10 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Ferret

Portrait of a ferret
Ferrets are cuddly, spunky pets that can be great for people who have time to take them out of their cages every day and play with them.

Ferrets are playful, mischievous, entertaining little animals who can bring endless enjoyment to a family. They are cuddly, interactive, spunky pets who can be great for owners who have time to take them out of their cages every day and play with them. Though ferret owners tend to adore their pets, and many can’t stop at having just one, ferrets aren’t right for everyone. Before you bring one of these little balls of energy into your home, there are a few things you should know.

1. Ferrets Get Into Everything

They burrow, dig and chew on everything — especially when they’re young — and they often steal and hide items in stockpiles in closets, under beds or in any secret place they can find. If something isn’t nailed down — particularly if it’s made of rubber or foam — it will likely end up in your ferret’s mouth. Foreign objects that are swallowed can lodge in their gastrointestinal (GI) tracts, potentially leading to obstructions. Electrical cords are also a potential hazard. If you are thinking of getting a ferret, plan to supervise him whenever he is out of his cage; make sure you ferret-proof an area in your home where he can safely run around; and put away all shoes, socks and other interesting items he might find loose on the floor.

2. Ferrets Need Lots of Exercise

While ferrets certainly love to take naps, in between their snoozes, they’re generally running, tumbling and skidding across the floor. Young ferrets love to chase toys, nibble on toes and generally get underfoot. If they aren’t allowed out of their cages, they tend to overeat and become obese. If you’re going to have a ferret, plan for lots of playtime.

3. Ferrets Need Friends

Generally, ferrets are social creatures who usually seek out the company of their human family or other ferrets. (Playing is just so much more fun when you’re with your buddies.) For this reason, many ferret owners end up getting more than one. Of course, like other types of pets, not all ferrets like all other ferrets. If you decide to get more than one ferret, you’ll need to watch them closely together over several days for progressively longer periods before leaving them alone. Also ensure that each ferret has equal access to food, toys, and hiding and sleeping places, so that they don’t fight over resources.

4. Ferrets Are Illegal in Some Places

Before you adopt or purchase a ferret, check on local laws. If you live in California, Hawaii or New York City, for instance, you’ll find that these fuzzy fellows are banned. Many veterinarians in these areas will still treat sick ferrets, but finding a ferret-savvy vet in these locations can sometimes be difficult. Therefore, if you live in one of these areas, you need to consider another type of pet.

5. Ferrets Should Be Vaccinated

In many of the states in which ferrets are legal, the law requires that they be vaccinated for rabies. Also, since ferrets are very susceptible to the deadly canine distemper virus that commonly affects dogs, they should receive vaccinations against this virus as well. Just like puppies, baby ferrets should get a series of three distemper vaccines three weeks apart starting at 2 months old; they should get their first rabies shot at approximately 4 months old. After that, they should get annual booster vaccines against both rabies and distemper viruses for life, even if they are indoor pets. Even though your ferret lives indoors, you can track the canine distemper virus in from outside on your shoes and clothes. Your indoor pet can also come in contact with wildlife, like bats, which can carry the rabies virus.


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