Ferret Information

Female ferrets are called “Jills”, males are called “Hobs” and baby ferrets are called “Kits”. Ferrets are born deaf and blind. The period of pregnancy is 42 days. The “Kits” eyes and ears open at 3-4 weeks of age. Their temporary teeth begin to erupt at 14 days of age, at which time they begin to eat solid food. The permanent teeth erupt at 47-52 days of age. The “kits” are weaned by the time they are 8 weeks old. They reach their adult weight at 4 months of age. The average life span of a pet ferret is 9 - 10 years. “Hobs” are usually twice as large as “Jills”, but both sexes undergo weight fluctuations of 30-40% of their body weight. Fat is added in the fall, and lost in the spring.

Ferrets have paired glands beside the anal opening which secrete a musky odor when the animal is angry, excited, or in estrus (heat). These glands may be removed to reduce (not eliminate) the musky odor; which makes them a more pleasant pet. They do not have self-developed sweat glands, and are prone to heat stroke at a temperature above 90 degrees F.

Ferrets typically have good personalities and adapt well to human companionship, particularly if they have been raised from infancy in close human contact. They are inquisitive and playful by nature. If you want to give your ferret the freedom to roam, you will need to “ferret-proof” your home or a designated room. Many ferrets get into trouble if left unsupervised. Some pet ferrets have even been trained to walk with a leash and harness. Because they tend to urinate and defecate in habitual places, they are easily trained to use a cat litter box.

OTHER
  • Kits should be dewormed at the time of initial vaccination.
  • Yearly fecal examination should be performed by your veterinarian checking for any intestinal parasites.
  • Ferrets are very susceptible to “ear mites” and should be examined often by the owner when other pets are in the household which could transfer this disease.
  • Most ferrets purchased at retail stores have already been spayed or neutered for health reasons.
DIET
  • Pet ferrets are easily maintained with a commercial ferret diet. Ferrets have little, if any, capacity to digest fiber.
  • The food needs to have 30-35% protein and 15-20% fat, and animal protein should be the first ingredient and at least two or three of the next few.
  • Small bones should be withheld from the diet to prevent becoming lodged in the mouth, stomach, or intestine.
  • Fresh water, in either a cup or drinking bottle, should be available at all times.
COMMON DISEASES
  • Canine Distemper – 100% fatal in ferrets, vaccination is imperative
  • Influenza – transmissible between humans and ferrets, use good hygiene