What Owners Should Know About Ferrets

Ferrets have a distinctive odor that owners must accept. They are active, playful animals that need a lot of room to move.

Ferrets are social animals that need a lot of exercises. If not kept in an animal-friendly manner, this can lead to aggression and behavioral disorders that can significantly impair the life of the ferret.


Land predators – marten relatives – polecats

Life expectancy

6-8(10) years


Females from 6 months, males from 6-10 months


Ferrets are originally descended from the European polecat, from which they differ primarily in terms of social behavior.


Ferrets are carnivores and require multiple meals throughout the day. Fresh meat or (depending on preference) fish should be fed daily. In addition, it is advisable to feed them special dry food for ferrets and, from time to time, high-quality cat food. Since ferrets like to lug their food into hiding places or place it next to the bowl, the housing unit must be checked daily for food residues and cleaned accordingly.


The active ferrets need a lot of space in spacious enclosures (> 6 m2) or permanent access to large parts of the home. Daily free range, when kept in the enclosure, is essential. Open-air enclosures are to be preferred. However, the ferrets must have the opportunity to go to a sheltered indoor space, as they can hardly cope with temperatures above 32°C and those below 0°C. There should be several cozy places to sleep per animal.

As an enrichment, the lively animals need many varied activities, such as food balls or dog and cat toys that make noises. However, it is important to ensure that these are not bitten and small parts are swallowed. Structural elements such as tubes and Raschel tunnels also offer variety. Ferrets can be housetrained if they are provided with proper litter boxes that are cleaned several times a day.

As a special feature, ferrets have special stinky glands. The typical intensive ferret odor is secreted via these and the anal glands, which many people find unpleasant.

Behavioral problems

Problems in the group or in dealing with ferrets often lead to aggression problems. If the animals are not castrated, excessive biting can occur. Wild play with people is to be prevented to prevent aggression and positive interactions are to be strengthened. Solitary housing or a lack of mental and physical activity can also lead to abnormal repetitive behavior (ARV) in ferrets. The most commonly observed ARVs are lattice biting, stereotyped scratching, and pacing.

Frequently Asked Question

What do you need to know about ferrets?

Ferrets are very social animals and need to be kept in pairs. They need plenty of space to play and scurry around, which is why the ferret housing should have multiple floors and an outdoor enclosure.

What does it take to keep a ferret?

If you don’t have the opportunity to let the ferrets run free, plan a sufficiently large cage, with floors, ladders, tree roots, etc., so that the small animals have enough opportunity to let off steam. Of course, a drinking bottle, bowls, litter box, and place to sleep should not be missing.

Can you cuddle with ferrets?

The sociable animals need conspecifics. They love to cuddle and run around with each other. Ferrets should only be kept in a group of at least 2-3 animals.

Do ferrets become trusting?

They are tame and trusting, extremely teachable, and never boring. However, they place high demands on their husbandry, especially on feeding and exercise or employment opportunities.

Are ferrets dangerous to humans?

A ferret is not a suitable pet for small children. One should not forget that they are predators. You have sharp teeth. They may also bite or scratch.

Can ferrets bite?

Only rarely are ferrets so insufferable that they bite painfully? In extreme cases, they can get a “bite spasm” that is difficult to resolve. The animals bite hard, let go a little and bite even harder.

What don’t ferrets like?

Sugar, coloring, and preservatives must also not be included. In addition, the so-called meat substitutes, such as soy, are not at all suitable for these small predators.

Where do ferrets go to the bathroom?

Ferrets are very clean animals and tend to do their business in the same place. They like to get into corners, so you can take advantage of this and place a litter box there. It is also advisable to place a litter box near the sleeping place.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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