Ferrets are from the Mustelid family and are related to minks, otters, weasels and skunks. Their average life span is 7-10 years and they weigh from 1-5 pounds. Baby ferrets are called KITS. Females are called JILLS but when spayed are called SPRITES. Males are called HOBS but when neutered are called GIBS. Ferrets naturally emit a musky odor. If not descented, they can also produce an odor from their anal glands. The animal will express these glands when it is scared, extremely excited or has a disease. This odor lasts for a few minutes. Your veterinarian can advise you about whether or not these glands should be removed.
Ferrets are carnivores, meaning they are strictly meat eaters! They can only utilize amino acids from meat proteins and cannot digest amino acids from plant proteins!
Many dry cat foods available have cereal or plant proteins in their formulation; THEREFORE, they ARE NOT the best diet for your pet. We suggest the use of high-quality kitten foods or dry ferret foods because they are made up of highly digestible top-quality MEAT PROTEINS.
When checking the food label, make sure the protein level is 33% or more. Some people prefer to mix two or more kinds of HIGH-QUALITY kitten or ferret foods together, which is also acceptable.
Ferrets have a high dietary fat requirement (20–30%). A diet with fat content LESS THAN this can lead to a dry brittle coat and itchy skin.
The first two ingredients should NOT be corn. Anything with fish meal will cause odor both in the food AND in your ferret.
Food should be fed dry unless there is a medical reason to do otherwise. Food should be left out to be eaten free choice.
Clean, fresh water should ALWAYS be available. Ferrets have NO nutritional requirement for carbohydrates; they simply do not need them in their diet. Sticky, sugar rich cereals and dried fruits can cause plaque and contribute to poor oral health. They may be a factor in insulinoma or other diseases. In the case of cereals, the carbohydrate content is much higher. These are highly processed, sugar rich foods and they ARE NOT good for ferrets. While cereals and dried fruit have no real nutritional value for ferrets, they clearly provide a degree of satisfaction to the ferret. If fed sparingly, or used as a training aid, neither cereals nor dried fruit can cause much harm, particularly if the rest of the diet is complete and sound. For those that worry, or who have ferrets with health problems, meaty treats (poultry, pork, beef) should be substituted.
A ferret should be provided with a secure cage large enough for the ferret to move about and stretch out comfortably. The floor may be tight wire or solid. Ferrets are prone to heat stress in temperatures over 80 degrees, so the cage should allow adequate airflow for cooling. Heavy water bowls or water bottles are recommended because ferrets are known to tip over light containers. Ferrets can be litter trained. When bringing a ferret home, it is not a good idea to let it run free immediately, as there is a greater chance the ferret could be injured in an unfamiliar environment.