More on Black-Footed Ferrets

The other day I was asked again about having a black-footed ferret as a pet and what would happen if that person had a black-footed ferret as a pet.

As I wrote in a previous post, black-footed ferrets are a distant cousin to our domesticated little fuzzies. Black-footed ferrets are native to North America and are on the Endangered Species List.

It is illegal to have a black-footed ferret as a pet here in the United States, as well as in Canada and in Mexico. As with all animals on the Endangered Species List, they are highly protected by the government.

So if you were sold a black-footed ferret or given one as a gift, be aware that it was done illegally.

If you would like to learn more about the black-footed ferret, go to

You will also learn how hard it would be to get a black-footed ferret.

To learn more about legal pet ferrets and their care, you can go here.

Black-Footed Ferrets as Pets?

I have seen the question “Why is it illegal to own black-footed ferrets as pets?” several times on this site, and I have never answered it. Well, my friends, I am finally getting around to answering this question – and I apologize for not getting to it sooner.

The answer to the question is really quite simple. You cannot own a black-footed ferret because they are on the Endangered Species List. And as with all endangered animals, it is illegal to have them as pets.

The black-footed ferret is the only ferret that is native to North America. Their main food source is the prairie dog. Because prairie dogs were considered a nuisance for livestock and land, their eradication began. And because their food source was being killed off, so was the black-footed ferret.

In 1960, it was realized that the black-footed ferret was in danger. In 1967, the black-footed ferret was classified as an Endangered Species. In 1973, the black-footed ferret was one of the first species to be put on the current Endangered Species List.

And that is the reason why it is illegal to own a black-footed ferret. Plus, I think would be nearly impossible to get one, considering they are highly protected.

If you would like to learn more about the black-footed ferret, you can go to the official website of the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Implementation Team (BFFRIT):

I learned about the black-footed ferret from this site and from Kim Schilling’s Ferrets for Dummies.

Are Ferrets Good Pets for Children?

I have been asked if a ferret would make a good child’s pet. I would say yes, BUT only ifCute Panda Ferret the child is very responsible and probably around twelve years old.

I have five grandchildren ranging in age from one to eight. And I would not encourage any of them to get a fuzzy unless their parents (my human kids) took full responsibility for care of the pet ferrets, as well as carefully supervising when the kids are playing with the woozles.

I have stressed before that ferrets are high-maintenance critters – not just money-wise, but also care-wise. I also wrote a previous post about ferret-rescue shelters that are full of little fuzzies that have been abused and/or were unwanted. Often, people got these pet ferrets – and sometimes it was for their children – without realizing the money and time commitments involved.

I am not saying that you should never get a child a pet ferret because I have met responsible children. But we have to keep in mind that they are, after all, children. They don’t understand the time commitment. Usually, children just see what they want – and they want it now.

Just make sure to do a lot of research before you make the ultimate decision on getting your child a wonderful little fuzzy!

Ferret News and Some Advice About Getting a Pet Ferret

If you want to get a ferret, you have many options. Many people new to pet ferrets just head to their local pet store and buy the first animal they see. Although most pet stores are reputable, there are a few bad apples out there.

Many pet stores obtain their animals from professional breeders supposedly dedicated to breeding and raising high-quality, healthy animals. Unfortunately, not all breeders are that dedicated.

Some breeders try to cut corners by using inferior feeds. Others cut their staffing levels toHealthy Panda Ferret save labor costs, which can lead to dirty cages, inadequate food and/or water, and substandard medical care.  While these particular breeders may take in more profit, the ferrets suffer for it by being less than healthy. The ultimate owner of the ferret also suffers by having to care for a sickly animal, which is not as enjoyable and also costs a lot more in vet bills.

One such case was fairly recently investigated in Pennsylvania. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Triple F Ferret Farm, which formerly raised ferrets for the Petland store chain, engaged in “animal cruelty” while raising the approximately 6,000 ferrets in their care.

PETA said it conducted a three-week-long undercover investigation at Triple F Farms in August, including video footage. The results of that investigation were subsequently filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which launched its own investigation.

The USDA found, in its August 24 investigation, that among other things:

  • Some of the ferrets’ cages had cut or bent wiring.
  • Dead ferret bodies were in cages alongside live animals.
  • Bags of ferret bedding were found to have crickets and other pests.
  • Several of the enclosures had “excessive oil and debris.”
  • Surgical openings created during the spaying process were not properly closed.
  • Personnel did not follow proper sterilization procedures.
  • Wood shavings were found mixed in with the food for young kits.
  • Kibble was found to have leaked from at least two PVC pipe feeders, depriving the young ferrets housed there of “any food.”

Triple F Farms responded to the claims in a September 13, 2011, press release: “The PETA video is grossly exaggerated and in many instances, patently untrue. We at Triple F Farms are committed to providing our customers with healthy ferrets, and abusing, mishandling or in any other way neglecting these animals would do nothing to help us meet that mission.”

The American Ferret Association has formally requested that Triple F Farms remove the association’s logo and other identifiers from all of the farm’s communications and facilities. Petland has also stopped purchasing its ferrets from that farm.

Triple F Farms was not formally charged with animal cruelty or similar charges. However, the USDA report urged the farm’s personnel to correct several violations. In addition, they were banned from performing “major operative procedures” until their veterinary-care practices were corrected.

So, with this in mind, what should prospective ferret owners do?  Stories of ferret cruelty such as this one should not scare you away from buying from a pet store. Most pet stores are reputable. If you see a carpet shark that you are interested in buying in a pet store, just make sure to do and ask the following:

  • Get a written health guarantee from the store.
  • Check carefully to determine whether the ferret is indeed well cared for. For example: Is the cage clean? Is there fresh food and water? Do the ferrets get to come out of the cage often? Do store staff members play and interact with the ferrets often?
  • Are store staff members knowledgeable in ferret care?
  • Most important, does the ferret seem healthy? Is its coat shiny? Is the ferret active? Does it seem depressed, agitated, or afraid?

An alternative to buying your ferret from a pet store is to get your ferret from a ferret shelter. Often, this is less expensive than buying through a pet store. Most ferret shelters also offer support after the adoption. Shelters are also generally choosy about human adoptive parents – they won’t allow their ferrets, which may have come from an abusive situation, to come to more harm.

A third option is to buy direct from a breeder. To make sure a breeder is reputable, ask for references from previous purchasers. Also ask for a tour of the facility. Does it seem clean? Do the ferrets seem healthy and well cared for? Does the breeder offer to help you learn the ropes of caring for the ferret after you bring it home?

A last option is to obtain a ferret through a classified ad. While it is possible to do so, it can be risky because you will probably find little, if any, information about the ferret or its owner. You also probably will not be able take the animal back if the arrangement doesn’t work out.

Discover the critical steps in buying/adopting a ferret and the essentials of caring for these unique, loveable pets in Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Getting Started with Pet Ferrets

When I first became a ferret owner, I had dozens of questions about my new fuzzy friend.

  • What was the best food for good health?
  • What did that funny little sound she made mean?
  • What were the best toys to keep her active and happy?
  • What should the living quarters include?

Every day brought more questions, but I had a hard time finding the answers. So I did what any enterprising woman would do – I kept notes on what I learned and observed and now I’ve turned it into a book!

Anyone who is interested in a ferret as a pet can now find all the answers I needed in one place. Everything from ferret history and ferret names to how to pick the best ferret toys, furnish their personal living space, and how to deal with common ferret health issues.

I’ve even included a checklist for ferret adoption, a section on breeding ferrets and a handy guide to what your ferret is saying with those funny noises and cute gestures. Training your ferret and dealing with behavior issues is also covered as well as many other topics that a new (or even an experienced) ferret owner should know.

If you have a Kindle eReader you can check out Getting Started With Pet Ferrets here


If you have a nook, iPad or other  eReader, you can go to Smashwords and download a version for your PC or electronic device.

This is the book I wish I would have had years ago when I first added these little energized furballs of fun to my household. Check it out and be sure to let me know what you think, or leave a comment if there is a ferret question you’d like to see answered.


More from the Husband – What is a Ferret?

My wife is the one with pet ferrets, but I’m pretty involved with them too – especially when it comesGetting Started with Pet Ferrets to purchasing ferret toys, ferret accessories, and ferret food. But I do like the little fuzzy guys. Still, I probably view them a little differently than my wife does.

So what is a ferret?

A ferret is small creature that possesses the attributes of several animals all rolled up together in one fuzzy package. Ferrets have the predicament-inducing curiosity of a cat, they display the self-abandoned playfulness of an otter, and they engage in the zany and often outrageous antics that dogs do. They simply can’t be safely pigeonholed. And that’s a little frustrating for guys because we like clear-cut categories. We just don’t do well with ambiguity and fluidity.

Someone once said (I think it was Chesterton) that husbands need their wives to talk to them . . . because it helps them concentrate on what they’re reading. Yes, he was being facetious, but there’s still a lot of truth in that. Husbands and wives, after the honeymoon years are past, just don’t have a lot to say to each other. But a pet ferret can help with that.

A ferret is also a convenient, shared conversation piece. Everybody in the household loves a pet ferret. And that also means that everyone is usually ready and willing to talk about the cute critters. So when the kids are grown and gone and conversation flags, a ferret is something husbands and wives can talk to each other about again – with interest.

My wife often comes running out of her room and exclaims: “Michael! You’ll never believe what Rikki and Possum just did!” To which I respond: “What?” She then proceeds to tell me, and then we talk about her ferrets for a while. Without the ferrets, I would still be reading – and we wouldn’t be talking.

Finally, and slightly related, a ferret is a marriage-saver. There is almost nothing that can lift you out of a depression or turn aside an angry mood like watching a pet ferret play. So when my wife is angry with me – gratuitously and for absolutely no justifiable reason – she will often go play with and talk to her ferrets. And then, when she comes out of her room again, she is in a good mood. Her anger has passed, and she doesn’t wish I lived somewhere else. So, thanks to Rikki and Possum, my wife’s ferrets, our marriage is still intact.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to get started with ferrets – for example, the basics of adopting a ferret, ferret cages and accessories, ferret care, and ferret health –  then you’ll likely be interested in Karen’s new book. It’s titled, appropriately, Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Ferret Rescue Centers and Ferret Shelters for Ferret Adoption

As I’ve mentioned before, my first ferret was a “rescue” ferret. I found Rikki curled up beside myAlbino Ferret Playing truck at work on a cold, rainy night. So, with this in mind, I decided to investigate ferret rescue centers and ferret shelters. And, boy, did I get the shock of my life!

I was amazed to find out that there is at least one shelter in almost every state. There are only 6 states without any kind of rescue center or shelter. And that means there are 44 states that have them, with 1 to 15 in each of those states.

If I counted correctly, there are a total of 185 rescue centers and shelters in the US. What does that tell you about responsible ferret owners? If there are that many ferret shelters, then there are far more people who do not want to be responsible ferret lovers like us.

But if you are ready to be a responsible ferret owner and are looking for a pet ferret, I have a suggestion. I would recommend that, instead of buying a ferret at your local pet store, you check out the ferret rescue shelters in your state and adopt a ferret from one of them. There are a lot of homeless babies in need of a good home.

If you noticed, I did not say “unloved babies.” That’s because the 185 ferret shelters indicate a lot of people who love ferrets so much they are devoting their time, energy, and money to these abandoned, abused, and neglected little fuzzies.

And if you live in Canada, you’ll find 7 ferret rescue centers/shelters in your country. I also found one in New Zealand. I don’t know about other countries yet, but I’m still looking.

So . . . here’s a great big THANK YOU to all the people at those 185 ferret rescue centers/shelters – people who are giving a lot of love and care to so many fuzzy babies. Also, and especially, from Rikki Tikki Tavi and Awesome Possum (my two ferrets): “Thank You!”

Go here to see a pretty extensive list (by state) of ferret rescue centers and ferret shelters in the US.

Ferrets as Pets – Be Prepared for the Commitment

I took my fuzzy babies to the vet yesterday for a check-up and vaccinations. Boy, was it ever an ordeal for them! I think they’re still mad at me.

At one point, I was explaining to the doc how I found Rikki. And it got me reflecting later on finding this poor little creature out in the wet and cold. At the time, I was sure someone was frantic about losing their baby – until no one claimed this beautiful little animal. I checked everywhere I could think of to find her owner: pet store, vets, SPCA, ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation), and so on.

What I found out in the process was quite a shock to me.

I was informed that a lot of people buy ferrets on impulse because they are cute and Ferret Playingentertaining little animals. But then these people realize how much money and time is involved in taking care of them properly. So they just toss their ferrets outside to fend for themselves.

I can’t stress strongly enough that ferrets have been domesticated for so long, they hardly ever make it on their own.

In fact, I was shocked to find out that there are rescue foundations for ferrets just as for dogs and cats. I have a hard time thinking there are people in this world who would abandon any animal – let alone a small defenseless animal like a ferret.

What it amounts to is this. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in these sweet, adorable, funny, and loveable pets, then don’t get one.

Also, if you have young children who just have to have a pet ferret, keep in mind that, more than likely, a large share of the ferret-care burden will fall on your shoulders. Ferrets as pets take a real commitment that many children just aren’t prepared for.

So . . . make sure you are prepared for the commitment it takes to be a responsible ferret owner. For there may not someone around to take home your burdensome Mitzi or Rudy or Bella.

Choosing a Pet Ferret – How I and my First Ferret Did It

We’ve already talked about the basics of getting set up for bringing ferrets into your family (cage, litter box, and bed). So now let’s talk a little about picking out a pet ferret.

First, you should probably be aware of the wide variety of ferret colors and color patterns. If you embark on your ferret-adoption journey without giving some thought to this beforehand, you’ll have a tough time making up your mind. Here are just some of the many colors, patterns, and ferret types: Sable, Black Sable, Cinnamon, Masked Cinnamon, Panda, Albino, Black & White, Champagne, Chocolate, Dark-eyed White, Light, Medium, and Heavy Silver, Badger, Blaze, Hooded, Mitted, and Siamese.

I have two ferrets, an albino and a panda, and they are very spoiled. You would think they are myPanda Ferret in Clothes Hamper children they way I treat them. I even scold them like children when they do something mischievous – like getting into the clothes hamper and pulling my clothes out and scattering them everywhere.

But back to picking out a ferret. I get a little carried away talking about my ornery little critters.

At the time I got Possum, my young panda ferret, there was only one pet store in my town. (Now, however, there are two.) And this one store had only a few (or one or two) ferrets at any time. So my choice was made a lot easier owing to limited options.

Most pet stores around here get their ferrets from the Marshall ferret farm. Marshall always de-scents and spays or neuters ferrets before delivering them to pet stores. They also tattoo sex-identifying dots in one of each ferret’s ears – one dot for a female (or jill) and two for a male ferret (or hob). I’ve come across some negative comments about Marshall, but I can assure you that Possum was a very healthy ferret when I got him. So I don’t have any complaints.

When I set out to get my second ferret, one of the issues I was concerned about was biting. Since the pet store had only two ferrets at the time (both pandas), I was able to take them into a “play room” to see how they would interact with Rikki. Yep. She got to pick out her “baby brother.”

The larger of the two pandas seemed to want to bite, both me and Rikki. Every time we approached him he would start hissing and making biting motions toward us. He was probably just frightened and didn’t trust us. Still, I didn’t want to take a chance on a ferret that seemed so aggressive, especially for Rikki’s sake.

Ferrets are very curious critters – more curious than a cat. So, generally, when they meet someone new, they are all over that person or animal, sniffing and checking things out. But not this ferret.

He was also very hyper. He just couldn’t be still for a second. I already had one “ADHD” ferret and didn’t think I needed another one. So, Rikki then got to go into the play room with the smaller panda ferret.

This one was much calmer and more cuddly and very interested in Rikki. Right away, he tried to get her attention and play with her. But after her experience with the first ferret, Rikki didn’t want to have much to do with this one. She spent her time instead checking out the new surroundings, the new toys, and the new person who was helping me and answering my questions. So I played with the little guy.

He was totally different from the first ferret. He crawled all over me, smelling my clothes, hands,Pet Ferret Playing and face. He never offered to bite and let me hold him and cuddle him. Since Rikki was too busy to help me, I had to decide on my own. So I chose this smaller panda ferret to be her baby brother. A very good choice, it turned out.

And that’s how Rikki and I acquired her new “baby brother,” Possum, who really did look like a small fuzzy-tailed possum. You can tell from the pictures that he is quite a ham and likes to pose for pictures.


A Welcome to The Ferret Zone and a Brief History of How I Came to Have Pet Ferrets

Since this site isn’t really about me, I’m going to kick things off by introducing you to my two lovable ferrets – Rikki and Possum.

Rikki – My Rescue Ferret

Rikki, whose name comes from Kipling’s children’s story “Rikki Tikki Tavi,” is a femaleFemale Albino Ferret albino ferret. (I found out later that a ferret is only very distantly related to a mongoose.) Rikki is the one who started my love affair with ferrets. (My husband even took to her soon after I found her and brought her home.) Here’s how it happened (although my husband still raises an eyebrow when I tell this story).

I found Rikki at work one cold, wet December night. When I went out to my truck during my break, I spotted a white object on the ground by the front tire. I couldn’t, at first, tell what it was. Then it moved. And I thought: “Oh, crap! It’s a white rat.” Then, the “rat” started walking toward me, and I realized it was a white ferret.

She was soaked through and cold and, apparently, had nowhere to go and no one to go home to.  So I scooped her up, dried her off, and took her home. (I did do my best to locate her owners.) And that is how my life with ferrets began.

After a couple of months of observing her eating habits, I finally decided that Rikki is a fairly old ferret. Now, she won’t eat unless I soak her food in water. But she has energy and is never still. One of her favorite activities is “helping” me make my bed.

Possum – My Adopted Marshall Ferret

I got Possum, a male panda ferret, about a year after I found Rikki. He is a playmate to Rikki and both a joy and a trial to me.

After having Rikki for about a year, I began to feel very guilty about not being able toMale Panda Ferret Marshall give her the attention she needed (because of work and family and all that). So, in early November that year, I put on my brightest, most-fetching smile and in my sweetest tones asked my husband for an early Christmas present. And he said, “We’ll see” – which was close enough to “Yes” for me.

So in a few days we set off to our local pet store to find Rikki a “baby brother.” I took Rikki with me so she could help me pick out her “brother,” but she couldn’t make up her mind. Right away, she got along well with both candidates. So I decided for her – and it turned out that I made a very good choice.

I really wanted a sable ferret, but they only had two panda ferrets. So I named my new ferret Possum. When he was young, he really did look a lot like a fuzzy-tailed possum.

Possum is a Marshall ferret (and so is Rikki). You may have heard bad things about Marshall, but Possum was healthy and happy and full of life when I got him. Marshall ferrets are spayed or neutered and de-scented when you get them. The females have one small dot tattooed in their ear, and males have two dots to identify them as Marshall ferrets.

And that’s how I adopted two ferrets and became an irredeemable ferret lover. If you have any stories like these, I would love to hear them.