Ferret Tips


(We do not claim, in any way, to be experts in the care and raising of ferrets. All information provided
within this web site is based on our experiences & extensive research and is not provided as a professional
opinion. You need to consult your own vet, experienced with ferrets, for proper diagnosis in your situation.)

I want to start out by saying "Ferret Owner - Beware!" There are some manufacturers producing "Ferret"
products that are way over-priced because they are for "Ferrets". Some are not healthy, nor safe for your ferret.
Ferreting is becoming a profitable market. Unfortunately, some corporations feel profits have precedence over your pet.
Do not assume the retailer knows what is best. Please shop wisely!!

If you are not familiar with ferrets, you need to be informed before you commit to taking them into your
life. Although they are very comfortable being caged, they are not hamsters. They need to get out and
play. And not just when it's a good time for you. These critters need your time, love, and most of all
your patience & understanding. They can run free throughout your home, if you have prepared for it,
and supervise it. Even the best litter trained will have accidents. The smallest overlooked object can
kill them. Many times ferret owners, myself included, compare their ferrets to a two year old child. I've
been through 5 two year old stages with children, and none of them have tried to go places, get into
things, nor move as fast as these guys. A two year old child is a senior citizen compared to a ferret.
Research the responsibility , and know what you're getting into. There are ferret rescues and shelters
full of abused and neglected ferrets because people didn't take the time to educate themselves before
taking the responsibility. Please don't become one. Ready for the responsibility?...read on. And please,
read this entire page.

Ferret Proofing - Number one on the list. If they can get their head in, they will be in it, behind it, over it,
and under it. Never under estimate the curiosity of a ferret. Before our group gets released for
play time, we do a thorough checklist. Rooms they can't be in get closed. Things they can't have, get
put out of their reach. The table gets cleaned off, so they don't knock something off on to each other.
Wires need to be routed out of their reach. I actually had to mount a plate to the bottom of the stove to
keep them out. I had to literally screw the vents to the floor, as they figured out how to pull them up,
(and yes away they went.) If you have a rocker, or recliner, don't use it when they are out! (The number
one killer of ferrets!) Plants are a favorite. Get on the floor and look around, think like a ferret.

Diet - There are many, many "ferret" foods available today. Unfortunately, some of these are not the
best you can buy to meet your ferrets needs. I won't try to throw numbers at you, just look at the
nutritional info on the package. Spend an afternoon, (like we did) and look at the labels (yes nutrition
info is required on pet food) on every dry pet food at your local pet store. Ferrets have a very fast, and
sensitive digestive system. They need a high protein, high fat, low fiber diet. If the first two ingredients
on the label are not meat or meat by-products, don't buy it. If it's moist food, don't buy it. For years we
used Iams kitten formula. Although the nutritional value is good, and it is readily available in most stores,
it may have a downside. (See the following note involving "binders".) Then we went to Eukanuba "Chicken
& Rice" thinking it is the best choice for our fuzzbutts. Finally, Totally Ferret figured out what a ferret
needed for nutrition and offered their Premium product which we now buy faithfully and highly recommend.

NOTE - There is some discussion that fish protein has some dietary benefits. Meals (corn, rice, soy)
that are used as "binders" may have to be considered in food selection. Corn being the most common,
and acceptable, with rice being the easiest for ferrets to digest. By no means should they be the
primary ingredients, but should be considered when comparing foods.

Treats - Why should they be any different? At least 75% of the "ferret treats" I see in the ferret section are
sugar, which is, by the way, toxic to ferrets. I also see "cheese" treats. Dairy products are also unhealthy
for ferrets. Raisins and other fruits and veggies are great, in moderation. Search other parts of the treats
section, especially the cat isle, of your favorite pet store. Freeze dried shrimp is a favorite at our house.
Although low in fat, it is full of protein, & low on fiber. Look for the same ingredients, protein, fat, and fiber
requirements you expect from the food you give them, in the treats you give them.

Vitamins - To be perfectly honest...I would not put much into vitamin supplements. This is contrary
to our original belief as we have always provided our fuzzies with a water soluble vitamin and the
Ferrettone party mentioned throughout our site. The quality of ferret food and treats has improved to
the point that we no longer see it necessary to add additional supplements.

Health - Your first priority in maintaining your ferrets health is finding a vet with an in depth
knowledge of ferrets. Their medical needs are very specific and "general" veterinary practices don't
usually apply with ferrets. A vet with emergency services would be preferable. In many cases, once
your little guy show signs of a problem, you may have hours instead of days to get treatment. If you
or anyone in your family is sick with a cold or the flu, do not handle your ferrets anymore than you
must during your illness. They can catch it, we've been there. If they are showing the same symptoms
you have (sneezing, watery eyes, coughing), get them to your vet immediately. A weakened immune
system in a ferret is an invitation to further problems. Ferrets also need regular immunizations.

Illness - There are many, many afflictions that attack ferrets. I can only share our experiences. We have
been through ece (epizootic catarrhal enteritis, ie - the green poop). Not to be taken lightly, I had to
force feed Bandit & Lucky with a syringe for two weeks to keep them alive. During which time Bandit
also had to have her adrenal glands removed. Lucky had an ear infection that blew his ear drum out, and
was also diagnosed with, what we thought was insulinoma. We lost him to lymphosarcoma. Angel &
Pooh Bear have had adrenal surgery also. They have all made a trip to the vet because they caught my cold
and had to be put on antibiotics. There is a great deal of expense in treating many of the ailments that
ferrets are prone to have. Be financially prepared to responsibly meet their health care needs. If you
can not afford a last minute $300 vet bill, reconsider having a ferret as a pet, please. It's not fair to
make them suffer due to your lack of finances.

Grooming - Bathing a ferret daily makes them stink more...fact. Put your efforts into keeping their
housing clean. Under really dry conditions, use a ferret skin and fur conditioner. If you let their skin
and fur get dry, they will probably start to smell. Keep their ears clean. Dirty ears is a very common
cause of "ferret smell". Nails have to be kept trimmed. Long nails will get caught in carpets,
bedding, etc., and can actually pull the nail from their little paw. If you're uncomfortable with ear
cleaning and nail trimming, here's a good reason to give the fuzzie a check up at the vet!

Housing - Another case in point for uninformed pet store personal. Pine shavings ARE NOT good for
ferret bedding. Anything with scented oils should NOT be used. The oils cause respiratory distress in
ferrets. We use a recycled newspaper product in the litter boxes. The larger the cage, the better,
unless of course your fuzzies are allowed to run free 24 hours a day. We attached two large cages
together, and put some left over kitchen linoleum over the wire floors to keep their little paws healthy.
We added some corner sleepers, an old towel, hammocks are a must, and a few hanging sleepers. All
bedding gets washed at least once a week. Two or three times a year the entire set up goes outside
and gets a thorough scrubbing and sanitizing. Each cage is equipped with a litter box, food bowl, and
water bottle. Both litter boxes are cleaned twice a day, and the floors are wiped clean with a very, very
mild solution of sanitizing cleaner. Don't forget to wash and sanitize the food bowls and water bottles
frequently. Do not place the cage in direct sunlight, or in front of vents and other drafts. There is
currently some controversy with lighting in general and it's relationship to Adrenal Disease. Some
feel that a ferrets exposure to artificial lighting instead of natural sunlight may contibute to Adrenal
disease. There are no scientific facts at this time to verify this one way or the other. We try to moderate
their room lighting as if they were in the wild. Day is day, night is night. Making sure to give them the
sanctuary of a "hidey hole" of darkness within the cage, whether it be blanket, sleeper, etc..

Exercise - An absolute must! These guys need to get out and run. If you keep yours caged while
you're not home, make sure they get at least 3 to 4 hours of run time a day. Ours run for 1 to 2 hours in
the morning before work, and again in the evening. If you take them outside, use a special fitted ferret
harness, and leash. Do not take your ferret out in extreme heat. They are very prone to heat stroke.
Anything above 75 degrees is reaching their limit. A great game we play is "The Blanket Ride". Any
blanket, sheet, towel works fine. Just drag it across the floor, and they will go nuts! It is excellent
exercise for you and them!

Odor - I've received many e-mails on odor problems. All I can say is, if you keep them on a healthy diet,
including vitamin supplements, and follow the grooming & bedding suggestions, there should not be
an odor problem.

Toys - Oh yes toys. It is what ferrets live for. If there is any possible way they can tear a piece off, get
rid of it. And it's tough to determine WHAT they can tear apart and WHAT is ferret proof! Most baby
toys are ferret proof. For the most part, anything NEW brought into the home is a toy. A grocery sack,
a ups box, a clean basket of laundry, a dirty basket of laundry, a plastic bag (with the handles cut of
course). Throw a blanket on the floor, they'll play in it. Give them a long section of dryer vent to tunnel
in (making sure to cover the exposed wire at each end.) You can buy new toys to no end, but they will
still go after the sack you just took it out of. Make sure it's safe. A ferret needs constant mental
stimuli. Something different to discover, something new.

This leads me into:

Awareness - Know what your ferrets daily routine is. Check that poop daily. Don't just clean it, know it.
As well as we have ferret proofed, as vigilant as we are, we still have children in this house. Their property
has breached our tight security and been transported to ferret hidey hole more than once. Realizing I am
dealing with a higher intelligence, my second line of defense is the litter box. When I see something un-natural
in the litter box, I go for what I call my ferret-rooter, (cat hair-ball remedy, malt flavor), and they
all get a dose. Know their attitude, energy level, all habits. Know their routine, their activities. Most
important, know their personalities. If you see change, there may be a health problem.

The world of living with ferrets is a world of responsibility, commitment, patience, & financial loads.
If you can't meet all of these requirements, please reconsider getting a ferret as a companion. If you
feel ready to take this on and enjoy the return they offer, I ask just this....Seriously consider adopting
from a ferret shelter. These little guys, especially the older ones, didn't ask to be bought at a pet store
by humans that didn't educate themselves before bringing them home. All they want is to be loved and
to have a warm, safe place to call home. They will love you back just as much, if not more, than any
ferret you can buy at a pet store. Before you leave our site, please read this letter.

Any further suggestions or conflicts with any of the information provided here is welcome. We
appreciate our visitors feedback.