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SMALL ANIMALS | VET ADVICE

CARING FOR FERRETS

Everything you need to know to look after a pet ferret

Playful, inquisitive, born explorers… ferrets are small animals with big personalities! Whether you’re looking to adopt a ferret or just curious to find out more, our top tips are sure to lend a helping hand.

Choosing a Ferret

  • Family: mustelidae (weasel)
  • Lifespan: 8–10 years
  • Personality: mischievous, lively
  • Best kept: alone (alongside human interaction) or in same-gender groups
  • Sleep cycle: crepuscular (awake during dawn and dusk)
  • Diet: carnivore
  • Best for: older children and adults

Neutering

Female ferrets (commonly known as ‘Jills’) are induced ovulators, which means they remain in season until they mate. This can cause severe health problems for a Jill; including alopecia (hair loss) and even death from oestrogen-associated anaemia (deficiency in red blood cells). Ask your vet about the best option for your ferrets.

Vaccination

Annual check-ups mean the vet can check your ferret’s general health and give them their vaccination against canine distemper.

Microchipping

As ferrets can be masters of escape, consider having them microchipped so that you can trace their whereabouts if they ever go missing and are taken into a vet or animal shelter; even the local police station generally has a microchip scanner! Ask your vet for advice about this.

Hairballs

Ferrets are proficient self-groomers, requiring little human help. Because they shed each year in the spring and autumn, hairballs may develop. Hairballs can cause vomiting, decreased appetite, or intestinal blockage. Use a soft brush to comb their fur. Loose hair can be controlled by changing bedding once a week. Your vet can recommend appropriate treatment if the excessive shedding is causing concerns.

Ear Care

Ears should be cleaned once a month to remove the reddish wax build-up common in ferrets. Please consult with your vet about the correct ear cleaner to use in ferrets, as their ears are very sensitive. They will also be able to show you the correct technique to use. Remember to never try and use cotton buds, as you could cause damage.

Our articles are not a replacement for face-to-face vet advice. It’s important to consult with your vet on a regular basis to raise any pet concerns that you may have.

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