Some Interesting (and Slightly Odd) Ferret Facts

Below are some interesting ferret facts that you may not be aware of:Albino Ferret and Panda Ferret in Cage

  • Ferrets are crepuscular creatures. (Crepuscular is a Latin word meaning “twilight.”) And this means that ferrets are naturally most active near dawn and dusk – when it is neither bright daylight nor fully dark.
  • The Latin word furittus, which means “little thief,” gives us the name “ferret.” This is a fitting name because pet ferrets love to steal shoes and small items of clothing and hide them under beds and dressers.
  • Mitochondrial  DNA analysis indicates that ferrets were domesticated about 2, 500 years ago. Some people claim that the ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate ferrets, but there really isn’t any good evidence to support the claim.
  • There are colonies of feral ferrets in remote areas of New Zealand and on the Shetland Islands.
  • Keeping ferrets as pets didn’t really take off in the US until the 1980s.
  • It is legal to keep ferrets as pets in Brazil only if they have been implanted with an identifying microchip and are sterilized.
  • The sideways hopping and jumping that you see your fuzzies engage in when they want to play is sometimes called the “weasel war dance.”

Find out more about this curious critter called a ferret here and 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): www.blackfootedferret.org

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

A Great Book on Ferret Care and Ferret Health

As you know, I started adding more fuzzies to my family after I found Rikki Tikki Tavi at work oneFerrets Playing night. When I found Rikki, I didn’t know anything about ferrets as pets. I had to rely on my friends who used to have pet ferrets and on their so-called expertise and knowledge.

It turned out, though, that they weren’t the ferret experts I thought they were. Almost everything they told me about ferret care was wrong.

A lot of people just told me to do some research online. But, since I didn’t have a computer at the time, that didn’t work out very well. It also made it hard for me to find any good ferret books.

I finally did find a book at our local pet store – Ferrets (Barrons) by E. Lynn “Fox” Morton and Christine Mathis. This book helped me with the basics about how to take care of Rikki, but it doesn’t really go into a lot of detail.

Poor Rikki had to put up with my ignorance. And then poor Possum got thrown into the mix and also had to suffer through my lack of knowledge about ferret care.

A few months ago my husband bought me another book – Ferrets for Dummies by Kim Schilling. This book has become my Bible on how to take care of my little fuzzy kids. And, boy, were they happy that I was finally learning something!

You wouldn’t believe all the things I found out I was doing wrong. Even Rikki and Possum’s vet didn’t know about some of the health issues Ferrets for Dummies covers. Kim Schilling goes into great detail and covers everything from getting started and getting a ferret to ferret health issues to saying goodbye when the time comes (which I hope is a long ways down the road for me and my babies).

I highly recommend this book for first-time ferret owners. Once you get it, it will likely become your ferret Bible too.

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.

Ferret Food – Some Tips for Making Good Choices in Ferret Nutrition

Earlier we talked about getting started with ferrets as pets, but we didn’t cover ferret food. AndMarshall Ferret Food ferret nutrition is an important consideration – maybe more important than choosing the right ferret for your family and the best cage for your carpet shark.

When I first found Rikki, I was told by an “expert” ferret owner that I could feed her cat food. But I soon found out that this is a definite no-no! Most cat foods contain a lot of different fillers. You should never feed your ferret cat food unless it is very high quality with a high quality-protein content – and then only occasionally.

Then, when I found this out, I set off to Wal-Mart to buy some food specifically designed for ferrets. But the ferret food I found there had a lot of grain and fruit in it. Again, NOT good for ferrets.

I finally got smart and began some in-depth online research. I learned that because ferrets are full carnivores, they require a diet high in animal-based proteins with a good measure of animal fat. I also stumbled across the Marshall site and learned about their food for ferrets.

I also found out, when I got Possum from our local pet store, that you get a guarantee with a Marshall baby. If you feed only Marshall ferret food, they will replace your baby (your ferret) if (Heaven forbid) “something happens to it” within the first year.

As for other brands of ferret food, I really don’t know much about them. I have always fed my babies Marshall Premium Ferret Diet – and probably always will.

But if you know of a better ferret-food value than Marshall’s, I would love to hear more about it.