-Ferret Care-

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[ grooming | my ferret schedule | cleaning | accessorizing the cage | food | water | food chart | duck soup | supplements | treats | no no's ]
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GROOMING

Brushing: During the shedding season, your ferret will need to be brushed. If you do not brush your ferret, he/she may get a hairball. You can buy ferret brushes from pretty much any pet store that sells ferret supplies.

Nails: You usually need to clip ferret nails about once every two weeks, although it varies from ferret to ferret. You can use regular nail clippers to clip your ferret's nails, or you can use special ferret nail clippers. I use regular. When clipping their nails, watch for the red vein that goes through their nail, do not clip it! Clip a little ahead of this vein. A good book to read for more information on clipping nails is "Ferrets for Dummies." *It is a good idea to consult a vet before trying to clip a ferret's nails. If you do not know EXACTLY what you are doing, do NOT clip the ferret's nails.

Ears: You will need to clean your ferrets ears about every week. But it varies from ferret to ferret. This can be done with a ferret ear cleaner solution and some Q-tips.

Tooth Brushing: Yes, you do have to brush a ferrets teeth. It is literally impossible to "brush" the teeth. I just put some malt flavored cat toothpaste on my finger and rub it on their teeth. The toothpaste gets rid of all the grime on their teeth.

MY FERRET SCHEDULE

If you are planing on getting a ferret, be sure you realize how much time it takes to take proper care of them. Here is a little schedule to give you an idea of what life is like with ferrets.

DAILY:

  • Clean litter boxes once or twice daily (depends on how many ferrets you have).
  • Play with them for at least four hours every day.
  • Change water and food daily.
WEEKLY:
  • Wash hammocks and any other bedding they may have once every week.
  • Clip nails once every 2, 3, or 4 weeks; it varies from ferrret to ferret.
  • Wash litter boxes, toys, food and water dishes with soap and water once every week.
MONTHLY:
  • Wash whole cage with water and soap once every month.

CLEANING

Owning a woozel is not all fun and games! Cleaning up after your fert takes up a lot of time. Here are some cleaning tips for you.

Bedding: You will need to wash your ferrets' bedding at least once every week. Just throw it in the washer like normal clothes. Tip: when drying it, throw in one of those clothes fresheners! This will get rid of that ferret smell (although some people tend to like the ferret smell ).

Cage: Every month, the whole cage will need to be scrubbed down. If you have a small cage that can be lifted, haul it outside and hose it down. Then scrub it with suds, and spray it again. On the other hand, if you are like me and have a large cage that can't be lifted (or can't fit through the door! ) you will just have to get on your hands and knees and use an indoor cleaner. Make sure it is pet safe! This is a tough chore. It is easy just to slack off and not scrub your cage! Your ferrets will thank you very much if you do clean it.

Litter Pans: Litter pans need to be scooped everyday or more. I scoop mine twice a day with 3 ferrets. This can be done with one of those cat litter box scoopers. After a week has gone by, the litter pan itself gets pretty messy. You will need to scrub (with water and soap) the whole pan every week. It's a dirty job, but if you don't do it there is a pretty good chance that your ferret will get some sort of bacterial disease.

Toys: A lot of ferret owners discard cleaning their ferrets' toys. But think about all the gross things those toys have been through. Maybe you don't even want to! Now you know why you should clean them. Most stuffed animal toys can be thrown in the washer just like their bedding. The plastic toys should be dumped into a bucket of hot water. This will make it easier to scrub the slime off of them. After they are done soaking (about 10 minutes) take them out and run them under water. Scrub them with a towel or other cleaning scrubber.

Food/Water Dishes: It is easy to look at the food bowls and think, "I don't see any slime, they don't need to be cleaned." But they do. Don't be fooled! The bacteria that grows on these food dishes and bottles is not visible to the naked eye. You will need to scrub the food dishes every week. Just take some soap, run the bowls under some water and scrub them. Make sure when you are rinsing the bowls to get all the soap off of them.

ACCESSORIZING THE CAGE

What exactly do you put in a ferrets cage? Hammocks, beds, sleepsacks, sleep cubes, T-shirts, Fleece, etc... Ferrets love to burrow into thier bedding when they are sleeping. Never use wood shavings or pine/cedar chips. These products have caused ferrets to develop respiratory problems. Would you like to sleep/poop on hard, scratchy wood shavings? I didn't think so! Ferrets feet are extremely delicate. This leads up to the next point: if your cage has wire flooring, cover it! These wired floors are way too rough on your ferrets' feet, not to mention there have been numerous accidents of ferrets' getting their feet stuck in these wires! You can use linoleum, fabric, or sticky tiles. I use linoleum and have found that it works excellent!

FOOD

What brand?: I would recommend buying 3 brands of food, just to give them a variety. Also, if you run out of one, no worry, there are still two more! Ferret's need at least 36 percent of protein and 18-20 percent of fat in their diet. A ferret needs a high quality diet. Any kitten kibble or ferret kibble that meets these standards is a great buy. Here are several good brands:

  • Totally Ferret
  • ZuPreem
  • Superior Choice: original or natural ferret diet
  • Marshall Premium
  • 8 in 1 ULTIMATE
  • Path Valley Farm [or] Premium Edge Kitten

I use Zupreem and 8 in 1 ULTIMATE. There are many, many other brands to choose from. Just do your research before you decide on a food! I also want to add that a ferret can be allergic to one food or another. So be aware of diarrhea that persists after switching foods. If your ferret does develop diarrhea for more then 2 days for any reason, take him to the vet immediately.

Click Here to view my ferret kibble comparison chart.

Which food dish?: I recommend purchasing one of those hook-on food bowls. They work great, since ferrets tend to knock their food bowls over even if they are 20 pounds!

When to give: The ferret food needs to be out 24/7. Ferrets eat whenever they get hungry, and that is who knows when! So it is best to keep it out all the time. Tip: the food bowl needs to be refilled about once a day, but it depends on how many ferrets and how big the food dish is. Never let the food go down more than half way.

WATER

Are all waters created equal?: All water is not created equal. You may or may not have ever thought about what kind of water source to use for your furball. Some people prefer bottled or distilled water. Although, it is argued by some that distilled water lacks very important nutriants that our ferrets need, so you should probably avoid it all together. Tap water works great. Unless your tap water has qualified for high levels of harmful chemicals, tap water should work just fine for your furball.



Bottle or Bowl?: This is really up to your ferrets. Some prefer bottle, while others like the can, oops! I mean bowl. (I guess I have had a little too much Dr. Pepper!) I actually have both bottle and bowl, which I highly recommend.
Tip: Coop Cups work good for water bowls. These are the bowls that attatch onto the cage, (so your ferret won't be able to knock them over). For water bottles, I would suggest a bottle that clips onto the outside of the cage, (so your ferret won't be able to knock it over).

When to give:A ferrets' water needs to be out at all times. Ferrets can easily get dehydrated and do not tolerate heat very well at all. Tip: The water should probably be refilled about twice a day, if not more. If you have more ferrets then three, you should probably refill it more then twice a day.

FOOD CHARTS

Here are two lists of Kibble Comparison Charts. The reason I made these is so that people looking for the perfect kibble/s can easily check the ingredients and compare one brand with another.

-FERRET KIBBLE COMPARISON CHART-
-KITTEN KIBBLE COMPARISON CHART (coming soon!)-

When looking for the perfect kibble remember that there must be at least 36 percent animal protein and 18-22 percent animal fat. Also, the first 3 ingredients in a food should consist of meat.

DUCK SOUP RECIPES
The name "Duck Soup" came from a ferret named Lucky Ducky.

Original Recipe for Duck Soup by Ann Davis
This Recipe is Courtesy of Acme Ferret Company.

Ingredients:

  • One can Sustacal 8oz (this is non-dairy)
  • One can water
  • 4oz dry food -soaked in enough water to cover and soften completely
  • Optional-electrolyte water (really helps-comes in powder form), baby food such as chicken or mashed bananas

Directions:

Mix well- a blender is best, and it freezes in ice cube trays beautifully. Serve warm, let them eat their fill several times a day. If it gets too thick just thin with a little water. Once opened, Sustacal must be used within 48 hrs if not frozen. If you have a really seriously ill ferret, warm Sustacal can be given full strength.


Patty's Duck Soup
This Recipe is Courtesy of Patty.

Ingredients:

  • 1˝ cups of moistened ferret food, moistened with fresh chicken broth or water. Not canned broth as it has too much sodium.
  • 1/3 of a tube of Ferretvite or Nutrical
  • 1 jars Gerber chicken and gravy baby food #2
  • 8 oz. Pedilyte “only” if your ferret is dehydrated / spring water will also work.
  • 1 Teaspoon of Bone Meal Powder (get at heath food store)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Nupro (get from The Ferret Store) http://www.theferretstore.com 1-888-833-7738
  • 1 cans Science Diet A/D (get at a veterinarian’s office)
  • 4 chicken thighs. I use chicken thighs, dark meat is higher in calories, but any chicken or all can be used. Also note, you can use 2-3 more jars of the chicken baby food in replacement of the boiled chicken.

Directions:

Boil chicken thighs, save broth. I tear the meat and skin off the bone and put it in a blender with 3 cups (more or less) of the broth and puree it. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend, more water may be added if needed.

This recipe makes approximately 5-6 cups of Duck Soup. Pour soup into ice cube trays, it will take 3-4 trays. Once frozen, pop out cubes and put into a freezer bag. Thaw 1 cube (per ferret) and add 1-2 Tablespoons of water to thin it. You want it luke warm not hot.


Duck Soup Tips:
By Patty

A lot of ferrets are not familiar with Duck Soup and do not recognize it as food. To introduce them to it I suggest smearing some on their lips to get them to lick it off. Once they do this you will probably have to repeat the process until they learn to recognize it as food. The secret is not to give up as there will come a time when your ferret is either sick or had surgery and Duck Soup is what will keep them going.

If you have a duck soup recipe that you would like to add here, please email me and I will post it here as soon as I can! Thank You!

SUPPLEMENTS

Some owners give their ferrets extra nutritional supplements in addition to their dry kibble. My ferrets receive Ferretone, Ferretvite, and a mixture of pureed chicken and other ferrety yummy stuff called "Duck Soup." And if you are new to the ferret world, don't be afraid, ferrets do actually like these supplements, they take them more as "treats" than supplements.

Ferretone - My babies receive 5 drops every other day. It says to give more on the lable, but giving them more may cause liver problems. Better safe than sorry!



Ferretvite - My babies will get a 1-inch strip every other day.



Duck Soup - My babies get about 2 Tablespoons every morning. Since ferrets are carnivores, it is very healthy to give them some meat in their diet as well as dry kibble. NOTE: We actually make our duck soup by hand, it is just that I don't have a photo of it. That is why I am using this premade duck soup photo.



Some owners give their ferrets raw and/or cooked meat. This is very healthy for the little carpet sharks also. But you most likely will have to start giving your ferret raw or cooked meat when it is a kit so that your ferret will know that it is actually food! I tried introducing meat into my ferrets diet, and they were like, "Mom! You really expect us to eat that?!" LOL

TREATS

Treats should be healthy, and follow the same rules as the ferrets' dry kibble. High in fat and protien. Low in fiber, and it is good if the treat is meat based.

A few exceptions: Chew Treats! Ferrets love to chew on things, especially if they taste good! If you do buy a chew treat, make sure it is for ferrets. Some good chew treats include: Super Chews, Cheweasels, Foamy Fries, and N-bones.

Some people give their ferrets hard boiled eggs as a treat. This is good too.

Good Meaty Treats

Bandits - These should be given sparsely, allow about 2 pieces a day at the most.



FerretBites - If we have these on stock, my babies will get 2 pieces a day at the most.



Rosies Rewards - These are a really good meaty treat. Some ferrets will not like them as they are 100% beef.



Totally Ferret Treats - These treats are good because they are crunchy which helps prevent dental disease and the main ingredient is chicken.



Good Chew Treats

Foamy Fries - Foamy Fries are a pretty good choice for a chew treat.



SuperChew - My ferret, Duncan, LOVES these! He will sit there and chow down until the whole thing is gone!



N-Bone - These are good too. They are flavored in chicken or seafood.

NO NO'S

Some things not to do.

Do not use wood chips for bedding - it can cause respiratory problems.
Do not feed your ferret low quality cat food - they have to have at least 34% protien and 19% fat.
Do not feed your ferrets foods high in fiber - ferrets cannot digest this very well.
Do not declaw your ferret - ferrets use their claws for many things including climbing, and keeping balance. They can also get serious health problems if they are declawed.
Do not let your ferret play with reptiles, birds, insects, mice, rats, etc... - Ferrets will most likely try to kill these animals.
Do not let your ferret loose in the wild - The domesticated ferret needs your help to survive.
Do not use human toothpaste/toothbrush on your ferrets teeth - Cat toothpaste and a simple cotton swab will work best.
Do not use clay/clumpable litter - This litter has a lot of dust and is meant to stick together when wet, then harden to form a clump. When your ferrets comes to sniff the litter, he/she will sniff in the dust and it will become wet, stick together and harden which will cause your ferret to suffocate. Pellet stove pellets work well as litter.
Do not feed your ferret things like nuts, sugary foods, dairy products, seeds, coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, salty foods, and raw egg whites - These foods can cause serious health problems.
Do not keep your ferret in temperatures over 80% F - ferrets do not handle hot weather very well at all. They are extremely susceptible to heatstroke. Heatstroke can quickly kill your ferret if not treated immediately.