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Ferrets As Pets

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Expert Author Steven Paul Bolton

Facts

Male ferrets are known as hob's and the females jill's. Infant ferrets are called kits. Ferrets are descended from polecats and their closest animal cousins are weasels, skunks, badgers, martens, minks and wolverine. With the right care ferrets generally live for 6 to 12 years, although the oldest recorded ferret died at age 13. Ferrets are known to be most active at dawn and dusk, which in the wild is their prime hunting period.

Health

Due to the mainly soft floor covering in your home your pet ferrets claws won't wear down naturally and will need to be clipped. In particular to avoid your pet ferret swallowing loose hair which can then cause serious health problems, your ferret should be regularly brushed. In addition your ferret should be given a hairball preventative preparation, which comes in flavoured mixtures. Your pet ferrets ears will need some attention as they will often build up excessive ear wax and can be vulnerable to ear mites. The ears can be treated using a cotton tipped swab and approved ear solution from your pet shop or vet. A ferrets eardrum is close to the surface and it is essential not to push the swab into the ear. Only wipe the outer part of the ear with the swab. A specific requirement for jills that have not been neutered is that when in season they need to be either mated with a male (either neutered or un-neutered), or given a hormone injection called a jill jab. Otherwise they suffer a hormone imbalance which makes them anaemic and causes them to die.

Food

Nowadays there are available 'all in one' ferret biscuit foods which will meet your pet ferrets dietary needs. In the wild a ferrets diet would have consisted of rabbit and other small animals and whilst this may still be the best diet, in practice it is unlikely you will be able to provide this. A mixed diet is the most likely diet you will be able provide for your pet ferret.

Housing

A wire cage specially made for ferrets or for instance a large rat cage with a separate sleeping area will be suitable for keeping ferrets inside your home. The floor will need to be covered with a solid surface to prevent your pet ferret injuring its paws. Outdoors a large rabbit hutch should be able to accommodate up to 2 ferrets.

Amusements

Whilst ferrets are prone to long periods of sleep, when awake they are very active. Ferrets will clamber in and out of any clothing left lying around and you will need to be careful when stepping on or handling clothing or other soft items in your home that it does not contain a resting ferret! There are numerous toys that have been designed especially for ferrets, although some of the toys available for cats and dogs will be suitable.

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