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.

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.

More Famous Ferret Names

In a previous post I wrote about movies with little fuzzy actors in them. I found out thatPanda Ferret Playing most of those ferrets did not have names. In my opinion, that is discrimination against our famous fuzzies.

Most movies that have dogs and cats in them provide the names of the canine and feline actors in the credits. Of course, most people don’t feel toward fuzzies the way we obsessed ferret owners do.

Anyway, here is a very short list of famous ferret names:

  • Podo and Kodo – from the movie Beast Master
  • Pan – from the movie The Golden Compass
  • Rodolfo – from the movie Along Came Polly
  • Jasper – from the movie Jake and Jasper

I also found out the names of Paris Hilton’s ferrets – Dolce and Gabbana. I don’t think she has them anymore, though, because it is illegal to keep pet ferrets in California.

My favorite famous ferret name I saved for last . . . and that is . . . Rikki Tikki Tavi! That is the name of my albino ferret. It is taken from the children’s story “Rikki Tikki Tavi” written by Rudyard Kipling.

Find out much more about adopting and naming pet ferrets here.

Famous Ferrets . . . with a Huge Apology

I owe everybody a huge apology!

I have watched The Lord of the Rings at least a thousand times, and I never noticed itPanda Ferret in Plastic Drawer. There is a ferret in The Fellowship of the Ring. You get to see the little fuzzy (actually, only its head) for just a couple of seconds.

It’s at the part where Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry are at the Prancing Pony, when Frodo is talking to the innkeeper about seeing Gandalf. The innkeeper tells Frodo he hasn’t seen Gandalf, and then you see hobbits talking with one another. Right after that, you will see a man with a ferret sticking his head out of the man’s coat, and the man is feeding the ferret something.

Like I said, I have watched that movie a thousand times and never caught that part. That just shows that I need to pay more attention to the movies I watch.

I can tell you that the little fuzzy has no name in the movie.

As I was researching this famous ferret in The Lord of the Rings, I also came across a few more movies with our favorite actors (little fuzzies, of course). Here are some of the famous ferret actors I came across:

  • Kindergarten Cop – The fuzzy actor had no name. But he did save Arnold in the movie.
  • Beast Master – The famous ferrets’ names in this movie are Podo and Kodo.
  • The Golden Compass – The fuzzy’s name in this one is Pan. I think this is a very cute movie.
  • Along Came Polly – The famous fuzzy character’s name is Rodolfo.
  • Harry Potter – Mad Eye Moody (who is actually Barty Crouch, Jr.) turns Draco Malfoy into a ferret in The Goblet of Fire. Also, at the end of The Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Harry’s and Jenny’s son, Albus, has a ferret in a bird cage.
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – I could not find the names of these famous fuzzies, so I assume they were not named.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – As we know now there is a famous ferret in this movie.

These are just a few of the movies that have famous fuzzy actors in them. And again a great big “I’m so sorry for giving the wrong information about the ferret in The Lord of the Rings!”

Traveling Ferrets

A site visitor switches houses every other weekend and wants to know if she can take her pet ferrets with her.

I don’t know if this person is house sitting every other weekend or whether there is some other reason why she changes houses. But if it was me, Rikki and Possum would definitely go along with me. It would be a hassle at first, of course. But if you think about it, it really wouldn’t be all that different from taking your human baby with you wherever you go.

So here’s what I would do.

First, I would find a large bag like a diaper bag. Then, I would round up the following items:

  • Extra food and water dishes
  • A large container for their food
  • Plenty of toys
  • A couple of hammocks
  • GoodBye Odor (which, to me, is almost as important as their food)
  • Vitamins
  • Various other items that may be needed, such as harnesses and leashes

I would also make sure I had a very large fuzzy-kid carrier to keep Rikki and Possum in while I am mobile. You certainly don’t want anything to happen to your fuzzies while you are driving or otherwise transporting them.

If you have your own vehicle or if someone picks you up in their car, I would suggest purchasing and using a collapsible ferret cage that you can take down and re-assemble in minutes. That way, you’ll have a cage you can easily pack up and transport and which, on arriving, you can keep your ferrets in while sleeping or while they are sleeping. This will keep your woozles safe when you are unable to give them your full attention.

You can find such ferret cages on the Amazon and Marshall sites, as well as in a Doctors Foster and Smith catalogue. Honestly, though, I don’t know much about these cages. The Folding Mansion looks as though it could serve the purpose, but I don’t like the fact that the shelves and ramps are made out of wire. If I got one of these, I would purchase covers for the wire shelves and ramps. If you don’t do this, your ferrets could get a foot caught in the grills or wire, which could lead to a broken leg or even something more serious.

Another possibility is an exercise pen. I would just make sure I had a mat or cover for it. Got to keep our little woozles safe!

So definitely take your babies with you! It may seem like you’re moving every time you go back and forth between houses, but your ferrets are worth the effort.

Our book on ferret care has a section packed with tips on traveling with ferrets.

Ferret Health-Care Products – What Do Your Pet Ferrets Really Need?

If you’ve owned a ferret for even a short length of time, you’re probably aware that there are countless products touted as essential for ferret health. But you have to keep in mind that every ferret has his own unique needs and that no one product is suitable for allPet Ferrets Peeking Out of Ferret Cage ferrets.  So here is a breakdown of what’s available and why you should (or shouldn’t) consider these ferret-health products for your fuzzy.

Ferret Health-Maintenance Products – As you can imagine, there are many ferret-health medications. Most of them are best used under a veterinarian’s direction because improper use may mask a serious medical condition or even cause a new problem.

  • Dental-care products include tooth-cleaning gels and chewable tartar-control treats. Look for products specifically made for ferrets because treats made for dogs or other animals may break off and cause digestive problems for your pet ferrets.
  • Ear-cleaning solutions remove wax and other debris from your ferret’s ears, prevent infestation by mites, and also help cut down that distinctive ferret odor.
  • Eye solutions are excellent to apply before you shampoo your ferret. The solution forms a temporary barrier against liquid irritants, thus making bath time much more enjoyable for both you and your ferret.
  • Hairball treatments include gel formulas that act as a laxative. The gel coats hair and other small debris in the digestive tract to make it easier for your ferret to expel.

Odor-Control Products – There are many of these products that can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Odor-eliminator sprays, which can be used for a variety of animals including ferrets, neutralize the scent of urine, stools, and vomit. These products are used when the scent is already present, and typically they can be used in the air, on furniture, in the washing machine, and even in the vacuum cleaner.
  • Other sprays are available that can be applied directly onto your ferret to eliminate her distinctive scent. These can also be sprayed into the litter pan or in the cage, once daily or several times a day, to keep all odors down to a minimum.
  • There are also food and water additives that can be used to cut down on your ferret’s natural musky scent. The best of these ferret odor-control products can go a long way toward greatly reducing ferret odor.

Skin and Coat Treatments – Everyone loves a ferret with a shiny, luxurious coat. A healthy coat is a sign of a healthy ferret. There are many products available to help you keep your ferret looking good.

  • Ferret treats that include such nutrients as Omega 3, B-12 (or brewer’s yeast), fatty acids, and of course, protein, will help your fuzzy have a healthy coat.
  • Ferret shampoos and rinses clean your ferret without stripping its protective oils. Some products provide a protective coating of lanolin to prevent dryness.
  • Styptic products can be used to heal minor cuts and wounds. They are ideal for wounds that occur during nail clipping.

Vitamins and Supplements – Just as there are countless vitamins and supplements for humans, there are many varieties available for ferrets. They are available as chewable treats, liquids and sprays, and in single- or multi-nutrient forms.

  • To prevent or treat digestive problems such as Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis (ECE), diarrhea, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) look for products with protein, fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
  • High-calorie supplements should be used only for ferrets recovering from illness or surgery or otherwise very underweight. That’s because these supplements often contain sugar, which is generally not healthy for ferrets. Give such supplements only on the advice of a veterinarian and never to a ferret that has insulinoma, because of the sugar content.
  • Generally, ferrets need the following for good health: Vitamin A, Vitamin D or D3, Vitamin E, and fatty acids. Look for multivitamin supplements made specifically for ferrets and that are oil- rather than sugar-based.

Most of these health-care products supplements for pet ferrets are readily available online or at your local pet store. Follow the package directions and store them in a clean, dry location away from children and pets. Consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or problems.

So learn all you can about ferret health and ferret care to ensure healthy, happy ferrets. Ferret-health products can add many years to your pet’s life if they are used carefully. Consider which products your pet needs and start using them today.

Feeding a Ferret

How do you know when a ferret is hungry? You don’t.

Having two pet ferrets myself (Rikki and Possum), I’ve discovered that they have noFerret and Puppy Eating set eating pattern. Just like cats, fuzzies eat when the mood hits them. And when they do eat, they eat just a little at a time.

Basically, ferrets have no set schedule at all. (At least my fuzzy kids don’t.) They will play hard for about 2 to 4 hours and then sleep the rest of the day away. Then, like humans and cats, they will wake up and have a midnight snack and a bathroom visit. And that’s about the extent of their “schedule.”

So, since my fuzzy kids have no real eating schedule, I always have food available for them. I keep dry food in their dishes at all times. In the evenings, I give them dry food soaked in water, which I also mash up to make a soupy paste. And they love it.

This way I know my woozles never go hungry.

For healthy and happy pet ferrets, it pays to learn all you can about ferret feeding and nutrition.

More and More Ferret Beds – Easy Ferret-Bed Rehabilitation

I am one of those people who think their little fuzzies cannot have enough ferret beds.

Rikki and Possum have seven beds, two sleep sacks, and a hammock (but not all in theirCollapsing Ferret Bed cage at the same time, of course).

Two of these beds I bought from Doctors Foster and Smith – the Fuzz-E-Tree Sleepers set (two pieces). One of the set is a tunnel that resembles a log and hangs in the cage. The other piece is a round house, and it is supposed to resemble a small tree stump. But it doesn’t hang – it just sits on the floor.

I sweet talked my husband into ordering these beds for me. When they finally arrived in the mail, I got so excited, just like a kid at Christmas.

I grabbed up the package and hurried into my bedroom where my fuzzy kids live. I just had to show Rikki and Possum their new beds.

The “log” tunnel they loved – but the “tree house” kept collapsing on them. My pet ferrets didn’t like that, so they soon ignored it and wouldn’t have anything to do with it. It ended up just lying on the floor beside their toy box. (Yes, my fuzzy kids have their own toy box. Actually, it’s a basket that holds their smaller toys.)

I thought about putting this tree-stump bed in the bottom of their cage, thinking maybe they would eventually use it. But I soon scratched that idea because that’s where they have two of their litter boxes. And, besides, it still wouldn’t hold its shape.

So I got to thinking: “Surely there is a way to put straps on that bed and hang it in the cage.” And this is what I came up with.

I went to the Dollar Tree store (a chain in this part of the country that everything is on sale for just a dollar) and purchased a dog leash that matched the bed’s pattern and color scheme. Then, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought four small hooks (or snaps) from the jewelry section.

Having done that, I took a seam ripper and unsewed the top corner seams of the bed. I next cut the leash into four pieces (straps) about eight and a half inched long. Then, I inserted the end of each strap through a snap, doubled over the end of each strap, and sewed the loop shut. (These would be used to hook onto the top of the cage.)

I then turned the bed inside out and pinned the straps onto the corners, making sure that the longest part of each strap was on the inside. That way, when the bed was turned right side out again, the straps would be outside the top of the bed. 

After I got the straps thus pinned, I sewed them into the corner seams using my sewing machine. And then after securing the straps in this manner, I turned the bed right side out again.

I now have another hanging ferret bed for Rikki and Possum – one they actually like.Hanging Ferret Bed

This was a bed that just sat on the floor unused. Previously, they wouldn’t have anything to do with it, but now they love it! This collapsing bed now keeps its shape because it is hanging. So Rikki and Possum have both a “log” and a “tree house” hanging in their cage.

Since I came up with this idea for my pet ferrets’ “tree house” bed, I’ve been wondering what other ideas I can come up with. I don’t think seven ferret beds are enough. They’ve got to have a wide selection, don’t you think?

The Husband’s Top 5 Negative Rules for Owning Pet Ferrets

Guest Post by Michael Hearing

As you know my wife, Karen, has two pet ferrets (or woozles or little fuzzies or fuzzy kids, as she sometimes calls them). I like Rikki and Possum a lot too. I love to watch them play and cut up and do goofy things. But, still, there are drawbacks to wives’ owning pet ferrets – and most of them involve money. That’s why I’ve formulated “The Husband’s TAlbino Ferret Rikkiop 5 Negative Rules for Owning Pet Ferrets.”

Rule 1 – Never let your wife get the mail.
If your wife has pet ferrets, you should never allow her to check the mail box. Why? It’s simple really. Because on any given day – and you can never know for sure when it will happen – a pet-supply or ferret-supply catalogue could arrive. In fact, the Doctor’s Foster and Smith catalogue just came today.

Here’s how it usually goes. I’ve gone to town to run some errand, and my wife checks the mail while I’m gone. So I get home and find her seated at the kitchen table poring over the new catalogue, feverishly marking pages, panting after all the ferret toys and ferret accessories she wants to buy for Rikki and Possum. So, hoping to avoid the inevitable, I go to my desk and pretend to work. But it doesn’t work.

Karen comes skipping in and says, “Oh, Michael, look at this. Rikki would just love one of these.” Or: “Michael, look!” At this point the catalogue is thrust in front of my face. “Possum, really, really, really needs one of these.” And so it goes for awhile.

Eventually, I mutter, “All right, we’ll see. Maybe we’ll get those for Rikki and Possum later.” But I know that, in order to keep a pleasant atmosphere in the house, I’ll soon wind up buying the desired ferret supplies. Last week, it was $33.00 worth of ferret litter. Who knows what it’ll be now that she has the new Doctors Foster and Smith catalogue in her hands.

Fortunately for me, we live in a rural area, and our mail box is about a quarter of a mile from our house

Rule 2 – Never, ever let your wife surf the Internet.
This is related to Rule 1, but the problem becomes hugely magnified, much worse than the mail-box problem. When a ferret-loving wife goes on line, she has scores of ferret catalogues and thousands of ferret accessories available at her fingertips. Seeking out and lusting after new ferret toys for pet ferrets is often called “doing research” around here.

Lately, Karen has been looking at – and making me look at – this Ferret Nation cage. I’m thinking maybe if I buy this ferret cage for her she’ll be satisfied for some time because it’s a large ferret item.  I’m also hoping she’ll be too busy setting up the new cage and watching Rikki and Possum play in it to do much “research” for awhile. We’ll see, I guess.

Rule 3 – Never take your wife to a pet store.
This one should be obvious, but it simply can’t be overemphasized. If you do slip up and take your wife to the pet store, your only recourse is to be as uncommunicative possible and to act as grumpy as possible. The object is to get her angry so she’ll want to go home.

But the best policy is just to never take your wife there in the first place. Not only do pet stores sell ferret toys and ferret cages and ferret clothes and all kinds of other ferret accessories, but they also have . . . ferrets. Baby ferrets. Really cute ones. And this is about as big a danger to a husband’s checkbook as there is. I really do think it was seeing these baby ferrets at our local pet store that made Karen so “persuasive” about getting Rikki a playmate, Possum. At least, I was able to stretch it into a present to cover two gift-giving days. (To do this you need to emphasize both the initial cost AND the ongoing costs.)

Here’s a little trick I’ve learned. If you absolutely can’t avoid going to the pet store with your wife, take her to dinner first. That way she’ll be slightly hesitant about asking you to spend even more money for ferret supplies. Try it – it worked for me last time.

Rule 4 – Never make any promises about purchasing ferret accessories or ferret toys.
There’s a twofold reason for this rule. First wives never forget ANYTHING. Also, if you have a wife you WILL have arguments. And when you have those inevitable arguments, you’ll find out that the wife you’re arguing with has remembered – vividly in every agonizing detail – all the things you promised to do but didn’t – especially the ferret accessories you promised to buy and the ferret toys you promised to make. Count on it.

The simplest solution, of course, is never to make such promises. But that’s not always possible.

When you are deep into that novel you’ve been just dying to read and your wife begins talking about her pet ferrets and all the ferret goodies she wants to get, you really have only one option at that point. If you want to get back to that action-packed scene in your book and continue reading unmolested, the best way out is to promise to buy some of those ferret things she’s going on about. Just remember what you promised, and make sure to do what you promised before much time goes by.  

Rule 5 – Never, under any circumstance whatsoever, allow your wife to come anywhere near a camera.
Cameras and wives with cameras are in most instances good and necessary things. But that’s definitely not the case when ferrets are involved. Here’s why.

When you turn a wife with pet ferrets loose with a digital camera, you’ll never get any peace again. And that’s because she will be constantly taking ferret pictures and “asking” you to look at them. When I’m deep in thought on a project for work, just on the verge a problem whose solution has been eluding me for days, I often hear a call – well, a summons really – from the other room. “Michael. Michael! Come here! I want you to see something.” I don’t answer hoping it will blow over. But the summons comes again, a little louder this time. So I sigh, push away from my desk, and trudge into the other room. Then I sit down and look at about three hundred and seventy-three pictures . . . of ferrets playing and ferrets chasing and ferrets sleeping and ferrets eating and – well, you get the picture. As I said, no peace.

I don’t know about other wives, but my wife can’t keep track of any of her belongings. So when Karen’s pet ferrets are doing something very cute and she begins frantically searching for her camera, I suddenly lose my memory too. She often says, “Oh, Michael, look at Rikki and Possum. Isn’t that cute! I wish I had my camera. Have you seen my camera?” And of course my response is: “Nooo. I have no idea where it is.”

Of course, my delineation of these rules has been done (mostly) tongue in cheek. But there’s no doubt about: any way you cut it, pet ferrets make for an “interesting” household.

 Be sure and check out Karen’s book on all aspects of owning pet ferrets – everything from adopting a ferret to ferret toys to ferret health to ferret nutrition. Kindle users can go here, Nook users here, and you can get a PDF here.

A Little Ferret History – Pet Ferrets are No Fuzzies Come Lately

Guest Post by Michael Hearing

Do you know your ferret history? Many people consider owning pet ferrets a fairly new fad. But ferrets have a long history as domesticated pets. You’ll be surprised at the illustrious history of your woozle.

Ferret Varieties

The ferret is, of course, a mammal belonging to the Mustelidae family. The most common is the Mustela putorius furo. Wikipedia notes that the ferret “is a very close relative of thePanda Ferret and Albino Ferret in Ferret Bed polecat, but it is as yet unclear whether it is a domesticated form of the European Polecat (Mustela putorius), the Steppe Polecat (Mustela eversmanii), or some hybrid of the two.” Polecats and ferrets often interbred, and there are even wild colonies of these hybrids that have damaged native plants in New Zealand.

The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) looks a lot like the domesticated ferret, but the black-footed ferret, in addition to the black markings on its feet and tail, also has a black mask. While the black-footed variety is native to the US, it is illegal to own one. It is endangered because settlers have pretty much eliminated prairie dogs, the black-footed ferret’s main food source. (If you come across someone who owns a black-footed ferret, you should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Ferret History

Ferrets have been used since the days of ancient Greece and Rome to control rats and other vermin. They are cited in the biblical book of Leviticus among the “unclean” animals the ancient Hebrews were not to eat. (Some Bible translations specify “weasel” instead of “ferret.”)

In addition to destroying vermin, ferrets have also been used to chase rabbits from their burrows.  Although ferrets were formerly able to survive in the wild, the domesticated variety has become so dependent on us that it cannot survive alone in the wild and would likely die within a short time.

Ferrets once played a vital role in European life. In some areas of England, they were known as fitchets, from the word ficheaux. They were so valuable that settlers brought ferrets with them when they came to the colonies. Farmers and hunters found them effective tools for controlling pests and sniffing out small food animals. Once chemical pesticides became available, the use of ferrets for pest control died out. Today, it is generally illegal in the US to use ferrets for hunting purposes.

Just as humans don’t always have the most impressive pedigrees, so it is with ferrets. There’s a reason that the term “ferret” is synonymous with “thief.” Ferrets are the compulsive thieves of the animal world, so never be surprised if your keys, coins, treats, and other items suddenly turn up missing.

Cultured Ferrets

You can also find many depictions of ferrets and references to ferret history in Western art and literature. No less a personage than Leonardo da Vinci painted La dama Con L’ermellino in the late fifteenth century. While the title describes the animal in the subject’s arms as an ermine, a symbol of purity and incorruptibility, animal experts say it is actually a ferret. (An ermine, a wild animal, would be too difficult to capture and pose for a painting. What’s more, the animal depicted is too large to be an ermine, but is about the right size for a ferret.)

Writer Virginia Woolf once called playwright Noel Coward as “clever as a bag of ferrets and trivial as a perch of canaries.” Speaking of playwrights, William Shakespeare himself has the character Brutus describing Cicero as possessing “looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes as we have seen him in the Capital being crossed in conference by some senators” (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2).

In more modern literature, Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, wrote a series of short novels called the Ferret Chronicles. (They are now available in one volume called Curious Lives.) Each novel treats ferrets involved in human-like adventures. The recently deceased author Brian Jacques referred to ferrets in The Outcast of Redwall in his Redwall series, which recreate medieval times, albeit with animals as the main characters.

Scientific Ferrets

Ferrets have been important in more than vermin-control and art history. For example, ferrets played an important part in the study of human illnesses such as swine flu, influenza, SARS, and cystic fibrosis. They continue to be used in construction projects that require cables to be inserted in pipes too small for humans to enter.  Ferrets were used, for example, to help lay the television cables needed to broadcast Prince Andrew’s and Sarah Ferguson’s wedding in 1986.  In a more recent royal wedding, ferret races were among the festivities in Kate Middleton’s hometown of Bucklebury, England, the day she married Prince William in 2011.

Modern Ferrets

Experts estimate that there are now about four million ferrets in the US, making them the third most popular pet, behind dogs and cats. Several celebrities, including Paris Hilton and Madonna, have had pet ferrets, mainly because the animals are so sociable and easily carried.

While ferrets probably didn’t come over on the Mayflower and Shakespeare didn’t write any sonnets to his favorite fuzzy, it’s rather interesting to know that ferrets are not exactly newcomers in the world of domesticated pets. Without a doubt, pet ferrets have a long and illustrious history with humans. Found out more about our fuzzy friends in Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Two Pet-Ferret Matters – Climbing on the Cage and Covering the Ferret Cage

I’d like to discuss two matters concerning pet ferrets in this post.

The first is ferrets climbing on their cage. This behavior is perfectly normal for ferrets. Rikki and Possum are constantly climbing on their cage, especially Possum, my male panda ferret.

The cage I have for my two ferrets is a small- to medium-sized three-level cage. To get fromFerret Cage and Pet Ferrets the floor to the first level, my ferrets make use of a tube. Then, to get to the second level, they have to go up a spiral slide. And to get to the third level, they go up a ramp.

When I first got Possum, he refused to use the tube or the slide or the ramp. He would just climb up the side of the cage to get to each level. After a couple of months, he finally started using the tube, slide, and ramp. But even then, when the mood struck him, he would still – and still does – climb up the cage to get to the level he wanted.

Rikki (my older female albino ferret), on the other hand, climbs the cage only when she’s bored and wants out. But this is okay – it’s just the nature of ferrets. They love to climb.

Now, the other thing I’d like to talk about is covering your ferrets’ cage at night.

Covering the ferret cage is actually up to the human parents of the little fuzzies. You can choose whether or not you want to put a cover over your fuzzy babies’ cage at night.

I, personally, don’t cover my ferrets’ cage at night. I don’t have any real reason why I don’t do this – I just don’t.

I you do choose to cover the ferret cage in order to make the cage dark, hoping that your pet ferrets will sleep quietly through the night . . . just be aware that this is not going to happen.

Nope. If your fuzzies want to have a midnight romp, they will do it – whether their cage is covered or not.

That’s why I always try to get mine out their cage for several hours each day. Ferrets play extremely hard for a few hours, and then they sleep the rest of the time. The idea is that they will play and get tired so they’ll sleep longer at night. Sometimes it works – sometimes not.

Covering the ferret cage also depends on where you live and whether your ferrets live outside or inside. My fuzzies are inside pets, and my house is fairly warm in the winter and cool in the summer. So I don’t see a reason to cover up my ferrets’ cage at night.

Ferret BookTo cover or not to cover – it really is up to you.

Pet ferrets, being the ornery, independent little critters they are, will climb on their cages and will sometimes keep you awake at night, covered or not.