“I don’t understand how you can keep that thing as a pet,”
people have told me. ”
I would hate to have a rodent living in my house.”
What these people don’t understand, though, is that ferrets are more complicated pets than most give them credit for. First of all, ferrets are NOT rodents. They are part of the weasel family, and are more closely related to cats, minks, and even skunks than they are to rodents. Open their mouths and you will see some rather large canine teeth, looking absolutely nothing like the rectangular flat teeth that mice and rats have.
Ironically, ferrets are so little like rodents, they would be more likely to eat your pet hamster than be friends with it. Rodents are actually a part of a weasel’s natural diet, and many ferret owners offer their pets pre-killed mice as a dietary supplement. In some parts of the world, ferrets are still used to hunt down rabbits and rats for sport. Another common misconception about ferrets is that they are stinky. While it’s true that ferrets do naturally produce a musk in the same way that skunks and weasels do, this musk is not as pervasive as most would believe. It is a very mild, almost sweet smell that can really only be detected when you have the ferret right up to your nose. Furthermore, most ferrets bought in pet stores have had their original scent glands removed and have been neutered, which greatly cuts down on the production of the smell-causing oils. Most pet owners who claim their ferrets are smelly are simply not cleaning their animals’ litter boxes or washing their bedding enough.
Some owners are so desperate to remove this lingering scent, they repeatedly bathe their ferret with specially-marketed ferret scent removal shampoos. This only exacerbates the issue, as it constantly strips the ferret’s body of its natural oils, causing them to overproduce the oils to compensate. In short, it makes the ferret more smelly to begin with! A third misconception is that ferrets can be kept in a cage like any other small animal. This is absolutely untrue! Ferrets are active creatures and are simply not content to spend most of their time in a cage, no matter how many toys you give them.
All ferrets should be allowed at least 4 hours of play time a day outside of a cage. Ideally, ferrets should be allowed to free-roam; that is, given free run of a room or house with the ability to enter their cage as they please. A ferret kept in a cage for long periods will become depressed and lethargic. In short, ferrets are wonderfully rewarding animals, but the fact remains that there is a lot of wrong information that is attributed to them. If you want to be a responsible ferret owner, make sure you do your research and cut through this misinformation.
This will result in a happy pet and a fulfilling relationship for you with your animal.