Ferret Health & Care

All Creatures Veterinary Hospital of Salem, MA is happy to see ferrets at our veterinary clinic! Ferrets are inquisitive tubular shaped mammals that have a gregarious and bubbly personality.  They can flatten themselves incredibly to squeeze under doors and tight spots. They were used in the past to run electrical conduit into castles in England. Ferrets in the wild are called weasels or minks. Very large weasels are as visible as squirrels in parts of China. They are all part of the Mustelid family They are very independent and will hardly ever sit still to cuddle or be petted.

Ferrets make various sounds such as clucking when they are happy, hissing when they are exuberant or angry, squeak when they are surprised or in pain and scream.

Ferrets should not be kept loose with dogs and cats as these pets are predators and will hunt the ferret. if extremely frightened or in pain.  Ferret curiosity and love of exploring everything with their mouths can lead to them ingesting items such as plastic and rubber which can then obstruct their gastrointestinal tract. Ferrets always smell a little musky even though their anal glands are removed by the breeding operation. Ferrets have sebaceous glands in their skin so they always smell a little musky even after a bath. Most ferrets come from breeding operations that are similar to puppy mills. You can find ferrets bred outside of mills and they will be healthier. The following website has listings of non-mill ferret breeders and a rundown of the characteristics of big mill breeders in US and Canada. http://holisticferretforum.com/about-ferrets/where-to-get-a-ferret/ferret-mills-and-breeders/

What do I feed my ferret?

Ferrets imprint on whatever you feed them up to  6 months of age. They are obligate carnivores just like cats so they do better on a high protein( 30-35%) diet with 20% fat. Wysong Epigen kibble has high protein for ferrets and limited cereals and sugars. The website above goes into the controversial feeding of a raw meat diet to ferrets. I would recommend some cooked meat along with the basic kibble. The argument for decreasing the cereal-based kibbles is they overload the ferret’s body with carbohydrates and overwhelm the pancreas forcing it to make extra insulin. It thought, although not proven that the high cereal kibble diet may cause insulinomas which are tiny tumors in the pancreas. Many ferrets have insulinomas.  Avoid sugary treats such as raisins, bananas and fruits. A water bottle with a sipper is usually used. Check it daily to make sure it is not stuck closed.

Female ferrets are called jills. Male ferrets are called hobs. They are quite easy to tell apart.

Ferret Housing

The area each ferret needs is 22×20 x16 inches.  Bedding can be old blankets sweatshirts or fleece. Hard plastic tubing is fun for them to run around in. You can use clothes dryer exhaust tubing for them to run and play in. For the litter box use pelleted fiber material. They can be allergic to pine and cedar wood shavings. They can definitely be litter trained.  Ferrets can be housed together. They are quite social.

They love a hammock to sleep in. Beware of toys that fall apart or can be chewed apart. Ferrets will eat anything and are very prone to foreign bodies stuck in their stomach and intestines.

Ferrets are very wiggly. If you need to hold yours still for a bit you may scruff your ferret. Ferrets become very still and my yawn when scruffed.

How to Maintain a Ferret’s Hygiene

A healthy ferret has bright eyes and is very active and playful with a full supple coat of fur.  There should be no stool around the anus. Your ferret’s teeth should be white and shiny.You can keep them that way by purchasing an infant toothbrush at the pharmacy and using chicken or beef cat or dog toothpaste to scrub the gum line for a few seconds each day.  Acclimate your ferret to the brush by just letting her lick the paste off the brush daily for a couple weeks. Give a special treat once she is done. Once she is used to the toothbrush scrub gumline for 1 -2 seconds or until she backs away. Then reward her with a special treat.

For ferret veterinary appointments, contact All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in Salem, MA to help maintain the health and wellbeing of your ferret! Call or request an appointment today.