Once you have decided that a ferret is a suitable pet for you, the next step is choosing the right one. Emotions will obviously play a role in your choice but there are several objective factors that you can consider to help you in your decision.
The rise in popularity of ferrets has unfortunately also led to a rise in the numbers being handed in to rescue centres. This often happens because the owner realises too late that ferrets need far more attention and care than a cat or hamster for example. One of the advantages of adopting an older ferret is that it might be already litter tray or bite trained. However, it might also have learned some bad habits or be shy of humans as it has been abused or handled badly.
Younger ferrets, on the other hand, will not have formed any specific attachments. Having them attach to you can start those bonds forming early. However you will need to train your young ferret and they require much more care and attention. They will probably have to be vaccinated and litter trained. You cannot leave your ferret alone all day, they are not hamsters or gerbils. If you do that they can become unruly and unhappy.
While unhappy may seem an odd term to apply to an animal it should be remembered that ferrets are social animals. They form bonds with their owners and if they do not get the companionship they need they get lonely.
That leads to the second consideration. Should you spay or neuter your ferret? Unless you are an experienced ferret breeder, it’s best to leave that to the experts. Breeding dogs is difficult enough. Ferrets are much harder. It requires considerable knowledge and can lead to great expense. That may be a legitimate long-term goal, but one that should be worked up to.
Males are slightly larger, about 18 inches and around 3-5 pounds. Females, on average, are slightly smaller – about 15 inches with correspondingly smaller weight. Once spayed or neutered, ferrets of both sexes get along fine. Males play and mock-fight with females as much as they do with males and vice versa. But males do have a slightly higher tendency to spray, if they haven’t had their anal scent glands removed.
Incidence of disease is about the same in both neutered males and spayed females. However, non-spayed females will of course raise special concerns. They come into heat seasonally from March to August. If they don’t mate, they can remain in heat for almost six months.
Apart from their cycle, females can also suffer from the usual higher incidence of tumours as a result of raised levels of hormones. But males, too, have their own risks in this regard, so the numbers are not radically different between the two sexes.
Such considerations as colour and individual personality are completely personal preferences, of course. But keep in mind that one choice, albinos, can create the need for special care. Like other albinos, they can suffer from vision problems. They are also more easily preyed on, if they get loose where a dog or cat can get at them.
Provided you practice proper care for your ferret, you can hardly go wrong, though. It’s easy to see why these friendly, funny animals became a favourite domestic pet. They’re terrific!