Are Ferrets Legal? Can I Have a Ferret as a Pet?

Pet ferrets are some of the best carnivores anyone would wish to own. Not only are they cute, but they also sense danger from far, making them ideal where safety is a cause for concern.

When taken good care of, these small carnivores are interactive, cuddly, and spunky, making for excellent play buddies.

However, not all states allow for the domestication of ferret pets. In Hawaii and California, owning ferrets is completely illegal. Two other states, New York City and Washington DC, have stricter laws that govern the domestication of these pets.

In the 46 remaining states, owning a pet ferret is legal. However, you may need to get a license from your local government, as it is a basic requirement in some states.

Things to Consider When Adopting a Ferret

Should you decide to adopt a ferret, your local adoption store is a better place to start. However, a few things are worth keeping an eye on, especially how to maintain a healthy ferret.

– Legality

While owning a pet ferret is an extremely rewarding experience, it is crucial to remember that domesticating these carnivores is a huge responsibility. To start with, research about whether your local government allows residents to have one.

In states such as New York, you’ll have to do some paperwork to certify this process. Conversely, if you stay in Hawaii, you’ll have to brush the whole thought of owning one.

– Behavior

Pet ferrets are independent. You can train them to be low maintenance like cats. Unfortunately, they hide a lot, making the period taken to understand their behavior a bit longer.

At first, your pet will feel uncomfortable around you since it is still unfamiliar with you. As time goes, your new buddy will be closer to you, become casual, and highly social.

These small pets are extremely-active, intelligent, and highly-observant. They will always feel good closer to you, doing whatever you are doing.

When alone, pet ferrets become sleepy, more so when the owner is not around. Nevertheless, make sure to understand this behavior well since sleepiness can also signify sickness.

– Health Concerns

Pet ferrets bundle a lot of energy, making them highly resistant to most diseases that affect pets. But since they suffer from some of the most common diseases and infections, it is best to check their health regularly.

To start with, ferrets suffer from the flu and common cold. They attract flu and common cold from affected persons or pets nearby.

They exhibit runny noses, sneeze, and cough when struck by the common cold. Other symptoms to look out for in ferret pets with common cold include diarrhea, fever, and sometimes, loss-of-appetite.

Under intense heat and humidity, pet ferrets are prone to heat strokes. Unlike dogs with advanced mechanisms, sweat glands in ferrets are not well-developed. Consequently, their bodies exhaust heat faster, leading to panting or sometimes flaccid inactivity.

Maintain your room temperature at 40-65 degrees to prevent heat exhaustion. An AC ventilator can help with cooling the room and ensuring adequate air circulation. Also, keep the humidity range at 40-65 percent.

Additionally, pet ferrets are prone to pancreatic cancer (also called insulinoma). Their blood sugar can drop to a low level that is often dangerous. Symptoms to look out for in a ferret with insulinoma include foam at the mouth, seizures, and lethargy. In case you see any of these, contact your vet right away.

Vets also recommend regular dental care to these pets as they suffer a range of periodontal diseases. Dental calculus accumulates around their teeth as they chew and crack bones leading to teeth damage. Your pet may need a teeth repair or removal, so be sure to keep it on the watch.

Lastly, the ferret’s body mechanism is deficient in a range of vital vitamins, making the carnivore susceptible to various nutritional diseases.

Common diseases include anemia (caused by Vitamin E deficiency), Achromotrichia (caused by Vitamin H deficiency), Rickets (caused by vitamin D deficiency), and Chastek’s paralysis (Caused by thiamine deficiency).

Before adopting the new pet, make sure that your environment suits its health needs.

– Smell

Domesticated ferrets have the same natural musky smell, just like the ones in the bush. You may or may not like the smell. Fortunately enough, there is a way that you can reduce the smell in case you don’t like it.

To start with, make sure you have designated a place in a corner with a litter box where the ferret can poo and pee.  Also, set a cage somewhere in your homestead where it can spend the best part of the day and nights.

Once you have adopted one, make sure to clean the cage and the litter box daily. Use an air filter to remove the musky odor while cleaning. Scrub and launder the pet’s bedding and cage at least once a month.

Ferrets are fast-learners and very clean. Most of the time, you won’t need to bathe your pet to keep it well-groomed. In a week, make sure to bathe it only once, as over-bathing may lead to its sweat gland producing even more oil, hence worsening the musky scent.

Also, ferrets hardly poop and pee in spots without blankets. Cut a piece of blanket and place it beside your litter box. This way, you will easily clean and collect the excrement without having to worry about the pee and poo spilling or scattering on your floor.

Pro tip:

If the smell persists, use natural food supplements such as the GoodBye Odor for ferrets. This product eliminates the musky smell from urine, blood, and stool internally. It is a mix of enzymes from mushrooms and amino acids that deodorizes the pet’s internal mechanism to eliminate smelly excrements and bad breath.

Alternatives to Pet Ferrets

In case pet ferrets are not legal in your state, or you just want something that doesn’t require all the things we’ve mentioned, here is a list to choose from:

  • Chipmunks
  • Silver fox
  • Hedgehog
  • Cat
  • Skunks
  • Hamsters

Wrap up

Ferrets develop an affectionate bond, making for good pets. They are intelligent, sociable, and very composed. Caring for ferrets is also not too daunting, as they are easy to feed.

Most importantly, you can litter-train your pet, making them an excellent choice when looking for a pet that won’t mud your place.  If you are planning to own one, it is time you check with your local government whether they are legal in your state before it gets too late.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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