Is a Ferret the Right Pet for You?

Updated on February 24, 2017

Should I Adopt a Ferret?

Several years ago, my teenage daughter ‘inherited’ a couple of cute ferrets from a friend. The ferrets were cute, playful, and incredibly inquisitive pets, and as a family, we decided that it would be easy for us to collectively look after them. However, through experience, I realized that we should have done some research before getting ferrets as pets. They require a lot of care and attention, and are particularly mischievous.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Ferret

Pros
Cons
Loving and friendly
Flight risk
Fun
Not suitable for very young children
Inquisitive
Smelly
Playful
Expensive
By User:Viki  via Wikimedia Commons (The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.)
By User:Viki via Wikimedia Commons (The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.) | Source

Are Ferrets Suitable Family Pets?

There are several things you should consider before getting ferrets:

  • They can bite if handled roughly, so they may not be suitable for families with younger children.
  • They will try and escape at every opportunity; so it’s important that your family is ‘trained’ to keep doors closed at all time.
  • They are very ferocious and territorial around other animals. At the time we had two large dogs, a Chihuahua an two cats. We were able to keep the dogs away from the ferrets most of the time, but occasionally we had some intriguing stand-offs when one of the cats came into their domain. It did not become a problem as we were supervising, but this means that you should never leave ferrets unsupervised if there is a chance that other pets may encounter them.
  • They have a pervasive odor, especially if you don’t clean their cage often. The smell does tend to become the dominant smell in the house. While this isn’t a huge problem, it is one that you should be aware of.

We found that, generally, the ferrets were good with our family, but my daughters were teenagers and more able to understand what was required to look after them.

גיא חיימוביץ at Hebrew Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
גיא חיימוביץ at Hebrew Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

How Much Time Does It Take to Care for a Ferret?

Ferrets are very active and inquisitive. It is very important to give them several hours of playtime outside of their cage. However, simply opening the cage is not enough. It is very important to ferret-proof your home.

  • Block exists: Due to their skeleton, ferrets have the ability to squeeze through tiny gaps. My ferrets often were able to get under doors that had less than an inch gap. Therefore, it’s important that you ‘block’ any potential exists otherwise you’ll spend hours searching for them.
  • Controlled playtime: Because of their playful nature, ferrets will often hide under (or in) furniture, will dart away when you try and catch them, or will team up to ‘confuse’ you. To them, running around avoiding you is a fun game; to you it can be frustrating. You should focus on training tricks etc. to keep them mentally active, as well as training them to understand when playtime is over. I was able to teach one of my ferrets to fetch a small ball. It probably took me two weeks to do this.
  • Behavior: Ferrets are mischievous. It’s very important to try and train them to behave as soon as possible. Training such as potty training, accepting handling, stopping biting etc. can be approached in a similar way to a small dog. It requires patience and repetition, and you have to be firm – but generally ferrets are quick learners.
  • General maintenance: Other things to consider before buying a ferret is that they generally are fed three to four times a day, a their cages and litter box should be cleaned often.

Do you own ferrets?

See results

Should I Get More Than One Ferret?

I was lucky as we were given two ferrets. They are very social, and require companionship when people are not around them. At the minimum, you should get two ferrets. I would suggest you get no more than four though due to the additional cost, and the additional care and attention they will require.

How Long Do Ferrets Live?

They typical live between eight and ten years assuming they receive the correct mental and physical attention they require. Many people adopt two or three-year-old ferrets which generally have been trained and are used to be handled by humans.

What Type of Home Do Ferrets Need?

You can probably get away with something similar to a large rodents cage, but there are few things to consider:

  • We had a large cage (similar to the type of cage you’d use for a large rabbit).
  • We dedicated section for their toilet by creating an artificial ‘square’ with some cardboard. Ferrets are very particular about their toilet habits and require a dedicated area.
  • Due to their ‘energy’ we had toys, tunnels and ramps that allowed them to play while caged.
  • We had a couple of separate platforms for them to sleep as well as one hammock – often they used to both hang off the side of the hammock and sleep. We found that they loved to burrow, so we placed some old torn up blankets in their sleeping area.

Other Considerations for Owning Ferrets

  • They are a little more expensive to feed than your typical pet as they require specialized ferret food. Most pet stores have dedicated ferret foods.
  • You should consider de-sexing your ferrets, or buying them de-sexed. Their aroma will be a lot worse if they are not de-sexed. Also, the females must be de-sexed as they stay in heat if they are not.
  • Due to their inquisitive nature, they will eat almost anything – this can lead to expensive vet bills.

So Is a Ferret Right for Your Family?

My experience with the two ferrets we had is that they are probably the most fun pets we’ve had. They can be very loving, and often will climb inside your sweater and stay there for a while. They ae fun to play with.

However, they required more attention than any other animal I’ve had (other than one of my parrots) and the smell, even if you clean their cage often can be overpowering especially in hot days.

My ferrets were partially trained and used to humans so I think that made a huge difference, and if I can give you any advice, it is to get adult ferrets that have some sort of pre-training – it is worth it.

I don’t regret adopting the ferrets, but I feel you need to way out all factors before making a decision.

Questions & Answers

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Benjamin Vaca 

      20 months ago

      I love ferrets! I'm 13 years old and I'm probably going to get a ferret soon, as it is indeed my birthday, and I hope that I get two. I think me and my brother are in the exact age for a not that common pet, since we've only had dogs, and we live in Ecuador, this article was really interesting, keep it up!

    • profile image

      Jami Murphy 

      20 months ago from South Africa

      So interesting to read!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I was amazed to read that ferrets can get through the tiny gap under a door! Thanks for sharing all the interesting and useful information. My home is already full of pets so I doubt whether I'll be getting ferrets any time soon, but it was enjoyable to read about them.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)