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FAQ - The Basics

Ferret: A small mammal from the mustelidae family (Mustela furo)

Ferrets are domesticated animals, cousins of the weasels, and otters. Other relatives are minks, ermines and badgers. They are NOT rodents. Females are called Jills and males are called Hobs. Baby ferrets are called Kits.

It is believed that ferrets were first domesticated in Europe some several thousand years ago. Their behaviour and personality is somewhere between cats and dogs although they are smaller in size.

They grow between 45 to 60cm in length with females generally being smaller, and can live for up to 12 years.

Some are cuddly and others are more independent. Their personality and temperament can vary a lot, just like other pets.

FERRETS WILL NOT SURVIVE IN THE WILD - they are likely to die from dehydration or starvation, become prey for dogs or foxes, or become a road fatality. The myth about ferrets turning feral in the wild is just that - a myth!

Positive Aspects of Ferrets

Ferrets are extremely playful with both humans and other ferrets, are inquisitive, remarkably determined, able to be trained (eg. to use kitty litter), are very social and sleep for great lengths of time.

Most love to go places with you on a lead and harness and can be kept in a decent sized cage, as long as they get enough free play time.

Negative Aspects of Ferrets

Ferrets are higher maintenance than dogs or cats. They need a great deal of your time and attention and can also be quite mischievous and get underfoot.

They also love to dig up plants and scratch at carpet and whilst being a common trait, this can vary from one ferret to another.

Young ferrets can be accident-prone and older ones may suffer from any number of complicated illnesses. Females ferrets (Jills) will die if they go into heat and do not mate or taken out of heat by a vet. For this reason, Jills must be desexed before reaching sexual maturity (approximately 6 months of age).

Like all pets they need regular vet checkups to maintain good health, and need to be vaccinated, wormed and desexed. They may at some time suffer injuries which require surgery. They are not necessarily cheaper than a dog or cat.

Yes, they do nite! However, nipping ferrets must be taught not to nip. A well-handled pet should not be vicious though bites can be expected in rough play, over excitement or if frightened.

To discipline your ferret, a light tap on the nose and an angry "NO" usually works. Remember that immediate discipline is essential and needs to be reinforced. NO ANIMAL SHOULD BE STRUCK WITH FORCE. Hitting a ferret can actually cause it to bite more as it gets revenge for being hurt or scared.

Contact us if you need further guidance in dealing with a nipping ferret.

NOTE: Young children and ferrets can be very excitable and need to be supervised while playing together. Ferrets usually get along with cats and dogs, however, supervision is always recommended. Beware of terriers and aggressive dogs, especially when walking your ferret.

Always gradually introduce new pets to existing family pets. Small animals like birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and rats should always be kept securely away from ferrets as these were its natural prey in the wild and instincts can still take over!

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