Ferrets make fascinating pets. They are domesticated animals that are related to the European fitch or polecat. Ferrets are not rodents; domestic ferrets have been bred in captivity for generations, first for hunting vermin and then for the popular sport of ‘ferreting,’ or hunting rabbits. They are fun-loving, playful animals who love to get into mischief!
Ferrets are very gregarious animals that can make excellent pets if properly handled and socialised from an early age. They are curious and active animals with qualities similar to dogs and cats, and they may be readily trained to use a litter box. Ferrets are normally not violent if handled properly, however young children should be supervised at all times to avoid nipping.
Ferrets are more high-maintenance pets than cats or dogs, and they require an owner who is ready to devote a significant amount of time and attention to them. They require many hours of supervised exercise and play outside of their cage each day because they can be highly naughty and destructive. Ferrets get along with cats and most dogs if they are introduced early on, but they should always be supervised.
Avoid contact with pet birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats
According to The Spruce Pets, the most common health issue in ferrets is;
- Adrenal gland illness: Hair loss, vaginal irritation, itching, and hostility or irritability are all symptoms of adrenal gland disorders. Poor food and a lack of UVB radiation are thought to be significant factors, and some experts believe early ferret spaying (recommended to prevent aplastic anemia) may also play a role.
- Digestive disorders: They put stuff in their mouths that don’t belong there, including their own fur (which can result in hairballs). If your ferret loses weight, is unable to keep food down, or is not defecating normally, this could be a symptom of a potentially fatal gastrointestinal obstruction.
- Dental problems: Tooth problems can be a problem for ferrets, so avoid giving them kibble; ferret teeth are designed for tearing, and kibble isn’t up to the task. Ferrets, like people, can suffer from painful cavities and dental decay. This should only be done by a qualified veterinarian.
- Aplastic anemia: Lethargy, weakness, and pale gums are common symptoms. Female ferrets who have been in heat for several weeks without mating are at danger of becoming anemic.
- Ferret lymphoma: This prevalent malignancy affects the lymph nodes of the animal. It is fatal, and there are no prevention measures.
- Ferret dilated cardiomyopathy: This heart disease has the potential to cause abrupt death. It is thought that a shortage of taurine in a ferret’s diet is to blame. Simply defined, this condition is similar to heart failure in that the animal may become weak, lethargic, and wheezing. This is a condition that only a veterinarian can diagnose.
- Distemper (Rabies): It was formerly a severe threat to ferret health, but because to an effective vaccination, it has been largely eradicated. Nonetheless, this lethal illness, which is extremely contagious to humans and other mammals. Watery eyes and facial irritation are common symptoms.
Selecting A Pet Ferret
Ferrets can be obtained from pet stores, breeders, and ferret clubs. The polecat ferret, with its buff coat and black stripes on the face, foot, and tail, is the most common color scheme. Albino (white with pink eyes) and buff coats with lighter markings are two other color patterns. Choose a young ferret and look for the following:
- Clear eyes and nose: discharges may indicate respiratory infection
- Clean anal area: wetness may indicate diarrheas’
- Inquisitive and alert behavior
- Good body condition, not too thin
- Soft coat with no evidence of external parasites such as fleas
- Healthy light pink gums and no broken teeth
- Whether or not already desexed or descented
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