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CARING FOR YOUR NEW FERRET
Essential Care Items:
Fuzzies, as ferrets are affectionately known, will steal your heart with their boundless energy and antics. Before you purchase your ferret, there is a lot of set-up and preparation involved to make your house ready and ferret-proof for the new arrival. We have rated the ferret with 4 stars because they make great family pets, are a very interactive pet, easy to train and tame, and are easy to care for. Please visit our Advanced Small Animal and FAQ's for more information on ferrets.
Housing - Your cage should be made of wire mesh (aquariums are not acceptable) for adequate ventilation. Ferrets are great escape artists can squeeze through most wire cages unless you make sure the spacing is no more than 1 inch. Cat cages make great ferret homes. The best cage should be multi-leveled for plenty of movement. Cat cages usually come with several shelves which are perfect for ramps and sleeping areas. Ferrets really love to hang-out in hammocks that can be purchased at your local pet store or you can make one. To make one, find some strong cloth (sweatshirt material) and cut into a large square. Fold the corner over (for strength) and cut small holes in each corner, then attach some shower curtain rings for hooking on the cage. Be sure to cover the wire floors with non-looping carpet (no rubber backing to prevent chewing) or fleece tied down that can be easily washed. This prevents your ferrets' feet from getting stuck in the wires and causing injury.
Food - Ferrets require a high quality protein and fat diet because they burn a lot of energy with their constant movement. We recommend that you find a diet specially made for ferrets. If you can't find one, you can substitute cat food but make sure it is above 33% protein. The food you choose should have a main ingredient of chicken or poultry (not fish). Ferrets are considered snackers and need to have constant access to food and water. Due to their high activity, your ferret will go for food when he needs more energy so be sure to have food available at all times. To keep your ferret's teeth healthy feed dry kibble. Use moist food as a treat or when your ferret is not feeling well. You can supplement your ferret's diet with Ferretone or Linatone as a treat. Your ferret may also enjoy raisins, bananas and plain cheerios. Be sure to use a heavy crock for their food and a water bottle to prevent spillage. Visit our Pet Tips for ideas on toys and treats.
Potty Training - Ferrets can be trained to use a litter box in a couple of weeks. This does require consistency and extra litter boxes on your part. Ferrets are attracted to their "potty corner" by smell, therefore, if you can put some fresh droppings in the box to start with your ferret will get the idea. You will need to put him in the litter box after he wakes and after he eats. You can usually tell when a ferret needs to go potty because they almost always will back up to a corner and spray. The best method is to have a litter box available in the cage at all times and a litter box available at all times in the play area (a ferret will not return to the cage to go potty). The best litter boxes are large and provide a high back to prevent spraying over the lip. Ferrets will always back into a corner to go potty. You can cut one side to allow easy access for your ferret. Do not use clumping litter in the litter box because this can cause intestinal blockage. We recommend Carefresh bedding or newspaper litter. To prevent unwanted smells, try adding baking soda to the litter box.
Exercise - Ferrets are very high strung and require a lot of exercise with a minimum of 3 hours out of cage time. This can be easily accomplished by letting your ferret explore and entertain you while you make dinner, watch t.v. or clean house. Ferrets do require constant monitoring for safety. They are notorious for getting into trouble.
Grooming - Ferrets need baths because they have have an odor caused by their scent glands (this odor can be reduced by neutering the males). You will need to bathe your ferret at least once per month. Baby shampoo works great. To make bathing a bonding experience with your ferret, bring it into the shower with you. This also prevents escape. Be sure to dry your ferret completely by letting it roll around in towels. Ferrets do not need to be brushed on a regular basis because they do not shed on a regular basis. You will however, note that at least twice per year they get their new coat. At this time, gently pull or brush the fur to remove the dead hair. Your ferret also needs his ears cleaned on monthly basis. Use cotton swabs dipped in water to remove the dirt and wax build-up (do not stick in the ear canal) from the outer ear. To make ear cleanings easier, try using some Ferretone as a treat during the cleaning. Nail trimmings are by far the most unpopular task. To reduce the amount of trimmings, try using a fine grade sand paper on a ramp in their cage (be sure they are not eating it!). Holding your ferret by the scruff of his neck (loose skin behind his head) will make him go slack.
Toys - Ferrets can get pleasure from the simplest toys. Everyday items around the house can be turned into ferret toys. Try paper bags, dryer coils for tubes, non-chewable plastic toys, stuffed toys with the eyes and buttons removed, golf balls, bird toys and human brightly colored baby safe toys. See our Pet tips page for ideas on toys and treats.
Dangers - This is the most important aspect of ferret care. Your home is a virtual mine field to your ferret. One of the most serious problems is when your ferret gets stuck somewhere and then frantically tries to free itself, sometimes causing serious injury. To prevent problems, we have tried to come up with a few things to keep in mind, but the best way is to get on your hands and knees and see what your ferret sees. Do not allow access in furniture, especially recliners!, no rubber or vinyl for chewing, plug up electrical outlets and power strips, close all windows, keep out of laundry rooms, keep bathroom doors closed to prevent drowning, and never feed your ferret chocolate or dairy products.
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ENJOY YOUR NEW FUZZY!