Ferrets can be a lot of fun to own as pets though there are some things one should know before buying or adopting one.
- Ferrets need annual vaccines—ferrets are mammals and therefore capable of carrying rabies so, even though the risk of a ferret contracting rabies is low, all ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies as well as canine distemper which can be fatal.
- Ferrets are susceptible to contracting human influenza virus. Usually, ferrets become infected with the flu from contact with an infected person, but, in some cases the flu can pass from ferret to human. Symptoms include, sneezing and nasal discharge, red watery eyes, decreased appetite, lethargy, and high fever. Avoid contact with your ferret if you have the flu.
- Ferrets are curious so “ferret-proofing” your house is a must. They have been known to chew on electrical cords, fabrics and foreign objects and can be prone to intestinal obstructions. Ferrets can also develop hair balls that can block their intestines.
- Ferrets’ long bodies allow them to fit into very narrow and tight spaces making them effective escape artists. Make sure cages or enclosures are secure and supervise your ferret when he is out of his cage getting exercise.
- Most ferrets are already spayed or neutered before they are sold or put up for adoption. Females can develop a severe form of anemia if not spayed which can be fatal, so it is critical that females have their sex organs removed. Most ferrets are also de-scented when spayed or neutered, but they can still emit a musky odor.
More fun ferret facts: Ferrets have been domesticated for a long time--as long ago as 450BC--and are distant relatives of minks, weasels and skunks. Ferrets are very active pets and, though generally not aggressive, they may nip or bite so they may not be suitable as pets for very young children. Owning a ferret is illegal in Hawaii and California, but has been legal in Pennsylvania since 1987. Ferrets are carnivores and their hunting skills were originally employed to hunt rabbits and rodents.
As you can see, ferrets can be fascinating animals, but they do require some commitment to properly own and care for them. Ferrets can live 6 to 12 years and annual veterinary care is necessary as they can develop a variety of health and dental problems. Please do your research before deciding if a ferret is the right pet for you, and make sure your ferret receives proper veterinary care whether you own just one or a whole business (group) of ferrets!
This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.