Common Errors and Misunderstandings about Ferrets

A Bad Reputation

Although probably one of  the friendliest of domestic animals, ferrets have picked up a poor reputation in some circles. That reputation is nearly completely undeserved. There certainly are an astonishingly wide ranging assortment of lingering misconceptions and mistakes concerning ferrets, particularly taking into consideration how comparatively few individuals really have any kind of first-hand familiarity with them. Perhaps that is the problem.


Several sources place ferrets in Ancient Egypt, however, there is very little evidence to back up this view. Several hieroglyphs which look like a ferret is just not adequate to support  the notion that they were domesticated animals at the times of the pharaohs. Nobody knows for certain, but experts can certainly turn to several things to produce a fairly good guess concerning their true origins. They base their opinion on genetic characteristics, basic body features, including fat distribution, teeth and diet and various other criteria. Employing these, by far the most probable origin is evolution from European polecats. Ferrets were the favorite pets of European royalty during  late Medieval times.


Unquestionably ferrets, just like virtually every other mammal (which includes human beings) have got a distinct scent. However ferrets don’t ‘stink’. The powerful odour people frequently get a whiff of inside pet shops (and, unfortunately, occasionally in the houses of private owners) is often a result of inadequate care and cramped living conditions. Ferrets possess a natural, musky aroma due to the presence of anal scent glands. When afraid, just like skunks, they might discharge a spray, although this is rare and it is certainly not similar to a skunk’s spray. Males may become aggressive for the duration of the mating season and produce a bit more odour then than at other periods. The majority, particularly those offered for sale by pet shops, will have had their scent glands removed and are also spayed or neutered. In most cases the odour is stronger because they just have bedding and cages which are not cleaned properly. Shampooing the ferret every six months, along with the daily cleaning out of litter boxes  and bedding every week can easily eradicate just about any powerful, unpleasant odour before it starts. You should not wash your ferret more that twice a year as this will tend to increase its bodily odour rather than diminish it.

Health and well-being

As is the case with any mammal, ferrets might develop a variety of cancers. The majority of these, much like people, dogs and others, arrive later on in life. In the case of ferrets, that is anywhere from around   four to  five years of age on. Naturally, cancers may appear at all ages, although the chances are significantly higher for older ferrets. Statistically, they are simply no more prone to getting malignant tumors or other cancers than dogs, cats or people. They generally do have a predisposition towards adrenal conditions, insulinomas and lymphomas, but once more usually later on in life. There are, obviously, several conditions (for example ADV – Aleutian Disease Virus) that arise more often in ferrets compared to other animals. However the exact same could  be stated regarding virtually any species. Adrenal disease is a common condition amongst elderly ferrets, and one of several symptoms is hair loss. Examine the base of the tail or neck region and seek out the assistance of your vet in such cases. A blood test will supply a conclusive answer.

With appropriate care, which usually  requires more effort compared to dogs (and undoubtedly considerably more compared to cats), ferrets make enchanting pets. However bear in mind they’re not a dog or cat and their conduct is appropriate for ferrets. Which is certainly no misconception.

About the Author

Paul writes small pet articles as a hobby. He lives in the Italian Alps with his long-suffering partner and threevery spoilt cats...

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