Ferret Training – Harness Training Your Pet Ferret

Just like our human children, our fuzzy kids need fresh air and sunshine to be in their best health. It’s a good idea, then, to get your pet ferret outdoors as often as you can. But keep in mind that ferret SAFETY comes first. And a good way to ensure your ferret’s safety when Panda Ferret Playing in Ferret Toy Tunnelshe’s outdoors is by keeping her on a harness and leash. This will allow her freedom of movement while still keeping her close enough for you to ensure safety.

In the beginning, though, ferrets dislike wearing a harness because it is unfamiliar to them. But, still, that harness is important for them to wear whenever you take them outside. So you need to train them to accept and wear. Here’s how:

  1. Start when your ferret is very young (around 10 weeks old).
  2. Put the harness on your ferret. (Offer a treat if he doesn’t keep still while you put the harness on.)
  3. Let your ferret wear the harness for five minutes or so. Offer a treat and then remove the harness.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 every day until your ferret starts to feel comfortable in the harness. Gradually increase the amount of time he wears the harness.
  5. When your ferret seems to be comfortable with the harness, attach the leash (lead).
  6. Let your ferret run around the house freely with the harness and lead for a few minutes each day (similar to Steps 2-4). Monitor your ferret to be sure the leash does not get caught in furniture, doors, etc.
  7. When your ferret seems comfortable with the lead, hold the lead but let the ferret lead you.
  8. Gradually, start to use the leash to guide your ferret where you want him to go. Offer a treat each time he follows your guidance.
  9. When your ferret seems comfortable with a leash and harness, take him outdoors for short walks. Allow your ferret to explore safely, using the leash to direct him away from dangers. Lengthen your walks and extend your ferret’s range as appropriate.

Note: Always bring water and treats with you when going outside with your ferret. Make sure all your ferret’s vaccines are up to date, and do not take your ferret outside in temperatures below 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) or above 78 degrees F (26 degrees C). Most ferrets enjoy playing in snow, but if you let them do so, be sure you can rescue them from deep drifts.

Ferret Odor Revisited

If you’ve owned a pet ferret for any length of time, then you’re no doubt acquainted with your pet’s distinctive, um, ferret odor. A ferret’s unique scent can sometimes be a problem for new owners of pet ferrets. Fortunately, you have a few options if you dislike having a “stinky Ferret Odor Solutionslinky.”

First, keep in mind that a ferret’s scent is simply a natural part of its existence. Ferrets, being related to skunks, have scent glands located near the anus (although a pet ferret doesn’t use her glands for defense the way a skunk does). Usually, these glands are removed when the ferret is quite young (generally at the same time it is being spayed or neutered). And if you got your ferret from a pet store it has most likely been “de-scented.”

But in some countries removing the scent glands is considered to be abusive and therefore not performed. If you are adopting a pet ferret from outside the US, be sure to find out whether the animal has been de-scented.

If your pet has not been de-scented, he may release a distinctive (and pretty strong) musk-like odor when excited, afraid, or angry. But once your ferret has calmed down, the smell usually dissipates fairly quickly.

Removing the scent glands will eliminate most of the musky ferret odor. It may recur, however, if you don’t take care of your ferret properly. And this happens because ferrets have oil glands that also emit a musky odor.

While it may seem counterintuitive, you should NOT bath your ferret frequently to control this ferret odor. Too much bathing will actually make the problem worse because frequent baths will wash away the natural oils that actually help protect your fuzzy’s health. Bathe your ferret no more than about once a month.

(Also be aware that a persistent, strong ferret smell could signal that its teeth and/or ears could use some cleaning.  If the problem persists after you’ve thoroughly cleaned these areas, you should take your pet ferret see her vet.)

Now, while most ferret owners adjust to their fuzzies’ unique “odor,” other members of the family often do not. Family (and friends) may complain about this smell. But not to worry – this ferret odor can be controlled (though not eliminated entirely) quite easily.

You can control pet ferret odor with a product called GoodBye Odor for Ferrets. I use it because it works – and I wouldn’t be without it.

Ferret Proofing Your Home – Keeping Your Pet Ferrets Safe

Okay, so you’ve purchased, adopted, or rescued your first pet ferret(s). You’ve also gathered and/or purchased all the ferret cage(s), supplies, accessories, and ferret toys you think you and your new fuzzy will need. But your job isn’t finished yet.

Ferrets are surprisingly agile and nimble, and they love to burrow and tunnel into everything – Panda Ferret in Laundry Basketyes, everything. They can flatten out and crawl through cracks and into spaces (e.g., under doors, between cushions, around barriers) that seem impossibly narrow. So, if your home isn’t ready, your ferret and your possessions could be at risk.

Here, then, are a few tips to help you prepare a safe haven for your fuzzy.

  • Crawl around your ferret’s space and try your best to get a ferret’s-eye view of your home. What attractive nuisances do you see? Look for holes in the walls and in furniture cushions – a ferret can squeeze into a remarkably small space – tall cabinets from which they could fall, easily opened and entered drawers, electrical cords and drapery pulls that look like tempting chew items, climbable trash cans, and accessible toxic plants. Plug up any holes and cracks you may find, install child-proof latches and outlet covers, and put away delicate knick-knacks – anything you can do to make the place ferret safe.
  • Keep trash cans out of your ferret’s room if at all possible. If you really do need a trash can in the ferret’s space, choose one that can be sealed tightly. Trash cans not only carry germ-laden materials, but they can trap an exploring ferret inside.
  • If you plan to allow your ferret free run of the house (and, of course, you would allow this only when you or a responsible person is present), keep the bathroom door closed. Seal off the bottom as well if your fuzzy could crawl under it. As a precaution, put away all cosmetics, medications, and toiletries. If possible, install a shower door rather than using a shower curtain. Keep the toilet lid down and/or install a child-proof latch.
  • Likewise, seal off your kitchen when your ferrets are loose because they could become trapped in or around appliances or get burned when exploring the stove. As a precaution, put all food items away, including condiments.
  • Do not allow your ferrets on or near upholstered furniture. They could chew on the stuffing and fabric, which could be a choking hazard (in addition to damaging an expensive piece of furniture). They could also become trapped in reclining-chair mechanisms.
  • Also, close off your laundry area. Don’t ever let your ferret take a ride in the laundry basket on your way to doing the wash. Too many ferrets have gone through the washer and dryer cycle, unbeknownst to their owners, with tragic results.
  • Keep all chemicals, fragile items, and valuables out of the reach of your ferrets at all times.

Once your ferret is home, get into the habit of watching out for her. Carefully inspect your couch or recliner before you sit down. Close all doors slowly, including refrigerator and cabinet doors. Check your washer, dryer, and laundry basket before you do a new load. Put away all hazardous chemicals. Avoid carrying large or awkward loads if there’s a chance of stumbling over your ferret.

(N.B.: Sometimes, veterinarians will allow you to quarantine your new ferret in their offices for a week or two. Not only is this an excellent way to be sure your ferret is healthy and disease free, but it also buys you some time to prepare your home.)

For more tips on ferret safety and ferret care, see Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Feeding Ferrets – A Few Common Problems and Some Suggestions

Pet ferrets are, most of the time, healthy eaters without any severe food-related problems. Occasionally, though, you’ll encounter some problems when it comes to ferret food and feeding ferrets. Below are a few of the most common ferret-feeding issues and some suggestions on how to handle them. But keep in mind that if a problem persists you need to get your fuzzies to the vet.

Picky Eaters and Underweight Ferrets
Sometimes pet ferrets can seem to be picky eaters, or your ferret may suddenly begin eating a lot less than usual and losing weight. If you’ve determined with certainty that this isn’t the result of some underlying health issue, here are some things you can try. (Also, if you’ve just adopted an adult ferret and don’t know her preferences, you might try these tricks.)

  • Drizzle some warm water on the ferret kibble or even soak the kibble in water for a few minutes. Ferrets often find the softened kibble more palatable and tend to eat it better.
  • Puree the food and, using an eyedropper, feed it to your ferret – in the jaw socket, NEVER directly down the throat.
  • Place a few drops of a veterinarian-recommended fatty-acid supplement onto the food.
  • Keep experimenting with a variety of flavors and brands.
  • In a pinch, try pureed, meat-based baby food. (But, remember, this should be only a very short-term solution.)

If the problem persists, see your veterinarian. Your ferret may be sick or recovering from an injury. If so, you will need to give him lots of special attention to help him to gain and maintain a proper weight.

Overweight Ferrets
Being overweight is generally a pretty rare problem in ferrets because they are so active (when they’re awake that is.) They burn off their excess calories, and they are usually pretty good about eating only what they need. Occasionally, though, it happens, and here’s what you can try:

  • Put only a small amount of food in the bowl at each feeding and refill it when your ferret appears ready to eat again. Leave the food bowl empty for an hour or two each day may do the trick.
  • Encourage your ferret to exercise by playing with it for longer periods of time.
  • Monitor how much your ferret eats. If he doesn’t seem to be eating as much as usual, but still looks overweight, he may have an intestinal blockage or another illness.

Young ferrets
Baby ferrets are a special case. Ferret kits are usually weaned when they are about one and a half to two months old. At that point, they may be given water with just a small amount of very soft ferret food. (The consistency is usually compared to pea soup.) Kits need a lot of water to avoid a swollen stomach, which could lead to constipation and a prolapsed rectum (a condition that often requires surgery). (And be sure to offer your kit a variety of ferret-friendly foods. The various tastes will help avoid the problem of “picky eaters.”)

Over the next several weeks, the pea soup-like food is gradually thickened until at last, at about three months of age, the kit is eating dry food. However, be sure to monitor her water intake to be sure your kit is drinking enough.

General Ferret-food Tips
Here are a few rules of thumb to help you feed your ferret well:

  • Always clean the food dishes thoroughly every day.
  • A ferret’s age-related eating patterns are similar to a human’s. An adolescent will eat everything in sight in preparation for a growth spurt. An “old-timer” will likely eat less as he becomes less active.
  • Never force feed a ferret.
  • Don’t let your ferret eat non-food items. Common items that tempt ferrets include cloth, plastic, rubber bands, and sponge rubber. These can block the intestines or lead to choking. (If your ferret does happen to eat a non-food item, you may have to monitor the litter box and determine whether all of it has passed through the digestive tract. You may even have to piece the item together to determine whether something is still trapped inside the ferret’s body. If so, contact your vet.)
  • Inappropriate biting or nipping does not usually signify a hunger problem. More likely, it’s aggression and is a behavior the ferret should be trained away from doing.
  • Make sure you have food bowls that will not tip or spill easily.Story about a Boy and His Pet Ferret
  • Consider getting several food bowls if you have many ferrets. You may need to do so if you suspect one or more of them has a feeding problem or if you need to administer medications through their food.
  • Don’t let other pets share your ferret’s food and vice versa.

It will take some effort on your part, but try to get to know your ferret’s eating habits. Measure the food carefully at first and watch how long it takes for it to disappear. Also, notice which foods your ferret likes and dislikes. Pay attention to changes in eating patterns and preferences, and ask your vet for advice when they occur.

Feeding Your Pet Ferret and Ferret Food

Ferrets are carnivores and need diets high in protein and low in fat. And that means meat,Pet Ferret and Puppy Eating Ferret Food fish, and poultry.

Also, just as humans should avoid sugar and non-nutritious food, ferrets must avoid them as well. Formerly, ferret experts recommended such ferret treats s raisins, cereal, and ice cream, but they have since learned that these are not ideal and should be given to pet ferret only very infrequently if at all.

Ferrets digest their food amazingly fast, with the food traveling through  a ferret’s digestive tract in about four hours. That’s not enough time to break down vegetables (i.e., fiber). Ferrets are thus prone to bacterial infections since they cannot use fiber to push such bacteria out of the system.

In addition, you may be surprised to know that some foods can easily get stuck inside ferret intestines, which are narrower than a standard drinking straw.

Meat Protein
Generally, ferrets need a diet of 35% to 40% percent meat/animal protein. (Those with kidney or liver problems need a little less. In such cases, consult a veterinarian for the proper amount.)

As you may know, protein can come from plant or meat sources. Ferrets need meat. In fact, if you are using pre-packaged ferret food, make sure at least one to two items in the top five ingredients are meat, rather than a plant protein, grain, or sugar.

Acceptable meat protein sources are chicken, turkey, fish, egg, egg product, liver, lamb, venison, and beef. Some ferret owners claim pork products cause digestive problems.

Fat
OK, so if protein makes up 40% of the ferret diet, what about the other 60%? About half of that remainder should be fat. However, this amount varies by the age of the ferret – active kits need more, and sedentary, older ferrets need less (only about 18%).

Other foods
The remaining 30% or so of a ferret’s diet may include plant products, including plant protein (which is indeed different from meat protein). Plant protein and other fibers help to bind food together so it is less crumbly. This is where the occasional treat comes in. Good choices include soft fruits (such as apples and melons), soft vegetables (such as cucumbers), and cheese. However, these should be rare treats, indeed, never more that a ¼ teaspoon every third day or so.

Now that you know what a ferret should eat, you should also know what foods it shouldn’t eat. These include carbohydrates and sugars. Do not give your ferret dried, hard-fleshed, or sugary fruit or hard vegetables as they can block the digestive tract.

Also, avoid giving your ferret ice cream or milk as they can upset a ferret’s digestive system. Ferrets have lower levels of lactase – the enzyme that digests dairy products – than humans have.

You may think it’s cute to give your ferret “people food” like cereal, chocolate, or raisins. While in the past these were encouraged, recent studies have shown that these are not good for ferrets.

Which foods to use
There are several ferret-food options. You can use dried or canned food made especially for ferrets. You can follow a whole-prey diet or a raw-food diet, or you can use a combination of these.  Here’s what you need to know.

There is no hard and fast rule as to whether pre-packaged, raw, or whole-prey foods are best for your ferret. However, if your ferret has been eating solely a pre-packaged diet, it may be a challenge to introduce raw or whole-prey foods at first. Many owners find that combining the raw or whole-prey with the pre-packaged food acclimates their fuzzies to their new diet fairly easily.

Prepackaged foods
While it’s true that many ferret owners consider pre-processed food less expensive and easier to manage, it’s important to remember that ferret foods are not all the same. The cheaper brands may have fillers like grains and sugars that are not good for your ferret. In fact, they could cause digestive problems such as gastroenteritis, insulinomas, and digestive stones. These will not only harm your ferret; they will also lead to more veterinary visits and thus cost you more money in the long run.

Here are some widely recommended ferret-food companies:

These companies and their products are readily found online and at major pet-supply stores.

If you decide to try dry ferret food, look for a pure meat kibble – no corn, vegetables, sugars, or anything else.  Sprinkle a few drops of water on the dry kibble and heat it in the microwave for a few seconds. This will make it easier for your ferret to chew and possibly prevent a choking hazard.

Wet (canned) ferret food is usually a better option because it is easier for your ferret to eat. It also comes in different flavors – so if your fuzzy doesn’t like one type, try another the next time. However, many owners find that canned food contains so much water that their ferrets eat more of it, thus costing more in the long run. And the fuzzies may become overweight into the bargain.

Don’t think you can cheat by using food designed for cats, dogs, or other critters either. EachMarshall Premium Ferret Diet species has its own nutritional needs. Dog food was designed for dogs, cat food for cats, and so on.  A ferret needs food created for ferrets. (However, if you’re completely out of ferret food and the pet store is temporarily out of stock, you could use a very high-quality cat food for a short time. But return to ferret food as soon as possible.)

You don’t need to leave a huge amount of food in the cage. Ferrets are usually pretty good about eating only when they are hungry. Always leave some food in the cage to be ready when that hunger strikes, but check it often throughout the day.

Another New Ferret Story

Everyone loves a story with children and animals – especially when it has an ending that New Story for Ferret Loversmakes you smile. And that pretty well describes in broad strokes our new short story titled “Danny and Oliver: A Ferret-Rescue Tale.”

Here’s what our blurb says:

Twelve-year-old Danny McGuire loves his pet ferret, Oliver – but Danny’s parents don’t. They also think he should do more of the things “normal boys” do.

Still, Danny manages to remain fairly cheerful and keep his grades up. Oliver consoles him, his mountain-bike rides bring him solace, and his best friend Mike offers some hard-won advice.  It all works out, for the most part, until . . . things go terribly wrong.

But, then, it pays to remember that a rescue ferret can sometimes “rescue” a bad situation.

Strictly speaking “Danny and Oliver: A Ferret-Rescue Tale” is a children’s story. But it is also a story that, we think, will please ferret lovers of all ages.

Essential Ferret Supplies and Ferret Accessories

New ferret owners are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of ferret supplies and ferret accessories they are often told they need. Still, you will, unfortunately, likely need to make a significant outlay to get everything you need to keep your ferret healthy and happy. So it pays to found exactly what you really must have, what you don’t necessarily need, and ways to save money on the essentials.

The absolute essential ferret supplies and accessories you’ll need are:

  • A wire mesh cage with at least two square feet of floor space per ferret.
  • Pet carrier. Your ferret will need to see a veterinarian at least once a year and probably more often in that critical first year. You’ll need a sturdy pet carrier to transport your fuzzy.
  • Ferret bedding. Because ferrets love to burrow and snuggle up when they sleep, they need cozy bedding. Whether it’s an old blanket or t-shirt or a swinging hammock, comfort is the key here.
  • Ferret food. Whether it’s canned, dry, or even whole prey, it’s best if you choose food specifically intended for ferrets so that it meets their needs for a high-protein, high-fat, low-fiber diet.
  • Food and water containers. These should be heavy and durable to resist tipping. Many ferret owners prefer to use non-drip water bottles.
  • Litter box and non-clumping, dust-free litter. Remember that ferrets love to dig, so choose a corner-fitting box with high sides. Non-clumping litter is essential to protect ferret health as the clumping variety can play havoc with the digestive system.
  • Hygiene items. Shampoo, brushes, combs, nail clippers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, ear washes, vitamins, and supplements are every bit as important for your ferret as they are for your own health.
  • Harness and leash. Your ferret needs to be out of the cage for several hours each day. One way to keep her busy is to take her for a walk in the great outdoors. The harness and leash will help her explore the world safely.
  • Protective devices. Pet gates, electrical-outlet covers, door latches, and similar products are frequently overlooked by new owners, but they are essential for keeping your ferret (and your belongings) safe.
  • Ferret toys. While many new owners consider pet toys frivolous items, they areFerret Toys Book necessary for keeping your ferret entertained and active – and away from your stuff. (Pet ferrets are incorrigible thieves.)

These are the essential ferret supplies and ferret accessories. Soon, we’ll talk about the best places to get said supplies.

If you’ve seen those articles that detail how much it costs to own a ferret, keep in mind that they usually list the top-of-the-line models of each item. As with most things in life, there are ways to get ferret supplies at fairly low cost – yes, even for free.

Essential Ferret Supplies and Some Ferret Resources

There’s a lot going on this week. So today’s post is going to be quickie.

Below you will find a list of the essential ferret supplies and a few links to some goodPet Ferret on Bath Tub resources for information about pet ferrets.

New owners are sometimes surprised by the number and variety of ferret supplies they need. Ferrets are not like goldfish or pet rocks. You will likely need to make a significant outlay to get everything you need to keep your ferret healthy and happy.

The essential ferret supplies you’ll need are:

  • Quality ferret cage. A wire-mesh cage with at least two square feet of floor space per ferret.
  • Pet carrier. Your ferret will need to see a veterinarian at least once a year and probably more often in that critical first year. You’ll need a sturdy pet carrier to transport your fuzzy.
  • Ferret bedding. Because ferrets love to burrow and to snuggle up when they sleep, they need cozy bedding. Whether it’s an old blanket or a swinging hammock or a hanging pirate-ship bed, comfort is the key here.
  • Ferret food. Whether it’s canned, dry, or even whole prey, the food you choose must be specifically intended for ferrets so that it meets their needs for a high-protein, high-fat, low-fiber diet.
  • Food and water containers. These should be heavy and durable to resist tipping. Many ferret owners prefer to use non-drip water bottles.
  • Litter box and non-clumping litter. Remember that ferrets love to dig, so choose a corner-fitting box with high sides (and be sure to secure it to the cage). Non-clumping – and dust-free – litter is essential to protect ferret health as the clumping variety can play havoc with the digestive system.
  • Hygiene items. Shampoo, brushes, combs, nail clippers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, ear washes, vitamins, and supplements are every bit as important for your ferret as they are for your own health.
  • Harness and leash. A ferret needs to be out of the cage for several hours each day. One way to keep your fuzzy busy is to take him for a walk in the great outdoors. Just make sure to use a ferret harness and NOT a collar to avoid any possibility of escape or choking.

One of the best ferret sites I have come across is All About Ferrets. There, you’ll find plenty of articles about ferret care, an active forum, and an interesting blog.

As for ferret books, the two I recommend (so far) are Ferrets for Dummies and Getting Started with Pet Ferrets (of course).

Kim Schilling’s Ferrets for Dummies has most of the basic information new and long-time ferret owners would need to make sure their pet ferrets are healthy and happy. A strength of this book is the wealth of ferret health information. Schilling does a good job detailing ferret health issues, as well as possible prevention and treatments. She also provides a lot of good advice on choosing a vet.

Getting Started with Pet Ferrets is our book on ferret adoption, ferret care, and ferret health. It is designed for fairly new ferret owners and attempts to fill in many of the blanks and weak spots you will find in other ferret books. It also contains a useful ferret-preparedness checklist – to help you make sure you home is ferret ready and ferret safe before you bring you first fuzzy home to live with you.

If you know of other good ferret resources (sites, books, videos), just leave a comment or send an email and let us know.

Training Pet Ferrets

Here is an excerpt from our book on ferret care titled Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Playtime is fun, of course, but it can also be educational. You can use playtime to teach your ferret many useful skills. Start by teaching it to come when called. It’s really easy, especially if you make the effort to say the ferret’s name often when you’re playing together: (“Hi Fuzzball!” “You like that, Fuzzball?” “What are you doing there, Fuzzball?”)

Soon, you’ll be able to call its name while offering a treat. (“Hey Fuzzball! Look what IFerret Care and Ferret Training Book have for you!”) Of course, give the treat when it comes promptly. Keep repeating this game until it has learned to associate its name with a treat. Start to withhold the treat if it seems to ignore you. Your ferret will soon get the idea that it’s better to come quickly.

Teaching your ferret to come when called makes it easier to stop bad behavior.  Say its name and a firm “No!” when it nips or bites or starts to dig somewhere it shouldn’t.

Once your pet responds its name, you can start teaching it to walk on a leash.  (See below.)

These are just some of the basic skills ferrets can learn. You’re sure to develop your own games and ferret skills over time so you’ll enjoy your pet even more.

For the more important behaviors (using the litter box, bite prevention, leash training), it’s best to start as soon as possible. Habits (both bad and good ones) start at a young age and are more easily learned or broken early.

No matter what you are trying to train your ferret to do, remember to be patient. You had to learn to crawl before you could walk. Your ferret will likewise have to learn step by step.

You also need to be consistent. Remember Pavlov’s dogs from your high-school psychology class (the ones who eventually learned to salivate at the ringing of a bell)? Your ferrets can also be conditioned to do certain things at specific times of the day. They can also be conditioned away from bad behaviors (for example, associating biting with an inevitable firm slap on the backside and a loud “NO!”), as long as they receive the same consequences EVERY time the bad behavior happens.

Consistency also helps in understanding your ferret’s personality. For instance, litter training works best when you know your ferret’s toileting pattern. Likewise, if your ferret tends to nip when you are playing a certain way, you’ll know to be watchful for it and take steps to prevent it.

Be kind also. In your rush to make your ferret the most talented animal on the block, it’s easy to be impatient. Unfortunately, your ferret will sense that impatience by your harsh tones and behavior, which will make it less willing to learn. As the saying goes, you’ll collect more flies with honey than with vinegar.

It’s also kinder to ease up on training if your ferret seems tired or sick. If it seems to be acting unusually, check to see if it has been injured or is ill. If not, then consider whether there has been any major changes in your ferret’s life lately (new member of the family, new home, missing family member).There’s no sense in putting a ferret through its paces if it is not up to it. Tomorrow is another day, after all.

Make it fun – for both of you. Remember when you were in school? Which teachers did you like best? They were probably the ones who made learning a game. Your ferret is no different. Make the learning process fun for your ferret by offering treats and by taking time out for play time together. You’re likely to find you are having more fun teaching your ferret.

If you are having trouble with any aspect of training, don’t go it alone. Look for expert help wherever you can find it. There are plenty of ferret websites that offer great tips. Your veterinarian will also have many resources, as will ferret organizations, pet stores, and animal-rescue groups. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

We hope it’s obvious that you should never resort to abusing your ferret when you are training it. It’s never right to give more than a firm-but-very-gentle swat on the behind. It’s never right to withhold food, water, or medicines or to confine your ferret to a cage for lengthy periods as punishment.

Leash Training
Taking your ferret for a walk is fun. Your ferret will have fun exploring the great outdoors, and you’ll get a chance to meet new people who are curious about your fuzzy. First, though, you’ll need to get your ferret used to wearing a harness.

To do so, have your ferret come to you and sit on your lap while you get the harness on. Harnesses and leashes are available at most pet-supply stores. You may need to try several styles to find the right one for your ferret, but generally leather collars and H-style harnesses work the best for ferrets. Plastic ones can be chewed through too easily, and stretchy ones can quickly become misshapen and useless.

At first, the ferret may balk at wearing such an ungainly contraption, but if you offer a favorite toy or treat when it’s wearing the harness, it will soon become second nature.

Once the ferret seems accustomed to the harness, you can attach the leash. Hold on to the leash and walk a few steps forward. Offer the treat and let the ferret come to you.  Walk a few more steps and offer another treat. Keep this up, and your ferret will soon be very eager for a daily walk (or run).

Never leave your ferret harnessed, leashed, or tied to a pole untended. It will try to escape and could be an easy mark for predators.

Don’t let the leash get tangled in tall grass, shrubs, or other obstacles.

If your ferret gets away from you, do your best to find it quickly. Ferrets have been domesticated for so long they could not survive long in the wild on their own.

Getting Started with Pet Ferrets is a book designed to aid new ferret owners with the basics of ferret care and ferret training.

Choosing a Vet for the Best Ferret Care

Guest Post by Michael Hearing

Ferrets make great pets, but, as we’ve mentioned before, pet ferrets are fairly high-maintenance critters. Part of that maintenance involves frequent vet visits becauseFerrets Playing ferrets are prone to several health issues. It is very important, then, that you choose a vet who is knowledgeable about, experienced in, and equipped for proper ferret care.

Here, for example, is what happened the first time Karen took her fuzzy kids, Rikki and Possum, to the vet.

We called a trusted vet we had used several times before with our dogs and cats and made an appointment. But when we (and Karen’s woozles) arrived at the vet’s office, we didn’t get to see Dr. M. Instead, we saw a young woman who was just six months out of vet school.

Now, she was friendly, easy to talk to, and generally knowledgeable about veterinarian matters, and she was a pleasure to deal with. But she had very little experience with ferrets – which she was up front about. This brand-new vet couldn’t answer many of our questions about ferret health. So Rikki and Possum got a general exam and their vaccinations and no more. We went home to research answers to our questions on ferret care and ferret health on our own.

In Ferrets for Dummies (which we consult often) Kim Schilling emphasizes the need to ask a lot of questions before you choose a vet – and not to just assume they know about ferret care, as we did. Schilling says: “Questions are your best tools. A good, professional veterinarian and staff will recognize your valid concerns and won’t hesitate to answer your questions as completely as possible.”

Schilling recommends that you ask at least a few basic questions before choosing a vet so that you can find out:

  • How long the vet has been practicing ferret medicine and how many pet ferrets he or she generally treats in typical day, week, or month
  • The vet’s experience with diagnosing and treating common ferret diseases
  • Whether the clinic stocks plenty of ferret vaccinations (e.g., USDA-approved rabies vaccine)
  • Fees for check-ups, examinations, and vaccinations
  • Whether the facility is equipped to house (overnight or even longer) ferrets that may require hospitalization
  • The vet’s level of experience in handling both routine surgeries (such as spaying and neutering) and more involved surgeries (such as tumor removal and adrenal-related surgeries)
  • What kind of continuing education the vet uses to stay abreast of recent developments in ferret medicine and the latest in surgical techniques

So, choose a vet for you fuzzy kids wisely. You wouldn’t take your other children to just any old doctor, would you?

For more information on ferret health and ferret care, see Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.