A ferret is a small, furry creature with a cone-shaped nose. Long tail and a long, pear-shaped body with short legs and long claws. Ferrets are related to wolverines, ermines, minks and weasels in the Mustela genus. They are popular, though often controversial, pets. About Ferrets!
It’s estimated that some 334,000 U.S. households have ferrets, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association.
Just about any animal lover can tell you the average lifespan of your typical dog or cat, but the question gets a little murkier when it comes to ferrets. Though not quite as common to the American household, ferrets can nonetheless make just as wonderful pets as puppies and kittens do.
City, county, state, or military regulations can all dictate whether or not it is legal for you to own, breed, or sell a ferret where you live. The regulations can be quite involved. California, for example, allows only neutered males to be kept; and in Carson City, Nevada, it is illegal to own a ferret if you have a small child in your household.
To determine the regulations in your area, check with your local Wildlife or Fish and Game department, with the Humane Society, or with your local veterinarian. These organizations should also be able to advise you on license and permit requirements. Depending on where you live, you may need a license or permit for your ferret.
Ferrets Aren’t Wild Animals
While ferrets may have only become a “cool” pet in the last 20 years or so. The truth is that humans and ferrets have coexisted for thousands of years. Ferrets were first domesticated more than 2,500 years ago. But not as pets — much like early cats or dogs. Ferrets were working animals, used for hunting rabbits or controlling pests near farms or grain stores.
This misunderstanding may stem from people confusing domesticated ferrets with the black-footed ferret. A wild endangered animal native to the Western U.S. While related, these animals are completely different species. And they bear about as much resemblance to each other as a house cat does to a wildcat.
There are several populations of feral ferrets throughout the world. The most notable and destructive population lives in New Zealand. They were initially imported from England from 1879 to 1883 to help control the rabbit population. When that population was under control, the hybrids began eating New Zealand’s native birds which, until that time, had no natural predators.
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.
Ferrets like to bite?
Ferrets that are well-adjusted to the household and are sufficiently socialized will not bite any more than other house pets.
Ferret are no more dangerous than your average cat or dog. Just make sure you know where your keys are at all times; they are known to hide things.
Ferrets are carnivores and should eat premium commercial food that is high in fat and protein and specifically formulated for ferrets. They should not be fed dairy products, fruits, vegetables, or foods high in fiber, carbohydrates, or sugar.
And, of course, ferrets should have fresh water every day!
How Long Do Ferrets Live?
Unfortunately, such information is a bit more difficult to nail down than it may be in the case of some other popular pets. There are books out there that tell you that ferrets live for ten years, but that’s not happening anymore. According to Gruden, the lifespan of the modern American ferret is substantially shorter than that of its 1980s counterpart, which when the species, indigenous to Europe, first gained popularity in the United States.
The lifespan difference between a ferret purchased from a breeder compared to a ferret purchased from a pet store may have to do with how early the ferret was spayed or neutered.