Problems With Keeping Ferrets as Pets - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
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Problems With Keeping Ferrets as Pets

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I had a really hard time owning a ferret due to the amount of care they require.

disadvantages-of-keeping-ferrets-as-pets

It is a very, very tough job keeping ferrets as pets for a number of reasons. Here are some of the big ones below:

  • They smell. Ferrets smell really bad to most people. Animal lovers don't find the scent awful, but it is definitely strong. Some describe it as musky, but I find that the smell of strong artificial chocolate is the closest way to describe it. Males generally smell stronger than females, while neutered ones smell more mild. If you don't wash and dry one thoroughly an hour before traveling, you'll get many people turning their noses up at you and your pet on public transportation, which can be very embarrassing. I found out that any smell = bad. People don't want to smell anything, basically.
  • They poop. A lot. How much? At least 10 times a day, and the consistency is like brown toothpaste. You can't stop them from going as much either, as their digestive tracts are very short. Not all can be litter-trained, and a lot of the time they'll still go outside of the litter tray. You have to put the tray in a corner where they choose to do their business, and most like doing it in more than one corner, which means lots of trays. You have to be willing to clean up accidents regularly and to keep trays as clean as possible, because a dirty one will not be used. You will also have to smear some feces on it whenever you clean the trays, because otherwise, the ferret might mistake it for a bed instead.
  • They might bite. You'll have to be very, very careful in selecting yours. If it bites the human hand, it is next to impossible to train it not to. If you move your hand away, the ferret will learn that it will be able to do what it wanted, which was to drive you away, even if its intention was to play (you became "it" when you moved away!) Some have luck in training them not to bite, but I have not, and I have had mine for over two years. Others who are more experienced will say it is because I have been a bad parent or owner. But why is it that all the other pets I have kept have never bitten me? Basically, expect to be bitten with blood to be seen. This is why ferrets are not good for children. They also bite each other to induce play, and this is their normal behaviour. Unless you teach it that it is unacceptable to bite humans, you cannot expect it not to bite. (Note: Be careful in London. I suspect there is a breeder out there breeding bad genes. London ferrets tend to be more prone to biting a lot, for some reason.)
  • They are difficult to walk. You can take it out for walks, but you can't expect them to walk with you. Most don't, and for those that do, they only run in straight lines against a wall, so it is hard to cross roads with them. It is very hard to take more than two out for walks with you. Speaking of . . .
  • You need to get more than one. You must always get ferrets as a pair or more. Although I wouldn't advise more than three.
  • They need a lot of freedom. Not only that, they need a lot of playtime. Keeping them caged for long periods of time is cruel, just like it would be cruel to cage a dog. Ferrets are highly intelligent animals, more so than rodents—they possess around the same intelligence as a dog or cat. They also have lots of energy that needs to be spent on playtime daily. Otherwise, they can be very destructive, messing up litter trays, food, water, and even chipping their teeth through constant biting of their cages.
  • The vet bills are expensive. So expensive. On top of that, it is hard to find cheap insurance for ferrets. They are often classified as exotic pets, when they're really domestic, and there is nothing exotic about them, they're just uncommon pets. They are very prone to genetical diseases—especially cancer, and treatment is very costly. Don't bother getting one, unless you have at least a grand saved for each that you plan on owning. Although they are becoming increasingly popular as pets, many vets still don't know what a ferret is, and some that do are very insensitive towards them, not wanting to touch them and are always thinking they will bite. Most don't know how to treat them for more ferret-related illnesses, and you have to be careful about the ones that claim that they do. You need to find the right one.

If you read all of this and none of this puts you off, then you are one of very few! If you are willing to go through the above, then a ferret may be the perfect pet for you. Otherwise, you should really consider a different pet.

A jill and hob, mother and son

A jill and hob, mother and son

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2010 neoyyf

Comments

Brandon Kelley on August 03, 2020:

....I agree fully with the comments this guys an idiot. I knew nothing about ferrets and bought 1 anyway. I read 1 article on scruffing and was able to get him to never bite in 2 days. Literally never bite. He never even drew blood when we was! They hold you're hand with their mouth not latch on top do damage. If you're going to hit them then ya expect damage, wouldn't you in the same situation? It's appalling this article and I agree with the others you shouldn't have pets period. Mine smell like Doritos (seriously lol) 50/50 vinegar/water I use to clean cage. 2 twice a day. Morning and when I get off work. He walks but why would I he's not a dog is a ferret. If you want to go for walks get a dog obviously. We now have 4. Only challenge I find is trying to feed them without them all escaping in glee and licking the crap out of my arms wanting out!

Coe on July 21, 2020:

Got 1 ferret playes with the 2 dogs juup and nips them and no problem got tunnels under the grass for her 8ft hutch back patio with a place for her sleeps out side now without been locked in one happy kitt

Neo on July 20, 2020:

Well... You shouldn't even have ANY pets!! My family has 3 fur baby's and noone had any problems what's so ever... Don't buy and have pets if you think you can't give them the time they deserve! Pets are not toys what you can just put aside and then play with them when you're bored... Pets are part of family and they deserve same amount of care and time like you give to anyone else in the family... I can explain like this to you : When you were a child, you pooped a lot and cried, but your parents kept you... make sense?

Indydi on July 17, 2020:

Wow. The author of this article shouldn't own ANY pet. So much of this is grossly exaggerated.

I owned 7 ferrets several years ago, 4 from pet stores, 3 rescue, most of them at the same time. They were wonderful. They are a fair amount of work, mostly because I had so many, but it was worth it. They were so much fun. For most people I would recommend getting 2 or 3 (never one!). Two is less work than one, as they can play with each other in addition to playing with you.

Yes, they have a musky scent, something akin to popcorn. I didn't mind it at all. We often put our faces right into their fur. My kids--who had a lot of experience with animals and helped with the training of the kits--were great with them, and likewise the ferrets great with the kids.

Yes, they poop often. But their poop wasn't that loose--I would expect the diet fed by this "author" was insufficient. Again, having so many, I cleaned litter boxes twice a day, but it was quick and easy.

They do need playtime outside the cage every day. But that's fun time. They will steal your stuff (keys, etc.) and hide it from you, a charming quirk of the ferret that we enjoyed.

NONE of mine bit at all once they grew out of the kitten stage. None of the rescues bit, ever. For babies, all it takes is consistent training. With one that was more persistent, I would just push the hand she was biting down a little farther into her mouth. She didn't like that, and very quickly stopped.

I also think some of the diseases ferrets are prone to can be avoided by feeding a carnivore diet--even raw, if possible, or at least partially raw. This also helps with the poop issue.

And yes, vet bills are expensive. But that's true for any animal. If you don't have the money for eventual vet bills, don't get a pet. It's preposterous to state that some vets don't know what a ferret is. They might not know a lot about them, though, which is why you need to find an exotic vet.

You can't walk them like a dog? Okay, well, they AREN'T a dog. If that's what you want, get a dog.

There is no animal as comical as the ferret. They are hilarious to watch and to play with. You need toys--a dirt or sandbox for digging (a Rubbermaid container works fine), tubes, paper bags, balls, plastic bowls, dog toys, etc. Ours were very sweet. We enjoyed them so much, I'm thinking about getting some more at this later stage in my life. The biggest problem with ferrets is that they don't live long enough.

As with any animal about which you are not familiar, do your research before adopting. Really find out what you're getting into.

Pet stores just want to make a sale, so unless your store is unusual, do your learning elsewhere. That's easy nowadays.

The outlandishness of this article makes me lose respect for this site for any reliable information.

Elle Chandler on July 04, 2020:

This article is not helpful and the author does not have much experience with ferrets. I am not really sure why it was posted in the first place. If you are anti-ferret, move on to the next pet then.

The majority of the article is untrue and the author sounds more like a lazy, disheveled, angry human being who was disappointed because he actually had to CARE for his pet. I won't make the mistake of visiting this site in the future. PETHELPFUL.COM is no help at all.

Amnity on July 03, 2020:

We have rescued a ferret we found in the parking lot at our apartments. I looked up stuff from minute one and got appropriate things for her. She is sweet as pie, doesn't nip at all, uses the litter box (mostly), and the smell isn't that bad. We looked for her owners, but no one has claimed her. She plays with my 7 and 3 year olds. We haven't had any issues. The only thing on your list that fits Frankie is the vet. Which obviously we haven't saved for, as we weren't looking for a pet at the time. Also, fleas will be an issue if they go outside. We have to get flea meds also.

Ann Parkins on June 29, 2020:

Some correct description. Ferrets may bite from kits just like any baby animal. They will get out of this habit, a sharp ouch and no should be used, if older and they attempt to bite. A rescue ferret who is older should be left to get to know it's new surroundings. Never just grab and pick up. Always be ready to watch out if they go to bite, same response ouch and no. Place on floor and do not interact, for a few mins, they soon realise biting means, no play. If you do get one that refuses to let go, run cold water tap and put

under, they should let go.

Anita on June 25, 2020:

While it is true that ferrets do have a slight smell and poops a lot,you fail to mention about them being very smart and curious. They also form a strong bond with their human and fur families. They are loving and energetic. You should also only bathe them a couple times a year and only with plain oatmeal and water. Maybe your article should add a little positivity. I have two of these wonderful fur babies. I had three and lost one to cancer. Also I feel that you should have started your article with something like this...” If you are thing of having a ferret for a pet, here are a few things you need to know”.

Anne on June 02, 2020:

We have two ferrets and neither of them bite. They're both very playful

Lauren on May 20, 2020:

Not all ferrets bite. I had one ferret (rascal) who never made any attempt to bite or nip at anyone. My other ferrets were easily trained not to bite. All I had to do was give them a little tap on the nose and say “No” and they soon learn that biting is unacceptable. While they may not be good pets for young children, in general ferrets are wonderful little pets.

Michael Scholz on May 20, 2020:

why should i get a ferret

Lila on May 13, 2020:

My parents won’t let me get a ferret. Why should I get one?

Kimberly on May 05, 2020:

Seriously? I had 5 ferrets at one time. Unfortunately one of my babies passed over the rainbow bridge and I currently have 4. Ferrets are wonderful pets. They sleep up to 18 hours a day so the free time they need is not overwhelming. Ferrets can have a slight musky smell but it is not bad. Keep their bedding clean and feed them good food and the smell is nothing. Sure they poop. But most are litter box trained. I have a stroller for my babies instead of walking them on a leash. All animals can bite and all vet bills are expensive. The only hard part about having a ferret is that you never realize how much you will love them. Most only live to 8 years and that is just too short of a time for something so wonderful.

Tom on May 05, 2020:

This list could not possibly be more wrong if it tried.

Logan on April 02, 2020:

i want a ferret for my birthday with is on the fourth, but my mom will probably only get me me one, what do i do about this,ferrets are my dream pets,but worse case scenario i just wont get one

Well on March 11, 2020:

This is a really outdated list lol.

Sourish on January 09, 2020:

How do you clean a ferret litter box

remi kay on November 29, 2019:

see i haven't got my ferret yet because i'm scared that my dog will be sad. Does anyone know what to do about this. Did anyone go through this? i know that i would love my ferret but i am scared about my dog so if anyone knows what to do about this then please tell me.

Sammyb on November 08, 2019:

My ferrets were best decision of my life! So loving and rewarding and as for biting that goes away w time and patience and trust(them trusting you). They are a lot of work and expensive when sick but worth every penny. And lastly my babies never even see a cage they have a special room just for them. But do not just get them and throw them on side of road like so many people do, the bond deeply to their people and are not garbage if become more work than expected.

zoninks on August 16, 2019:

Do ferrets die if I don't feed 'em for a bout an hour or 2?

Insanity Wolf from Vukojebina on September 27, 2018:

Isaac

Ferrets can be a royal pain at times but honestly, they're the best pets to have

Insanity Wolf from Vukojebina on September 27, 2018:

Bobbi

My ferret Attila always has a fast heart rate it's just the nature of the Beast I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about

bobbi on August 09, 2018:

im an owner and his heart rate is fast what do i do?

Isaac Ince from USA on March 14, 2018:

I want to adopt a small baby ferret, but I heard and searched for them, its cost is not affordable to me. My father doesn't like ferrets because of they are naughty and mess the home all other things. https://www.bestferretcages.com/how-much-do-ferret...

Avilyn on March 13, 2018:

I love FERRETS more than my sister

ferret lover on February 15, 2018:

awsome sauce

Whyyyyyyy on December 12, 2017:

I feel

Ally want to keep mine but no one in my family likes them (and they pooped from the cage to my floor I wouldn't recommend them unless you have 4-5 hours a day to spend with them +space a lot of it and a sensy or heavily scented candles and at least 1 hour to clean their cage a day

Grace on August 24, 2017:

As a child are they easy to have as pets or are they better looked after by adults?

Fluffy on April 04, 2017:

My ferret is going through pain we don't have enough money for the vets he hasn't ate in 3 days hes only been drinking very little :( will he die!? I'm getting a new ferret soon because his sister died 2 weeks ago ;(

Delysid on January 01, 2017:

Pretty informative about pets in general but it sounds like you may resent owning a ferret. In fact, if someone finds an issue with any of the negative qualities listed above, they may want to reconsider owning any pet. I've heard of more dog bite hospitalizations than ferret bites. Regardless of what kind of animal, if you raise your pet from a baby and it's allowed inside at all, chances are it will have an accident inside. If you can't handle poop, don't have pets.

As far as vet bills go, my ferret was considered "exotic" and her checkup cost about 15 dollars more than my dog.

Walking your ferret on a leash and harness is nothing like walking a dog. Ferrets like to explore and burrow, therefore they like to stay by walls and corners. When I "walk" my ferret I drop her off in the middle of a grassy area and let her decide where she wants to go, that way we're not fighting each other every step of the way.

And if smell is a problem, make sure the cage stays clean and your ferret has a bath every 3-4 months. My ferret is by far the easiest pet I've ever bathed. Turn the pressure low and slightly warm water, she just lays and basques under the removable shower head.

I'm not saying owning a ferret is easy by any means, but if someone is seriously considering adding a fuzzy squeezel to their family, don't take this article as complete truth. Check out www.friendlyferret.com and read some info on there too. The woman that runs the site is super polite and she will answer any questions you may have.

Jett on May 17, 2016:

very useful planning on buying one

Archer6 on April 02, 2016:

Half of this article is total BS. Ferrets are easily litter trained, can be broken of biting, and the smell can be managed to almost 0 with proper care (ex. Not bathing them too often, a common mistake which increases their scent).

Lilo's Mommy on April 18, 2015:

***correction to my earlier post. I was referring to spayed and intact female ferrets as both 'Jills'. Jills are the term for non-spayed females. Sprites are spayed. An intact male is a Hob while a fixed male is a Gib***

Lilo's Mommy on April 18, 2015:

**Please note: NEVER purchase an intact Jill (non-spayed) only respectable breeders should ever have an intact Jill. Ferrets will become locked in a heat if they are not bred and that will lead to their death. If you have a breeder offering you a Jill that has not been fixed, I, myself, would never buy from them.**

One thing that was never brought up in this article is the fact that most ferrets (whites at least) are very prone to losing their hearing and vision. All ferrets, unlike other domesticated animals are also very susceptible to human illness, ie. the flu or colds which is why I do not recommend having ferrets with young children who often pick up plagues at daycare.

My little girl is now fully def, just over 10 years, looking like a grandma but just as playful as the first day I brought her home. Her brother (Stitch) sadly passed away a number of years ago and she has been a lone ferret ever since as she does not have the patience to play with any other ferrets I have introduced her to for play dates. Although I believe it has made our relationship stronger and tighter, she does love to chase after our cats and our dog.

Ferrets NEED time. When they are awake, they need to play and bond with their humans although something else that was left out, is that they tend to sleep for about 16 hours a day, so your day as an owner is not spent running around after them with a poop scoop, bleeding hands, and trying to also find time to play.

They can learn boundaries, they can be 'taught' not to bite (and no one should ever encourage any animal to lick their fingers- with a tasty treat or otherwise-ferrets especially, of course you will get nipped as they try to run off with the tasty treat and 'ferret it away' for later. Never EVER try to stop nipping by slapping something delicious on your appendages and shoving it into their face to 'lick' bad bad bad)

Each ferret is unique. Stitch was a cuddler, and never wanted to play, Lilo is a digger and chaser and does not really wish to be held for long periods. So just like with biting, most ferrets will respond well to consistent correction, once you figure out what speaks to them. Lilo responded to scruffing while Stitch needed a yelp from the bitten person. When ferrets play they play rough and hard with each other since their pain receptors are not the same as ours. So when ferrets are rough housing with each other (it can even appear to be fighting) usually a shrill cry from one will get the biter to let go and back off. Lilo is def, so that was not an option for her, but Stitch quickly learnt what MY pain tolerance was and learned with play I did not appreciate being nipped at.

Now onto odors:

Ferrets, de-scented or otherwise smell distinctly like ferrets. It is unique, and distinct, but it does not need to be overtly over powering or even the first thing picked up on when guests are entering the home. Lilo and Stitch had baths once a month, their bedding was changed and laundered every week. After bathtime both Lilo and Stitch would be sprinkled with some baby powder and get to roll around and play in their towel bag for as long as they desired. This kept the scent down. Frequent bathing dries out their skin and produces more of their scented oils. More baths=more stink. ((**Now I know some will tell me the powder from the baby powder is not good for them to have enhaled, my girl is now over 10 years old, and her brother lived to 7 years and died of cancer, not caused by talc either**)) Also after bath time they would have their bellies rubbed with some vasoline. This is a super way of helping them keep down any 'hairball' like blockages which could be fatal to them. Unlike cats they don't vomit, they have to pass everything they ingest via the back door. They will get hairballs so they do need a laxative. Vasoline after a bath aided in the passing of the hair that they would be injesting after licking themselves dry.

Ferrets and Vets:

Ferrets are fearless, curious and problem solvers. These traits can be a dangerous combination. They will climb, fall, get stuck, bury in things they shouldn't and open anything that is not locked or sealed off. Many owners of ferrets, despite their due diligence, can anticipate and should have budgeted for an unplanned emergency vet visit; and vets that are familiar with ferrets are not as common as those that look after dogs and cats. They are out there however, and should be found first before picking up a ferret. Besides, you always want to have a vet check your new family member out before bringing them home to your other ferrets, pets, or children. Ferrets are brilliant creatures, too brilliant in some regards. child locked cupboards, plastic covered plugs on outlets...if they have seen that the plug can come out, or the cupboard can open, they will try their darndest to get around any of the barriers you have put in place to protect them. So when you have your ferret in an environment where there can be hazards, you can not sit back an entrust that that danger is unreachable by them. They do need your constant supervision, as well as you need to have your eyes on them at all times because they are so fast, you may have just seen them a room away, take a step back and accidentally step on your little guy or girl.

Ferrets are not a pet for a lazy owner. But realistically no pet should be. They are the bridge between the "dog" and the "cat" person. They sleep most of the time like the laid back cat, but they will rush to meet you when you come home from a long day at work, they are loyal, affectionate and rely on their owner for companionship and interaction like the dog.

Tex on April 02, 2015:

Good stuff, neoyyf. I had a friend whose mate was keeping a pet ferret in their apartment. I was told the ferret was amiable. Before trying to pet the ferret, I put on a glove and left plenty of slack at the tip of one finger. I gently reached out to pet the ferret, and the ferret clamped down hard with its teeth on the tip of the glove. It didn't let go for some time, so I got a pencil out and gave it a thump. I don't think I will be getting a ferret as a pet.

mike on January 01, 2015:

What a negative article. Ferrets are great and easy. 5 min per day to clean the cage, at least 29 min outside cage per day (i let them roam two hours per day).

rob on August 07, 2014:

i don,t believe what you say is true about ferrets biting our jill bit like there was no tomorrow no after 4 weeks we can do whatever we want with her it,s the way you treat them and for moving your hand away yes ferrets love to chase your hand and anything else for that matter she still nips at play most people injure themselves when a ferret is play nipping do not pull away as this rips your skin if the ferret is trying to bite you push your hand towards it not away even i finger pushed into it,s mouth normally works for us , fun they are deffo fun more so than a hampster or rat even a guinea pig

Julie Forrest on July 27, 2014:

By are people so stupid about albinos? The local pet I had 4 baby ferrets. 3 were little raccoon bandits and 1 albino. The 3 were gone the first day put out but the albino was there a week later. I held him each time I went in.The store manager says albinos scare people because of their red eyes. They are thought of as demonic. So i bought him. I've had ferrets many times over the years but never an albino. This 8 wk baby is the sweetest gentlest most mellow baby I've ever owned.He loves to play and bite and scratch but never breaks my skin. He kisses on the lips and never causes pain. He nurses on the skin between my fingers. I have fallen madly in love with this albino baby as he's brought out all my maternal instincts.Never have I had such a sweet natured ferret! Now for a name and find a good vet for him. I adore this baby!!!

tim on February 23, 2014:

I have always had only one ferret they play well with the cat and dog as company and seem to get better attached to us.

Only ferret i had that bit at all was my little girl and that was very light one the toes and my nose to play and never hard enough to hurt.

I have had a ferret as a pet since my first boy was born 21 years ago and love them, the hardest parts for me is the short life span (longest was 8 years) and the poop(they are poop machines lol).

Jake on December 17, 2013:

I don't fully agree with you but some things yeah. I think you've had a bad experience with ferrets and it clouds your judgement then again maybe my judgement is clouded by my love for them. I'm new to ferret owning and I just got a six month old female. She clamps down hard on my hand and wont let go. I think its fear bitting because she has been taken out of her home but she is improving and its only been 4 days. You don't have to get multiple ferrets some enjoy having you to themselves and others love the company of another ferret to attack. I will say this: If you arent willing or are unable to devote at least 3 or 4 hours a day playing with a ferret either you shouldn't get one or you should think about maybe getting two but to be honest it really should be the former choice there. Anyway despite all the bite wounds I have I love my fuzzy and I know with time and patience I can break her of her bitting. Plus its way too cute seeing her war dance across my room after nipping me like a naughty little bugger.

Nick on December 03, 2013:

A lot of this is scaremongering. Maybe it's because I've kept working ferrets since I was 12; I'm now 29, I don't know if that makes me an 'expert';

"Wet Dogs" do smell; a different smell just like ferrets who are over bathed or whose bedding hasn't been changed often; but a smell nonetheless.

This smell is in my eyes the only drawback to ferrets.

Ferrets are easy to nip train; just like dogs/cats however you get some 'nasty' ones but even they can be 'taught' to behave better. Saliva on edge of finger to encourage licking; along with resisting the urge to 'pull away' and using the other hand to scruff the ferret when it does nip works best. If it clamps on, consider have you lifted them off the floor in reaction to the bite? The ferret can't see the floor. Push back and choke release as mentioned.

Ferrets live more comfortably in pairs upwards; Jills are usually a tad more grumpy than hobs but hobs smell worse.

Jill's cost a fortune if they are not spayed for various reasons that any good ferret book will tell you.

Litter training is a cinch.

As for the rough housing with kids; that's not an issue in my opinion, ferrets are tough as you like, and play really rough, in fact I push, roll and tap my ferrets about in quite a rough way when they start 'dooking' to play.

Ferret vets are best 'sought' because otherwise a vet charges by weight and gas cost etc, so you get inflated prices for neutering etc.

I think this article overly labours personal opinion. If you want to get a ferret, get a book written by those who use working ferrets like James McKay because we've been working ferrets since Egyptian times like cats, it's only since the 80's they've become fashionable pets for town.

Oh and walking on a lead? Lol I always laugh at that; I just can't quite see it myself being a 'ferret thing' but each to there own!

Jessica L. D. on November 06, 2013:

I love my little boy. I have had him for a month now. He is a bit of a handful sometimes. Like no matter where I put the litter box he poops everwhere else. He likes to squeeze in tight places and then he gets stuck. He bites all the time also. Even still I love him like he was my own baby. When he nips I know its hide and seek time. He licks me sometimes and he cuddles rarely, but I love my energetic little guy. There is nothing he could do to make me want him gone.

xwolf99@clearwire.net on September 01, 2013:

We have six in our business and most of what you say I disagree with all six have different personalities and have to be treated differently. They are all very smart and come when called by name. they are all lovable and have their quirks which makes them special. they are our favorite pets.

We have 4 horses, chickens a bloodhound and a wolf and the ferrets would be the last to go.

melody on June 05, 2013:

Belinda - I don't know how I missed that you are letting young random children "shake & throw" your ferret around. Do you understand that's an excellent way for it to get injured or killed?!!

melody on June 05, 2013:

There is a lot of misinformation in this article. Most of the ferret smell is due to a poor diet. Feed them a raw diet & the smell goes away - no one knows I even have one until she walks up to say hi. Ferrets CAN be trained not to bite. They are actually not social animals (you are referring to an extension of juvenile behaviour) so it is not necessary to have more than one. It is necessary for their owners to spend lots of time with them since they ARE domesticated. As for Belinda's post regarding sticking her pet in a cage for the "rest of the day" if it had an accident - that's cruel. A couple of minutes is plenty of time. Ferrets are amazing intelligent fun pets for people willing to learn how to care for them properly!

Belinda on May 02, 2013:

I have one ferret named Pixel, and she is absolutely the most wonderful pet in the world. When I got her, she was 3 months, she is now 3 & 1/2 years old. When she was young, if she tried to bite, I would VERY lightly tap on her nose and tell her "no", and when she "had an accident" outside of her cage instead of returning there to use her litter tray, I would put her back in her cage for the rest of the day, and playtime was over. Now she's the most well-behaved ferret I've ever seen. She follows us around the house, from room to room, pulling on our pant legs for attention. I take her for walks, and she loves going to the park and playing with kids. She plays with my stepsons, who are 5 and 2, and she lets them and other random kids at the park shake her, throw her, drop her in the sand, pull her, etc.. and she war dances away and tries to play tag other hide and seek. She knows the meaning of no, along with a few other words, and she loves to come and snuggle in bed with us. The only complaint I have - she steals all our stuff and hides it under the bed! But at least were know where to look! Next week, we're getting our second ferret. (:

FrannieFerret on February 24, 2013:

Maybe we just just got lucky, but our girl is super easy. She is litter trained and RARELY has accidents, but we are vigilant about putting her in her cage to use the box every couple of hours. She plays great with everyone, never bites. She's a marshall's ferret, and I've heard they tend to be bred more docile anyway. Oh and there's this great product called "pet head," we spritz her with it every other day or so and she never smells ferret-y. Washing her bedding once a week keeps the cage from getting funky too. We love our little fuzzy!

neoyyf (author) from UK on January 03, 2013:

I keep dogs now and the smell is completely different and definitely less "animal" like. If you are comparing ferret smells to a big dog smell, yes, big dogs like labradors stink, like something dirty. But small dogs like Chihuahuas smell delightful. Especially their paws!

When you keep ferrets there is no mistaking the smell when you walk into a house. With my Chihuahuas, you wouldn't notice it, and I rarely bath them.

Vet bills, we all hope that out pets only go for routine vaccinations but more often than not, this is not the case. A lot of vets will not give good treatment for your ferret because they just have no experience with them. I have had ferrets with tummy upset and was given Metacam (which i think is a painkiller) for it. Completely useless. So I had to trek outside the city to see a specialist who wanted a lot of money for tests (i don't remember what as this was 5 years ago) and so I had to refuse. Luckily the diarrhea passed on its own and it wasn't a big deal but you can imagine how frightening it is for a new owner. At the time my ferret wouldn't eat, drink and dirtied himself like he was dying. I guess my point is if you don't have money, don't get ferrets because you should expect to pay overpriced vet fees.

neoyyf (author) from UK on January 03, 2013:

Yes, they are social animals. They get a better standard of living when with another species of their own. It isn't fair otherwise.

Nanuska on December 27, 2012:

I have had and trained ferrets for over 15 years now and I must admit that I disagree with most of your ferret disadvantages. First of all the ferret smell can be dealt with by applying number a products for instance ferret deo. Alternatively, you can walk your ferrets and let them roll in gras or leaves and they will smell lovely and earthy. I personally think dogs smell even worse and still it is a preferred pet for many. Secondly, I have taught all of my ferrets to go for walks. The last ferret I taught, I got when she was five years old and she loves to cross the road and run in the park.Thirdly, I cannot recognise spending huge amounts on vet bills. Quiet to the contrary I have had several ferrets that have only gone to vet's for injections, but maybe you have been unlucky with yours. I will however agree with the fact that many ferrets are most comfortable with a ferret friend, but again it depends on how much time you yourself are willing to spend with your animal. As long as they are stimulated on a daily basis, they can thrive under many different circumstances. Finally, a really important and Scientificly proven fact; in the US ferrets are used to treat depression, because they evoke a sense of happiness in humans(if you don't believe me look it up). So all the more reason to get one or even better two.

shaunte on August 30, 2012:

i actually really wanted a ferret but after reading this I'm having second thoughts

Cluckabell on July 10, 2012:

It is recommended you keep more than one ferret but not impossible. I have just the one which we rescued from our local centre. They were having trouble re-homing him as after weeks & weeks of trying he wouldn’t mix with other ferrets. This is pretty unusual but there are plenty who are the same. He was just a “loner”! The rescue centre we had ours from had another 4 who they couldn’t mix because of the same reason.

If you do want just the one ask at your nearest centre although please make sure it’s a true “loner” & not just “difficult”. It would be such a shame to rob it of the chance to have a happy life with his own kind. Also be aware that single ferrets require much more love & attention off you. You must play & interact with them everyday at least twice a day as they require the stimulation they would normally have with a mate.

Ferrets make such great pets if treated, handled & trained correctly. Ours is fantastic with small children and NEVER bites (although I allow him to nibble & wrestle my hand when playing – but he does know the difference!) – Just be prepared to clean up lots of poop on carpets (lucky as its pretty much odourless) & change poo corner papers regularly ?

lovernotfighter on July 08, 2012:

do you really have to have at least two ferrets??

jamiesweeney from Philadelphia, PA on May 11, 2011:

What the cool pets, Thanks for this hub, very informative.

neoyyf (author) from UK on December 08, 2010:

I thought it was strange too, but you have to remember that vets come from all over the world and ferrets are uncommon in other countries. Also, receptionists are always changing and not always experienced in animals, many have called them rodents and rats.

Everyone's experience will be different, but I took my ferrets to East London in 2006 and had surprisingly negative responses. Maybe that has changed now?

Thankfully, ferrets are getting more and more popular as pets but I guarantee there are still places and new trainee vets who will have never handled or seen a ferret.

And I would like to emphasise that ferrets do have their own diseases that are different from other animals which inexperienced vets will not know how to handle (often just give simple antibiotics and painkillers in hope that it will go away) and those that claim to be "specialists" are very expensive and do not seem to know that much more though they are more confident in handling them.

ttrash from Australia on December 08, 2010:

I highly doubt there are any veterinarians which have sat through a five year degree without ever finding out what a ferret is...

ferret toys on September 17, 2010:

I really agree on your post. Taking care of a ferret is not that so very easy. You have to be patience sometimes. But, the owner must know all the sacrifices he or she might encounter having a ferret as their pet. Know your commitments with your pet.

neoyyf (author) from UK on August 25, 2010:

Hi Goldy, thanks for your comment. The thing with biting ferrets is that they do not know that biting is wrong. Ferrets can bite each other really hard and even draw blood, and they handle it well themselves as they have such tough skin.

Not all ferrets bite, but for some that do, they really don't know that it hurts! Some will clamp and not let go, perhaps try to do a crocodile roll whilst they are at it and I have had some that actually chewed!

Whilst you are in excruciating pain,it is VERY difficult to stick your fingers in their mouth (but if you can, do so because it will cause them to choke and release).

For ferrets, biting is not always a dominance issue, they will bite regardless of what rank you are, unlike dogs. It is a PLAY behaviour, those that are very excitable and play lots tend to bite more. They need to learn that hands are not toys. So a good way is to smother your hands in codliver oil or something tasty and offer your hands to them that way.

It is painstakingly slow to teach a ferret not to bite. Anger and shouting doesn't help because they don't understand that. Try to scream very loud and high pitched instead, it may startle the ferret to let go but doesn't always work unless you have an ultra supersonic voice!

Stopping toe biting is indeed another issue. I just wear shoes around them, and everyone else puts their feet up! By the time you reach down to scruff them, they would have already weasel war danced a metre away! Ferrets are fast!

Also, scruffing and dragging them on the floor doesn't always work, it sometimes doesn't get the message across. First they need to get out of line before you do such an act. It may not even be a dominance ritual because ferrets will do that amongst themselves, and it is not apparent who is the alpha or beta. The lower ranks will do it to higher ranks, and the higher ranks will do it the lower ranks.

Until more ferret psychology is studied, us ferret owners will have to put up with these naughty babies and let them do what they do if we are to keep them anyway.

We also need to select more docile strains if they are to truly be domesticated. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years for temperament, ferrets have not. The wilder, faster and bitier they were, the better, to drive out rabbits from underground. They were never bred to listen to us.

Goldy on August 25, 2010:

Just rescued four ferrets. Not ideal but training is going well stopping a ferret biting is easy as long as you are consistant, also it needs to be done by an adult not a child.

I have found rather than pulling your hand away from the ferret as they bite put it in there mouth, they will begin to lick your finger (obviously don't push to hard and stop immediately as they bite)

Our ferrets now come over to us and lick our hands :) although they are not trusted with toes! :)

Another way of handling Biting is by scruffing and draging them along the carpet like another ferret would do to dominate.

Domestic Ferrets on July 06, 2010:

I totally agree with all points except one concerning biting. I know that it's possible to learn ferret not to bite, cause I had such a problem with one of my ferrets. I just punished her each time she did it and now she doesn't do it anymore. The only thing I can't achieve is to learn her not to bite other ferrets.

This post is really very objective and useful not only for ferret-owners, but also for those, who sells ferrets. It's really not a god variant to misinform people, like: "It's really easy to keep ferrets at home" etc.

mquee from Columbia, SC on June 20, 2010:

You hit on all of the key points that all who keep pets should be aware of. A commitment to give good care to any potential pet is a must. Some people confuse a trained animal with a domesticated animal, there is a big difference. Thanks for the plain facts regarding the care of ferrets.

fuzzbuttfun from ferret cage on March 24, 2010:

Great information. Too many people only focus on the cute ferret antics and end up buying a ferret without knowing exactly what they're getting themselves into. As much as I love my two bandits, they are more than a handfull... ;-)

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on March 06, 2010:

Brilliant Hub! It is so important that people understand the full commitment of what they are getting themselves into with all pets. It is so unfair to the animal when the owner isn't prepared to handle the responsibility of a more difficult species. Great job sharing this information!