As a former ferret owner, I have first-hand knowledge of the good, the bad, and the smelly.
Ferret Myth No. 1: Ferret's stink!
They don't stink. I mean if you don't bathe them and change their bedding on a regular basis, they might... but then again so would you. You should know that ferrets are born with scent glands, mother nature has granted them with a natural defense, just as she did the skunk. However, the scent a ferret gives off isn't nearly as offensive as the skunk. More often than not, more so in the U.S., ferrets have their scent glands removed.
Ferret Myth No. 2: They're just like a cat, so you can buy them cat food and they can use cat litter.
Well, they're not a cat. Unless, your cat is a dog and then the answer would still be no. They're nothing like cats. They're nothing like dogs. They're just ferrets.
You wouldn't compare a horse to a lion, would you? No, because they're different species, right? As are cats and ferrets. So, you can't feed a ferret cat food. Why? Because ferrets are carnivores. They eat meat and have a high metabolism, which means they need to eat often. It also means they poop a lot.
Now when I say they poop a lot, I mean they poop all the time. They are big corner poopers, and the pet industry has happily complied by manufacturing corner shaped litter boxes. Buy 10. Seriously. Because your ferret will poop everywhere and anywhere, so you might as well give them some options.
Why can't I just buy some cat litter? Well, you could. But then it would eventually kill your ferret. How? First of all, ferrets are much lower to the ground than cats. Second, most conventional cat litters are clay based and they give off a dust. Ferrets are more likely to inhale this dust, because they are lower to the ground, which isn't really that good for them. So, you'll need to purchase a newspaper based litter. NO CLAY! Also, ferrets don't bury their poo like cats, so you'll need to scoop it out on a daily basis. Otherwise, they will keep pooping in the same spot over, and over, and over again.
Ferret Myth No. 3: They're easy to take care of, just like a hamster or a Guinea pig.
So, they're not a hamster or a Guinea pig. Just like they're not a cat, dog, horse, or lion. They're a ferret. It's not that they are a difficult animal, but you shouldn't assume they're easy either. A hamster may be content to hang out in it's cage all day long, with little human contact. A ferret on the other hand would not. They need socialization and play time out of their cage a least four hours every day. Since they are entirely too cleaver and curious for their own good, they need a safe play area. So you will need to “ferret proof” where ever you plan on letting them play. Because if they can fit their head into/through something, then they can fit the rest of their body. Trust me when I say this, they will squeeze themselves into just about anything and everything. So, an old basement with an open well, or drain would be out of the question. Unless, you want to murder your new pet. I'm guessing you don't, so, choose their play area wisely.
Because of their innate curiosity, I wouldn't let them “roam free” either. So, those four hours of play time will need to be supervised. My boy, Kisser, if left unattended would usually worm his way into the sofa springs and he frequently chewed a few holes in the lining of my box spring mattress and would often hide out there.
At the end of the day a responsible pet owner needs to do his/her research before adopting or purchasing any pet. Of course adopting a pet from a rescue or a shelter is preferable, and just like there are dog/cat/horse rescues, there are indeed ferret rescues. Ferrets end up in rescues mostly because their owners had no idea what they were getting themselves into and became overwhelmed. It's actually a reason lots of pets end up in shelters and rescues.
So, be a responsible pet owner. Do your research. Find a friend of a friend who has owned or currently owns a ferret. Talk to them. Ask them honest questions. Play with their ferret(s). Then make a responsible decision. Because ferrets really are a joy. When happy, they dance around making their squeaking noises and they can be affectionate and sweet. They're also pretty smart. I trained Kisser to come when his name was called, he could sit up for treats and roll over.
Have you been thinking about adopting a ferret? Want to know more about them? Or do you currently own a ferret and want to share some fun stories or help out with some advice? Then check out the resources below and leave a comment!
Ferret Rescues in Wyoming:
Frazzled Ferret Rescue
Director: T. Reimers
Director: Ann Clark
Ferret Rescues in Colorado:
Ferret Dreams Foster Home
Director: Matthew Jaramillo
Director: Lee Wise
Denver, CO 80210
The Crafty Ferret Rescue
Director: Vickey Bishop
Director: Stephanie Sheme
Also, check out the American Ferret Association, Inc! They are a fantastic resource!
This video from Pets 101 and Animal Planet is very informative too!
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