Can I Keep a Ferret As a Pet?

Mary McMahon

Ferrets are extremely curious members of the weasel family, and they have lived with humans for centuries. Originally, ferrets were tamed to help humans eliminate rats and rabbits, but they have also come to be kept as pets by humans who are fond of their antics. Ferrets do make great pets, but only for certain people: they require a great deal of time and patience, and are not suitable for people who are frequently gone or impatient. Since ferrets live for five to 10 years, people interested in getting a ferret should think carefully before taking the plunge.

Ferrets make great pets for people with high energy but not a lot of space.
Ferrets make great pets for people with high energy but not a lot of space.

The first thing to check if you are interested in getting a pet ferret is whether or not ferrets are legal in your area. Many parts of the world have banned the keeping of ferrets as pets, and while some owners like to defy the law, it could get you into trouble. In the best case, the ferret would be confiscated and sent to a shelter, but your ferret could potentially be euthanized by intolerant law enforcement. If ferrets are illegal in your area, write your representative to suggest that they should be legalized, along with compelling arguments in favor of legalization.

Ferrets are intensely curious and mischievous. This is the main reason people get ferrets: because they make enchanting and engaging pets. But it also means that the house needs to be ferret-proofed. They are capable of getting into any small hole or crevice, and can get very destructive when they are bored or curious about something. Ferrets will climb up inside couches, weasel their way into box spring mattresses, and pop up underfoot when you least expect them. Tempting holes need to be sealed, plants have to be in a no-ferret zone, and you need to be constantly aware of potential hazards to your ferret.

While most ferret owners use cages to confine their pets at night or while they are not home, ferrets need plenty of exercise. Ferrets should be allowed out for a minimum of two hours per day, although more time outside is much better for the ferret. Being allowed out gives the ferret a chance to exercise, explore, and play: and ferrets do like to play. In addition to keeping a stock of toys, you should also be prepared to romp with your pet for at least half an hour in the morning and evening.

Ferrets will use litter boxes, although it requires training and patience. Since they have a short attention span, stationing numerous litter boxes around the house in case of accidents is an excellent idea. Make sure your ferret has access to plenty of nutritionally balanced ferret or high quality cat food and water in heavy bowls which cannot be tipped over or dragged around the house. If you keep ferrets entertained with a rich environment, they will reward you with years of fun.

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