Ferrets are becoming an increasingly popular pet in the UK, and not just for hunting purposes but as a friendly and intelligent pet.
Ferrets live for 8 - 10 years and come in a variety of colours, such as albino, polecat, champagne, cream, and many more combinations. If ferrets are handled from a young age they become quite used to humans and can become a very good companion.
Ferrets are naturally inquisitive and need lots of things to do and explore in their environment. Ferrets usually sleep for up to 20 hours a day and are most active at Dusk.
Ferrets need a large living environment that is secure and prevents escape! They are very agile good climbers and can squeeze through the smallest spaces, so regular checks of their living environment should be carried out to prevent losing your pet. New challenges should be introduced daily such as toys and tunnels, ferrets that get bored can quickly develop behaviour problems and become ill. You could put toys on a rotation basis to prevent having to buy new toys daily.
Ferrets are also very clean animals and their toilet area should be cleaned at least once daily. Ferrets do not do well in extreme temperatures, so should be sheltered from the elements in the winter and kept out of direct sunlight in the summer, some ferrets even like a little swim or paddle to cool down! Plenty of bedding such as blankets and t-shirts should also be provided.
Ferrets need constant access to fresh drinking water as they drink quite a lot, and are strictly carnivores – they cannot be vegetarians.
Feeding ferrets ad-lib is better than one or two meals a day as they need to eat little but often due to a high metabolism. They can be fed a meat based diet of dry pellets, but sometimes mixing with a little water can make them easier to eat for younger ferrets.
Ferrets need to be vaccinated yearly against Canine distemper which can be carried out at your local South Wales Vets from 10 weeks old.
Contact your local South Wales Vets Branch to book an appointment.
Many ferrets enjoy company of another ferret, but some prefer to live on their own. If you have more than one ferret, ensure that there is adequate space in their living environment for them both to have their own space but also mix if they would like.
If you are mixing the same sex of ferret, un-neutered ferrets can display aggressive behaviour towards each other, and mixing male and females will result in breeding and un-wanted litters. So please neuter your ferret to prevent this from happening. Neutering can be carried out from 6 months of age.
Ferrets can be neutered from 6 months. Jills and Hobbs have a few neutering options available to you.
Hobbs - Males
- Suprelorin Implant-This is the same principle as in females and is the preferred option. It reduces the male sex hormones.
- Castration-This is the removal of both of the testicles under a general anaesthetic. As with females this is going out of favour due to risks of adrenal disease.
Jill’s – Females
Jill’s are induced-ovulators and must be mated in order to ovulate. This means if a Jill is not mated she will remain in season for several months. They can suffer from weight loss and also bone marrow suppression due to the oestrogen levels. This can lead to a life threatening anaemia. There are a few options to prevent these dangerous problems:
- Suprelorin hormonal implant-This is injected in the scruff of the neck and is usually done annually. It is not a permanent solution. It is a synthetic GnRH implant which reduces the production of certain hormones resulting in a chemical neutering. Current science recommends this as the best option.
- The “Jill Jab”- This is a hormonal injection and will delay oestrus for several months. It is usually given at the start of the mating season.
- Neutering-This is the removal of the ovaries and uterus under a general anaesthetic. There has been increasing concern recently with adrenal disease as a result of neutering in ferrets and it is going out of favour.
- Allow the Jill to mate and have a litter.
- Allow the Jill to mate with a vasectomised (infertile) male which will end oestrus without producing a litter.
Please contact your local South Wales Vets for a free pre-op check to discuss your options with one of our vets.