The ferret as a pet

The domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is a carnivorous mammal that belongs to the Mustelidae family and can currently be found anywhere in the world. It has existed in captivity for 2000 years. Formerly it was used to hunt snakes and rodents, however today we see it as an easy to train and friendly pet, which is why it is also used as a laboratory animal for research on infectious and respiratory diseases.

The most common is that they have hair in different shades of brown or black, although there are also albino ferrets, with white hair and red eyes and that are very striking and appreciated.

The ferret is born after a gestation of 41-43 days in a litter that can vary between 2 and 14 pups. With about 2-3 weeks the milk teeth begin to grow and weaning usually occurs around 6 weeks of age. Once they are able to eat solid food, their diet should provide approximately 35% protein and 30% fat, so it is best to eat feed specially formulated for ferrets.

Males are usually larger than females, weighing between 1.2-2Kg and females 0.8-1.2Kg. These values ​​can fluctuate by 30-40% due to the accumulation and wear of subcutaneous fat in autumn and spring.

The ferret usually becomes sexually mature between 4 and 8 months, being sexually active in spring and summer, and the female’s heat can last for months if she does not get pregnant. Sterilization is a definitive method for controlling heat, undesirable litters and problems such as hyperestrogenism in females; it can also reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Also, if the ferret is sterilized at an early age, it can be prevented from having such a strong odor. This odor is caused by secretions from glands found on their skin, but also in their anus, and they release it when they are scared or irritated. On the other hand, the ferret’s sweat glands are poorly developed, which is why they are very sensitive to temperatures above 32ºC.
The ferret benefits from the company of other ferrets and also other animals, so it is good to offer him that possibility. In addition, the interaction stimulates their physical activity and mental abilities. It is important that they have a protected place to sleep, ideally with little light, such as a hammock or their own sleeping bag; space should also be given to recreate natural behaviors such as exploring, digging and playing

Some ferrets like to play with water, so a bowl of water can be placed to enrich their environment. Regarding the environmental conditions, it is recommended to regularly clean the cage and that the environmental temperature is between 15-24ºC, being important that the humidity of the air is not high.

With regard to vaccinations, the diseases against which prevention should be focused are distemper and rabies. The vaccination schedule for the first disease is a first administration at 8 weeks and a booster at 12, repeated annually. The rabies vaccine can be administered from 4 months and must be repeated annually. However, there are other diseases that can affect the ferret, which is why it is important to monitor their health status and keep the deworming regimen up to date, especially if they have contact with other animals or children. Thus, it is recommended to deworm internally every 2 months while it is a puppy and every 3 months after the first year of life.

Did you know that a ferret can live between 5 and 9 years or even 12? Find out with us about this wonderful pet, we will be happy to answer your questions.

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