Anyone On Here Own A Ferret? I'm Looking For Advice And Direction!

Namtab

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There are so many mixed opinions when it comes to ferrets. I think a lot of people just think of them as rodents. My family hasn't been very supportive at all....but they don't live with me and my daughter, so it isn't up to them. But I am not looking forward to the pending "I told you so's" if things don't work out. And I have a strong feeling they may not work out. :-(

My biggest fear, again, is how this will affect my dog. :-(
Is it possible to get "return" ferrets that have already lived with dogs and have done well?
 

AngelTheGypsy

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There are so many mixed opinions when it comes to ferrets. I think a lot of people just think of them as rodents. My family hasn't been very supportive at all....but they don't live with me and my daughter, so it isn't up to them. But I am not looking forward to the pending "I told you so's" if things don't work out. And I have a strong feeling they may not work out. :-(

My biggest fear, again, is how this will affect my dog. :-(
I had 3 dogs when I had my ferrets, a lab, a daschund, and a golden retriever puppy. Once adjusted they got along fine. The dogs mostly just steered clear of the ferrets. Do you know how your dog feels about cats? It will probably be a similar reaction. My old lab would chase cats if they ran, but if they didn't they were "boring" so she left them alone. She was the same with the ferrets.

If I paid attention to what my family said...
 
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bizaliz3

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Is it possible to get "return" ferrets that have already lived with dogs and have done well?
There have been a handful of people trying to rehome their ferrets on craigslist and in those cases I have some idea what their personality is, if they get along with dogs, or cats, if they are litter box trained, etc.
But I don't know how I feel getting one from a private person. Who knows if they are even being honest. But these people are asking big bucks for adoption fees (partially due to all the supplies they are including) but my point is....it doesn't seem like they are desperate to get rid of them. If they were, they'd offer them for free. LOL

Honestly....I am more worried about how my dog will adjust and how she will respond to another furry animal in the house. So even if I get a ferret that does well with dogs....I still don't know how my dog will feel about the ferret. She has always been the only furry animal in the house. My dog hasn't had an accident in my house in 6 years. What if the ferret pees in a corner and I don't know it and then my dog tries to cover it up with her own pee and suddenly my perfect dog will start to get behavior issues. What if she gets jealous and rebels? LOL
 

Aquaphobia

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Maybe contact a ferret rescue? There's got to be on in your area! They'd be happy to bring a new enthusiast into the fold and want to start you off on the right foot

And ferrets aren't rodents, they're carnivores, more closely related to dogs
 

AngelTheGypsy

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I'm not super informed on shiva onus, but I have been around a few. I can say cats and ferrets usually get along really well! . You shouldn't have to worry about her covering their poops, that's more a male dog thing. I think as long as you give her plenty of attention, and sparingly to the ferret, things should be fine. Dogs are usually pretty good at adjusting to furry newbies, unless you know she hates cats or something. Does she ever get around other dogs, such as the vet or pet store, or a dog park? How does she respond?

When I got my first kitten, I introduced him to my 3 or 4 year old dog. The dog was curious but the kitten was ferocious! Imagine a 6 wk old kitten trying to attack a standard poodle! It took a few months for the cat to stop hissing at the dog, but the dog just kind of ignored the cat.

Every dog is different, but since the ferret will spend most of its time in its cage, I think you'll be fine.

Or if you want out of the ferret deal I can repost how the dog will definitely kill the ferret and you can show it to your daughter!

In all seriousness, even though that is a possibility, it's not very likely if proper care is taken in the introduction and interaction is always supervised. The ferret can almost always get away anyway.

My ferrets sometimes tortured my old lab! Hiding under the couch to attack her as she walked by. And I had a daschund, bred for hunting badgers and other vermin. He left them alone too. Actually I think he played with them! (It's been a while...)
 
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bizaliz3

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And ferrets aren't rodents, they're carnivores, more closely related to dogs
I know!! It's just that I think too may people look at them and think "rodent". due to their size and appearance.
 

Drummindot

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There are so many mixed opinions when it comes to ferrets. I think a lot of people just think of them as rodents. My family hasn't been very supportive at all....but they don't live with me and my daughter, so it isn't up to them. But I am not looking forward to the pending "I told you so's" if things don't work out. And I have a strong feeling they may not work out. :-(

My biggest fear, again, is how this will affect my dog. :-(
Although their appearance is like a rodent the only similarity between a ferret and a rodent is their ability to collapse their skeletons and it stops there. Pathologically they're more like dogs. Behaviorally they're a lot like cats in that they groom themselves, use a littler box and are carnivores not omnivores.

How your dog reacts will depend greatly on how they are introduced. If you get the ferret from a breeder or pet store they should be glad to let you put something in with the ferret to get its scent and then take it home so your dog can inspect the item. You can also set up the cage for the ferret before it comes home so the dog sees that happens-you could even let him 'help' you!
That said it will depend greatly on the personality of the dog and the ferret and whether their personalities will get along and no one can tell you that until you try. But introducing the smells ahead of time will be a big help as dogs are heavy on scents and are also sensitive to newer smells.
 
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bizaliz3

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I think as long as you give her plenty of attention, and sparingly to the ferret, things should be fine. Dogs are usually pretty good at adjusting to furry newbies, unless you know she hates cats or something. Does she ever get around other dogs, such as the vet or pet store, or a dog park? How does she respond?
When she was younger she was much more playful with other dogs. But now..... she just likes to be left alone to tell you the truth. lol

I haven't had her around cats.
 

AngelTheGypsy

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When she was younger she was much more playful with other dogs. But now..... she just likes to be left alone to tell you the truth. lol

I haven't had her around cats.
That sounds like my dog now. She's 6 and always acted ugly to other dogs. Like leave me alone get away from me. Then my husband brings home a new hunting dog a black lag who's 3. She started out hating him, then just completely ignored him. After about six months, all the sudden she realizes she's a dog. Now they play and wrestle all the time.

So you never know!
 

Ferretlady

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Oh my gosh --- ferrets are the most incredible little animals!!! My late husband & I had ferrets for most of our married life - we started out with three pets, then over time, adopted many 'rescue' ferrets. I would SO love to have some ferrets again right now - but with my husband gone, I'm on a much lower income now, and I don't feel 110% confident that I absolutely without-any-doubt could cover *possible* medical costs that can come up with ferrets. It breaks my heart - I love ferrets more than any other animal in the world - they are such wonderful creatures!

It would be ideal, if she could get two ferrets - they are very social & he would be very happy to have a buddy. But if not, then she needs to be extra mindful of spending a good bit of time with the ferret every single day - he should be out of his cage at least 3-4 hours, more would be even better, and would need a lot of attention & interaction, if he didn't have a ferret-buddy. They can bond VERY tightly with their cage-mates and/or their humans, so you all should be as certain as possible that you can commit to keeping the ferret for good -- if you had it for 6 months, then decided it wasn't working out, it could be very traumatic on the poor little ferret to be 're-homed' elsewhere. Maybe it would adjust w/ no visible effects, maybe not... but it could really hurt the ferret a lot, if it had grown very attached to you while it was with you...and then suddenly is put into a strange place & you're "gone".

Drummindot gave you a lot of good advice already -- I totally agree with laying down on the floor & looking at things from the ferrets' perspective! They are SO very very curious & they WILL get into anything they can get into! Think of it as 'baby-proofing' your house for a super-ultra-hyper-active toddler that can squeeze through the most improbable small spaces & who will actively try to *find* any of those places... LOL!

Smell -- yes, they do have a slight musky odor, even if they have been descented. Some will have a slightly more noticeable odor than others. Personally, I thought it was just a nice "ferret-y" smell & it never bothered us at all, but other people can find it really bothersome & "stinky". Don't bathe them trying to 'get rid' of the odor - it won't work for more than a very short time & isn't good for the ferret either to be bathed often.

Even the best litter-trained ferret is quite possibly going to have an "accident" at least once in a while. They get so excited & so wrapped up in playing & having fun, that sometimes they just "forget" and head for the closest corner, even if there's not a litter box there. Most of our babies who'd been with us for a while were really good - but still, there would be accidents here & there....

The double Ferret Nation cage is the very best cage out there, IMO - it might cost a wee bit more than some others, but it is well well worth it!!! And you can usually find it on sale somewhere. Good cage for the fuzzie, and a lot easier to maintain & clean for the human! Some other cages *look* very similar but the Ferret Nation is simply a far superior cage, in my opinion, believe me, you will not regret spending a little bit more up-front for one! We went through other "nice big" cages at first, and always ended up with some problems eventually -- once we got all FerretNation cages, it was a world of difference!

One area your daughter should research extensively is diet -- don't skimp & try to "save money" on your ferrets' food & be very mindful of what they eat, what "treats" you allow them to have, etc. I might be a bit fanatical on that topic, but we had to deal with the heart-breaking end results from people feeding their ferrets poor/mediocre foods, and/or giving them improper treats etc.... it really CAN cause a lot of serious health issues in later life for the poor fuzzy! Seeing a ferret go into seizures from insulinoma will break your heart apart!! It *might* happen anyway, but proper diet can play a very big part in the likelihood of your ferret developing insulinoma later on. And the hefty vet bills that go along with treating insulinoma aren't much fun either! A truly GOOD ferret food is going to cost a good bit more than some of the cheap garbage that you might find in the pet store - but it's so much better for the ferret. The *complete* chicken that Drummindot mentioned is a great healthy thing for them! *RAW* chicken bones won't be a problem, but *cooked* bones can splinter in such a way to hurt them, so take care with cooked bones.

We used to make "duck soup" for our babies regularly --- I'd boil several big chicken leg quarters, skin/bones all intact, and usually a tub of chicken livers too. Once they were cooked, I'd break the legs into a few smaller chunks & toss it all into the Vita-Mix, along with some of the water than they had been boiled in (which now was a bit 'brothy' and had some nice fat in it too). I'd add about a cup of ferret kibble -- run the Vita-mix for a good length of time to ensure that everything, especially the bones, was totally & completely liquified... The resulting 'soup' would be kinda a soupy-runny-mush consistency. They absolutely loved it - it was a good food too, if a baby was sick & didn't want to eat their regular kibble - they would *never* refuse their 'duck soup'!!! I might have to spoon-feed it to them, but they'd slurp it on down! LOL! I'd freeze it in ice-cube trays, then either just cover the trays tightly with foil or take the cubes & put them in freezer bags. We'd thaw out a tray at a time as we needed it.

This is a pretty good chart, comparing different commercial foods out there: Ferret Food Charts
(There is a chart for foods in the US, and also a chart comparing treats that are out there in stores)
Probably the basic rule w/ any food or treat --- avoid sugar, fruits & veggies!!! Even 'healthy' sugars like honey, etc -- just avoid sugar & sugary things! Avoid those commercial treats listed on that page, the ones at the bottom of the list that contain sugar! Ferrets cannot digest fruits & veggies - if they do eat any fruit/veggie, it will just pass right through their system without being broken down & without any nutrients being absorbed -- AND it can very likely give them an intestinal blockage since their intestines are so narrow - one little tidbit of that "nice healthy finely-chopped broccoli" could block them up & then you're looking at your ferret dying, unless you get him to the vet & get surgery done to remove the blockage -- not a fun thing for the ferret or for you. Keep it out of their reach too - they're likely to grab things that they shouldn't be eating, if they can!

Speaking of vets, check around & make sure you find an actual *ferret vet* in advance. Even if a "regular" vet will agree to see your ferret, you really need to find a "specialty" vet, who deals with so-called "exotic" pets & specifically has dealt with ferrets. You might end up having to go a good distance from your home to get to a genuine 'ferret vet' but it's worth it to have someone who really *knows* ferrets, more than just the 'basic knowledge' that an average dog/cat vet would have. They need regular check-ups, as a "preventative" measure, to make sure there aren't any problems just starting... not unlike human 'preventative medicine'. They need their rabies & distemper shots every year. The routine check-ups & shots will probably run $100-200 a year, something like that, if not a bit more.

Sorry - don't mean to go on about all that --- we just saw a lot of health issues with our rescues that were at least in part due to poor diet. Ferrets are rather prone to several different cancers as they get older - you're quite likely to run into some additional vet expenses, no matter how well cared-for the ferret is -- but you can reduce the chances (and have a healthier ferret overall anyway) by making sure they get the very best diet possible.

And the potential vet bills --- be prepared for that. It is very possible that your ferret will develop adrenal disease sometime in it's life (tumors on the adrenal glands)-- if caught in time, it can be treated successfully & your ferret can still have a perfectly good life but the treatments can be expensive & most of the time, it is ongoing continuous treatments - usually ongoing Lupron injections. Maybe surgery, but even then, the tumors come back a lot of the time & you end up going to Lupron anyway. Insulinoma is probably the next most common thing. There are other diseases & problems but those are the two "big ones" that you're most likely to encounter eventually, if you have the ferret on up into it's older years. So - just like some of the major issues that a dog can encounter, just be aware that there are health problems with ferrets that are "somewhat common" - I mean, at least to the point where you ought to be prepared, and realize that your fuzzy very well *might* have to deal with something... Yeah, we had 13 ferrets at that particular time, several had come to us a little bit older & in very poor health already, and altogether, we had 3 very elderly babies who were getting monthly treatments for adrenal disease- but during our "worst" year, we spent almost $5000 that one year alone in vet bills.... other years right before & right after, it would be anywhere from $500 - $2000, depending on what was going on... but yeah... we had a lot of ferrets & had babies who were sickly when they came to us, so.... just be aware that even a healthy ferret can *possibly* come down with one of the 'common' ferret ailments, even with the best of care, and the expenses to treat those diseases can be high.

Oh geesh.... I really don't mean to sound negative --- I'm just trying to point out things she should be aware of & should think about very carefully before getting a ferret. But if she feels she can truly make the time commitment to a ferret & can handle possible problems if they arise , they are such wonderful animals!!! If I felt absolutely assured that I could financially handle it, I would have a whole house full of ferrets again!!! Our babies gave us SO much love, SO much joy, so much fun watching them play, watching their crazy little 'war-dances'.... I miss every single one of our sweet furkids & will never forget any of them, each one of them has a special place in my heart forever. Our babies usually had free run of the house, things were majorly "ferret-proofed" everywhere, to the point of outright getting rid of some furniture that could be hazardous to them. (recliners!) They had their very own bedroom, all their cages were in there, a big "ball-pit" play pen & tons of other toys, tubies & stuff - and of course, they dragged toys all over the house, just like any mischievous toddlers will! LOL! If we accidentally left things laying out, they'd invariably be grabbed & hidden away -- we quickly learned where their favorite "hidey-holes" were, so we could retrieve things as need be, if we'd been careless enough to leave anything in their reach! They are such curious comical crazy little guys!!! They went in & out of their cages as they pleased - IF we had to "contain" them, then they would just be closed into their room, rather than locked up in their cages. We only kept a baby "shut up" in a cage, if he needed to be quarantined or kept quiet/still temporarily for some health reason. Nothing like walking through the hall, and five weezels dashing under your feet, falling all over each other in joyful romping play... having a fuzzie snuggle up in your arms & fall asleep... having to check the couch before you sit down, to make sure a weezel isn't hiding behind the throw pillow! LOL! the sound of ferrets 'dooking'.... gawd, I miss them so much.....

I've had various animals throughout my life, either my own, or they were around me -- but other than my little rat, Riley, no other creature even comes *close* to being as wonderful as our ferrets were!!! They truly are a very special incredible animal to share your life with. They do require a good bit of time, they do cost some money to give them what they really should have.... but omg, they are SO worth it!!!

I don't know how to upload a photo here - or I'd post a pic or two of our babies... I lost a pile of digital photos a year or so ago, but I still have some of my photos of them....
 

Ferretlady

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Whoops --- I meant to give you this link ---- this girl has some pretty good videos on ferrets, I pretty much agree with most of the advice she gives.... we never got into "training" our ferrets, like she has -- but still, she seems to be pretty knowledgeable & have the right ideas about keeping ferrets.... (and her little Joey is SO cute!!!) She has a whole playlist of different videos on different ferret topics...

New Ferret Owner Information - YouTube

Can't resist!! Here's a few pics...

Our sweet Miss Merry -- she was a dark-eyed white....
AAA-MissMerry.jpg



And Pippin!!! Mean ol' mama woke him up, wanting to take his picture...(and ending up with a blurry bad shot - at that time I had a pretty rubbish camera....)

AAA-pippin.jpg


Merry, Pippin & Ranger liked to crawl up under the covers sometimes when they got sleepy-- if you came in & wanted to sit on the bed, you had to be sure to check for "lumps" first! Pull back the cover & here's what you found!!! These three tended to stick together most of the time, they were really close w/ one another... (and no, they did not ever poop or pee in the bed - they would get down & go to their litter box over in the corner if they had to go... )

AAA-ThreeFerretNight.jpg
 
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Drummindot

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Can't resist!! Here's a few pics...

Our sweet Miss Merry -- she was a dark-eyed white....
View attachment 283673


And Pippin!!! Mean ol' mama woke him up, wanting to take his picture...(and ending up with a blurry bad shot - at that time I had a pretty crappy camera....)

View attachment 283675

Merry, Pippin & Ranger liked to crawl up under the covers sometimes when they got sleepy-- if you came in & wanted to sit on the bed, you had to be sure to check for "lumps" first! Pull back the cover & here's what you found!!! These three tended to stick together most of the time, they were really close w/ one another... (and no, they did not ever poop or pee in the bed - they would get down & go to their litter box over in the corner if they had to go... )

View attachment 283676
I LOVED all of your advice! I even learned a few things. My daughter is considering having one when she moves out.
We now have a Blue-Fronted Amazon parrot and I've heard that ferrets and birds aren't a good mix as the ferrets will try to get at the bird. I'm not sure how true that but but this bird is now on his third owner due to deaths, etc. and he's only in his 20's. He'd been kept in his cage too much when he was very young so his flight muscles are atrophied so he can only 'fall with style' now. Otherwise I'd would definitely have ferrets again.
We even still have our Ferret Nation cage as it is such a good cage and breaks down flat so I kept it in case I ever need a cage like that even if it's not for a ferret. They are GOOD cages and are also great for kittens.
 

scarface

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Maybe contact a ferret rescue? There's got to be on in your area! They'd be happy to bring a new enthusiast into the fold and want to start you off on the right foot

And ferrets aren't rodents, they're carnivores, more closely related to dogs
Actually, they're nothing like dogs, since dogs are omnivores. In fact, being obligate carnivores, they are more closely related to cats. My girlfriend at the time owned one. She fed it high quality, cat food, like Orijen. The ferret foods you come across are actually very bad. Like cats, they need high protein, fats, and as little grain as possible.
 

Ferretlady

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The ferret foods you come across are actually very bad.
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!! Totally agree!! I'd love to hug you & your girlfriend!!! Though, I'd put a small qualifier on the above statement --- there are *some* ferret foods that are truly good for ferrets & were developed by people who knew what the heck they were doing.
Wysong is one example & there are some others, not a *lot*, but a decent handful of brands out there. BUT, you'll probably never ever see them in a typical chain pet store though. You'll most likely have to order it online, and it's definitely more expensive than the worthless $12-a-bag wheat-filled garbage at the pet store ... The stuff you tend to find in pet stores generally ranges from yuck-bad to outright dangerous in a few cases.... I haven't looked recently, but I doubt the pet store selection has gotten better than it was in the past! Esp. some of that is widely marketed as "ferret treats" - omg!!!
(Is that "Kaytee Fiesta" 'ferret treat' mix still on the market, the one with all the dried bits of fruit in it??? oh gawd, that stuff is/was intestinal-blockage-in-a-bag... there were a lot of people, including many ferret vets, who were pushing really hard to get that stuff taken off the market altogether before) "Yogies" are/were(?) another "popular" but horrible junk-food treat out there that too many people think is a "good treat" -- all that sugar, avoid those things, they're horrible for ferrets!! I'm pretty sure they're still out there. Yeah, your ferret would gobble them down, oh they're tasty enough- but they're bad for him.... lots & lots of other junk out there .... I never have understood why these companies continue to market so many products that are unhealthy for the poor animals!!!

There would probably be fewer poorly-fed ferrets if the pet stores didn't carry "ferret food" at all, and people were forced to take a little bit more time to learn what their pet really should eat, before giving it any old junk, simply because the bag says "ferret food" on it.

No matter where you get your food or what food you do get, always, always, always check the ingredients very closely, & the percentages of protein & fat.
At least the top three/four ingredients should all be meat & you should have a minimum of 40% protein, preferably higher. It's great if all ingredients are meat, with no "grain filler" at all. Why the heck would you want to feed wheat or corn to your ferret, he's not a darn rodent, he doesn't eat corn! If any grain is in the top 4 ingredients, look elsewhere. For the most part, avoid the stuff usually found in the 'ferret dept' of the pet stores & you'll be off to a good start! LOL! Talk to your ferret vet - get his input, as far as what he recommends, never stop researching & learning as much as you can yourself. But 200% agree with scarface --- high protein and fat & no-grain, or as close to zero- grain as possible - that's the ideal food to look for (and no sugars of any kind)!!! A truly high-quality cat food can be really great - I think most "recommended ferret food" lists these days do include both specific brands of cat foods & specific brands of ferret foods, as being genuinely healthy foods for ferrets. Just keep an eagle-eye on those ingredients - keep the protein/fat percentages high, watch out for/avoid the grains & sugars, and if there is even one single ingredient in the list that you're not sure about, double-check it/triple-check it/ research it/ask your vet - whatever.... before giving it to your fuzzy friend.

sorry -- I'm going to stay out of here.... I can't shut up when it comes to those wonderful little lookers!! (Oh, and yeah -- *some* ferrets WILL go after birds, it depends on the individual ferret's personality - and many others might not - but I wouldn't take the chance w/ your parrot, not unless you knew the individual ferret & *knew* that it didn't have a strong 'hunting' instinct... only one of our babies was very *strongly* that way - but oh my - he turned into rambo-attack-killer-ferret if he saw a bird or anything that he considered to be 'prey'!! Otherwise, he was the biggest silliest most docile lovey-dovey-snuggly baby-boy in the world...so funny, two totally opposite sides to his personality!!)
 
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Ferretlady

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(yikes.... so sorry, mods!!! I honestly didn't mean to do wrong!!! ) I'll be more careful, promise!!!
 

Drummindot

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(yikes.... so sorry, mods!!! I honestly didn't mean to do wrong!!! ) I'll be more careful, promise!!!
I think you've given out a LOT of really good information! I even learned a thing or two! Thanks for oversharing as it has been very educational-not wrong at all!
(I'm not a mod though...)
 
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