Ferrets. Loveable little critters that can weasel their way into your heart. Bigger than a Hamster, but smaller than a Cat, for many people they are a good fit as a pet, giving them an interactive pet without needing a huge commitment of space.
While space is not a big issue with ferrets, time can be. They are very interactive and want to be with you and play as much as they can. Which can be a problem in some cases, because if they can’t get that energy expended in play, they can be destructive.
Caging for a ferret must be very secure, with a locking device that will thwart their very nimble minds and paws. I’m not saying they can undo a combination lock, or pick a lock that requires a key, although I wouldn’t put it past some of them, a simple latch system can be easily opened bu most ferrets. And then you have to deal with what mischief they will get into on the loose in your home.
Once you decide you have the space in your home for a ferret, it is important to make sure you have space in your life. Ferrets need a definite amount of attention, and care. They also have a different food requirement and waste than a rabbit or guinea pig, and even an unscented ferret still has a distinctive scent, even with bathing and odor reducing wipes or lotions.
If you aren’t 100% sure you have the long term ability to provide the attention and care a ferret needs, please reconsider purchasing one
Once you have decided this is the pet for you, the most important thing in acquiring a ferret is either adopting one, or getting one from a responsible breeder. Getting a good deal on an animal is not a great idea if the animal is poorly bred and not socialized. Far too many animals end up in rescue shelters because they were not properly researched and bought cheap, and are easily parted with if there are behaviour issues because of the limited investment.
The Manitoba Ferret Association presently has a large number of adoptable ferrets, an unfortunate combination of a new supply of inexpensive animals, and people not being able to keep the commitment to pet they have purchased without proper research. Some of these animals may have behavioural issues and will require owners who are willing and able to handle a special needs pet. Some would be good pets, they might need a little more work that a baby, but should be good pets.
Buying a from a reputable breeder or store, you will be getting an animal that has been health checked, descented and desexed. It might cost more up front, but can be a lot more likely to meet with success. Dealing with an established business or actually visiting the breeder is a lot better than meeting someone in a parking lot and getting it out of the back of the truck. Getting a very young animal as well can increase the ability to bond with it and create a long and loving friendship. Sometimes, an animal that has been is a shop for an extended period can be stressed from handling and lack the early bonding that can be very important. After getting them, spending as much time bonding with them early on is essential.
The MFA is a great organization that is an advocate for these lovely pets. The Spring Ferret Frolic will be happening at the St. Vital Park (Shelter A) on June 24th, 9 am to Noon. They will be having a ferret care seminar, and some fundraising opportunities as well. Its a great chance to meet some ferrets close up, and talk to owners and get the full story of what is involved in keeping a ferret as a pet. You can find their site at www.manitobaferrets.ca .
Ferrets are not a pet that is suited for everyone, but for those that do make the time and effort to bring one into their lives, they can be a very rewarding companion.