Unique Apartment Pets: Ferrets

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Unique Apartment Pets: Ferrets

Staff Writer · Nov 3, 2009

Ferrets make excellent apartment pets because of their small size and ability to sleep happily in cages for long periods of time when the apartment dweller is away, but they do require knowledgeable care. While there are some negative myths about ferret ownership, ferrets can make loving pets.

Ferret Facts

Ferrets aren’t always the most frequently selected apartment pets because of a few negative myths, including that they’re ill-tempered and smell bad. However, ferrets are weasels long bred for domestication; properly cared-for ferrets who live happy, relaxing lives are no more likely than the common pet dog or cat to have moments in which they display a bad temper. They do elicit a strong odor from their anal glands when frightened, but the best cared-for ferrets are not often frightened enough to give off this odor. When released, the scent is relatively quick to dissipate and won’t stain apartment furnishings. Do, however, make sure that your state allows for ferret ownership. Some states ban ferret ownership-not because of ferret ferocity but because there is no effective rabies shot for ferrets and because the states are afraid of non-fixed ferrets escaping, breeding and reeking havoc on local birdlife-but others just require that you have your ferrets spayed or neutered, which is a good idea regardless, as this will decrease moodiness and scent marking.

Preparing Your Home for Ferrets

As ideal apartment pets, ferrets can spend most of the day in their cages, so their cages should be comfortable environments. Get a multi-level wire cage and line the flooring with linoleum tiles or carpet. You should fill the cage with ferret furniture, like hammocks, to give your ferret some places to explore and play. You can also include a litter pan if your ferret is litter-trained. Ferrets are good escape artists, so make sure the latch is secure!

Feeding Your Ferrets

Ferrets are carnivore apartment pets that have difficulty digesting any plant life. Ferrets also have a fast metabolism, so they should have access to food and fresh water at all times. Their diet should be high in fat and protein. Look for dried ferret food kibble, which you can supplement with wet canned ferret food as an occasional treat. Do not feed your ferret cat food if you can find food designed specifically for ferrets.

Playing with Your Ferrets

Ferrets require at least three hours of exercise and interaction outside of their cages every day. Watch out for electrical cords and small holes that might entice your curious ferret. Ferrets will play with cat toys like balls and dangling toys on strings. They also will have a blast with something as simple as a PVCC pipe, a cardboard box or a paper bag. They even like rattles and other hard, plastic toys intended for human children (just don’t share the toys with children). You can put some hard toys with no little parts in your ferret’s cage, but always supervise your ferret with something like the dangling toys because they may get tangled up.

Ferrets make loving apartment pets when their owners are properly prepared for their care and companionship. Responsible apartment dwellers will find that ferrets make an excellent addition to their home.

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