Ferret Care

Ferret Care

Ferrets are intelligent, interactive and very playful creatures making them a terrific pet so long as you are able to cater to their specific requirements in order to keep them healthy. They are social animals and are happiest if living with a companion. Ferret life expectancy is 7 – 10 years.

Ferrets are escape artists, and should always be housed in sturdy enclosures and closely supervised if let out for some play time.

Ferrets are carnivores that require a high quality easily digestible protein because of the very short time (3 – 4 hours) the food spends in the gut before being passed out at the other end! Commonly, ferrets are fed on a commercial vet quality cat (often kitten specific) dry kibble as this best caters to their carnivorous requirements as well as being convenient for owners. Due a their high metabolic rate dry food diet is preferred over wet food for the bulk of the diet, although fresh meat can also be added for variety. Uneaten food should be disposed of rather than left available for long periods in the cage to reduce disease and contamination thus reducing digestive problems.

High fibre and sugary foods/treats should be avoided as ferrets cannot properly digest them and it can lead to illness. Treats of fresh meat and plain dried meat/jerky can be given as well as raw bones for dental health. Bones must always be raw and large enough that your ferret won’t be able to break and swallow parts of the bones causing gut problems or choking hazards.

Ferrets develop a dietary preference by approximately 4 months of age. To prevent your ferret from being fussy you should expose him/her to several food varieties and raw meaty bones from an early age. It is best to do this incrementally to avoid gut upsets.

Ferrets must have fresh water available at all times. They have a relatively high water requirement when compared to the cat or dog. As they love to play in water, the bowl should be secured to the cage or be very large and heavy, as otherwise they will tip it over. Be cautious about leaving a sipper bottle as the only source of water supply as many ferrets will not drink from it, preferring to drink from a bowl.

Ferrets are susceptible to a virus known as Parvovirus, an often fatal illness characterised by decline in body condition (wasting) and nervous system symptoms. In Australia there is no commercially available vaccination against ferret Parvovirus, however giving a partial dose of canine Parvovirus vaccine is an acceptable and well established ‘off label’ alternative. Ferrets require two vaccinations for distemper if they are less than 12 weeks old. A booster is then due every 12 months. For further information please see our Vaccination page.

Although not vaccine related, its important to also note that ferrets can suffer from the same strains of colds and flu that humans do. This means if a member of the family is sick with cold-like symptoms they should have minimal contact with your pet ferret in order to reduce the risk of passing it on.

We recommend desexing your ferret at approximately 6 months of age (unless you have a male and female housed together, in which case we may provide the surgery earlier to prevent unwanted pregnancy).

  • Entire females can suffer from fatal bone marrow toxicity caused by the hormone Oestrogen due to remaining on heat unless desexed or mated.
  • Desexed male ferrets have a reduced “ferret odour” compared to entire males.
  • Desexing reduces aggression in both male and female ferrets, resulting in a calmer temperament

For further information please see our Desexing Page or call and speak with our staff.