If there is one thing that can’t escape our notice in today’s world, it’s ferrets. From cute little fur balls on TV commercials to adorable live shows at local zoos, we seem to spend more time with these fuzzy friends than ever before. But what exactly are ferrets?
Well, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), they are members of the squirrel family, belonging to the rodent order Rodentia. And although most people might not know this, the word “ferret” actually comes from Middle English and Old French, where it meant something like “little hunter,” so perhaps that explains why we find these creatures so appealing.
Ferrets are popular pets because of their unique personalities. Sure, cats are smart, but they don’t have paws filled with long, sensitive whiskers that allow them to hunt down mice. They also aren’t constantly chattering away about how much they love being cuddled by their owners. In fact, ferrets are often called chatty rodents because of all the sounds they make.
And while dogs are loyal companions, they’re not known for their intelligence. Cats, however, have been proven to think just like humans when presented with tasks.
So if you want an animal companion that will teach you tricks or even help you cook dinner, then maybe a cat isn’t right for you. If you’d rather have a creature who’ll follow you everywhere without complaint, though, a ferret may be perfect for you.
Why Ferrets Make Great Pets
Let’s face it, not everyone has the time or space to house a full-grown dog. Some folks simply don’t like the idea of having another living creature running around inside their house, while others would prefer a more independent type of pet. For those looking for an animal friend who won’t need much of a yard, consider getting a ferret instead.
Ferrets were domesticated thousands of years ago in South America, where they served as hunting assistants to indigenous peoples. Today, some people still raise them as food animals, while others choose to keep them as pets. Either way, ferrets are great pets for anyone interested in small animals.
Although they look almost identical to rabbits, ferrets are classified as carnivores due to their strong teeth. Despite this, they eat mostly meatless foods such as vegetables, fruits and grains.
Ferrets’ digestive systems work similarly to other mammals’, including dogs and cats, which means they require lots of fresh water and frequent feeding. Their diet includes insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, worms and flies. Other common household sources of nutrition include fish, bird eggs, chicken, beef liver and rawhide chews.
As far as personality goes, ferrets are among the smartest animals out there. Although they usually sleep up to 16 hours per day, they’re active during the daylight hours. Most ferrets get along well with other felines, as well as birds, reptiles and even other types of rodents. However, if you own a snake, they shouldn’t hang out together since both species sometimes swallow each other whole. On the other hand, ferrets tend to get along well with otters and even other kinds of rodents.
In terms of health, ferrets are generally healthy. Like many other pet animals, though, they should receive regular checkups from veterinarians.
A ferret’s lifespan averages between five and eight years, and females reach maturity faster than males. Since they typically mate once every three months, female babies are born after only two months gestation period. As a result, baby ferrets grow quickly and begin eating solid food within days of birth. Usually, mothers care for their young until they’re around 3 weeks old, at which point they move into larger enclosures with their offspring. The rest of the year, male ferrets are left to fend for themselves. Females, on the other hand, stay together throughout life.
Do You Need a Pet Ferret?
While ferrets are generally pretty easygoing creatures, they can cause quite a bit of damage if taken care of improperly. It’s important to remember that unlike dogs, cats and even other types of pets, ferrets are wild animals. Even though they may appear docile, they could bite or scratch someone in an instant.
To prevent injuries from happening, always handle your ferret gently and never put your fingers anywhere near its mouth. Also, don’t pick up a ferret unless you absolutely have to, and don’t play with them too roughly. This is especially true if they’re carrying eggs or young.
Like any other pet owner, you should give your new pet plenty of attention and affection. A ferret needs daily exercise and stimulation, otherwise it could become bored and depressed. Just like us, ferrets also need to clean their cages regularly to avoid infections.
One fun activity you can try is setting up a maze of boxes in your home and seeing if your ferret can figure out how to get out of his cage. Another option is to fill your bathtub with different objects, such as toys, ropes, plastic bottles and other things that your ferret can climb over or grab onto.
One of the best parts about owning a ferret is watching them interact with other animals. Not only do they get along well with other felines, but they also take well to interactions with other types of pets. Ferrets are playful and curious, and they love interacting with children. Plus, since they’re relatively inexpensive pets, you can afford to buy several ferrets and let them explore your entire house.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ferrets are one of the oldest mammalian species known to man. They first appeared approximately 12 million years ago in Europe. These animals are part of the Order Eulipotyphla, which includes four other mammal species rabbit, shrew, mole and hedgehog. Ferrets also belong to the class Mammalia, which contains all land-based vertebrates except for snakes and lizards.
Pros of Having a Ferret as Your Pet
Ferrets are excellent pets for kids. Unlike other pets that require extensive training, ferrets are relatively simple creatures that adapt easily to households. In addition, they’re not destructive and rarely bark or whine, making them ideal for families with allergies or a noisy environment.
Unlike dogs, ferrets don’t drool or shed hair. They’re also quiet during the night, allowing people to catch naps whenever they please. Ferrets are also cheap to acquire, costing less than $100. Because they’re not big enough to destroy furniture, dining room tables or other pieces of property, they don’t cost nearly as much to maintain as large dogs or cats.
Since ferrets are nocturnal, they provide plenty of entertainment for adults. They love playing hide-and-seek under beds or behind curtains, chasing each other across floors or building intricate mazes. Of course, they also love to snuggle up close to their human owners for head scratches, hugs and kisses.
Ferrets are naturally playful and intelligent creatures that love to run and chase. While they usually sleep during the day, they become active during the nighttime, sniffing out anything interesting to investigate. Ferrets also use their front claws to dig burrows and dens, which they often share with other animals.
At least twice a week, ferrets go outside to relieve themselves, returning back inside afterwards. During cold weather, they hibernate for most of the day. When springtime arrives, they wake up, feed and run around a lot.
Cons of Having a Ferret as Your Pet
Despite their many benefits, ferrets aren’t perfect pets. First of all, they have short lives, averaging 5-8 years, and they require constant veterinary care. Because they’re small, it’s easier for them to injure their eyes, ears, noses or mouths. For example, if they accidentally step in a pile of poop, they could end up swallowing it and developing gastrointestinal problems.
Ferrets also carry fleas and ticks, so if you plan to leave them outdoors, you’ll probably have to treat them against parasites. Finally, if you decide to breed your ferret, you’ll have to make sure your area doesn’t contain certain diseases, such as rabies.
Overall, ferrets are wonderful pets for kids and families alike. If you’re considering adding one to your household, make sure you research the laws in your state regarding ferret ownership. Then, check out some helpful resources on ferrets available online or through your local library.