by: Johanna McDaniel
First domesticated by the Egyptians in 3000 BC From the tenth to twelfth centuries the historians believe that Crusaders brought the working ferret to Europe. Romans used ferrets to drive away rats and to find rabbits, which they used food in 300 BC They took ferrets to other parts of Europe. More recently ferrets were used by contractors and utilities to run wire through conduit and pipes, in places to small for people to fit. Ferrets have flexible ribs, as a result they can squeeze through little holes and can flatten their bodies to crawl through the smallest spaces.
Ferrets are like cats and dogs. They are not rodents. They belong to the family called mustelids, which includes skunks, badgers, weasels, otters, and polecats. The ferret’s life span, generally is between eight and eleven years, sometimes up to fifteen.
Male ferrets are called hobs. Female ferrets are called jills. Young ferrets are called kits. Ferrets are curious animals. They love to dig and be around people.
Deciding on an addition to the family requires responsible thinking. Your decision shouldn’t be based impulsively on how cute or adorable the kits (babies) look. You must prepare yourself to dedicate quality time to a new pet. Ferrets are playful and entertaining to watch. They have poor eye sight and a keen sense of smell and hearing. Ferrets have a musky odor, comes from their skin glands. For the sake of the ferret observe the following: Make sure the ferret has fresh food and clean water. The cage must be regularly clean. You must get to know the ferret. See if your lease or local law permits ferret ownership. When going on vacation, what do you do? To be good, healthy pets, ferrets must be spayed or neutered. Before purchasing, or on the way home have your ferret de-scented to prevent the risk of infected or blocked scent glands. Your ferret will require special foods. Are you prepared to commit to eight to eleven years, to your new friend? It’s unwise to leave your ferret alone with other pets.
After deciding on a ferret as a pet, you now need to ask yourself if you want a hob (male) or a jill (female)? One or more? Kit or an adult?
When choosing the variety and sex of a ferret, it is strictly a matter of personal choice. Hobs and jills require about the same amount of time spent with them. Both are equally strong and healthy. Each ferret will have a unique personality. Sex or color will not determine its behavior.
Kits start out about the same size. However, the hob is three to five pounds and a jill is one in a half to three pounds. Neutered and de-scented hobs have very little odor, but a spayed jill has the least odor of all.
Ferrets come in numerous colors. The most common colors are sable, albino, butterscotch, white-footed butterscotch, silver-mitt, sterling silver, white-footed sable, cinnamon and black eye white.
Raising and training a kit can be a joyful experience. Kits are far less daunting. Although, it takes more time to train them. Consistence rewards and discipline for rough play and for housebreaking must be applied. As well, they can be mischievous adolescents.
If well handled in their reering, adult ferrets are completely through theses stages. But, adults that haven’t been handled with love and good training are best left for experts to choose. A grown ferret is capable of adapting quickly to a new loving family. You may be amazed how quickly and easily an adult becomes a family member.
When choosing a ferret be certain that the pet shop is clean and odor free. After the ferret is roused, it should be alert and attentive. A ferret’s coat should be shiny, soft and covering the body, no bald spots, and it should have clear, bright eyes. Also examine it for any sores or scaly spots.
When choosing a ferret from a breeder check for the following: bright, clear eyes, long full whiskers, no large lumps on the body, a soft full coat, firm and even distribution of muscle, clean genital areas, good temperament and attitude, and curiosity. When bringing home a ferret from the pet shop or breeder, put it in its new cage and allow it to rest.
There are a wide variety of cages that you can buy for your pet ferret. The most popular habitats are wire cages. The cage must be at least fourteen inches wide by twenty-four inches long and ten inches high about (35 x 60 x 24 cm). Any cage design must provide a litter area, a feeding area, and a sleeping area.
When bathing a ferret, put about six inches of water in a sink and gently lower the ferret into the water. Use baby shampoo or ferret shampoo. The water should be no less than ninety degrees and no more than a hundred and five degrees. Rinse the ferret two or three times to get rid of all soap.
When cleaning the ears of the ferret, use a cotton swob. You will either find dirt or wax in the ferret’s ears.
As you trim the nails put a drop of tasty supplement on their belly. While the ferret’s busy licking, cut their nails.
Most ferrets are affected by fleas, first time when treating fleas, treat the ferret. Second time treat the ferret’s environment.
Ferrets are omnivorous, however their diet requires mostly animal protein. It is recommended be fed specialize formulated foods. If unavailable, then premium dry cat food from pet shops or the vets. Most ferrets tend to like snacks of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The first estrus usually occurs at four or five months of age and will occur twice a year. The jill is most fertile by the tenth day of estrus cycle. At this time place the jill and the hob together. During breeding, the hob will bite the back of the jill’s neck and drag her. The female will usually scream and fight.
Gestation period is forty-two days. Prior to birth isolate the mother. Put her in a nest box lined with small towel. When kits are born they are blind, hairless and deaf and a pinkish red at birth. The eyes open on the twenty-seventh day. At four weeks old weaning can be started by teaching the kits to drink from a dish. Kits canine teeth grow in when they’re seven weeks old. Once weaning is complete, kits can be placed for adoption.
There are several infectious diseases, ferrets can contract. They include colds and flu, pneumonia, feline distemper, canine distemper, rabies, and aplastic anemia and septicemia. Intestinal disorders ferrets can get are diarrhea, Black Tarry stools, Lack of stool, vomiting, and blocked scent glands. Parasitic infestations ferrets can get which are eye problems, mites, ticks and fleas. Physical injuries ferrets can have are back injuries, broken teeth, and bite wounds.
About The Author
Johanna McDaniel lives with her husband in Virginia.