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Ferret General Information

There are three varieties of ferrets, based on coloration along with a multitude of color dilutions.  The three main varieties are:

Ferrets are born deaf and blind. The period of pregnancy is 42 days. The “kits” eyes and ears open at 3-4 weeks of age. Their temporary teeth begin to erupt at 14-20 days of age, at which time they begin to eat solid food. The permanent teeth erupt at 50-72 days of age. The “kits” are weaned by the time they are 8 weeks old. They reach their adult weight at 4 months of age. The average life span of a pet ferret is 5 – 10 years.

“Hobs” are usually twice as large as “Jills”, but both sexes undergo weight fluctuations of 30-40% of their body weight. Fat is added in the fall, and lost in the spring.

Ferrets have paired musk producing glands beside the anal opening, which secrete when the animal is angry, excited, or in estrus (heat). These glands may be removed to reduce (not eliminate) the musky odor; which makes them a more pleasant pet. Most ferrets purchased from a pet store will already be descented.  They do not have self-developed sweat glands, and are prone to heat stroke at a temperature above 90 degrees F.

Ferrets typically have good personalities and adapt well to human companionship, particularly if they have been raised from infancy in close human contact:

There is NO natural animosity between the ferret and the dog or cat, however any interactions between ferrets and other pets should be closely supervised. They are inquisitive and  playful by nature. When given supervised freedom in which to satisfy their innate curiosity (and inclination to burrow), they need no special equipment. Some pet ferrets have even been trained to walk with a leash and harness. Because they tend to urinate and defecate in habitual places, they are easily trained to use a cat litter box.

Other General Information

Reproduction

The Hobs’ breeding readiness is signaled by the descent of the testicles into the scrotum. The testicles remain in the scrotum ONLY during the breeding season.  Unless breeding is planned, CASTRATION is RECOMMENDED at six months of age to decrease aggressiveness and the musky odor.

Onset of “estrus” (heat) in the “Jill” can be recognized by enlargement of the vulva. Ovulation induced by copulation (breeding), and if fertilization fails to occur, a “pseudo-pregnancy” of  42 days will occur.  The “Jill” may remain in “estrus” for up to six months if copulation does NOT occur. “Jills” NOT INTENDED for breeding SHOULD BE SPAYED AT 6 MONTHS OF AGE!! Because they remain in “heat” for prolonged periods of time, a condition called HYPERESTROGENEMIA occurs.  This causes fragile bones, ANEMIA, Poor Blood Clotting, and sometimes, DEATH!

Most pet ferrets obtained from a pet store will already be spayed or neutered, however it is important to ask if this has been done when you take your ferret home.

Diet

Vaccinations