Creatures
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Creatures

ANECDOTE | FERRETS | PET OWNERSHIP

The Ferret as the Family Pet

Have you seen my keys?

A ferret looks at the camera with his mouth open while another ferret watches from afar
Photo of Author’s previous ferrets, Sirius & Mr. Lu

How many people do you know that have ferrets? Can you count them on one hand? Unless you’re in the ferret community yourself, you likely don’t know that many ferret owners. We’re not as weird as some people think we are, I promise. :)

Ferrets are considered exotic animals to some, but many people in the population like to consider them “rodents.” This is untrue. The ferret is from the weasel family. They are phasing out of the exotic animal classification and into their own category since becoming more popular.

I’ve had eight ferrets as pets since 2011. The most recent two we adopted in June 2020. Currently, we have Reamus and Dora and our newly adopted babies, Emile and Remy.

You can buy your ferrets from Petco, or you can adopt them from your local shelter if there are any. We’ve never had any such luck seeing ferrets in shelters near us.

Emile and Remy were brought to us by one of my husband’s co-workers. Her son was turning 16 and couldn’t take care of them anymore. We gladly accepted the two little fuzzies into our family.

Reamus did too, but Dora, not so much.

Luckily we had another cage, not a big hefty one like our Ferret Nation cage, but it was one we bought from Petco when we got our first two ferrets in 2011.

So Emile and Remy made themselves at home in their new cage. It’s a much bigger cage than they were accustomed to. The minute we brought them home, they loved exploring in the house.

Everything was so new, and it was so much fun for them.

In our first interaction between the four of them, Dora went into full attack mode. She wasn’t allowing new ferrets in her territory.

She went for Emile and made him screech. She would bite down and shake. It was terrifying. Our little girl, Dora, who we thought was so nice, hated other ferrets!

She’s always liked Reamus, presumably because they were littermates.

We tried a couple more times, and Dora would be on the hunt. You could see the determination in her eyes. She was after Emile and Remy. She did not want to share this house with them. So we’ve kept them separated ever since.

After getting Emile and Remy, Dora would immediately go for the other cage when out for playtime. She would climb it and try to attack Remy and Emile through the cage bars.

Fortunately, we kept close watch while she was out and kept anything serious from happening.

Obviously, we now have separate playtimes. Reamus and Dora get their time out twice a day, and Remy and Emile get their playtime twice a day. One day we may try to get them together again, but it’s just been so hard to watch her try to attack them and scare them.

Most ferret owners will tell you that you have to let them “duke it out,” meaning fighting until one dominates, provided there’s no blood. I can’t do it. When we introduced our old group of ferrets, there was fighting, but it was never this bad!

We’ve purchased all our ferrets from Petco before adopting Emile and Remy. I don’t see anything wrong with it. Marshall ferrets need homes too! Many people in the ferret community want you to adopt before you shop or even get one from a reputable breeder.

Marshall is a ferret mill that breeds ferrets and sells them to local Petco stores. There’s been a lot of backlash regarding how early they take away the kits (babies) from their mothers. Some ferrets can be a few months old when you purchase them, and some are a little older if they were not picked from the litter in the dome-like aquarium from Petco.

Ferrets are so much fun to be around. They hop around and chase each other. They love to dig and tunnel, just like when they were in the wild.

Theives!

They are a bit like cats, but one of the main differences is, they like to steal things and hide them. Hence the subtitle of the article, “Have you seen my keys?”

I keep my keys in my kitchen hung up on a hook for this very reason. However, I do know where the stash is if I need to find anything. Smart little critters, though; there’s more than one stash.

My babies have the audacity to steal my dog’s toys and hide them so she can’t find them.

Expensive Investments

Ferrets went from $115 per ferret here (Illinois) in 2011 to $150 in 2019. While a ferret being $150 can be a bit off-putting, you’re getting a wee baby ferret to enjoy.

Kits, baby ferrets, are the best. They have a hard bite, but they are so fun to watch as they explore their surroundings and learn about the world. They typically litter train themselves as kits.

You can even train them to walk on a leash with a harness!

Other expensive investments for the ferret include proper vet care, a good cage, proper diet, bedding, and toys. While some view ferrets like a hamster that doesn’t need vet care, that is false.

Ferrets are susceptible to stomach blockages because they like to chew things. They are also prone to adrenal disease and insulinoma, which a vet should treat.

There are sometimes accidents where a ferret jumps from too high and can hurt itself. Basically, just because it’s from the pet store doesn’t mean it doesn’t need vet care.

Cats or Dogs?

Some people can have their ferrets around their cats and or dogs. We have a 140 lb dog who could trample one of them, so we keep them separated. She has a bad habit of chasing squirrels, so I’m not too sure her being around the ferrets would turn out well.

When we’ve introduced them over the baby gate, she barks at them. I don’t think she wants to hurt them, only to play. We’re not taking any chances, though.

I’ve known many ferret families who also have cats and dogs. They all get along like one big happy family and play together.

The ferret as a family pet is quite convenient. They don’t require being taken out every hour to go to the bathroom like dogs; they are litter trained like cats. They don’t have to be bathed frequently.

Best of all, they are so much fun to watch and play with. I recommend everyone be around a ferret at least once to make their own opinion of them. Have you ever interacted with a ferret?

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Exploring animal welfare, animal care, and the human-animal bond.

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Nikkole Writes

Nikkole Writes

Est. 1991 | Mental Health Advocate | Animal Lover | Spirituality | Freelance Content Writer from ILLINOIS — visit nikkolewrites.com

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