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Old 01-23-2013, 03:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ferrets

Anyone here own a ferret? I would like more information on them before deciding if I want to own one. Im looking around for a great forum like this one thats ferret specific but I havnt found it yet. I know they need a super big cage, and need 3-4 hours of supervised playtime in a ferret proofed room.
What bedding do they use? Is fleece liners and such ok? I understand that they can be litter trained while in their cage, but outside of it they still may have accidents. How are their poops? firm and easy to clean up? Or a big pain and need to clean the carpet like when a cat or dog has an accident? What are the negatives of owning a ferret? I have heard horror stories involving recliners.

Any info would be appreciated. I'm a person who tends to want to know as much as possible before even getting a pet
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ferrets

I don't own a ferret, but my friend has one and I've absorbed some information from her (like she has from me about hedgehogs).

She uses fleece liners for him, as well as fabric hammocks, etc. She has two litter boxes in his cage (a double-unit Ferret Nation), and he does pretty good most of the time, in and out of his cage. But I think I remember her saying that that's rare, like you said, many still have accidents out of the cage sometimes. The poops are pretty easy to clean up though - similar to hedgehog poops, just bigger. You might still want a bit of cleaner for softer poops though.

Negatives, from what I've seen: Need lots of attention, no matter what's going on, they can be expensive with vet bills (especially as they get older, adrenal disease and cancer are big issues for them), they can be smelly (but that's easily managed with a good diet and keeping up with cage cleaning), they can be bitey sometimes, especially when they're playing, and they're GREAT escape artists. They can squeeze through very small openings, so you have to be VERY sure that the playroom is ferret-proofed. My friend had one big scare with her boy - he squeezed under her door where she didn't think he could, and she found him under the couch in her living room. This was terrifying for her because she has two big dogs - one is a sweetie and wouldn't hurt a fly, but the other would almost definitely hurt the ferret. So she was a puddle of tears once she found him and he was okay...she was very scared.

For resources for more information, she highly recommends the book Ferrets for Dummies, which has a ton of great information. She has a copy and has it all highlighted and sticky-noted to quickly find different main topics of info. She's also on this forum, which she said is great and a lot like our forum here - http://holisticferret60.proboards.com/index.cgi? They also have a section for raw diet feeding, etc. which has helped her a ton - she has her boy on a raw diet and he's doing fantastic on it. They set you up with a mentor and everything on the board to help you with the transition, if that's something you're interested in.

Last note - keep in mind that ferrets typically do best in pairs, so you may want to go with getting two. They're very social and usually love having a buddy. My friend wants to get a second, but her ferret is a misanthropic little guy and literally goes for a kill-neck-bite if he's around other ferrets! She rescued him from a shelter, where he was brought in off the streets, so we don't know his background, but he's definitely not okay with other ferrets. You should also check at a rescue first, if you can. There's a lot of rescues out there and they often have pretty young ferrets (under a year) as well, from people who get the cute little thing at the pet store, then realize how hard it is to take care of.
~*~*~ Kelsey ~*~*~

RIP my sweet Lily ~ 6/12/08 - 1/20/12
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ferrets

To add onto Kelsey's post...

Be sure to keep the ferret and your hedgehog in different rooms! Make sure both cages are ferret proof and/or ensure that the doors to the rooms are always closed.

There has been instances of ferrets escaping and being predators, attacked and killed other prey animals that lived in the same house.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ferrets

My oldest daughter owns 2 ferrets. and i had babysitting duty for months on end while she was living with her mom after collage. As far as bedding is concerned. you dont need any. a hanging hammock, or a hanging cubby is just fine. They love to curl up and sleep in those. And if your ferret dont take to litter to poop in. line the bottom of the cage with puppy training pads. they pretty much do the poop and pee at the same time. and can be a bit messy to clean up. (the little one we have has quite the arch on her pooping trajectory...so have to put the poop pads a few inches up the side of the cage) and they will poop as soon as they wake up. if out and about...they will goto a corner to drop a load.

so lets get to the negatives. if you have a ferret out and about. need to keep a eye on them. they will escape at any chance they can get. One of my daughters apartments was in a old house. she got into the walls thru a hole in the wall under the sink. was gone for 3 days. then re-appeared as she fell thru the drop down ceiling tiles in her roommates room.

But as yer wanting to keep it in a cage..and not running around loose..this shouldnt be a problem.

Now on picking out yer ferret. i would avoid white or albino ones. they have a probability of being deaf (as one of my daughters is) Take a good look at it before you buy it... scruff it and look at its teeth and jaws( it will yawn wide when you scruff it) and make sure it can open wide and theres no discoloration on the teeth. (our white/albino ferret has bad teeth and cant open its jaws wide and has a hard time chewing hard ferret food). Look for the tattooed dot on its ear.. one dot means its been neutered...two means neutered and has it scent glad removed. all ferrets come from science labs. and would be weary if they didnt. hence the tattooed ears.

but other then that i mentioned. they are fun pets. the running sideways and grunting as you play with them is priceless. they will chase after little balls. and cat toys..like a stick with a fuzzy/feathered toy on the end of a string will make em go wild. Grab a ferret out of the cage when it has been sleeping..and hold it up to yer face.....you will get licked to death as it wakes.

A hedgehog takes alot more care then a ferret. Cage...food...water (change water everyday) and let em out for a few for playtime. and you will have a happy ferret. oh...and like hedgehogs. not big on different foods...keep to one main food source. They have ferret feed thats sold at petsmart or petco.

hope this helps..im not a pro on ferrets. just giving you my experience of having them for like a half a year...my daughter loves hers to death.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ferrets

Originally Posted by Teleck
They have ferret feed thats sold at petsmart or petco.
Just want to add that if you do decide to do a kibble diet instead (raw takes a bit more work and planning, and can be hard to transition them onto, so I could understand not wanting to do so), make sure you get a high quality, GOOD food. Most ferret foods are pretty terrible. The one I remember as being one of the best options for a kibble diet is ZuPreem. I think there's another, but I can't recall, and I'm not finding it on the Foster&Smith website, or Petco or Petsmart's sites. The reason they're better is because ferrets are obligate carnivores and can't digest pretty much anything but meat (though they can handle some things in small amounts, like pumpkin). A lot of ferret foods are pretty crappy and have a lot of vegetable matter, etc. in them, which means eating more = more poop. A high quality diet will have more meat in it and be better for the ferret. Their diet restrictions are also the reason they shouldn't really get a lot of treats - they shouldn't get dairy products, junk food, fruit/veggies, etc. because they just can't digest them. My friend gives her boy small amounts of pumpkin for added fiber, but that's about all he gets other than his raw diet and Ferretone (just healthy oils, and a great treat, he goes crazy for it).
~*~*~ Kelsey ~*~*~

RIP my sweet Lily ~ 6/12/08 - 1/20/12
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ferrets

At one time we had 8 ferrets. They are wonderful and funny but they are also full of mischief and like having a two year old. They get into everything.

You can't have just one. Ferrets are very social and need to have a companion or two or three.

Ferrets back themselves up to a corner to poop which is why most ferret litter boxes are triangular with a high walled corner. Get a big one because if they don't like it, they will find another corner to poop in.

I wouldn't be afraid to get a white or albino ferret. I've had both. The whites, or those with a white blaze, or panda markings can have a genetic defect called Waardenburg syndrome. Our DEW boy was deaf but he was a rehome and we'ed had him about a month before we realize he was deaf. They compensate really well. Albinos can be harder of hearing but not usually totally deaf and not because of the same syndrome.

You really have to ferret proof for when you have them out for playtime because they get into everything. Yep, recliners are death traps for ferrets. If you get off the couch or bed, don't sit back down until you know for sure where the ferrets are.

Get a Ferret Nation cage. We tried just about every type of ferret cage there was until we got the FN and it is by far the most convenient and more than worth the price. Ferrets are very oily and need their bedding changed every few days to prevent it smelling. Those ferret cages with small doors are a pain to change hammocks and bedding and litter boxes in. Also, if you have other pets, the Ferret Nation cage is the safest and most escape proof. Some ferrets are ingenious at opening cage doors.

If you want a baby, get one from a breeder if possible. The pet stores get them from mills like Marshalls or Hagen and they are spayed, neutered and descented way too young.

Fleece is great for ferrets and if you can sew, making hammocks and beds are simple to make.

If you have other pets, especially prey animals, it's best to have the ferret in a different room. Sometimes the smell of the ferret can stress out a prey pet and you need to make certain ferret and other caged pets are in escape and enter proof cages. We lost two bunnies when our ferrets escaped their cage while we were out. Ferrets managed to get the cage open and bunnies were in bunny proof, but not ferret proof cages.

Many people find the ferret smell offensive. I was never bothered by their body odor but after a while I became allergic to their feces and it would trigger my asthma. Avoid a fish based food as it makes them reek.

Their poop is a bit softer, more squishy than hedgehog poop. Some ferrets will use a litter box when out of cage, but if not, they will go to a corner, so if you have something in all the corners there won't be many accidents.

Ferret bites hurt. They have very tough skin so they don't realize how hard they bite and sometimes need to be taught not to bite. If they are well socialized, they usually don't bite, just each other. They love to drag each other around by the scruff.

They should have distemper and rabies shots but allergic reactions are quite common. We used to take them outside so for a few years they got their shots until Bear reacted and we quit.
* * * Nancy * * *

Retired from breeding

Rescue contact for both the Hedgehog Welfare Society and the IHA
Rescued over 70 (and counting) hedgehogs needing a new home

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