagemate anyways?

I've read that ferrets often get along with dogs and cats --- is that very common? Caleb, my kitten, loves my rats, but he often plays too rough. I read that ferrets play very rough and so I think one would be a good match for Caleb.

Does anyone here have experience feeding ferrets RAW? I have been doing alot of research on diet, and so I know that ferrets shouldn't eat fruits, vegetables, or grains, and that most ferret foods aren't very healthy. I have read numerous sites where people have stated that they feed their ferrets RAW, and the ferrets are very healthy on it. What organ meats are best? I know liver is high in vitamin A, so maybe only a piece once a week? What about raw bones (supervised, of course)?

Do ferrets lick alot? If my ferret were on RAW, I'd be worried that he might lick me alot and transfer the salmonella bacteria onto me. I have autoimmune disease. A little bit of licking isn't bad at all -- I can always wash my hands. I keep thinking of how some dogs lick inside people's mouths lol. Leather used to do that to me all the time. :rolleyes:

What meats do ferrets like best?

Are ferret vaccinations expensive?

What is the best way to cut down on a ferret's scent? The ones in the petshops here are already altered, descented, and they come with some sort of liquid that's supposed t help with the smell...I know that bathing will only make the smell worse...is there some food I can give or supplement that will help? Is the smell REALLY that bad?

I know some ferrets are lactose intolerant. Are most ferrets? Can most eat dairy products, like cottage cheese? Or plain unsweetened yougurt?

Does anyone have any cage reccomendations? There is a really nice big cage at Petcetera. I'm not sure how big it is. I'd also like to have an outdoor run for nice days (I won't leave him there all the time lol -- just for maybe an hour or so). Does anyone here do that? I'm thinking of building one with chicken wire and a wooden frame and have it long to fit across the yard. With a tarp covering half of it, so if he wants shade he can go under the tarp, or if he wants to bask in the sun he can do so. :)

I hope some of you can answer my questions! If you have any other advice to offer, please just do so. I'm anxious to learn. Thanks in advance!

02-10-2005, 03:36 PM
i love ferrets, but im sorry i dont know much about them.

02-10-2005, 03:45 PM
Wow, I am pleased with your research so far. And am even more pleased at the fact you are continuing to research.

I currently have 5 ferrets and volunteer at a ferret shelter. I have quite a bit of experience but am not an expert. Ferrets can be quite a difficult species and I don't think ANYONE considers themselves a ferret expert. LOL

I reccomend volunteering at a ferret shelter first if it's possible.

I'm strapped for time I'll try to answer the best I can, if you have any other ?'s or need to know anything more let me know.

A ferret can have a playmate as they are very social. If your ferret will be alone for more than 4 hours a day it is highly reccomended to get him/her a cage mate. But if you plan on having a cage mate it is best to have them in groups of 3 or more as they can become VERY attatched to their friends, some ferrets actually die from depression when a mate dies. But for ferrets that live alone for a while may not adjust well at all to a cage mate, some do some don't.

My ferrets get along great with my dogs & cats (they have a high prey drive & only one gets along with my rats though, smaller animals are not reccomended for a ferrets friend). But then again my dogs & cat were raised around small critters, and all of my ferrets were raised with dogs & cats too.

My ferrets eat some raw food (would be all raw if my busy schedule allowed it). I don't feed them any organs just to be on the safe side. They do get everything else, bones & all, chicken, beef, steak, rabbit (their favorite), buffalo, you name if it's available they eat it. I give them one chunk a piece a day and leave kibble available for them 24/7. They can imprint on foods easily so it is important to vary their diet at a young age. I have 4 different kinds of kibble in their mix and change it often in case something happens and one is not available or something.
Ferrets have short digestive systems (so they poop A LOT too LOL) so if you feed only raw you need to be available every 2-5 hours to feed them, otherwise it's best to feed kibble, at least for the most part.

My ferrets will have a treat once in a great while, like a couple small licks of ice cream or yougurt with no ill affects, but again I limit the amount & frequency. Just like a dog with chocolate or something.

Some ferrets kiss a lot others don't. They are usually too busy to snuggle though LOL I'm not sure about transmitting diseases & the such but when they are young (called kits) they can be awfully nippy.

Each ferret is different, like Biggies faorite meat is oxtail, while Spurr prefers turkey (and cooked at that), Chaos likes beef etc...

Ferrets receive the same vaccines as dogs, rabies & distemper. Which is about the same price as a dog. Distemper is 100% fatal in ferrets, not one has known to survive it. Ferrets are known to have reactions to distemper vaccines, some brands worse than others. It's best to find a ferret knowledgable vet before you get your ferret.

Ferrets scent is just like you said, do not bathe often at all! But wash the bedding frequently & change the litter boxes. Fishy type foods (like marshalls ferret food has a lot of fish in it) causes stinky poops.
They really don't smell too bad at all. I think the bedding & litter boxes stink the worst. People come into my house (or my friend who has like 20 ferrets) are very surprised at how it doesn't smell.

Cages, you want something big, especially seeing as ferret math will strike you LOL (its when you start w/ one but keep on getting additions). The more time in a cage the more room they need. Get the biggest you can afford. Almost ALL ferret people reccomend Martins cages! They are the best.

Outside cages: ferrets love the outside, or anywhere where they are not normally allowed LOL. But they LOVE to dig, in a few mionutes mine can dig to china so you'd have to put wire under the cage or at least seet the sides of the cage a few feet underground. Make sure they have a shaded area & ferrets DO NOT do well with heat, nothing above 75 degrees! They can go into heat stroke FAST.
Actually anytime a ferret gets sick it happens rapidly. Very rapidly. Without treatment ferrets can die within 1-3 days after coming down with a common simple illness. Obvious when you think of how short their digestive track is. They eat & poop about 2-3 hours. They sleep about 18-20 hours a day. When they are awake they ARE AWAKE!

They are a difficult pet to have but well worth it. They are very curious & funny!

02-10-2005, 04:04 PM
Thanks for your reply! :) It really helped out.

That makes sense, getting three ferrets -- I always say I wish I was allowed to have another rat. If one of my rats died, the other would be so depressed. I think I will start out with one ferret, and once I am used to that, I'll buy two more. Ferrets are $250 here. It seems pretty expensive to me, as most small animals here don't seem to cost that much. Is that a bad price?

Unfortunatly we dont have any ferret rescues closer than four hours away -- I believe we may have a ferret club though. The one time I saw a ferret in the SPCA was about four years ago -- He was a full grown albino with a nasty temperment. I hope one day I'll find a nicer one there. The SPCA sells them for $100, alot cheaper than in a petstore lol. :)

Do you think if I got a baby and socialized him well with my rats, he would be good with them? My rats are pretty tough lol. They wouldn't put up with any bad behaviour. Maybe they could put him in line while he's still a baby and he could learn who's boss that way? That's how Caleb was taught lol. Once he starts playing too rough, he gets a swift bite LOL. I'm sure you know how muchrat bites hurt! I have scars lol.

So maybe I will leave good cat food out all day, and then feed raw for breakfast or dinner or something...

Do your ferrets eat tripe? I bet tripe would be yummy for them!

02-10-2005, 06:14 PM
My ferret HATES any kind of meat, fish, liver, anything. Raw or cooked:rolleyes:
I feed mine Marshall farms ferret food, (15.50 per bag) one bag last around 1 1/2 months. She also gets science diet kitty food as a treat, about 4 tblspoons daily. (i usually mix it up in her food bowl, and she picks through it).
Mine came descented and spayed. She has no odor really, other than if she does not have a bath. I give her baths every 2 weeks, and a nail trimming weekly. If she smells funky, i just rub her down with a 1/2 teaspoon of baby powder, and she smells GREAT! It also helps control their oily skin. (mine smells better after a bath, and she loves bath time.)
You have to clean their cages daily, atleast the potty pan. I dump it and rinse it out daily, and I completely take her cage apart every 2 weeks for a washing. All food/water dishes get rinsed daily and refilled. All toys and hamicks get washed every 2 weeks as well.
Her favorite treats are M&Ms, snicker bars (tiny pieces of course) and cheetos. Ice cream and froot loops, special k, cheerios, just about anything sweet! She loves pepsi and sunkist.
She dislikes raisins, ferret bites, any meat, oranges, anything veggie/fruit. I give her a taste of just about anything, just not in big quanities. A ferret will eat treats until they pop, if you let them.
Mine does not have a cage mate, but I would love her to get one. She dislikes my cats, but my cats love her.
She does dig, and you have to be 100% sure you ferret proof a room before you let it out. Mine found a way to climb up my shoe rack, and get on top of the closet:rolleyes: :eek:
The vaccines do cost about as much as a dog/cat. They have to get them annually.
My ferret does not bite, only nibbles in play. She does lick and give kisses very well. ;)
Every ferret is different. I would suggest keep going to the petstore, and spend time with different ones. Get the one that best fits you;) Good luck! I could never imagine how much I would love a ferret, until I got my precious Ferra. She is a dollbaby:D

02-11-2005, 03:03 PM
$250 isn't a bad price if it's from a breeder or a better line of ferrets. Do you know what type of ferret lines they come from up there?
Around here most pet shop ferrets are Marshalls (very very bad ferret mill) they go for about $129 but on sale often for $80-$100. The second most common would be Path Valley ferrets, not as bad as marshalls but not much research has been done on them either.

As long as you keep you ferret socialized and or add another ferret within a 6 months or so (give or take a little) you should have NO problem at all adding more. Any longer than they you MAY have a problem getting them used to eachother, but maybe not.

My first ferret I got when he was tiny (an ex b/f bought him, he's a marshalls) and notorious for Marshalls they sell them too young, he was about 4-5 weeks old. But we socialized him with my rats and they were great together, then I started to get more ferrets & other pets (still have enough time for all just not enought time to socialize with a possible dangerous situation) but after just a month or 2 of him being away from my rats I don't trust him.
The fact I feed raw meat & they were breed to kill rats & rabbits doesn't help either I don't think.
I have not met anyone else yet that has a ferret that gets along with rats. And I know a LOT of ferret/rat people. I guess its harder to get a ferret to adjust to rats than it is to get a husky to get along w/ small critters.
I don't chance it.
Ferrets can be dangerous with other pets if not socialized right. It's not common or hard for a ferret to kill a cat.
(that is how I got 2 of my previous rats, a ferret got loose, killed the neighbors cat & the landlord made her get rid of all her pets).
Not saying they can't get along with cats, I know TONS of ferrets & cats that are buddies, it's mainly with older, unsocialized ferrets, and that is just to prove a point that ferrets can pack a powerful punch. I personally wouldn't trust them with a rat.

Leaving good cat food out all day & feeding raw once or a couplle times a day is fine. Thats great! But even so I would mix AT LEASt 2 brands of cat food together. Like I said they can become imprinted on one food easily so at first you may also want to feed raw a few times a day to get thme used to it.
They are 100% carnivores, they have NO cecum, which is what digests non meat foods. A tiny piece of something that disolves easily (cracker or cheerio, etc..) as a treat every once in a great while is fine though.
Because they are carnivores you want to feed a great quality food with lots of meat related protien.

When your ready to get your ferret let me know I've got a sheet around my computer somewhere that lists a lot of good foods to feed a ferret.

I've never fed tripe, but I'll ask other ferret people if they have,

Oh ferrets like to chew rubber items and they get blockages easily. Their intestines are only as big as a straw so surgery is needed 98% of the time they swallow a foreign object so you want to be very careful with what they chew.
They also can't cough up hairballs like cats, they cause blockages in ferrets too that often need surgery to remove the blockage, so to prevent that you can feed hairball meds or vaseline to them every few days and daily when they are shedding. Or you can feed a few hairball treats daily and just give the lax (hairball med or vaseline) daily during shedding season.

Ferrets for dummies is the ferret bible. I HIGHLY reccommend it.

02-11-2005, 03:09 PM
A ferret will smell better after a bath because the shampoo smells good, but when you bath too often it strips their coat of needed oils. So therefore they will smell worse shortly after a bath because their body is working overtime, producing a LOT of oils to make their coat healthy. If you just wait it out till their coat reproduces the right amount of oils (a few months or so) and keep their surroundings clean it is way healthier for them & they actually smell less.
My ferrets only get a bath if they get really dirty! Some haven't had a bath in 2 years!

I do wipe them with baby wipes once in a while to spot clean them. LOL

02-11-2005, 03:20 PM
Thanks for all of the information! :D

I'm not sure what kind of lines these ferrets are from -- they come from breeders all over the Okanagan Valley that breed specifically for petstores.

What kind of toys do ferrets like? Can they have Kongs? I was thinking about using a Kong and putting cream cheese or something in it..

02-14-2005, 08:09 AM
I wouldn't use kong toys as they love rubber & if they happpen to chew off a piece & swallow it it could cause a blockage. Also filling with cream cheese would be bad for them, a couple small licks won't hurt but I wouldn't feed them any more than that.

They love toys of all kinds, mainly cat/baby type toys, toys with bells or rattles or crinckly material. Tunnels to crawl through. blankets. boxes filled with dirt or rice to dig in. If you use rice MAKE SURE it is the RAW LONG GRAIN rice. Instant rice can cause blockages if they swallow pieces.

Ferrets for dummies book is a must have for ferret owners

02-14-2005, 01:30 PM
That sounds good; I know where to get those types of toys for a good price.

I decided that instead of the cat food I'm going to go with Innova Evo dog food. It is high in protien. It has potatoes in it though -- are potatoes okay? The kibble chunks will obviously be bigger than the chunks in cat food. Is that okay?

02-15-2005, 08:35 AM
Originally posted by wolfsoul
That sounds good; I know where to get those types of toys for a good price.

I decided that instead of the cat food I'm going to go with Innova Evo dog food. It is high in protien. It has potatoes in it though -- are potatoes okay? The kibble chunks will obviously be bigger than the chunks in cat food. Is that okay?

Innova is a great food, I feed my ferrets the innova cat food (red bag) AND the Innova Evo dog food, Felidae and chicken soup for the kitten lovers soul are great foods & in my mix most of the time.

As far as ferret foods go TFS (The Ferret Store's brand)
Zupreem is excellent too

Iams kitten & Eukanuba kitten & regular adult formulas are good too is you purchase from them (I don't cause Iams own eukanuba & Iams does animal testing)

Here is the link to the ferret food chart. It tells there what to look for in foods to ferrets: