FERRETS AS PETS
There are an estimated eight to ten million ferrets in the United
States being kept as pets. Ferrets are wonderfully unique animals
and can be very suitable pets for many people. Ferrets are small
and quiet, making them ideal pets for people with smaller homes
or apartments. Ferrets tend to cause few allergic reactions, so
for many people who are allergic to cats or dogs, ferrets may be
are extremely playful, loving pets. Each ferret has his or her own
unique personality; I have said in the past that if you took all
of my ferrets and painted them the same color, I could still tell
which one was which just by their behavior. Ferrets do not require
daily walks, as dogs do. They aren't as aloof and moody as many
adult cats can be. Ferrets should be caged when their humans are
away from home or sleeping, but they need daily "run time"
when adult supervision is available. Ferrets can be litter-trained
(with some work), and they make excellent traveling companions.
Despite the fact that ferret lovers would never trade these pets
for anything, ferrets aren't for everyone. This makes sense; cats
and dogs aren't for everyone, either. Ferrets are mischevious critters,
and they can get themselves hurt if their surroundings haven't been
"ferretproofed." Some ferrets do not take well to litter
training when they are out of their cages, so people considering
owning a ferret must be prepared for "accidents" while
a system is developed for preventing them. Ferrets can also be costly;
these pets should not be considered a "low maintenence"
pet. The average price for a ferret is around $130, a good cage
can run $90 to $150, and the price just for required annual veterinary
care is around $130-$150. This price covers only a checkup, rabies
and distemper vaccines, and a CBC (complete blood count) to screen
for diseases. If your ferret should get sick, you can easily spend
hundreds of dollars more to heal him.
Ferrets generally make suitable pets in homes where cats and dogs
live. There are generally no problems between cats and ferrets.
In many cases, cats and ferrets can make wonderful playmates. For
the more leery cat, ferrets may be intimidating; but in these cases,
cats simply ignore the ferret or seek higher ground when the ferrets
come out to play. Many people fear that their cats will think that
a ferret is a mouse or other small animal, a target to catch and
kill. The reality is that most cats simply could care less so long
as the ferret doesn't invade his or her personal space. Dogs and
ferrets can peacefully live together and can also make great companions,
but it is important to be very, very careful in your first few introductions
between these pets to ensure that neither gets hurt.
Ferrets can be good pets in homes with older children, but in general
you should wait until your children are mature enough to understand
how to handle ferrets before purchasing one. While ferrets are easily
trained not to bite, any animal that is being manhandled or handled
roughly by children may become frightened and nip. As for babies:
there are no pets that should be allowed around a baby unsupervised.
Accidents can, and do, happen. Each family is different; it is up
to parents to decide at what age their children are responsible
enough to handle owning a pet.
To better be able to determine if a ferret is the right pet for
you, take the time to learn more about ferrets. There are a number
of excellent books available about ferrets; one I highly recommend
is Ferrets for Dummies by Kim Schilling, and it is available
at nearly any bookstore, either on the shelf or it can be ordered.
You can also visit the ferret shelter nearest you; just call up
and tell the shelter director that you are interested in learning
more about ferrets as pets.
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