Want to make sure you are doing the right thing for your ferret? Here Sara Lamming, owner of the wonderful charity ‘Prospect Ferret Rescue’ supported by Vitalin, experts in ferret nutrition provides advice on how to care for your ferret.
What Housing do you Suggest for a Ferret?
Ferrets are natural foragers and have an inquisitive nature so it is important to think about this when looking at suitable housing and accommodation. The size of the living area needs to be as big as possible – for ferrest the bigger the space the better. More than one level is also desired to encourage them to climb around and exercise.
Having an area that is dark for them to sleep in is ideal so they can nestle away, with a soft towel or fleece to keep them warm.
Ferrets can cope extremely well in cooler climates but too much heat is something that ferrets’ struggle with. It is important to keep their living space cool, well ventilated and out of direct sunlight.
Creating a litter area can be effective in toilet training ferrets, however this needs to be cleared out regularly otherwise your ferret will go elsewhere.
Making sure the area is also secure is key because ferrets are well known for squeezing through the smallest gaps.
What should ferrets be fed?
Because ferrets are obligate carnivores, they cannot tolerate vegetables, fruit, cereals or dairy. Ferrets can be fed either raw or cooked chicken but this depends on what the ferret was fed as a youngster. For example if the ferret was fed raw chicken at a young age the owner should continue feeding raw chicken.
Due to the ferret having a small digestive system, food can pass through them within three hours. So it is important to supply small amounts of good quality kibble throughout the day and then feeding them chicken in the morning and at night.
Many owners believe dog biscuits and dog food are a good source of food, however this is incorrect.
At the rescue centre we are fortunate to be supported by Vitalin and their ferret food has been carefully formulated as a nutritionally complete and balanced recipe to provide ferrets with all the nutrients required for a happy and healthy life. The food is hypoallergenic and wheat gluten free food containing high quality protein from 100% British Chicken with rice.
As well as a good quality diet consistent supply of fresh water is vital to maintain your ferrets health.
What is the best way to hold them?
Make sure you give them enough support from underneath when holding your ferret.
Try and keep them away from your face due to their acute sense of smell and if there is a smell after you have eaten they will not fail to go for a nip.
How do you keep ferrets entertained?
They are sociable creatures so it is best to have a friend or be in a group to keep themselves entertained. An important note to remember is that if you are introducing a new ferret to the group it requires time and patience.
It is vital to stimulate their natural inquisitiveness by changing their play items regularly. Toys like tubes, cardboard boxes with holes and even a paper bag can keep them busy for a couple of hours.
What signs do you look for if a ferret is unwell?
General issues to look out for are not eating, runny, green or black faeces while drooling and pawing at the mouth are also indications that the ferret is unwell. It is important to seek advice from your vet if any of these are noticed.
How often do females come into season?
Females (Jills) can go into season once or twice a year. With the females they either have to be mated or be given a hormone injection. Failing to do this can result in infection which could result in serious health problems.
It is best to get your ferrets’ neutered as unneutered males can give off a much stronger smell and become more aggressive.