The fantastic world of ferrets

Fearless and mischievous thieving tricksters

That is the definition of a ferret.

They say: curiosity killed the cat, but frankly I believe that this saying applies much more to ferrets. They are extremely smart and excessively curious. . When you are a ferret, anything new in your world warrants immediate investigation.

They love exploring drawers, boxes, garbage cans, plastic bags, pockets, pipes, openings of any kind, socks, you name it. You can be sure that they will investigate and spill any unattended water cup in the room.

They are very playful by nature and they do a little dance when they are happy or excited. They can also be relaxed, so relaxed that nothing will wake them from their slumber. They mostly sleep during the day and start partying in the evening. Ferrets have a life span of about ten years.

Picture above depicting Bianca, my therapy ferret at work in a hospital.

As a pet therapist, I can tell you that the ferrets that I worked with were some of the best therapy animals I have ever had. They are reliable, fearless and playful. You can always expect a ferret to be a ferret. They are playful enough and curious enough to entertain a crowd by making them laugh with their antics. At the same time, they are gentle enough to cuddle with a person for hours on end.

Because they are nocturnal and get into a very deep sleep during the day, anyone could enjoy their comforting presence and cuddles, whether it’s an elderly frail person or a schizophrenic young adult or a troubled youth.

Having said that, there are a few things that you need to know and do if you want to adopt or care for a ferret.

Picture above depicting Zelda, My therapy ferret in an old folks home.

Ferrets and kids don’t always mix

Baby ferrets can be pretty wild and can bite quite hard. Ferrets need to be socialized properly from a young age, and some adult ferrets could also potentially bite. Sometimes It’s a hit and miss. I’ve worked in pet therapy with two amazing rescued ferrets who are gentle as they could be with kids, but I have also met ferrets who will not hesitate to bite if they don’t want to be handled. A ferret bite hurts so be mindful.

Another reason why they might not be great with young kids is because of their very long and flexible bodies. If care is not taken to pick them up properly, their sensitive spine could get hurt. Children can be rough sometimes and a child needs to be taught how to hold a ferret without risk of causing injury.

Zootherapy at an elementary school with troubled kids.

Ferrets are hunters

Ferrets are hunters. Therefore birds, mice, rats, and rabbits are not always safe around them. Even if the small animals are kept in cages, a ferret is dexterous enough to open a cage that isn’t locked, so be careful or else you will come home someday to find a pile of feathers on the floor.

Female ferrets need to be fixed or else they could die

When female ferrets reach sexual maturity and get in heat, they need to mate or else they will remain in heat. This process can kill them. It is very important that the female is spayed as soon as she can be.

Picture above depicting Zelda comforting an autistic client suffering from anxiety.

Ferrets need freedom

Even if you buy the most elaborate cage and stuff it with balls, tunnels, and hammocks, You ferrets will eventually get bored, stop playing and spend their life in an unhappy sleep. They are very smart and need 2 or 3 hours of freedom per day to be happy. They need to roam, explore, play, discover, interact, explore, explore…did I say explore enough? They are not meant to be locked up.

Ferrets are carnivores

It’s important to feed them a high protein food. Dog food is not good for ferrets because the protein count isn’t high enough. Local pet shops will provide ferret food but If you are in a bind, they can eat baby cat food as well for emergency situations.

Ferrets need to socialize

Ferrets are social animals and need a lot of playtime. They need to socialize with their humans as well as with other ferrets. It’s always better to have two ferrets that live together, as they will play, socialize and party together. Being the playful happy animals that they are, socializing with their humans is a must as well.

Picture above depicting Zelda performing therapy in a hospital.

When properly cared for, ferrets make great pets. They are funny, playful, loving and intelligent. Remember to check out the local rescue shelter if you want to adopt one. Everyone deserves a loving home.

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