Friends and acquaintances often ask me about getting a pet ferret. I tell them, of course, that ferrets make great pets – and then I give them my standard caveat. And that is that ferrets are high-maintenance pets and require commitment, both financially and time-wise. But as you suspect or maybe know already, it’s all worth it.
A prospective or new ferret owner, then, needs to determine whether he or she is the right person to own a ferret? Below are a few questions you can ask yourself to find out whether a ferret is right for you and whether you are right for a ferret.
Can I afford a pet ferret?
Buying or adopting a ferret begins at around $140. Then there is the additional $100-$200 for supplies, another $50 or so for food, and probably $300-$400 in vet bills for the first year alone. (And don’t forget various supplies and accessories like toys, litter pans, water bottles, toys, bedding, vitamins, and, of course, toys.) If you add these numbers up, you’ll see that, as with any other member of your family, there is a definite financial commitment involved.
Do I have the necessary time?
To be and remain healthy and happy, a pet ferret needs to spend a minimum of two hours each day outside the cage. They need some freedom and lots of playtime, as well as some fresh air and sunshine. And because ferrets are notorious for hiding in the most unusual places, it’s better and safer if you spend that free time with them. Also, the whole purpose of having a pet is companionship. Does your schedule permit this kind of time commitment?
Do I have the space?
A quality ferret cage is a necessary ferret accessory. Most ferret cages measure at least 18 inches high by 18 inches wide by 30 inches deep (the absolute minimum amount of space for a single ferret). Do you have a place in your home big enough to hold the cage and other accessories (for example, toys, extra bedding, litter, food, and so on)? Is that space in a separate room that can be closed off when needed (because, as mentioned above, pet ferrets need a safe play area)?
Am I tolerant and willing to adjust?
If you’ve never owned a ferret before, you may be surprised at the number of adjustments you and your family will have to make. For one thing, ferrets are very active. If you aren’t used to the sounds of animals running around like mad at seemingly all hours, your ferret may drive you crazy. Ferrets are also notorious thieves – which means you will need to be prepared to frequently retrieve small items (such as shoes and brushes) from under your bed and/or dresser. For another thing, ferrets have a distinctive musky scent, and although there are quality ferret products that help control this scent, it is still something that may take some getting used to.
Am I diligent and able to commit to a daily care regimen?
Ferrets, like all creatures, need the right kind of care in order to thrive. Otherwise, they can become sick and even die – domesticated ferrets are prone to several health issues that require constant vigilance on you part. Will you be able to keep up with a ferret’s food, water, exercise, cleaning, vitamins, supplements, vaccinations, and veterinarian visits?
Am I willing to adopt more than one ferret?
Ferrets are very social creatures and do not do well alone. That’s why many people who buy or adopt one ferret often wind up bringing in another one soon after. To be truly happy, a pet ferret needs ferret companionship (as well as your companionship, of course). So if you’ve already answered “Yes” to the first five questions, it may be a good idea to multiply those answers by at least two.
Is it legal to own a ferret in my area?
This may seem obvious, but we often forget to check such things beforehand. So keep in mind that a few states and some municipalities have banned ferrets as pets (often as a result of merely being inadequately informed about ferrets). Make sure, then, before you adopt a pet ferret, that it legal for you to do so where you live. You can find a listing of places (both states and cities) where ferrets are illegal here.
So there ya go. Now you know whether you are right for a pet ferret. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t really ever own pet ferrets – you just share your home with them. Just make sure you have plenty of ferret toys on hand to keep them occupied and happy.