Ferret 101

Quick Facts
LIFESPAN: Approximately 7-9 years
SIZE: Up to 20” (51cm) long

Grooming & Health Care

  • You should only bathe your ferret once every several months and a specialty ferret shampoo should be used. Frequent bathing can lead to problems, such as dry skin, and will strip the natural oils from their fur.
  • In order to reduce a ferret’s natural musky odor, be sure to keep their bedding and litter clean.
  • Clipping your ferret’s nails is also an important step in keeping him healthy.
  • Ferrets, especially babies, are susceptible to upper respiratory infections so it is extremely important to shield your ferret from sick humans or other sick pets.

Ferrets are not rodents


  • Ferrets are carnivores and should be fed diets that are made exclusively for ferrets and that are high in animal protein and fat and low in fibre.
  • Ferrets have extremely high metabolisms and digest their food every 2-3 hours. As a result, fresh food and water should be available at all times.
  • Food and water bottles should be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis.
  • Treats that have little or no sugar can be offered sparingly and as a reward. Ferrets enjoy fruits such as bananas, grapes and melon but should be fed these in moderation.
  • Avoid nuts and grains as these are not easily digested in the ferret.
  • Do not feed your ferret dairy, chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallows, soft drinks, ice cream or potato chips.

Health Issues to Watch For

  • Sneezing, discharge from nose or eyes
  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Diarrhea or discolored droppings
  • Bare patches in fur
  • Straining to urinate or defecate
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Ear mites
  • If you notice any of the symptoms above seek veterinary care.

Fun Ferret Facts

  • Ferrets, minks and weasels belong to the same family.
  • Ferrets are not rodents.
  • Female ferrets are called “jills”, and spayed female ferrets are called “Sprites”.
  • Male ferrets are called “hobs”, and neutered male ferrets are called “gibs”.
  • Ferrets less than 1 year old are called “kits”.
  • Ferrets sleep an average of 18-20 hours per day.
  • The name ferret comes from the Latin word “furonem” which means “thief”.
  • Baby ferrets open their eyes at around 34 days of age.
  • All kits are born pink and gain their color at around 3 weeks of age.
  • A jill can have 1-15 kits in a litter.
  • Stealing and hiding objects is part of their natural instinctive behavior.

It is important to ferret-proof your home. Use this general rule: when a ferret can get its head through an opening, they can get their whole body through it. Look for loose air ducts, openings under appliances, dryer and dishwasher doors, cupboards and counters. Be mindful of electric cords; ferrets have been known to chew and tug on them. Keep toilet seats down and household chemicals stored safely.