If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around. - Will Rogers
Veterinary Care for Your Pet Ferret
Pet ferrets are widespread today, but in the United States they were rarely kept as pets prior to the 1980s. Since that time, however, ferrets have become quite popular due to their small size, friendly disposition, and innate intelligence.
Throughout history, ferrets have been used for hunting, or ferreting. Long, lean, and inquisitive, ferrets seem to be the perfect choice for chasing rodents and rabbits out of their burrows. Due to this intelligence, trained ferrets in London have been used to run TV and sound cables for both the wedding of Charles and Diana and the concert held in Greenwich Park on Millennium Eve. Then there is Freddie, a special ferret who is registered as an electrician’s assistant in the New Zealand Electrical Workers Union. Enjoy this story about Freddie.
Like their cousin, the skunk, ferrets will spray anal gland secretions when startled or frightened; however, most are sold “de-scented” with their anal glands removed. Intact males have a strong smell, but neutering virtually eliminates this problem. Females should also be spayed, but more to protect their health — unspayed females will enter an extended heat that can result in death.
Families with small children or pets such as birds, rodents, or reptiles may not be a good choice for adopting a ferret. Ferrets have a lifespan of 6 to 8 years, and this should be another consideration prior to bringing one home. In addition, they require lots of exercise, play time, and a setting that provides room to run, jump, and investigate new things. They like a place to burrow and prefer to sleep in an enclosed area. As they enjoy social groups, ferrets will often do well with other ferrets, cats, and small dogs from non-hunting breeds.
Wellness visits twice a year are necessary to keep your ferret healthy and vital. Preventive veterinary care includes vaccines such as rabies and distemper, veterinary dental cleanings, and heartworm prevention. Be aware that ferrets are prone to multiple tumors of the endocrine organs. If such a commitment sounds like a match with your family and lifestyle, a ferret may be the pet for you!
For more information about ferrets and their health, read Care of Ferrets in the Small Mammal Health series at the Veterinary Partner website.
For an enjoyable article on ferret care, go to the Healthy Pet website.
The American Ferret Association website offers information and resources for ferret owners.