A home for your ferret can take many forms: a cage, an aquarium, or a small, spare room in your house. Whatever type of home you choose, keep in mind that ferrets require an hour or two of freedom each day for play, exercise, and human companionship.
Do not expose your ferret to extremes of temperature. Living conditions that rise above 30C will cause physical stress and fatigue. Keep cages away from areas prone to drafts or direct sunlight, heating and air conditioning sources.
An ideal source for bedding are old towels, fuffed up so your ferret can lie within them.
Clean the cage once a week with water and a mild detergent. Allow the detergent to settle for 10 minutes; then rinse thoroughly with clean water. Change the bedding on a weekly basis.
Wash, clean and replenish food bowls daily, especially if the food spoils easily. The bowls will also need a detergent wash once a week.
Maintain water bottles by cleaning with detergent, rinsing and refilling two to three times a week depending on the number of ferrets living together.
Ferrets will eat commercially prepared ferret pellets and quality cat biscuits. Outside these choices, tastes, likes and dislikes will vary. Most ferrets respond to treats of one type or another. Favourite nibbles range from raisins, cucumbers, cooked shrimp, and baby food, to vegetables, fruits and dry cereal. Registered vets stock a range of nutritious treats as well.
Ferrets shouldn't be fed dairy products or alcohol. Like most of their owners, though, ferrets usually have a soft spot for confectionery. Refrain from offering sweets too often. And while bones aren't suitable, small pieces of meat are enjoyed by some ferrets. As a rule, feed treats sparingly. Too many treats will discourage the ferret from eating it''s regular, more wholesome food.
Though some ferrets will lap up the occasional mouthful of fruit juice, by far the recommended drinking liquid is cool, clean water.
Two baths per month are usually sufficient to keep your ferret clean and its coat radiant. Wash with a mild pet shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Avoid over-bathing as it can dry out the skin and cause itching.
Nails should be clipped every six weeks. Be careful to only cut the very tips and avoid the visible blood vessel extending underneath from the root of the nail. If in doubt, seek guidance from your pet centre or allow your vet to perform the clipping.
Check ears once a month for evidence of any mites. This may be apparent if the ferret often shakes its head or scratches its ears. Seek treatment from your vet.
Ferrets are hardy pets and may never become seriously ill. Nevertheless, disease may intrude when it is least expected. Always be on the alert for these types of illness:
Canine Distemper: symptoms iclude a discharge from the corners of the eyes. If you are concerned, get the ferret vaccinated by your vet.
Intestinal Tract Obstruction: this is a common, deadly condition often caused by swallowing foreign material. If severe depression, dull, lifeless looking eyes, bloating, tenderness of the abdominal area and vomiting is noticeable contact your vet immediately.
Hairballs: use hairball laxative for cats.
Heat stress / Heat stroke: symptoms include panting, bright red gums, tongue hanging from mouth, signs of weakness, muscle tremors, or lying perfectly flat or unconscious. Act immediately and place the ferret in a cool shaded area or in cold water. Contact your vet without delay.
Fleas: use a treatment recommended by your vet, such as Advantage.
Always call your veterinarian immediately if your ferret:
- Stops eating;
- Is lethargic;
- Is vomiting;
- Is choking or coughing;
- Develops diarrhea or bloody stools;
- Is scratching its ears;
- Is drooling;
- Becomes suddenly more aggressive or passive;
- Has swelling or lumps on its body;
- Emits strange odors (from ears, anus, mouth);
- Has an unusual discharge;
- Is losing an excessive amount of weight;
- Appears bloated or uncomfortable;
- Is breathing abnormally;
- Has nosebleeds;
- Develops loss of bladder or bowel control;
- Shows signs of weakness or confusion;
- Loses control in its legs;
- Is shaking or rolling;
- Shows blue gums or tongue.