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Size: Medium
Lifespan: Medium (8 to 12 years)
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Ferrets are thought to be the third most popular pet in North America behind dogs and cats. Still, they often get a bad rap as mean, biting, wild animals. But ferrets aren't wild (they have been domesticated for at least a couple thousand years, and would not be able to survive alone outside for more than a few days), most are just as (or even less) likely to bite as a dog or a cat, and they generally make very loveable companions. But young children need to be closely supervised with ferrets, as the animals may bite when not gently handled. And, because of their delicacy, a too-tight squeeze or improper pick up can have fatal consequences for your pet.

General Care

Unlike chinchillas, ferrets are strictly carnivores. Their diet should be high in fat and animal protein, but low in fiber, which they have difficult digesting. It's important to remember to feed your ferret every few hours, and communicate this to your pet sitter as well. Ferrets cannot share food with your cat or dog--they need their own high-quality ferret food, with at least 34 percent animal protein, 22 percent fat, and meat as the first ingredient. Also, while they may sleep for 15 to 20 hours a day, ferrets crave attention when they're awake. They should be out of their cage for a bare minimum of 4 hours, with at least half of that including human interaction. And, don't forget to brush their teeth, clean their ears, brush their coats, and trim their nails! But keep baths to once a month: bathing your ferret too frequently will only exacerbate their sometimes less-than-pleasant natural odor. As always, check with your veterinarian with any questions you have about the health or care of your ferret.

For more information about ferret ownership and care, check out The American Ferret Association.


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