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Are Ferrets Good Pets? Read This Before You Buy One!

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

Whenever you are considering bringing home a new pet, it is important that you figure out whether the species is the right fit for you. You might spend a lot of time looking up things like whether or not a ferret is a good pet. The truth is, what makes a good pet is subjective, so you have to consider all the different factors for yourself.

In this article, we are going to take a look at a variety of key factors that make ferrets who they are so you can decide if you want to bring one home.

Ferrets as Pets : The Good

1. Ferrets have a lovely personality

Perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when picking out a new pet is whether or not your personalities will work well together. The good news is, ferrets have great personalities.

They are playful and curious little creatures that love to roll around in tubes and play with ferret toys in addition to exploring your house and hanging out with you. They are also known to be friendly, affectionate, and extremely intelligent little creatures.

2. Ferrets have a long lifespan

While ferrets in the wild typically only live for up to 1 to 3 years, in captivity, ferrets typically live significantly longer. Most pet ferrets, as long as they are well cared for and kept in good health, can live anywhere from 5 to 10 years. The oldest ferret on record even lived to be 15 years old, though that is much rarer.

Everyone’s lifespan preference is different, but 5 to 10 years is the perfect lifespan for many pet owners because it gives you time to bond with and love your animal without having to make a lifelong commitment.

3. Ferrets are easy to potty train

Often times one of the annoying factors about having a small critter like a hamster, rabbit, or bird is the constant clean-up of the cage and sometimes even your house. One of the great things about ferrets is that they are extremely intelligent. They can be taught a number of different tricks and skills.

One of the best things to teach your ferret is how to use a litter box. With a simple reward system, your ferret will quickly start using the litter box, and clean-up will be so much easier.

4. Ferrets are sociable

If you have a family or other pets, it is important for you to consider how a new pet will get along with the other pets or children. While a new pet should always be supervised around young children or other pets, ferrets are very sociable creatures. They get along with each other, other humans, and even many other household pets like cats and dogs.

As long as you train your ferret properly, you might have to worry more about your children hurting your ferret rather than your ferret hurting your children.

5. Ferrets are just so cute and adorable

It never hurts when your pet is extra cute, and ferrets sure are one of the cutest creatures that you can bring home. They have curious little eyes and sweet-looking faces. They are small little creatures, with females only growing up to around 13-14 inches and males not much bigger at 15-16.

Ferrets also have really unique bodies that they can flop and spin around for hours of awesome entertainment. Just makes sure that none of your friends think your ferret is so cute that they slip him in and bag and take him with them.

6. Ferrets are not noisy pets

If you live in a small house or apartment, a noisy pet can be a terrible living situation. Not only can the constant yips and sounds drive you crazy, but it might make your neighbors start to complain. The good news is, you will never have to deal with too much noise when you have a ferret as a pet.

They do have the ability to make sounds, but they typically only do so when they are frightened or injured. And if you do not want to deal with noisy toys, simply buy quiet ones. Your ferret won’t care.

7. Ferrets are easy to care for

Some pets have complicated feeding schedules and need a very strict exercise regimen in order to stay healthy, but this is not the case for ferrets. You can buy quality ferret food online or in most pet stores, and you just have to leave some out in the bowl for your ferrets to munch on whenever they get hungry.

It is even relatively simple to make your own ferret food if you want to. They are also really easy to exercise. You can buy a harness and take them on a nice walk, or you can even just play with toys around your home.

Ferrets as Pets: The Not So Good

1. Ferrets smell bad

The rumor that you may have heard is true: ferrets can be rather smelly creatures, even if you decide to get yours descented. All ferrets have scent glands near the base of their tail that they use to mark their territory.

Often breeders will have these glands removed before they are sold, but many ferrets still produce musky scents even after the surgery is complete. If you live in a small apartment or will have to constantly share a space with your ferret, the smell might be a bit more than you can handle.

2. You will need to ferret-proof your home

Ferrets are a lot of fun because they are such curious explorers, but sometimes they have a little bit too much fun, so you have to ferret-proof your home.

When ferret-proofing your home, you have to lock up cabinets and drawers, hide your small, valuable items, and make sure everything is secure. This process can take a lot of time, and if you make a mistake, it could lead to lost or missing things and a lost or injured ferret. Check out this article for more information on how to ferret-proof your home.

While ferrets being curious, intelligent, and inquisitive little creatures can be a lot of fun, it is also important to realize that it also makes them quite little troublemakers.

Ferrets will climb through or in any small holes that they come across. Ferrets are also known to steal small items and hide them away in secret spots. When you are thinking of bringing home a ferret, you need to consider all the trouble in addition to the fun.

3. Playful ferrets happen to bite

We already talked about how ferrets are very friendly and sociable creatures, but it does take time on your part to get the ferret that way. Just like you might have to teach a new pup or kitten not to bite or scratch, you will have to teach your ferret not to nip and bite.

While ferrets are not naturally aggressive towards humans, if they mistake your hand for food or are not taught the proper and safe way to play, they might end up injuring someone.

4. Ferrets are not legal in every state

Depending on where you live, the legality of owning a ferret can be quite complicated. There are some states and regions such as California, Hawaii, and Washington D.C that have completely outlawed ferrets.

On the other hand, there are states that require special licensing and permits in order to own a ferret. Before you buy a ferret or plan a move with your ferret, you are going to want to check out the laws in the area where you live or are going to live.

5. Keeping a ferret comes with necessary expenses

Before you buy a ferret of any kind, you are going to want to consider how much it is going to cost to buy and then take care of your ferret. While buying the ferret himself typically only costs between 100 and 200 dollars, you also need to consider the cost of the enclosure, bedding, toys, litter pans, litter, vet visits, and more.

All of these different costs can add up rather quickly, making one new pet rather expensive. Check out this article for a complete breakdown of the cost of owning a ferret.

6. Ferrets sometimes have major health problems

While there are some ferrets that live long, happy lives without any health problems or complications at all, this is not the case for all ferrets. In fact, most ferrets tend to have at least one ‘major’ health problem in their lifetime. They have sensitive respiratory systems and not always the strongest immune systems.

However, there are some things you can do to help minimize the chance of a health complication. For instance, you can make sure that your ferret eats a healthy diet, gets plenty of exercise, and goes to regular health checkups at your local vet.

7. Ferrets need quality time with their owner

All pets, including small pets like ferrets that live in enclosures, are a time commitment. You will need to give your ferret food and water each day. You will also need to make sure that you take your ferret out of the enclosure to play and explore for at least four hours a day.

If you can not guarantee that you can provide your ferret with at least that much time every day, you might want to consider other pets like fish or some birds who prefer to be alone.

8. You might have to get a companion for your ferret to be happy

If you regularly go to work or school throughout the day, your ferret might get lonely. Loneliness can cause all sorts of health problems in ferrets, so it is important that you find a solution.

One solution that many people use is buying two ferrets or a small group of ferrets rather than just one. This way, when you are away for long periods of time at work or school or out and about with friends, you do not have to worry about your ferret being sad.

Are Ferrets High Maintenance?

Everyone has a different definition of what a high-maintenance pet is, so whether or not a ferret is easy really depends on personal preference. However, there are several key factors that make ferrets easier to care for than others.

First of all, they can free feed and drink all day when you are out and about. They are also easy to exercise and can be trained to use a litter box. However, despite all of these great factors, if you really have no time to give to your pet, a ferret might be too much for you.

Are Ferrets Dangerous?

Ferrets are obligate carnivores and natural predators, so they might sound dangerous when you first learn about them. However, as long as they do not mistake your hand for a small rabbit or frog, you should be perfectly safe.

In fact, as long as your ferret is socialized properly, ferrets will get along fabulously with small children, although not without proper supervision. Nevertheless, you should never leave your ferret alone with other small pets he could mistake as prey.

Are Ferrets Nocturnal?

You may have heard that ferrets are nocturnal, but this is actually not the case. Ferrets are what is called crepuscular. When an animal is considered crepuscular, it means that they are much more active at dawn and dusk and sleep more during the day or in the middle of the night.

This is actually really great for most people because it means your ferret will be most active when you are home and least active when you are at work or sleeping. However, if you keep odd hours, you will want to take this fact into consideration.

Do Ferrets Like to Cuddle?

Some people are perfectly happy if their pet acts as if they do not exist except at feeding time. Other people like to hang out and play with their pets all day, every day. Ferrets typically do better if you are a part of the latter group.

Ferrets absolutely love (and actually need) to hang out and play with other people and animals. It is important to keep in mind that ferrets, especially young ferrets, love to play, so they may not be very cuddly when awake. However, when it is time for one of his many naps, he certainly will love curling up in your arms or lap.

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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.