Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Ferret
Veterinarian, Author, Internationally recognized expert on ferrets
Judith A. Bell, DVM, PhD

If you have never owned or spent much time with a ferret, there are some things you need to know before adopting one. Some practical aspects of financial considerations, housing and cohabitation with other pets are discussed in other articles. There are additional considerations.

Do you have any animal experience?

If you have little experience handling animals, a baby ferret may not be a good choice. They are cute and cuddly in the pet shop, but in a few weeks they will be juveniles. They become perpetual motion machines, careless of their own safety and that of your belongings, climbing into everything, terrorizing your cat, and gnawing at your ankles if you dare to stand still. This can be a bewildering metamorphosis for first-time ferret owners who do not understand the nature of ferrets, and it results in some of these young ferrets being abandoned or taken to shelters. Ferrets do grow out of this stage, females often sooner than males, but it may take a year. The more ferrets you have, the less you will notice manic behavior in a young one, because the ferrets use their energy playing wild games with each other. If you are not used to living with animals, and don't think you can get through this stage, don't adopt a baby until you have had more experience. Get a healthy mature ferret from a shelter or a retired breeding animal from a private ferretry.

Do you cheer for the underdog?

People who like to back losers are happiest with an older ferret with a health problem that requires constant care. Would you like to give tender loving care to an animal that will return your affection and never complain, even when it must have treatments that make it temporarily more uncomfortable? Can you deal with losing it despite your efforts? If the answers are 'yes,' then adopt a chronically ill ferret, e.g.; one with cancer, from a shelter. It will provide a home for an animal that deserves one, as well as giving you a chance to do what you are best at.

Are you a true animal lover?

True animal-lovers tolerate anything a juvenile ferret can dish out, and grow to love him because of his exuberant behavior. These people usually have multiple ferrets and enjoy the antics of the young ones. Pet shop ferrets make wonderful pets for these homes. This type of person is also good at taking on ferrets with behavior problems. Their home may not have the Good Housekeeping Sign of Approval, but their ferrets are happy.

Do you like to get involved with others who share your interests?

Ferret shows are great fun for ferret enthusiasts, although they do put the animals at risk from infectious diseases. Some people thrive on competition and enjoy getting their pets out where they can be seen. Small breeders usually start this way, and they are the ones who might be most able to supply you with 'show ferrets.' There are classes for neutered pet shop animals as well, but if you are really interested in getting into the ferret business, it might be best to follow the shows and buy from a breeder.

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