Ferrets are true carnivores. They can get viral, bacterial, fungal infections; as well as internal or external parasites. They also suffer from tumors, hormonal disturbances, and metabolic disease. Baby ferrets need distemper vaccine at the age of 8 weeks, repeating at 10 and 12 weeks, and the Rabies vaccine at the age of 12 weeks. Older Ferrets require an annual check-up (fecal worm check, glucose test, CBC, blood chemistry, total body x-ray, rabies and distemper vaccine). Seasonal weight loss is common in ferrets, this condition makes the ferret's owner very worried.
The best type of housing is a standard wire cage. There are a variety of cages available at pet stores that are designed for ferret use. We have found that most ferrets prefer cages with levels. We advise not to use aquariums or wood chips. Be sure to cage your ferret when no one is home.
Ferrets are obligate carnivores and they require a meat diet with a high percentage of protein and fat, and low percentage carbohydrate and fiber content. Never feed your ferret a vegetarian diet, plant proteins are not good for ferrets. Young ferrets and lactating females require more protein and fat (at least 40% protein and minimum 25% fat) than mature or non-breeding adults (at least 30% protein, 18% to 30% fat for mature adults, and for non-breeding adults 18% to 20% fat). They do not require fiber or starch in their diet. Fiber content should never be above 2%. Too much fiber causes digestive upsets and stool problems. The excessive sweet treats should not be given because ferrets have a smaller large intestine so they can only digest simple carbohydrates. Their pancreas can respond life-threateningly to increased sugar intake. Cheap supermarkets or generic cat foods should be avoided because they contain a corn base and ferrets cannot digest high fiber diets. Avoid foods that contain soy flour, soybean meal, and foods that contain a lot of cereal-based additions besides the meat by-product because they could contain more plant protein than animal protein. Totally Ferret ® is a high-quality ferret food. Visit them at totally ferret Iams and Hills also carry certain cat foods that are suitable for ferrets.
Handling and Transportation
Ferrets are fun and loving animals. They are naturally curious animals and are sometimes fearless. Ferrets can and will get into anything that catches their interest so be sure to never let your ferret run loose around the house unsupervised. Ferret proof your house by blocking entrances to places where they can get stuck, and be careful of where you step or sit when they are out. Ferrets enjoy playing, but can sometimes play rough. Young ferrets may bite hard when they are seeking food. Be careful when you first approach a baby ferret. Older ferrets might nip like a cat, or bite hard and hang on to your finger. Sometimes they may bite hard enough to puncture the skin and go deep into the muscle. As you play with a ferret, determine it's an emotional state and how likely it is to play rough. Do not allow young children to play with ferrets unattended. Spray bottles containing water may be used to deter biting and fighting when necessary. Ferrets can be trained to walk on a harness, but a carrier box is the best way to transport them to and from veterinary visits.
Drugs and medications have not really best tested for ferrets. Dosage and reactions are largely unknown. Be careful when giving medications to ferrets, and always check with your veterinarian first. Ferrets can take the medication in the form of injections, liquid syrups or pastes.
Ferrets should receive rabies vaccine and canine distemper vaccine once a year. During their first year, they are first vaccinated at age 8 weeks, 10 to 12 weeks and 13 to 14 weeks for distemper and given rabies at 12 weeks.