The ferret (Mustela putorious) is the only domesticated species in the marsupial family. Its wild relatives include, for example, the weasel, mink, polecat and otter. The ferret was tamed a few thousand years ago. Originally, they were used to hunt rodents and rabbits. In many parts of Europe, ferrets are still used to hunt rabbits. In the late 19th century, ferrets also began to be used as pure pets. In the 1990s, their popularity increased dramatically. In the United States, for example, it was estimated that there were 7 million social ferrets in 1994!
A ferret often thrives in the company of other ferrets, but also with a dog and a cat. On the other hand, the cohabitation of ferrets with birds, rabbits, small rodents or reptiles can be a problem.
In many communities, ferrets have earned a reputation for being angry, unreliable and smelly. Though this can certainly be true, it depends a lot on how you handle him. The behavior of our ferrets is very important. A well-behaved ferret is a curious, playful and friendly companion.
Today, we tell you things you should think about to take proper care of your ferret so you ensure to have a well-behaved pet. Enjoy your reading!
Ferrets are carnivores and it has been shown that ferrets can only use the amino acids in meat proteins. They cannot break down the amino acids in plant proteins. In the past, commercial ferret food was difficult to obtain. Therefore, many pet owners were advised to feed their ferrets cat food. In recent years, however, several special ferret foods have become available. Ferrets need a high protein content in their diet, between 32 and 38%. They also need a high fat content, about 20-30%. A meal with less than this percentage of fat can lead to dry, brittle and itchy fur.
An alternative to commercial foods is to feed the ferret different types of meat products. This can include mice, rats and dead chickens, for example. This is a diet that mimics what the wild ferret would eat. Note that you should not feed only pure meat. The diet should also contain skeletal parts and intestines. In addition, it is important to provide calcium and vitamin supplements.
The food should be given dry, except in cases where there are medical reasons to give it soaked. The food should be left in front of the ferret so that it can eat it whenever it wants. Only in rare cases does this feeding method lead to obesity.
A ferret must have constant access to food and water because of the animal’s rapid metabolism. Many older ferrets suffer from insulinoma disease. This causes hypoglycemia because the pancreas produces more insulin. For these ferrets, it is especially important to always have access to food so that they can better regulate their sugar balance.
Fruit and Vegetables
Many ferrets love a piece of fruit or vegetables. These should be given in very sparse amounts as ferrets can not break down fibers properly. If too much fruit or vegetables are given, this can cause diarrhea. The rule of thumb is not to give more than one teaspoon a day of any “candy”. Some favorite fruits and vegetables are cucumber, green pepper and melon.
If your ferret is fed a quality diet, it is not necessary to give him vitamins to keep him healthy. For certain types of illnesses, your veterinarian may recommend supplements of certain vitamins.
As mentioned, fresh, clean water should always be available. Water can be given either in a water bottle or in a heavy ceramic bowl. Ferrets like to play with their water and like to turn the bowl upside down. This should be taken into account when choosing the appropriate water bowl.
Here are all the necessary things you should think of when taking care of your ferret. Want to learn more? Come back to check out the second part of this article.
Until then, what is your favorite pet? Share it with us in the comments below.