Seeing a ferret in a pet store or Petco can entice anyone to take the discussion of buying one for themselves. But, many ferret owners leave their ferrets due to post-buying problems.
Several such regret posts are coming up on forums. Hence, to help myself and the readers, I researched a lot on this topic, and now I am going to share what I found out.
Ferrets are good pets to have. They are cuddly, and they sleep a lot— 16 to 18 hours. Anyone who has a day job would love to have a pet ferret. They are the perfect small animal for a 9-5er. They also are a lot more playful than other small animals.
But, there are tons of costs and commitments involved in owning a ferret. and impulse buying usually results in regrets. Hence, do read this post completely to understand all aspects of owning a ferret before you make the crucial decision.
Should you get a ferret?
You should definitely get a ferret. But, there are many caveats to this. Caring for a ferret is a long-term investment – at least 7 to 8 years. So, before getting a ferret, do thorough research and compare the requirements with your capabilities to assess whether adopting a ferret is a viable decision or not.
Not everyone should adopt the ferret, though. A ferret suits people who have a day job and want a pet that can stay home without them having to care for them constantly. They can also be great apartment pets. However, do check with the authorities and laws before adopting one.
If you are not able to spend any money on the monthly expenses (which we will discuss later), then please avoid adopting ferrets.
Ferrets are often adopted impulsively. and, they are either put down later or left astray. Both of these cases are quite cruel towards ferrets, and therefore, only those who can afford to hold the ferret as a pet should adopt them.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of adopting.
Pros of adopting a ferret
- Ferrets sleep 16 to 18 hours and therefore do not need that much care like other pets.
- The initial costs of buying a ferret are manageable, and many pet stores carry them.
- They are quite playful and love to jump around when they are awake.
- They do not require much cleaning, and a bath per month would be sufficient.
- They are quite fine for apartments and do not require a playground like many other pets.
- They are super cute, and you would love to hold them.
- They do not require any special temperature to live in. Normal room temperature is just fine.
Cons of adopting a ferret
- Ferrets do smell. There is a musky smell that comes from them, even if they are treated with a spray et cetera.
- They are not a very friendly pet for small kids (grade school and younger). They can bite and nibble often.
- Ferrets require the house to be ferret-proofed before you adopt them. Leaving the ferret without that can allow him/her to damage your things like your cords, carpet, etc.
- Ferrets love to hide things, and they can hide your shoes, socks, and other small things in various places.
- Even if you potty-train them completely, there will be accidents. You will find them pooping in more areas than you previously thought or prepared for.
- There are emergency conditions, and ferrets can get into them quite easily. Emergency surgery for a ferret could go up to $ 1000.
- Un-neutered ferrets need to be mated when they come of age else they could have serious health problems including death.
Anyways, we have discussed the pros and cons. Now, let’s talk about where they can be adopted from and what would be your best bet.
Where to buy a ferret?
There are several locations to buy a ferret – Petco, PetSmart, small pet shops, shelters like SPCA, and private breeders. Each of them has its benefits and follies.
The cost of ferrets can depend on location and the seller. Most of the options provided here are for the states, but similar options can be found in places like Canada and the UK.
Let’s talk about them one by one.
Adopting a ferret from Petco
A ferret at Petco could cost anywhere between $ 100 to $ 200 depending on the location and the time. Kits (baby ferrets) are usually sold at a higher price, close to $ 200. But, at the time of sale, they could go as low as $ 100.
Many in the ferret community dislike Petco a lot as they mostly sell Marshall ferrets. Marshall ferrets have a terrible reputation of being from ferret mills. Hence, many recommend to not to adopt from them.
However, there are some benefits to buying from Petco. Firstly, they do not care much about what other pets you own – like say cats and dogs. Secondly, most of the ferrets at Petco are desexed and descented. So, you don’t have to spend on these from your pocket.
Adopting a ferret from PetSmart
PetSmart doesn’t usually sell ferrets. There are some locations where they do sell some ferrets, but their costs are quite similar to Petco, and there are not many advantages of buying from them. The average cost of a ferret from PetSmart is about $160 to $200.
Adopting a ferret from shelters like SPCA
Pet Shelters are one of the most recommended sources for adopting new ferrets. They are loved by the community, but there are some problems with them as well.
Firstly, the ferrets at shelters could have a problematic history. They could be ill-treated by their previous owners or left astray due to health issues. So, be aware of that. They also have a lot of regulations.
A ferret from shelters could cost anywhere between $25 to $65. The cost variation can depend on a lot of factors, including the ferret age, why the previous owner left it, and health issues.
Adopting a ferret from private breeders
Private breeders are quite knowledgeable. They breed high-quality ferrets and could suggest a lot of helpful ways on how to keep them and how to care for them properly.
You can find a lot of private breeders for ferrets near you by using sites like Petfinder.
Some private bread ferrets can cost you quite a penny. The cost of ferrets at private breeders can vary a lot. It could go from $ 100-$ 300.
Adopting a ferret from a local pet store
Pet stores are the least reliable among all the options.
You have to check each store’s reputation one by one before buying from them.
Ferret costs at the pet store can range anywhere between $ 100 to $ 200. The conditions in pet stores are also not suitable. But, in some places where breeders and big brands are not available, they are the only option.
Pet store Ferret, especially kits, get neutered, descented very early and can have adrenal issues as well.
Outside the US, in places like Canada, pet stores can sell ferrets for around C$ 250-C$ 350.
You can buy from any of these places based on your choices, but wherever you go, you will see the question of buying a pair instead of just one.
Should you buy two ferrets instead of one?
Adopting two ferrets is a better choice than having just one. A single ferret can get depressed alone while you are not there. Having a companion provides stability and companionship and hence less work for you. Therefore, buying two is a better decision than buying one.
It is also easier to maintain in the long run. Two ferrets compete with each other for your attention, and hence the bonding comes faster when two are there.
Nevertheless, there is much to know after you have made the decision. There are things to prepare before your new friends arrive.
What to do after making the decision?
Find an exotic vet
After deciding to adopt a ferret, you should find a good exotic vet near you. Once the ferrets are here, they will have to be taken to the vet for basic examination and vaccinations.
Ferret proof your house
You can ferret proof your house by making sure there are no small holes where ferret can get into. Close all the vents as well.
Ferrets like to explore and can get into problematic situations, which could result in both harms to the ferret and damage to your property.
Before the ferret comes home, we need to gather some essential supplies. We have listed the basic stuff, so you don’t have to spend a lot. Most of these purchases are one time, but some are to be bought monthly like food and litter supplies.
A ferret cage should be large enough so that they can stretch themselves well and do not have a problem moving around. Ferrets are quite active animals while they are awake, and they are not like other small pets. They jump around a lot, and hence they need a bigger cage.
The best-recommended cage is this one from the ferret nation. It has a lot of space, and many ferret owners are quite happy with it. It’s also quite easy to clean.
Kits love to play with squeaky toys. But, even for older ferrets playing with toys can be an exciting part of the day. Ferrets would love to stimulate their primal instincts by toys with animal shapes. This will bring out the trill in natural hunters like ferrets.
You can find some ferrets toys here.
Ferrets— even descented ones— can have a nasty smell. In case you want to dampen it further. We recommend two products:
- Marshall Ferret spirit- to reduce the smell from outside.
- Goodbye Odor by Marshall– to reduce the smell from inside.
Ferrets are carnivores, and they cannot eat anything you throw at them. Do not provide them with table trash as they cannot process sugars or starches.
Fruits or veggies are not suited for ferrets, either. They take only protein. Providing raw foods is better but pricier. Hence, we recommend procuring kibble for them.
Ferrets need high-quality kibble with sufficient amounts of protein to survive. Providing low-quality products can result in insulinoma, a type of cancer.
For beddings, cat beds are perfect. They are quite readily available and should last long. Each should cost anywhere between $ 15 to $ 20. It is a good idea to keep spares, so you don’t have to buy again and again.
Water bottle or water bowl
Between water bottles and water bowl, water bowls are a better choice for ferrets. They can drink easily from the bowl compared to the bottles. They also get more water as the bowl is much closer to their natural way.
However, there is a problem.
Ferrets can and will often splash all the water in the bowl. Hence, using the croc that fits the cage (clip-on) like this one is a better idea.
Ferret litter supplies
Ferrets like to pee in corners. They do this to hide from predators while in a weak position. To keep the house clean, place pee pads in those corners.
It’s not 100% effective, but it works 95% of the time. Some use trays for this, but we lean more towards disposable pee pads as pee pads are cheap and replaceable. We recommend these.
Ferret hammocks (optional)
Some ferrets love to hide and play in hammocks. These are not costly, and they could cost anywhere between $20 to $50 for a one time purchase. You can check them out here.
All of this should cost you anywhere between $ 300-$ 500. This is just one-time investment. There are some costs after this, but they are tiny.
What are the monthly costs of owning a ferret?
After the initial purchase, there are not many costs involved. You can maintain a single ferret for around $ 60 a month, which includes the cost for food and litter.
However, do save some money for emergency situations. Ferrets surgery can cost anywhere between $ 500-$ 1000, and such situations can test your deposits. So, after adopting the new ferret, create a separate saving for it in case there are emergencies.
Besides monthly costs, there are some irregular costs of owning a ferret as well. A basic visit to the vet can cost you around $100 while it could go up to $400 if there are lab-tests involved.
How much time to take care of a ferret?
Ferrets sleep for almost 2/3 of the day – around 16 to 18 hours. Hence, you don’t need to worry much about taking care of them. But, they at least need 3 to 4 hours out of the cage, including playing.
You should play with your ferrets for half an hour each day to keep the bonding firm.
What you have to do regularly
There are several tasks you need to do on a regular basis to keep your ferret healthy and well.
1. Ferrets are quite clean. They clean themselves a lot as well. Hence there is no need to bath them often. In fact, bathing a ferret often could lead to issues like scratching (read more about it here) and more pungent smells coming out of their bodies. So, you have to bath them only once a month.
You can use ferret friendly shampoos like this one, or you can prepare an oatmeal bath for them.
2. Ferrets poop a lot. Therefore, you have to clean their pee-pads every other day. These are disposable, so you should keep a large supply in your home, and then you don’t have to worry so much.
3. As they pee and poop mostly outside their beds, there is no need to clean the beddings every day. You can clean the beddings once in a week or two.
4. Ferret nails grow quite fast, and with large nails, they can do damage both to your property and to the other ferret. Hence, you need to get their nails trimmed once in 2 to 3 weeks. For that, either visit a pet salon or do by yourself using the video below.
5. In the morning, you have to make sure that they have sufficient supplies of water. Ferrets drink a lot of water, so they need water all the time. Make sure their water bowls are always full.
6. You should change their kibble every day, preferably in the early morning.
Q1: should I buy a male ferret or a female one?
Female ferrets are more prone to cuddling than females who are much more protective. Some have reported that as females grow older, they also don’t mind cuddling.
Q2: what to do if a ferret keeps biting me?
Biting or nibbling is quite common to ferrets. In case the ferret is always biting you, hold them by the neck scruffs. This is how their mothers teach them to behave. Keep doing that until they change their behavior.
Q3: what to do if my family disagrees on buying the ferret?
There are a lot of things involved in caring for ferrets. If you are dependent on your family and need them to provide you either money or support, delay the ferret buying decision until they agree and understand the conditions. Make sure you do not regret your decision.
Q4: Can I keep ferrets with other small animals?
Ferrets are hunters by nature. So, we do not advise keeping ferrets with other small animals.
Q5: Can Items on the floor cause damage to ferrets?
Items like coffee beans, if situated on the floor, can be consumed by ferrets. They could do serious damage to them, and you have to rush them to the vet.
Q6: How can I bond with the ferret?
Putting a used T-shirt or clothing in the cage where the ferret sleeps and eats can make the bonding much easier. Ferret starts to recognize the scent and doesn’t get offended when you try to lift them.
Q7: Can ferrets drink tap water?
If there is nothing seriously wrong with tap water, they can drink, but some have suggested that tap water can cause ferrets diarrhea. Hence using a cheap filter should be the way.