It seems almost fitting that April Fool’s Day is quickly followed up by National Ferret Day. Fitting because ferrets are funny, entertaining little creatures that do not get the credit for being a great family pet that they deserve. That’s why there’s a National Ferret Day. It was made for articles just like this one, where ferret fans try to educate people about how great a pet ferret can be for a family. [photo via flickr]
Even their names are kind of funny. Hobs and jills are, respectively, fertile males and females. Gibs and sprites are neutered males and females. A baby is called a kit. A group of ferrets isa business. And, contrary to popular belief, they are not part of the rodent family. They aren’t excessive biters., either. And you know what you heard about ferrets being smelly? Not true.
Ferrets have been kept as pets for hundreds of years. Maybe even as far back as 1500 B.C. They were probably originally domesticated for hunting purposes, and are most likely descendants of the polecat. It is hard to trace their lineage because they have been domesticated for so long. They’re pretty far from being a wild animal. Ferrets are even the third most popular uncaged pet in America–right after our beloved cats and dogs.
Ferrets really started to take off in America during the 1980s. That was about the same time that laws about ownership of ferrets were changed in several states. It’s still illegal to keep ferrets in some territories of the world; many local governments have laws about the care, keeping, and licensing of ferrets as pets.
There are still some things that future ferret owners need to know. A ferret’s home should be a cage of solid wood or wire. Ferrets are chewers, so plastic cages would need to be checked often for holes. Inside the cage, you’ll find that ferrets love soft places to snuggle and sleep. They love your old t-shirts, blankets, and sweat shirts. You can also put an old rug on the floor of the cage. A hammock is a great addition to a ferret’s home, and can turn into his favorite place to nap. You can make your own using an old shirt folded and stitched and hung from wires on the cage. They also need a litter box, filled with ferret litter. Not cat litter.
And don’t forget a food and water supply. You can place it in the farthest corner from the litter box. They are strict carnivores, and are not physically able to digest plant materials. Ferrets also have rapid metabolism, so they need to eat quite frequently. You can feed a pet ferret processed food, or fresh meat such as live or pre-killed mice or rabbits. Be sure to get an idea of how your kids feel about that.
Ferrets also love humans and interaction. They’re great sleepers and can nap most of the day away. Most importantly, they’ll adjust to the schedule of the people they live with, becoming active when the house is active. If you own other pets, though, then think about your other animals. Cats tend to either love or ignore ferrets sharing their living space. A ferret is always friendly towards dogs, and dogs often love ferrets–but some breeds tend to look at a ferret and just see prey.
They can be trained, too. Working ferrets actually helped string television cable to help prepare for the broadcast of Prince Andrew’s wedding in 1986. We’re not saying that your ferret will be fetching your slippers, but they’re not nearly as wild as their reputation. So if you want something different in your life, talk to your kids about bringing a cute little ferret into your life. It’s easily your best bet when it comes to exotic pets.