Ferrets smell don't they?

 

This is a popular question.  Alot of people believe that ferrets are supposed to smell.  Both sex of ferrets do have an odour (like most animals). Hobs (male ferrets) that have come into sexual maturity (and haven’t been neutered) will start to smell more.  Having the male neutered can take up to 90-95% of that smell away and will usually make him more placid/calm.  Having the female spayed means that they will not come into season.

Frequently asked questions

 

There are some common misconceptions about ferrets and hopefully the following will dispell some of them and give you a bit more information about ferrets in general.


 
Is it true I have to breed a female or she'll die?

Jills do not need to breed, they need taking out of season (breeding is one way - but not the only).  You can get a female spayed which is a one off operation that means (if done correctly) she won't come into season.  You could also take her to the vets for a Jill jab (this is an injection that needs to be done yearly).  You can also put her with a vesactomised hob, he will do the business - but no babies.  If you do not take a Jill out of season she can get aplastic anaemia caused by too much circulating oestrogen. This can lead to a painful death. Some symptoms of aplastic anaemia in ferrets to look out for:

 

  • Severe anaemia

  • Pale gums

  • Hair loss

  • Swollen vulva

  • Lethargy

What do ferrets eat?

Ferrets are carnivores.  That means that a ferret was designed to get goodness from its diet by eating a large amount of animal-based proteins (i.e. meat) and doesn’t get any nutrition from plant-based proteins (like grains, fruit or vegetables)  In fact, giving those to a ferret could cause serious problems down the track.

 

Why a ferret needs a special diet:

  • They have a very short intestinal tract, only about 5 times the length of its body. A cat, another obligate carnivore, has an intestinal tract 10 times the length of its body.

  • Food usually passes through a ferret’s intestine in about 2-3 hours, compared to the 5-6 hours it takes to go through a cat’s intestine.

  • The food a ferret eats must be highly digestible and concentrated to allow for the short digestion time, and must also be high in animal protein and fat, to help maintain a healthy immune system.

  • A diet containing taurine is vital for a ferret's heart (Taurine is found in most raw meats). Taurine is essential for a healthy heart and good eye function. If there's not enough taurine included in the diet then the ferret's heart muscle could stretch and become enlarged. That, in turn, could lead to dilated cardiomyopathy, which would result in congestive heart failure then death.

Ferrets don't require carbohydrates in their diet as long as they have enough fat and protein in their diet. If a ferret has too much carbohydrates in its diet it could cause two serious problems in the long term - insulinoma and diarrhoea.

 

So to summarise ferrets should be fed raw meat, for example chicken (chicken wings are ok bone and all), minced beef, lambs hearts, liver, rabbit and dry ferret food (specific ferret food is usually higher in protein than cat biscuits).  Many experienced ferret owners prefer just to feed raw meat.

 

Treats:

  • There are ferret treats sold in pet shops

  • Egg yolk - it is suggested that raw egg white can cause biotin deficiency and result in hair loss

  • Cooked eggs (this can be the whole egg)

Ferretone (an oil that contains vitamins) in moderation (if you can’t get ferretone then cod liver oil is an alternative)

 

Foods to avoid:

  • Most fruit and veg (this is because they cannot digest them properly)

  • Tinned cat or dog food (this will likely cause dental problems for your ferret)

  • Chocolate

  • Coffee

Sleep

They can sleep a lot, around 15/18 hours a day. They can sleep very heavily.  They are not nocturnal, but will usually fit their daily schedule around yours, when they learn what time you are normally up and ready to play, they will be too!