Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo)

Ferrets typically live 5-11 years in captivity. They are very personable and thrive well as solo pets or in groups of two-four ferrets. Most ferrets found in pet stores in the United States are from Marshall Farms- spayed or neutered and de-scented by the time of sale (indicated by a tattoo of two green dots on their ears).


• Multi-storied wire cages that have solid flooring

• Keep them in a room with moderate temperatures

• Ferrets should be given play time outside of their cages every day

◦ This must be done under strict supervision

• Add a hammock or shirt for them to snuggle up in

◦ Be careful to watch them when they are first given cloth, because a small percentage of ferrets will try to devour cloth, which can be very dangerous

Litter Training

• More than 90 percent of ferrets can be successfully litter trained

• See which corner they like to use, and put the litter box/boxes there

• Use a litter that is not clay based, like pelleted litters or Carefresh

• Clean the litter box at least once per day


• Toys are excellent inside and outside of the cage, but must be given with caution

• Ferrets (especially young ferrets) are very prone to eating chunks off of toys

◦ If these chunks get stuck in their intestines, they will require emergency surgery to remove them

◦ When selecting toys, the main things to avoid are anything rubber or anything with small parts (eyes/noses on stuffed animals)

◦ Good toys include ping-pong balls, stuffed toys with no removable bits, hard nylon toys, metal balls, pipes, tubes and cardboard


• Ferrets are strict carnivores- do not give them sugars, fibers or plant material

• There are many diet recommendations for ferrets including raw meat, whole prey, cat food, ferret formulations, etc.- there are pros and cons to most of these

• We recommend a high quality food labeled only for ferrets, or a freeze dried carnivore diet (ex: Archytype Diet for ferrets by Wysong)

• With any ferret food, you want to check and make sure that it is 30-40% protein and about 20% fat (protein must be from an animal source)

• A fatty acid supplement such as Ferratone Linatone can be offered daily

• Offer a cat hairball preventative (Laxatone or Petramalt -1/2 inch strip) daily

◦ Hairballs are a big problem in older ferrets

• Small amounts of meat-based treats are a good addition to the diet and should be offered every few days (only 1-2 teaspoons at a time)


• Nail trims should be done regularly- at home or at the vet

• Ferrets can have baths with a shampoo labeled for kittens, but they shouldn't have more than 1 bath every 2 weeks

Veterinary Care

• Ferrets under 3 years old should be seen by a veterinarian at least once per year- they will do an exam, check the feces for parasites, check the ears for mites and vaccinate them against distemper virus and rabies

• They may need occasional dental cleanings along the way

• Monthly heartworm prevention is also very important

• After 3 years of age, degenerative diseases begin to show up- unfortunately they are prone to a number of different ailments as they get older

◦ At this time we recommend that they get an exam every 6 months and have bloodwork performed at least once per year

• Additional exams are necessary as problems arise- please bring your ferrets in to a vet if you see anything unusual, including diarrhea (especially if green), not eating, hair loss, large vulva, difficulty peeing, low energy, pale gums, weakness, seizures, itching, difficulty breathing or lumps

• Ferrets can catch the flu from humans- avoid exposing them if you get sick!


• All Creatures Animal Clinic: allcreaturesvet.net, 734-973-1884

• Nationwide Pet Insurance: www.petinsurance.com