-Is a ferret right for me?-

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[ legal aspects | money | time | ferret proofing | space you need | allergies | kids and babies | other animals | where to purchase your new ferret ]
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Before you take the big plunge, is a ferret really the right pet for you? They require a lot of time, money, space, and loving care. Ferrets are very special animals, and need special owners too.

LEGAL ASPECTS

Before purchasing your ferret, make sure it is legal in your area. Some places that ferrets are illegal in include: Puerto Rico, the States of California and Hawaii and some parts of New York, the cities of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Columbia, Missouri, Bloomington, Indiana, Dallas, Texas, and many other small localities and military bases. It is ashame that ferrets are not legal in all places. No one understands it who owns ferrets.

MONEY

Ferrets tend to be quite pricey. Prices (in USA dollars) range from $75-$120. Not to mention the cage and all the bedding you need to buy. You will also need to purchase litter pans, food dishes, food, litter, toys, supplements, treats, etc... I probably need to mention that ferret stuff is usually a lot more expensive then cat or dog stuff, especially their food. Don't forget the yearly vet checkups! Also, As your ferret gets older, he/she will probably run into some health problems. It is very rare for a ferret to go through life with out contacting a disease or illness. My costs for taking care of three ferrets are written below:

FERRET:
From a Pet Store: $120.
From a Shelter: $75-$100.
From a Breeder: $150
CAGE:
Martin's Ferret Condo: $130 (demensions 30x24x48)
CARRIER: $30
CAGE ACCESORIES:
Hammock: $12
Sleep Cube: $18
Sleep Sack: $15
Bed $13
Food/water Dish: $5
LITTER BOXES:
Super Pet High Corner Litter Pan: $4
Super Pet Hi-Bac Litter Pan: $8
Cat Litter Pan: $6
LITTER:
Crown Animal Bedding: $11
TOYS:
Marshall Tube: $18,
Marshall Tent: $18
*NOTE: Most of my ferret's toys are just things around the house, you don't really need to buy them toys, because they like everything!
CARE:
8 in 1 Ferret Shampoo: $5 (size 10oz)
Human Nail Clippers: $1
Brush: $6
Veterinarian's Best Herbal Ear Wash: $6
4oz Marshall Ferret Dental Gel: $5 (size 2oz)
Tomlyn Ferret Laxatone: $4 (size 2.5oz)
SUPPLEMENTS:
Ferretone: $5 (size 8oz)
Ferretvite: $4 (size 4.25oz)
Uncle Jim's Duck Soup Mix: $13 (size 9oz)
FOOD:
Zupreem Ferret Diet: $16 (size 4lb)
Sheppard and Greene: $17 (size 4lb)
8 in 1 Ultimate: $16 (size 4.4lb)
TREATS:
Marshall Bandits: $2 4oz,
8 In 1 Chicken Ferretbites: $2 (size 4oz)
Hyper-fur Fuzzy Foamy Fries: $5
YEARLY VET CHECKUPS AND VACCINATIONS:
Muccles: $73
Spike: $73
Duncan: $73
FERRET BOOK:
Ferrets for dummies: $14
YEARLY COST

LITTER: $264
FOOD: $306
TREATS: $18
CHECK UPS: $219
CARE: $13
SUPPLEMENTS: $44

Our Yearly Expenses for taking care of three fuzzies adds up to: $864 Approximately. Keep in mind that ferrets usually do not go a year (especially if they are 3 and older) without getting a medical problem. Since ferrets are not as popular as cats or dogs their vet bills are a lot more! So far this year (2003) we have spent $200 for an unexpected vet trip because Duncan caught Helicobater.

TIME

Along with being high in price, ferrets are also quite time constraining. Even though they sleep 18-20 hours a day, they still need to be played with at least 4 hours a day. It also takes a long time to clean up after their little messes! Here is my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly "time schedules" for taking care of three ferrets:


Every day: 5 hours
Playing: 4 hours
Cleaning and feeding: 1 hour

Every week: 38 hours
Playing: 28 hours
Cleaning and feeding: 7 hours
Washing bedding, food dishes and litter boxes: 3 hours

Every month: 164 hours
Playing: 120 hours
Cleaning and Feeding: 30 hours
Washing bedding, food dishes, and litter boxes: 12 hours
Cage Scrubbing: 2 hours

Every year: 1,994 hours
Playing: 1,460 hours
Cleaning and Feeding: 365 hours
Washing bedding, food dishes and litter boxes: 144 hours
Cage Scrubbing: 24 hours
Bathing: 1 hour


NOTE: The little things that only take up 1 or 5 minutes are not encluded in this time schedule. The times here are not exact. These times are how long it takes me to complete each thing, they are different for every person.

Ferrets require a lot of maintenance. You should usually spend at least 4 hours playing with your ferret each day. Feeding and cleaning each day takes up about 1 hour (with three ferrets). Ferrets also need Supplements and treats every day. To give these it only takes about 1 minute. About each week, you will need to wash their bedding, litter boxes and food and water dishes. This takes up about 3 hours. Ferrets' nails need to be clipped. Some ferrets need their nails clipped every 2 weeks, while others need to be clipped every 3-4 weeks. It takes about 5 minutes to clip a ferrets nails. Their ears also need to be cleaned. This also depends on the ferret, but most ferrets need it done about every 1-2 weeks. Cleaning their ears takes about 5 minutes per ferret. Every month, the whole cage will need to be scrubbed. This takes about 2 hours. During shedding season, your ferret will need to be brushed. This only takes 1 minute. Your ferret will also need a bath about twice a year. Bathing your ferret takes about 30 minutes.

FERRET PROOFING

Wherever your ferret is out loose, you will need to ferret proof it. Ferret proofing means to block of everything (cords, wires, holes, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers, etc...) that a ferret will get into. It is also a good idea to ferret proof everywhere else in your home just in case your ferret accidentally escapes. Be sure to ferretproof your house before getting a ferret!

COMMON THINGS THAT FERRETS GET INTO

Box springs and sofas - A lot of ferrets will like to climb into the box spring of a bed or go underneath a sofa.
Solution 1) Get a bed where your ferret cannot get under.
Solution 2) Block the bottom of the bed of with wood or some sturdy fabric.

Carpet terrorizing at the door - A lot of ferrets like to dig a the carpet next to a door, I guess because they sniff under the door, and it smells different than the room they are in.
Solution 1) Put pieces of wood down right beneath the door and on the very bottom of it. This doesn't look the greatest, but it worked for me! It is better than having to wake up at 3:00am hearing your ferret scratching at the door!
Solution 2) Some people put linoleum under the door.
Solution 3) You can also put plastic underneath the door and tape it onto the carpet with duct tape.

Chewing on wires - Ferrets love to chew on anything rubber. Especially rubber wire covering!
Solution 1) Buy an electrical covering and put it over the plug. Then buy some wire covering and put it over the wires.
Solution 2) Get all of your wires out of the ferrets reach!

Going underneath drawers - Sometimes there are rectangle holes underneath drawers that lead to the drawer itself.
Solution 1) Block these holes with a piece of wood.
Solution 2) Block holes with duct tape.

Getting Into Cabinets - Because ferrets are so curious, they will most likely get into your cabinets.
Solution 1) Get a baby lock or just some other sort of lock.

Falling Down the Stairs - Some stair cases have railing that your ferret can easily slip through and fall down the stairs.
Solution 1) Block the holes to the railing off with plexiglass.

Terrorising the Christmas Tree - A lot of ferrets like to "play" with the Christmas tree!
Solution 1) Get one of those miniature Xmas trees. Place on high counter.

~Thank You Patty for the ferret proofing photos~

SPACE YOU NEED

Ferrets need a cage, (I have a three story cage that is about 3 feet by 3 feet), and a decent place to run around and have fun (my ferrets live in my room). Some people let their ferrets roam their whole house (apartments are great for this). Some have a room designed especially for their ferrets.

ALLERGIES

Just like any other pet, you can be allergic to ferrets also. Before purchasing a ferret, you might want to go to a shelter or someone who has ferrets and check to make sure you are not allergic to them.

KIDS AND BABIES

Young kids and babies (or course) are not capable of taking care of fuzzies. Although, it is fine to have babies or young kids around with your ferrets as long as you keep a close eye on them while the two are playing. Some young kids and babies will be to rough for a ferret.

OTHER ANIMALS

Ferrets may get along with cats or some dogs. Do not try to introduce your ferret to a bird, reptile, fish (of course), or any other animal.

WHERE TO PURCHASE YOUR NEW FERRET

Pet Superstore - Pet Shops and Superstores are probably the most thought-of source for baby ferrets. However, they are not your only option for a baby ferret. Please consider the following things before purchasing your new fuzzy from a petshop or super store:

  • Make sure that the pet store's employees are well trained in the care of the animals that they sell. Do your research so that you can make an iformed decision.
  • Most of the kits sold in pet super stores have come from mass producers. Ferrets that are bred in large quantities are often a little smaller than ferrets that come from private breeders.
  • Make sure the pet store gives you a written health guarantee. This ensures you that the pet store tries their best to keep their ferrets healthy. If a pet store does not offer a health guarantee, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
  • All ferrets in the pet store should be played with frequently. Ferrets should not be kept in a cage and only let out when a customer wants to hold or purchase a ferret.
  • Never buy a ferret on your first visit. You will want to make sure that everything looks good all the time!
Please do your research before you take the big plunge to purchase a ferret.

Shelter - Perhaps the most overlooked source for wonderful ferrets, especially by new ferret owners. You can find all sorts of ferret at a ferret shelter. Some are young, and may have been way too energic for their previous owner's good. Some are too old, and in need of daily medications. Others have been given up do to money obligations , or are in need of expensive surgery that is too costly for their previous owners to pay for. But most victims surrendered to the ferret shelter are normal kit-old ferrets that are just in need of a loving, forever family that will take them in. Keep the following things in mind when considering to adopt from a ferret shelter:

  • The goal of a ferret shelter is to find the best possible family for their ferrets. They will most likely ask potential families a lot of questions just to be sure that the person is willing to tak eon the high responsibility of caring and living with a ferret.
  • Most shelters are more than willing to offer after-adoption support.
  • Most, if not all shelters require that the ferret be returned if the relasionship does not work out between the owner and ferret.
  • Adoption fees are usually lower than ferrets from other places. They range from about $50-$100, depending on the ferret's health.
  • Most shelters have veterinarians working close with them, so your ferret should be up to date on vaccinations and his annual examination.
  • Shelter mommies and daddies are usually only in the business because of the fact that they care so much for the sake of all ferrets.
  • Shelters rely on ferret adoptions as well as donations to stay in business. Adoption is a great way to support your ferret shelter!

Breeder - Many people choose a private breeder to purhcase a ferret from. Keep in mind that there are good and bad breeders. You can find reputable breeders by looking in ferret-specific magazines, or by word of mouth in the ferret community. Some breeders breed because they lobe fuzzies, and other breed for profit. Good breeders will be helpful and honest with you about the great deal of work it takes to keep care of a ferret. A bad breeder may be eager to sell their ferrets, not caring about their well being. Here are a few tips for making sure a breeder is good:

  • If possible, ask to schedule a meeting with the breeder so that you can see how the ferret are kept. A good breeder will house their ferrets in clean and spacious cages, will have humane conditions, and alert and active ferrets.
  • Ask if the breeder is willing to give you after-sales support so that if you had a question about your newly purchased ferret, you could call the breeder about it.
  • Get refrences from people who have already bought ferrets from the breeder and ask how their experience was.
Some private breeders allow you to custom order your kit's color or pattern. Often, private bred ferrets will be larger than other ferrets.

Classifieds - If you live in a fairly populated town, you will almost always find a ferret or two in your local newspaper's classified section. Often times, the ferret will also come with a cage. Usually the ferrets being sold are older, but the owner may be able to provide information on the ferret's background. Be aware that the owner may be selling their ferret just for cash. However, others are kind ferret lovers that are just in need of a loving, forever home for their little ferret.