Are you ready for the rewarding challenge of ferret care and feeding?

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Answered by: Maire, An Expert in the Pet Ferrets Category
Ferret care and feeding is one of the most rewarding and challenging of pet care commitments. Ferrets are truly unique and wonderful pets. They are rambunctious, mischievous and altogether the most adorable and affectionate creatures, even though they are the main reason you will never have nice things again! When you have a ferret you essentially have a terribly inquisitive, and slippery two-year-old on your hands. Like any two-year-old child, almost everything gets tested by being chewed on.

Unfortunately for ferrets, they have the tiniest of digestive tracts so anything they swallow such as the rubbery buttons from your remote, bits of your dog's rubber toys or even packing peanuts, for example, can cause them to become very ill and die without immediate veterinary care. It's important to mention rubber or rubbery substances in particular because ferrets seem especially fond of almost anything with that type of texture.

Many ferrets love to hoard items, so if things go missing look around your house especially in closets, under furniture and in the backs of drawers. Most likely your ferret has chosen a spot as their "lair" and will drag almost anything they can into it, or try to! Ferrets are problem solvers and they learn quickly. "Child-proofing" your home, constantly supervising your ferret when it's not in its cage, and checking their cage and hiding spots for items they shouldn't chew are some of the best ways to help keep your ferret safe.

Keep in mind that ferrets are not like hamsters and gerbils that can live exclusively in a cage. Ferret care includes interacting them outside of their cage. Ferrets are social creatures so if you have only one, it's important that you spend as much time with your ferret as possible. Every ferret has a personality all its own, some are very active and some may just want to cuddle with you all day. Ferrets love and crave interaction with humans and other pets especially other ferrets. Most ferrets will get on well with cats and dogs. However, if it's at all possible try to get a pair of ferrets. Not only will your ferret be happier you will be endlessly amused by their playtime antics.

Equally important in ferret care and feeding is choosing the right type of food. Ferrets are often mistaken for rodents, however, they are actually carnivores from the Mustelidae (weasel) family meaning in the wild they would eat meat. Domesticated ferrets, on the other hand, don't hunt to eat but they still need a diet rich in easily digestible animal protein. Remember they have very tiny intestines, and food moves through ferrets quickly.

Ferrets learn what is acceptable food during their first year of life, and can be fed a variety of ways. Some ferret owners choose to feed a "raw" diet which can include frozen mice or other similar types of meat, with or without bones and organs. When feeding raw food, the food should not be left out all the time. Most ferret owners choose to feed their ferret commercially available kibbles for ease and convenience, with or without the addition of the occasional raw meat treat. It's strongly recommended by veterinarians that you choose food that has a minimum of 36% protein, 20% fats and that it be as low in carbohydrates as possible. If feeding a commercial dry kibble it is recommended to make the food available at all times. Ferrets are not known for over-eating and will generally only eat enough to meet their energy requirements.

A few other essential points to ferret care is to make sure they get the proper vaccinations. Ask your veterinarian what they recommend. Keep your ferret's litter box clean. Once a day is usually enough, that depends however on how many ferrets you have and their hygienic habits. Don't forget to check for fleas and if you find any follow your veterinarian's advice on how to get rid of them. Ferrets are sensitive to chemicals so don't use cat or dog flea treatments unless your vet says it is ok. If you're committed to your ferret's care and feeding you can reasonably expect your ferret to live between 6-10 yrs more or less.

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