Animals / Dogs



Order — Carnivora. Family — Mustelidae. Genus — Mustela. Species — Mustela putorius. Subspecies — Mustela putorius furo.


Black-footed ferrets once roamed North America, making their homes in grassy areas. As recently as the 1970s, black-footed ferrets were considered extinct, but 120 were found in Wyoming in the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, two disease outbreaks wiped out most of the remaining population, and the last 18 were captured for a breeding program. In 2006, the offspring of those 18 were released in eight reintroduction sites in the United States and Mexico, where they are making a comeback, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  These animals are true recyclers. They make their homes from old prairie dog tunnels and the burrows of other animals. Each black-footed ferret requires around 100 to 120 acres (40 to 49 hectares) of living space to find adequate food, according to the ADW.  Domesticated ferrets usually live in cages, but need at least four hours per day to run outside of their cages. They also thrive in temperatures that are between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 27 degrees Celsius).

Outward appearance

Length: 20.5-46 cm. Tail length: 7-19 cm. Weigth: 0.5-2.5 kg. Ferret Colors and Patterns: the domesticated ferret can be born with a wide range of fur colors, including dark-eyed white, sable, black sable, silver, albino, cinnamon and chocolate. Black-footed ferrets aren’t nearly as colorful. They are a pale color with white foreheads, muzzles and throats and black feet.


Ferrets are highly intelligent and social pets that do best in small groups. It is highly recommended you consider adopting a pair of ferrets so they will always have a companion to socialise with. Ferrets natural play includes nipping and training is required to ensure your ferret knows that nipping humans is not an acceptable behaviour. They are also extremely inquistive, anything you may have in your home IS of interest, so ferret proofing your home  is  must so they do not get caught in between, underneath or behind things. Whilst ferrets are relatively robust when playing with each other, as small pets, they are not animals suitable for homes with small children. It’s best to wait until children in the family are at least twelve or thirteen years old. First, ferrets can be easily injured by handlers who lack manual dexterity.Second, children are easily injured and frightened by the nips and bared teeth of ferrets. A frightened child may injure a ferret by dropping or accidentally hitting the pet in retaliation.

Maintenance care

Ferret cages are usually designed with two levels and a place to hang a cozy hammock. The cage should also contain a dark enclosure such as a wooden hut, where the ferrets can make a nest for sleeping. Towels and similar fabrics make good bedding. The bedding will need to be washed frequently, and the cage itself will need regular scrubbing. Your ferret needs several litter boxes: one for the cage and several for playtime outside the cage. The best litters to use are shredded paper and newspaper-based cat litters. From time to time, your ferret will need to visit the vet’s office. To transport your ferret safely, you’ll need a pet carrier with gaps small enough that your pet can’t worm his way through them. A leash and H-harness will also be useful. Heavy ceramic or lock-on bowls are good dishes for ferrets. Expect the playful little pet to up-end the water bowl, however, so supply a sipper bottle as well. Ferrets require ample amounts of space and at least 2 hours of playtime outside of their cage each day. You will need to invest time in: Ferret-proofing your home or at least some room of your home so your little fur-balls have plenty of room to exercise and explore without putting themselves at risk; Supervised play when your ferrets are in areas of the home that have not been ferret-proofed; Training your ferret – both behavioural (e.g. biting, handling, toilet training) and for mental stimulation (e.g. tricks); Food preparation and regular feeding (2 to 4 times a day); Cleaning your ferrets cage and litter box.


Ferrets are weasels and, as such, they are obligate carnivores. This means they need meat in their diet. They also have very high metabolisms, so they need a large amount of animal fat in their diets. There are many high-grade ferret foods on the market, however, be sure to read the ingredients to make sure that the food is not fish-based. Its also good to avoid foods which are too high in vegetable and grain matter as this can help predispose your ferret to a cancer known as insulinoma. Several types of ferret food are nothing more than modified mink food. Mink eat fish. Ferrets do not. Some ferrets will starve themselves instead of eating fish-based food. Ferrets tend to be picky eaters. Buy small quantities of food, so that it doesn’t go stale before its used: no more than a month’s worth at a time. Meat or whole prey can be frozen but it will need to be properly thawed prior to giving it to your ferret. Changing foods or flavours abruptly will make the ferret sick. As a result, it is a good idea to ensure your ferret experiences a mix of foods at an early age so as to accustom them to different diets in the event their preferred food is unavailable for a short period. This also helps ensure your ferret is used to a wide variety of flavors and does not imprint itself to one food only. Fresh water must be available to your ferret at all times.


Ferrets are known to suffer from several distinct health problems. Among the most common are cancers affecting the adrenal glands,pancreas, and lymphatic system. Viral diseases include canine distemper and influenza. Health problems can occur in unspayed females when not being used for breeding. Certain health problems have also been linked to ferrets being neutered before reaching sexual maturity. Certain colors of ferret may also carry a genetic defect known as Waardenburg syndrome. Similar to domestic cats, ferrets can also suffer from hairballs and dental problems.


It is imperative to know that breeding ferrets is not for the amateur. You should be aware that breeding is very risky for a jill (a female ferret) and her young: Not only is the mating process rather aggressive, many jills have a difficult time during the birth process. After the birth, their teats can become infected. Likewise, many of the kits also do not survive the birth. Breeding ferrets is best left to those who have extensive experience and knowledge about the whole “business”. Don’t try to breed them just because “baby ferrets are so cute.” Breeding ferrets, as with humans, is a matter of timing. Jills come into heat (i.e., are able to breed) from two to five times a year. That’s because their breeding period depends on the amount of daylight available. (Artificial lighting can help lengthen the breeding season.) You can tell if your jill is in heat because her vulva will become very swollen. Hobs (unaltered male ferrets) usually are in rut for about three months. You will know they are in rut as their scent becomes quite strong. They also tend to mark territory with a combination of oil and urine and drag their torsos across things. Once your jill is in heat and your hob is in rut, the actual mating process is fairly easy to arrange. If you are sure you’re ready to handle the consequences, put the jill into the hob’s territory and wait for them to do what comes naturally. (The process will take several hours perhaps even a full day, with several sessions interrupted by food, drinks and cleaning.) If you have not encountered breeding ferrets before, be aware that ferret breeding is not all soft lights and romantic music. In fact, there is nothing romantic about it. Usually, the hob will grab the jill by the neck, instinctively biting it to release a hormone that promotes the release of the jill’s eggs. Then he usually drags the jill around the cage and mounts her. The jill goes limp and allows it, even though she does usually scream. Relax. Don’t even think of pulling them away from each other. The hob’s penis is hooked shaped, making separation from the jill virtually impossible. If you really want to be sure no one got hurt, you can always check them for cuts and abrasions in a day or two. If the session was a success, you will soon see the jill gaining weight and beginning to nest. She will pull fur out of her tail and body, perhaps as a way to prepare herself for birth. A ferret pregnancy lasts about 42 days. If the mating session was not successful, you may need to mate your jill again. That’s because a jill in heat needs to mate or else it could adversely affect her health. The jill in heat does not produce enough white blood cells in order to fight off infections. Yet, because of the very rough mating process, the jill is more prone to infections, which can be deadly. That’s why ferret experts strongly recommend spaying and neutering both hobs and jills. At the end of 42 days, the jill will give birth to several kits that are hairless, blind and deaf. There is nothing you really need to do during and after the birth, except to give the jill plenty of privacy. (Jills who are disturbed during this crucial time have been known to eat their young.) Do not even change the bedding other than to check for neglected kits. (Yes, the cage will get smelly, so provide plenty of air circulation in the room.) Even feeding the jill will be a challenge, so add food and water when she is distracted. In about a week, you will be able to gently handle the kits if you are cautious. Do not handle them while they are feeding and only handle the kits for a few moments at first. Remember that kits are blind for the first three weeks of life. You’ll know they can see when they start exploring their cage and taking an interest in mom’s food bowl. At this point, you can start your kits on human baby food, progressing to softened kitten food and then dry food. When they first start eating, make sure the food is very liquid then progress gradually to harder foods until they are ready for solid food at about six weeks, around the time their canine teeth appear. If you’re breeding ferrets with an eye toward selling them, you should know kits are not ready to leave their mother for about 12 weeks after birth. Again, it’s important to be very familiar with ferrets before you take on the task of breeding them. However, with care, you will soon have a whole new brood of fuzzies to love.
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