I often think working at PetSolutions is kind of like working at a zoo. Between the animals we sell and the pets brought in by co-workers for photo shoots or visits, I am exposed to many different types and breeds of animals that make great pets, even if I never considered some of them before. Because of this experience, I want share the different pets I get to see at our “zoo.”
Ferrets: The Third Most Popular Pet After Dogs & Cats
While I have heard about people owning ferrets as pets, I never had such an up close and personal experience with any of these little buggers until a co-worker volunteered his baby pet ferret to use in a product photo shoot. Let me tell you – the things you hear about these small pets being curious and playful are true. The things you hear about them being mischievous are absolutely true!
The little guy in our photo shoot is named Chalupa, since he looks so much like a Taco Bell Chalupa shell. Original, right? Well, Chalupa definitely earned his name, since he is one flexible, spicy little guy! Being a baby ferret (called a kit), he was in the nipping stage. We were strongly discouraging this behavior, since his little teeth were sharp! However, it was interesting to learn that ferrets may grab onto you with their teeth when they play. They have such tough skin, they can play rough with each other without breaking skin. That isn’t quite true with humans, however!
In addition to the nipping, Chalupa was all over the place. I didn’t believe my co-worker when he said ferrets can be like kittens when they play. He was in and out of the hanging toy we were photographing him with. If our photographer wasn’t so talented, I doubt we would have gotten a clean shot, since Chalupa was moving so fast. Even when I was trying to hold him to get a picture for this post, he was crawling up my arms and around my shoulders. Talk about one slippery little guy!
In addition to getting to play with Chalupa, I learned some really interesting facts about ferrets in general:
- Domesticated ferrets are identified as Mustela Putorius Furo, part of the family Mustelidae. Ferrets are not related to mice or rats, contrary to popular thought. They are related to minks, polecats, and weasels.
- Ferrets have been domesticated for over 2,000 years! Originally used for hunting and ratting, ferrets are now the third most popular type of pet, after dogs and cats.
- Ferrets as we know them now are totally dependent on their humans for survival.
- The life span of a ferret is typically 7 – 8 years.
- Ferrets are very good pets for people who live in apartments.
- Male ferrets (hobs) are about 3 – 4 lbs as adults, and female ferrets (jills) are about 1 – 2 lbs.
- Neutering or spaying your ferret is strongly recommended, since all ferrets develop a strong musk scent as they mature.
- Ferrets are carnivores, so you should feed them a diet high in meat proteins. High quality cat foods, such as Innova Feline or a quality ferret food, such as Marshall Premium Ferret Diet or Path Valley Farm foods, are recommended.
- Treats should have some meat base and be low in sugar. Malt flavored Petromalt can be used as both a treat and hairball remedy, since ferrets really like the flavor.
- The best types of cages for your ferret are all wire so there is proper ventilation. Check the spacing of the bars on the cage – your little guy can slip through bars that are 1 ¼” wide, so be aware!
- Make sure you supply your ferret’s cage with fresh water, food, and things they can snuggle in, like hanging sacks.
- Ferrets need to spend some quality time playing and bonding with you every day.
- Ferrets can move in many different ways, include jumping, sliding, making somersaults, and running sideways, so do not be alarmed!
- Provide quality toys for your ferret to prevent boredom and discourage him from chewing on things that could be dangerous for his health.
- Training a ferret to use a litter box is possible. It is recommended you have litter boxes in multiple corners of your home, as well as in the cage.
- Ferrets love to go on walks, but you might want to practice in your house before going outside. Always use a harness when walking your ferret. Make sure to warn people your ferret could bite as a precaution.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to experience playing with ferrets first hand, I recommend you visit your local pet store to see what these little guys are like. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that a ferret is the perfect pet for you!