Viewing a litter of baby ferrets (called kits) is like looking at a litter of puppies or kittens. They are all adorable, they usually are of mixed colors and patterns and it's hard to choose just one to take home with you.
The life span of a ferret is normally 6+ years (barring any unforeseen serious health issues). Ferrets are cage animals but many owners allow ferrets to roam free inside their homes. Ferrets sleep up to 18 hours a day, sometimes more in winter, especially if you live in a place that gets temps below 40F and has snow. Ferrets are playful, very clever and creatures of habit. So is a ferret the right pet for you? Learn proper ferret care before you make your decision.
- Are you willing to commit 6+ years to caring for your ferret? Can you make the promise to care for and love this animal for the duration of his/her life? Can you make the promise to this pet that he/she will NEVER end up in an overcrowded animal shelter? This is a very important part of choosing to have a ferret as your pet. Too many ferrets end up needing to be adopted/rescued for many different reasons, and too many shelters are already overcrowded, so make a commitment to your ferret to love it and care for it forever.
- Ferrets require a minimum of 2-3 hours out of their cages each day. Some owners will give them 'play' time for an hour in the morning and then give them another hour or two in the evening. This is fine; the important thing is that the ferret is out of the cage and allowed to run, play, explore and interact with you, other family members, other family pets or other ferrets.
- Ferrets require a strict diet high in animal protein, low in fat, low in corn meal or other fillers. Ferrets cannot digest vegetable matter.
- Ferrets need regular veterinary checkups and vaccines. When you purchase a kit (usually from a pet store), your ferret will have already been spayed/neutered and will have already received the first in a series of vaccinations. Your ferret should come with paperwork, which will tell you the origin of your pet, date it was born, color/pattern information and record of vaccinations received and required in your state.
- Ferrets need a safe place to sleep, rest and play when they cannot be out of their cage. A good rule of thumb is 2 feet by 2 feet of cage space per every 2 ferrets. That's a good amount of space for one large adult ferret. You should provide a hammock or sleep sack, 1 per every 2 or 3 ferrets. Some people use a blanket or towel or other soft material in the corner of a cage for bedding. The important thing is that whatever you use, you are providing, warmth, comfort and safety to your ferret at all times.
- Cages can become expensive. Shop around, check the internet, check the items for sale in the local paper and ask if your favorite local pet store sells used cages or has a bulletin board with items for sale. You will also need a large water bottle, a (corner) litter pan, (paper pellet) litter, a food dish and some toys.
I always recommend that whenever a person acquires a new pet, they should also purchase a good care book for that specific animal. I will recommend my own book, American Ferrets [ISBN 1413779565] but also mention that there are several good books available, such as Ferrets For Dummies. Most pet stores carry pet care books, or they can be purchased online.