The age when people only chose cats and dogs as house pets are long gone. In fact, there are now more options than ever for a furry friend that will bring so much love and affection into your home.
One of the leading alternatives for pets now is a ferret. This is a domesticated counterpart of the European polecat that belongs to the same species as weasels.
Ferrets have white, brown, black and sometimes mixed fur. They live for 7-10 years in captivity. The animals are highly intelligent, very loving, and playful. Though they have several advantages over most pet options, some drawbacks make them unsuitable for some people.
Below are the top five issues that might cause problems for some ferret owners.
In California, Hawaii, Washington DC and New York City, ferrets are considered illegal as pets. In the remaining states, there are local guidelines on what is allowed when keeping ferrets as pets.
For example, in a few, though allowed as pets, you need a license when keeping a pet ferret. Ensure you are up-to-date with your local regulations on these animals since your furry friend can be taken away or you will be fined heavily for breaking the laws.
Authorities cite several reasons for the banning of pet ferrets in their states. Most cite the aggression and biting associated with the animals.
Moreover, pet ferrets often colonize native wildlife if they escape from captivity thus threatening the latter. There have also been reported instances of ferrets easily reverting to their feral states in which they can transmit rabies.
The first cost to account for in your budget as a ferret owner is buying the animal. The buying price of the animal will primarily depend on the length and color of its fur.
Furthermore, it often costs more to buy a ferret from a breeder compared to adopting one from a shelter. This is because the breeders sometimes selectively breed the ferrets to impart some highly-sought after characteristics.
After the purchase, you will need cash for the ferret’s vaccination, micro-chipping, neutering or spaying. You also need to budget for the things the ferret will need at home to remain comfortable and healthy.
The essentials include food, toys, bedding, water bottles, food bowls, a cage, a litter pan, and grooming products.
Some of the common options for ferret toys include small animal tunnel tubes, soft toy balls, hammocks, carriers and climbing rope nets. Though most expenses are one-off, you might need to periodically change the worn-out items.
Other than the items needed for pet care, the vet bills for ferrets are quite high because the animals are categorized as exotic and prone to genetic conditions. Their insurance is also high because of the same classification.
Most ferret owners assume that these are ideal pets for busy people because they can entertain themselves and often sleep for long hours. Even so, the animals need more time to interact with you than you might imagine.
While they are fine being kept in a cage, they need not less than four hours per day outside the cage. Moreover, you should spend no less than two of these hours playing or interacting with the ferret.
Owing to their high curiosity levels, ferrets will make a mess and destroy things when left to roam in places that have not been ferret-proofed. They might scrabble or scratch your wooden furniture, burrow sofas and chew electrical cables.
As such, the time a ferret spends outside its cage should be closely supervised to protect its surroundings from the destruction.
As a pet ferret owner, experts recommend dedicating enough time for grooming the animal because it needs regular ear-cleaning, tooth-brushing and nail-clipping.
Though ferrets are naturally active at dawn and dusk, they can easily adjust their schedule to match yours. Therefore, you should dedicate time to spend with the animal so that its schedule matches yours.
Some people cannot stand the natural smell of ferrets. Though some animal lovers will not find this scent, often described as musky, unpleasant, it is undoubtedly strong. Male ferrets have a generally stronger smell than females though the neutered ones have a mild smell.
When traveling with a pet ferret, you should wash and dry it thoroughly so that people do not embarrassingly avoid you in public transportation.
Cleaning the ferret cage at least thrice weekly and washing the pet with baby shampoo can also minimize the smell. Even so, be careful not to bathe the animal too frequently since this will dry their coats.
Baby ferrets will use their mouths to explore their worlds. Because of their thick skins, ferrets can roughly play with each other without hurting themselves. However, it takes some training for the animals to learn that they cannot bite or scratch their pet owners’ skins without hurting them.
Most ferrets bite humans when hurt or frightened. The behavior is also quite common in animals that have been neglected or abused. As such, you should be careful not to overexcite or startle a ferret to avoid its bite. This makes them unsuitable pet options for kids.
Pet ferret ownership is associated with strong emotions for both opponents and proponents of the decision. While a few swear that ferrets are the best alternatives for pets, others have nightmarish tales about their time with the animals.
With the tidbits above on the common reasons people cite for avoiding pet ferrets, you now can make an informed choice of whether or not the animal works for you.
If you get a ferret then later decide that this is not the best pet for you, ensure you treat the animal with respect and dignity when trying to re-home it. Do not simply release it into the wild because it will either hurt native wildlife or barely survive on its own.
Most localities have programs for re-homing or adapting ferrets so you can consider taking your pet to these organizations. This way, you are sure the animal will get an owner that is well-placed to care for it.