Ferrets live on average 6 to 8 years of age and can weigh between 1.1 - 2.6 lbs. They are playful, friendly animals that can make excellent pets for the right person. A ferret may not be the best pet for a family with young children. Interactions between ferrets (or any pet!) and a young child should always be monitored. Ferrets tend to get along well with most cats and dogs, however this predator species may not get along with birds, rabbits, rodents, or lizards. The ferret is a relative of the weasel, skunk, and otter. Although pet ferrets are de-scented, they still retain their natural musky odor.
Ferrets enjoy burrowing and hiding, so provide bedding such as old towels or shirts for your ferret to curl up and sleep. A wide variety of sleeping materials are also commercially available including cloth tubes, tents, and hammocks. Make sure all burrowing material is free of loops, holes, or loose strings to prevent nails from getting caught. If your ferret chews on cloth, remove these items and provide a small cardboard or wooden box with clean straw or hay as a sleeping area.
- Since ferrets are predators in the wild, they tend to show clinical signs of illness relatively earlier than other exotics. However, most illnesses encountered are very serious and can require surgery or several days of hospitalization.
- Young ferrets are prone to human influenza, or swallowing odd objects, such as plastic or erasers.
- Older ferrets commonly develop tumors, often affecting different hormones, or cancers like lymphoma.
- Symptoms indicating illness include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness or staggering, weight loss, or fur loss.
- Ferrets should be fed a diet that is very high in meat-based protein, with little to no carbohydrates. Like many pet exotics, they also can benefit from regular exposure to sunshine while supervised.