Author Topic: Might be getting a ferret  (Read 6702 times)

Offline thenightgoddess

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Might be getting a ferret
« on: January 13, 2014, 06:21:08 PM »
I know nothing about ferrets and want some info on owning them. One of my husbands coworkers is looking to get rid of a ferret because he doesn't want it anymore and I feel bad so I am probably going to take him. I have only owned rats, hamsters, and mice and know nothing about owning ferrets. He is going to be giving us a cage with him but I don't know how big it is or even how big they need. Any info or a link to a good website about them is appreciated. I also need info on having rats and ferrets in the same house if there is anything special I should know about that I have two male rats currently and will probably be getting a third.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 06:38:36 PM »
I just realized that the only part of this website that anyone post on is the rat stuff never noticed it before so im guessing im not going to get any answers here

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2014, 06:53:13 PM »
Hey! I own 4 ferrets and 2 rats in the same house so I can definitely help out with this. I'm in the middle of trying to put together a 101 website but it's not up at the moment so I'll just write stuff out for you. I've also written out a lot of basic stuff in this thread here.

My first recommendation is to pick up a copy of Ferrets For Dummies and read it cover to cover. It's the best book you can own and read about ferret care.

Ferrets are really great animals to own although they can be very expensive over the long run. American ferrets are typically mill bred ferrets and have a lot of genetic issues. Most will get some form of cancer in their lifetime. Rabies and distemper shots are also commonly given yearly although this can vary from ferret to ferret since allergic reactions/death can happen from these shots.

They are carnivores and do best on a raw fed diet. I personally feed kibble which is common and perfectly fine to do. A high quality cat kibble is needed and I tend to recommend that people feed 1-2 brands at any given time. Ferrets imprint on their food so it can be hard switching them to a new brand if the old brand is discontinued. There is a great food chart right here. Salmon oil or EVOO is great for hairball control along with small amounts of plain pumpkin or petreloum jelly. A raw egg is also helpful once a week for their coat.

Ferrets are predators and, kibble fed or not, I would never allow rats and ferrets to interact. One of my female ferrets has attempted several times to get to my rats and got bit for it once. I don't know for sure if any of my ferrets would actually kill my rats but I have no doubts my rats would bite the ferrets out of defense. The rat cage is kept up on a set of plastic drawers so that neither can interact with each other at all. (It also keeps nosy kitty paws out of there.)

Cages are important, especially if you're not free ranging the ferret all the time. I would never recommend anything smaller than a Single Critter Nation for more than 2 ferrets, although 3 small females might do fine. Ferrets need about 1-2 hours of play time every single day, more if they are solo ferrets or just generally more active. My guys are averaging closer to an hour right now, but it's winter. They'll push 3-4 hours in the spring/summer time if I let them.

Fleece is fine bedding for ferrets. Litter boxes need to go in corners since ferrets naturally poop in corners as a defense mechanism/territory marking mechanism. Clumping cat litter cannot be used since ferrets dig in their litter and that kind of litter will get into their respiratory system. I use Carefresh. Others have great success with wood pellets.

I hope that helps! I'm off to eat dinner but I'll be back if you have more questions!

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2014, 07:09:30 PM »
I feel really bad so I want to take it the only reason the person is getting rid of it is that they have two and they only want one which really bothers me I feel like if you get an animal it should be for life so I want to give it a forever home. Im worried either someone that wouldn't take care of it correctly or a shelter would get it if I don't take it. I want the poor baby to be taken care of correctly I feel like if they are just willing to "throw it away" then they probably arnt taking care of it really well. I would kept the ferret out in the living room with the rats in the bedroom with the door closed most of the time and I can give him alot of attention my rats already get to come out more then they need to so I can just split the time between them. I don't even know the sex of the ferret all I know is its about a year old.

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2014, 07:22:29 PM »
Ooo, that's a major problem, in my eyes. Ferrets are EXTREMELY social, just like rats. They really really need a friend. It very uncommon to keep a solo ferret successfully and happily. My most recent girl came to me because her cagemate died and the family didn't want to keep her alone and didn't want to get more.

I don't know any ferret specific shelters in the New Hampshire area off the top of my head. I know there's one in Maryland called The Ferret Inn that is really great. If you think you can't handle them, I'd see if you can convince them to take the ferret to a ferret shelter rather than the ASPCA or something. They'll get better care that way.

If it's about a year old, then you've got a good amount of time to prepare for things like adreneal, etc.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 07:59:37 PM »
I also have a question what can I do with the ferret if Im gone for a day and two half days. If we were going to take him we we take him right after we move on the first of march and we have a convention to go to at the end of march so we would be gone from about three pm on friday to about 4-7 pm on sunday. Im not sure what other people do with there ferrets when they go away. We just leave our rats with alot of food and water when we go away for cons but it seems like from what im reading we wouldnt be able to do the same for the ferret. I could see if my mom could take him she owned ferrets when she was younger but he would still mostly be alone as she works most of the day on saturday and sunday.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 08:03:37 PM by thenightgoddess »

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 08:06:48 PM »
You'll need someone to come and let them out of the cage and check on their food. I wouldn't dare leave a ferret alone for more than 24 hours, even with extra food. They eat about every 4 hours because of their high metabolism so they can go through a bowl of food pretty quickly.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2014, 08:19:09 PM »
My mom actually said she can take him when we go so I don't have to worry about that at all. What type of food should I feed him the website I am reading says you shouldn't feed kibble at all just meat with bones in it. I can do that every once in a while but probably not all the time so what would be best to feed him he is probably eating regular ferret kibble right now. 

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2014, 08:27:02 PM »
Like I said, ferrets can be fed either raw or kibble. There's nothing wrong with feeding ferrets kibble all the time although there are debates about what is better for their over all health in the long run. I prefer feeding kibble for the easy factor of it (also, its can be difficult to teach ferrets that raw meat is actually food).

A high quality cat kibble is best. I feed Wellness CORE or Orijen cat & kitten. Instinct also has good kibble, I think the duck and turkey is best although any of them is great. You want something with as close to 40% protein as possible, no grains, no peas. The food chart I linked has a long list. Most of the brands can be found in a PetsMart.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 08:33:56 PM »
What about Blue wilderness it was on the link you sent me? If I were to get a cat I would be feeding it that so it would make it easier to feed them the same stuff. I will probably at least try to feed raw too like frozen mice and chicken wings. What size in dimensions would be ok for a ferret I will probably use whatever he gives me for a little while but I am pretty sure I will have to upgrade I will probably check craigslist for a bigger cage. Also what is the best way to ferret proof a kitchen and living room because thats where he would have access to there will probably also be a 45 gallon fish tank in the same room which also has me nervous if I absolutely had to I might be able to fit it in the bedroom but I really didnt want to.

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 08:45:26 PM »
Blue Wilderness is excellent.  :thumbsup2:

As long as you take up the kibble 4 hours before feeding them raw, there's no problem doing that.

Well, I've seen people suggest at least 2 cubic feet per ferret but I would personally go a little larger than that. A single ferret nation measures 36" L X 25" W X 38.5" H  so I would try to go with something around that size, even for a solo ferret.

As silly as it sounds, get down on their level and look for holes. My guys love getting into cabinets so we tie the cabinets shut. Look for dishwasher holes, holes under cabinets, etc. They're also really really good at climbing so look for ways that they can climb. Don't have stacks of things next to where the fish tank is if you can help it  cause I can almost bet that they'll try and climb up there to investigate. They're little trouble makers and very intelligent so, unfortunately, it's sometimes a work in progress.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 08:50:10 PM »
It will be a brand new apartment we are moving right before we get him but I will check and make sure. What about wires will they chew them should I put something on them to protect them?

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 08:56:44 PM »
I've never had an issue with my guys and wires. If it becomes an issue, definitely cover them up in some kind of tubing. I use a squirt bottle full of water to distract them when they're getting into something they shouldn't.


Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 09:40:35 PM »
Yup! Those all look great!

I've heard people generally don't like the Kaytee Super Pet cage since it can be hard to get into there to clean it out. With the other two, my only concern is the wire floor but if you can cover it up so that the ferret's feet don't fall through, it shouldn't be a problem.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2014, 09:46:41 PM »
Would fleece be enough to cover the wires on the bottom? If not then what could I use. I wouldn't really be concerned about cleaning the super pet its not that much different then my rat cage and im used to cleaning that. 

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2014, 09:56:37 PM »
Do ferrets know there names/can you change there name without confusing them? His name is mister as in Mr which I think is stupid so I really would like to change it.

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2014, 10:14:39 PM »
Fleece should be fine. That's what I'm using right now in my Fiesty Ferret. Just keep an eye on it since it can be dangerous for them. If you're still having problems, look into cheap plastic tiles or mats. Corrugated plastic (Coroplast is a common brand name) is also a great solid surface.


You can definitely change his name. My guys don't really respond to their name so it shouldn't be a problem. Squeaky toys get their attention the best!

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2014, 10:22:39 PM »
Not sure what I should change his name too.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2014, 10:25:48 PM »
What do you use for toys since I am going to have to go get some. Do you have any pictures of your ferrets I would love to see.

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2014, 10:48:34 PM »
I use a mixture of cat and dog toys. My big boy, Cas, is in love with anything that squeaks. Squeaky Kong bones, a squeaky hedgehog, balls, etc. If it makes noise, it's his. My littlest girl, Ra, is a hog for feathers and cups. We have to clean out her stash spot pretty regularly since she steals empty fast food cups and tupperware. Here's a great list of ferret toys.

Dig boxes are the best too! I use rice (not instant!) and they go nuts for it. Tunnels and tubes, blankets, crinkly cat balls, jingle cat balls, and feather cat toy teasers are pretty popular here too.

This is our newest girl, Little Bear


Little Bear and Tek




This is Ra. We just figured out she was deaf after a year of owning her.  :doh:


Cas, the first ferret and only boy




Offline melcab

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2014, 04:11:44 PM »
I highly recommend the Holistic Ferret Forum http://holisticferret60.proboards.com/ They also have a Facebook group if you find that more convenient (like I do). I have 2, 3yo male and female (    both fixed of course)

I feed raw, it's much cheaper believe it or not AND species appropriate. But the absolute best kibble to feed is Wysong Epigen 90. I don't know if Petco or Smart sell it because I don't feed it. BUT if you really want to feed raw there is a mentoring program at the forum I listed. You can sign up for a mentor and they will go through the switching process with you step by step...for FREE! Pretty much everything else mutewolf said, tho. ;-)

I have my two in a now apparently discontinued cage ( or at least I can't find it anywhere) by Marshalls that is almost exactly the same as a DFN. FN is the Best. Cage. Ever. Also I make liners and hammocks much the same as they do here for ratties. In fact I don't do it for the ratties (yet) because I don't want to make all these things and have them chew it all up. The ferrets don't chew it.

Speaking of chewing, stay away from anything rubber! They like to chew that and then they could get a blockage which could be life threatening and require surgery!

Raw egg, wild alaskan salmon oil, EVOO, pumpkin and Vaseline are good for hairballs/blockages. Vas as a last resort, it blocks absorption of nutrients from food. None of that lax stuff, some people use ferretone, but it has questionable ingredients.

I use the exact same type of litter AND boxes for both ratties and ferties (hardwood pellets) Ferrets will poop AND pee in their box. Good thing too cuz they pee a lot.

For out of cage time I have baby gates (with smooth faces, no lattice, they can climb too) that keep them in the kitchen. It's just the most ferret proof room in my house after proofing the appliances. YMMV

But seriously check out Holistic Ferret Forum. They are very knowledgeable.

Offline melcab

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2014, 04:14:54 PM »
Oh and mutewolf, your babies are gorgeous!

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2014, 04:31:57 PM »
I am actually trying to join that forum right now someone told me about it last night on another website. When I checked before work this morning around 11 my account still had not been approved. I'm still at work on break so I'll check when I get home. I downloaded ferrets for dumbies from amazon this morning I'll try to start reading it tonight but I'm probably not getting to get to much till next week.

Offline melcab

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2014, 06:13:46 PM »
It might take a few days. The moderator in charge of that might just be busy :-) TBH I never actually read Ferrets for Dummies. I got all my info online at HFF. I prefer online info especially on subjects where opinions (medical, science etc) can change. That doesn't mean that the book isn't good to have/read though. :-)

There is a rescue, Massachusetts Ferret Friends, that probably deals with NH as well. Forgot to mention that before.

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2014, 07:17:41 PM »
I reference Ferrets for Dummies and the American Ferret Association Facebook Group. It's definitely important to be aware that things change a lot in the ferret world, especially medically.  :thumbsup2:

Offline melcab

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2014, 08:27:06 PM »
Are there a lot of raw feeders on the AFA  group, mutewolf?

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2014, 08:33:07 PM »
Yup! Unfortunately, the AFA group can be a little...dramatic so someone who's wanting to start out feeding raw is generally referred to one of the more expierenced members and mentored, just like on the Holistic Forum.

Offline melcab

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2014, 08:38:07 PM »
LOL dramatic. Can't see how it can get dramatic from raw feeder to raw feeder, but I'll take your word for it lol.

Offline thenightgoddess

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2014, 09:03:04 PM »
I am planning on keeping him but I might get him a friend at some point so thanks for letting me know about the rescue. Is it ok to introduce two males together that are older?

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2014, 09:04:41 PM »
LOL dramatic. Can't see how it can get dramatic from raw feeder to raw feeder, but I'll take your word for it lol.

Ooo, not raw to raw but raw to kibble. There have been some gross debates between kibble and raw feeders.

And yes, you should be able to introduce them fine after making sure they are both healthy. I think ferrets are okay with a 2 week quarantine. A seperate air space isn't as cruical with ferrets, just a different room. Then do slow introductions. I've only had one intro be "mean"  and that was between my older male and a new female. She pulled some of his fur out once and then they were fine after that.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 09:08:02 PM by mutewolf »

Offline melcab

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2014, 11:18:53 PM »
Speaking of separate airspaces, be careful when and if you get the flu. Ferrets can catch it from you and it is NOT a good time for them. I have heard some cold viruses can be transmitted, too, so I try to limit my contact whenever I am sick.

Offline lovelyg4m3r

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Re: Might be getting a ferret
« Reply #32 on: January 16, 2014, 09:55:19 AM »
I second, or third, or whatever HolisticFerret. BUT, be aware that it is a raw fed/whole prey site, so they probably wont be very supportive of your kibble diet. I didn't know they were and posted asking about what food to buy, they were all like uhh a raw diet? Duh. I felt pretty silly. BUT, you can feed kibble. However its no where as good for them as a raw diet is. Honestly I am all for raw diets (the boyfriend isn't though that's why he doesn't want me to get one) Take a loot at this thread if you haven't already.

http://holisticferret60.proboards.com/thread/871/before-after-raw-diet

its hard to see the difference in some, but in others its almost scary
My wonderful son: Vincent Jacob
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