Ferret facts

Ferrets are inquisitive, busy and very adaptable. They love company, whether it's human, ferret, or a special canine or feline playmate.  They are extremely playful. If they have other ferret companions, they don't require a lot of social time with owners, but are very good at self-entertaining. They are quiet and are a good fit for people who live in apartments or other small living quarters. People who own ferrets tend to own more than one, because their playfulness can become addictive!

  If you are thinking about a ferret as a pet, there are some drawbacks you should consider. Ferrets will use a litterbox, but they are more difficult to litter-train than cats. They are also diggers, and can put holes in furniture and carpets. They are very good at opening cabinets and getting into things and they love to chew up anything made of any kind of rubber.

Males tend to make best pets as they are a lot calmer, laidback and affectionate, Females can tend to be quite highly strung and alot more energetic hence why favoured for working, along with there smaller size.

On the upside, ferrets are a lot of fun. They love being with people We highly recommend microchip ID's for ferrets.  We see plenty of lost ferrets who could have been reunited with their owners if they had only had some form of identification. Collars and tags do not work well for ferrets, since they are so adept at removing them.

Ferrets are strict carnivores and need a high quality diet. Feeding cheap cat food can predispose ferrets to medical problems. We highly recommend a complete ferret food specifically made for ferrets.

They are not rodents. In fact, they were domesticated several thousand years ago specifically to hunt rodents and keep households clear of pests. They are not wild animals and cannot survive without human care and protection. They are related to their wild cousins, the Black-Footed ferret in the same way that dogs are related to wolves. Domestic ferrets do not interbreed with Black-Footed ferrets and private ownership of the endangered Black-Footed ferret is prohibited by law.

  • They can Live 6-8 years on average (sometimes up to 11 or 12)
  • Females are called jills, and males are hobs. Baby ferrets are called kits
  • Males tend to be larger than females in length and weight. Females are 13-14 inches long and weigh anywhere from 0.75 to 2.5 lbs, whereas males are on average 15-16 inches long and weigh 2-3.5 lbs if neutered and are even larger (4 or more lbs) if not neutered.
  • What about the Odor?
    Ferrets have an undeserved reputation of being smelly. It is true that they have a distinctly musky odor about them, but it is neither offensive nor overpowering. This musky odor comes from their skin glands and is present whether the ferret is descented or not. While occasional baths are recommended, frequent bathing will not reduce the scent, and will likely make it worse as the skin will get too dry and the skin glands will produce more oils in an effort to combat the dryness.

    As mentioned above ferrets are usually descented in North America, which involved removal of the scent glands. They do have scent glands similar to skunk scent glands, and they will release (not spray) the contents if threatened. However, ferret scent gland secretions are milder than that of skunks and the smell dissipates quickly and washes away easily. The routine removal of scent glands, is illegal in the UK.

  • Ferrets should have a large enclosure or should be exercised daily.

  • We do reccommend keeping ferrets in pairs.

  • First year - Kits are born normally from April through to July. Early born kit hobs can become increasingly boisterous from 12-16 weeks old, their odour becomes stronger and they may start dragging other ferrets about. This behavouir normally subsides as we go into autumn and the odour decreases. They are not capable of fathering kits at this early age . From December of the first year they will start to come 'in season' .

    Second year - By February hobs will be coming into full season and capable of producing kits. They will not normally tolerate living with other hobs and will have to be housed separately. The characteristic musky odour returns to the coat and increased oil production means that the coat can be quite greasy. The breeding season for hobs is December to July. From August the hob will come out of season, losing the musky smell and oils in the coat. He may start to tolerate other ferrets again and by September onwards may be able to be housed with other ferrets until December/January when it all starts again.

    NEUTERING

    If you wish to keep your hob/s as pets it is advisable to have them neutered. A neutered hob loses most of the characteristic smell, will live with other ferrets and is quieter (as a rule) to handle. The best age to have them neutered is between 7 and 8 months when they have matured and before they come in season. Neutering a hob is a quick operation and most hobs go home from the vets the same day. Note - It can take up to six weeks for the musky odour to reduce and if the hob was in season the same time for him to accept living with other ferrets. Also a castrated hob cannot take jills out of season.

    VASECTOMY

    If you have a number of jills and do not wish to breed then a vasectomised hob can be used to take them out of season. A vasectomised hob has the same characteristics as a full hob, coming 'in season' at the same time. He will have the musky odour and may not tolerate other ferrets well.

    Jills (Females)

    First year - during the first year of a jills life they do not go through many changes.

    Second year - the breeding season for jills is from March until August. They will come into season the year after they were born. The vulva enlarges and peaks at 30 days. The jill is in 'estrus'. Jills are 'induced ovulators' which means that if they are not mated she will remain in season. This can have serious even fatal consequences. She is liable to infection due to the enlarged vulva and due to the continued production of estrogen in her body can lead to bone marrow depression which leads to a form of anemia (aplastic anemia). She will have a slight musky odour during her season.

    It is imperative that jills are not left in season.

    SPAYING

    If you are keeping your jill/s as pets it is best to get them spayed. The spay involves removal of the ovaries and uterus, although a bigger operation than for hobs most jills can go home the same day. The best time to get them spayed is as for hobs between 7 and 8 months old before they come in season. If your jill comes in season before she is spayed your vet will probably administer a hormone injection to bring her out of season and then continue with the neutering at an agreed later date.

    Spaying when a jill is in season is not recommended due to the uterus being ingorged with extra blood at this time this could lead to fatal blood loss during an operation. The spay itself will not take the jill out of season so she may also still have the possibility of becoming aplastic anemic. Other possible complication may occur that would eventually lead to death.

    JILL JAB (hormone injection)

    An alternative to spaying is when your jill comes in season is to have a jill jab at the vets. This normally reduces the swelling within a week but you may find over the breeding season she may come in season again.

    USING A VASECTOMISED HOB

    When your jill comes in season a vasectomised hob can mate her and your jill will go into a phantom pregnancy. This lasts about six weeks when your jill will probably come in season again. Jills having a phantom pregnancy can produce milk and may start dragging other jills about as they treat them as their young. There is also an increased risk of womb infections with continued phantom pregnancys.