Ferret 101

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Ferret 101

Post by coldfusionpower on Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:54 pm

Family Connections
Ferrets belong to the Mustelidae family and, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th edition), that group contains a variety of animals unmatched by any other family in the Carnivora Order except the civets (Viverridae).

The family includes the weasels, polecats, minks, martens, fishers, wolverines, otters, badgers and a number of less well-known animals, a total of about 70 species in 25 genera.

In most mustelids the males are larger than the females.

All members of the mustelid family have anal glands with powerful musk. Ferrets give off a "stink bomb" when they get frightened or excited but the smell usually dissipates quickly.

Most mustelids have short legs and many tend to have an elongate, slender body. They are quiet, agile, and graceful in their movements. They are also basically silent animals, usually making only a sound like a squeak, whistle or bark. Many will snarl or growl when annoyed.

The giant otter is the most vocal, giving off a high-pitched whistle, while excited yellow-throated martens make a harsh cry and often chuckle in a low tone.

Almost all mustelids are active both day and night, although most of their activity is nocturnal.

The Physical Ferret - Tech Specs
Here are some facts and figures about ferrets

Adult Size
Blokes (boys): Length - 43 - 61cm (17" - 24")
Weight - 1.3kg - 2.2kg (2.8lb - 4.8lb)

Sheilas (girls): Length - 30.5 - 41cm (12" - 16")
Weight - 450g - 1.3kg (15oz - 2.8lb)



Lifespan
Ferrets can live up to 10 years old. However there have been occasions when ferrets have lived up to 14 years.

Because they are so prone to cancers, it's hard to tell how long they'll be with you. In America they reach middle age around 3 years old, whereas in Australia and probably England, 6 years is considered middle age for ferrets.

Unsterilized vs sterilized
Unsterilized females can die from aplastic anemia if left on heat. It is therefore much better for both the ferret and its owner for the females to be sterilized around 6 months old.

Unsterilized males have a very strong and unpleasant smell when in rut, and they tend to be aggressive with other males and drag any females around by the scruff of their neck so would need to be caged on their own. Unless you are a breeder (and it is NOT RECOMMENDED that you breed just for the heck of it), it is strongly advised that males be sterilized as soon as they start smelling a bit high and getting rough with the rest of your ferrets or with you - usually around 6 months old at the latest.

Sweat Glands
As they have poorly developed sweat glands, they'll suffer if the temperature goes over 32C (90F). It's a good idea to put them inside an air-condition room and small fan for carrier when travel.

Baculum
Male ferrets have a baculum (os penis). This is a bony structure which serves to "lock" the pair when they are mating. If you check a boy's stomach, it looks a bit like a 'belly button'. Girls don't have anything like that on their stomachs so that's an easy way to tell the difference between the two sexes.



Are Ferrets Crepuscular? Diurnal? Nocturnal?
I have seen statements that feral ferrets are solitary and nocturnal (active at night) but show diurnal (active chiefly in the daytime) activity as pets. I have also seen websites claiming that ferrets are crepuscular (meaning they like to play at dawn and dusk).

As ferrets sleep for around 18-20 hours a day, when are they active and happy to play with their owners? I can tell you that they are up and active when they wake up and decide they're done sleeping and want some fun.

Weasel War Dance
I think the term weasel war dance is basically a misnomer. I reckon it should be the wacky weasel dance, or even the weasel wacky dance! View It Here


Ferrets don't do their war dance to prepare for a bout of martial arts but because they are happy and exuberant and full of the joys of spring, autumn, summer, winter -- whatever! It just doesn't matter. What a fabulous way to embrace life.

Vocal interaction
Ferrets aren't particularly vocal. Some will 'chuckle' as they wander around the place, as if they're talking to themselves. Others will 'chuckle' when with another ferret. It sounds like a low pitched "dook dook dook dook dook" coming from their throats. When angry or scared, ferrets can hiss loudly or even let out a short, loud 'scream' almost.

The bottlebrush
When a ferret gets excited or frightened, it will puff up its tail like a bottlebrush.



Colours
Ferrets comes in numbers of colours. visit here and here and here for more detail. :thumbs: :wub:

Product/Service Cost Yearly Cost for A Ferret for 1-3 Years of Age Yearly Cost (USD)
Spoiler:

Purchase Price
100-200

Cage
60-150

Litter Pan
5-8

Feed Bowls and Waterers
6-10

Harness and Leash
7-14

Pet Carrier
14-30

Grooming supplies, e.g.; brush, shampoo, deodorizing spray
10-20

Toys
18-40

Accessories, e.g.; hammock, sleeping tube
10-50

Litter
25-50

Food
50-60

Routine veterinary care and vaccinations
75-150

Other veterinary care, e.g.; dental cleaning, blood screening test, chronic illness
100-300

Heartworm and flea prevention/control
20-200

Medications and supplements, e.g.; nutritional, fatty acids, hair ball remedies, ear mite medication
12-50

Treats
10-40

Totals
$412.00-$1072.00

**Based on my reseaches, these fee is minimum for you to adopt a healthy long live ferret. So this is just to acknowledge those ferret fevers whom 'feel like' or excited to get one but forget about highly maintainance fee...this is what you need to prepare at least to see your ferret keep on 'weasal war dance' ^^


Last edited by coldfusionpower on Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Ferret 101

Post by coldfusionpower on Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:56 pm

Tame ?
I prefer not to use the term tame/untamed ferrets since all pet ferrets are domesticated ferrets. The reason for bites could be many, nervousness, self defense or lack of socializing.

Extra Resource from Ferret.Com

Spoiler:
Copy and Paste from Ferret.Com. Credit to TortieBaby

Here's some odds'n'ends info that I collected from all over the internet that will not only help newbies, but I'm sure there are a couple things here that even the "oldies" haven't hear before:


* Nine out of ten ferret-specific treat foods have no meat products whatsoever and are comprised entirely of sweeteners and grains, with some fruits and vegetables thrown in. This is not only not healthy it is downright dangerous.

* Here's a good, free online book to read about raw diets for pets. It talks about dogs and cats but can definately be applied to ferrets: http://pet-grub.com/

* A ferret's cage should be a minimum size of 24"x24" x18" high for up to two ferrets. The cage can be multilevel, but avoid steep ramps because ferrets are not natural climbers and could fall and injure themselves. Aquariums are not suitable cages for ferrets because of inadequate air circulation. Also, the flooring should be solid, not wire bars or mesh.

* Also, if your ferret has a cold, here's a good way to help get rid of it, or help prevent future colds: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cl...3&articleid=564


* Litter boxes should be rectangular (NOT triangular!) and large enough for the ferret to get all four feet in and back up in a corner comfortably.

* Zinc, iron, vitamin D can be toxic to ferrets if given in too high of doses.

* For info on the dangers of giving your ferret(s) supplements(ferretone,ferrevite, etc...), check out this site: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ferreter/supple.htm

* If you would like to know all about the different vitamins, their functions, and how to know when your ferret is not getting enough of each vitamin, check out this page: http://www.ozferret.org.au/articles.php?page=ferretvitamins

* Clumping litters are harmful to ferrets and should never be used.

* Pine litter or crystal litter should not be used for ferrets.

* Cedar shaving bedding should NEVER be used for ferrets as it can cause irreparable respiratory damage.

* Ferrets need to be provided with fresh food and water twenty-four hours a day.

* A few drops of Ferretone or a pea sized dab of Ferretvite should suffice as a daily treat (don't follow the directions on the bottle- your ferret's food contains vitamin A as well). Always be aware of the dangers of possible vitamin A toxicity. For this reason, it is not advisable to give your ferret too much of any supplement, even though they may really enjoy it.

* Baths are recommended no more often than once a month. More frequent bathing will dry out the skin and coat, and actually make your ferret smell worse as the body works extra hard to produce more skin oils.

* Clip your ferret's nails every 2 weeks. Clipping at one week may be uncomfortable for the ferret and cause retraction of the "quick" which can lead to later arthritis, and waiting three weeks allows the "quick" to elongate, which can cause pain while walking.

* Clean your ferret's ears twice a month.

* To clean the ears, use a Q-tip moistened with a gentle cleanser such as Oti-Clens or Clorahexiderm. You could use hydrogen peroxide or mineral oil, but HP may dry out the ear, and mineral oil may add to the was problem. Alcohol is too strong and painful to the sensitive ear membranes.

* Ferretone and Linatone are OK treats, but if you are already feeding your ferret(s) a good food then the supplements should only be given in very small quantities. Maybe a couple drops a day, at the most. However, the supplement can halved with olive oil or vegetable oil(NOT mineral oil).

* Too much ferretone or Linatone can give your ferret loose stools.

* Vitamin A can be harmful and sometimes fatal to ferrets.

* Older ferrets can have kidney problems from too much protein. So, if you have an older ferret (4+) you may want to switch to a low protein dry food.

* Soft cat food is not good for ferrets, generally contains less protein than dry food and can lead to tooth decay. However, it can be used for young kits and ferrets recovering from surgery or illness.

* Dog food is NOT acceptable! It does not contain taurine or other nutrients that are only found in ferret and some cat foods. Also, they contain high levels of vegetable protein and fiber(ferrets cannot digest fiber).

* The protein in ferret foods should be meat-based protein, NOT vegetable protein. Vegetable protein has been proven to cause diseases such as bladder stones, poor coat and skin quality, eosinophilic gastroenteritis(wasting, diarrhea, and ulceration of the skin), poor growth of kits and decreased reproduction.

* Ferrets use fat for energy, NOT carbohydrates(thus, they should not eat foods that have corn as one of their main ingredients) and they need highly digestable meat-based protein, not vegetable protein.

*Is has not been proven, but is thought that feeding high carbohydrate foods to your ferret(s) may cause insolinoma and neoplasia.

*The best diet for ferrets would be whole prey foods such as rats, mice, or chicks.(for more info, do a yahoo search on B.A.R.F.)

*A dry ferret diet should contain at least 30 - 40 % crude protein and 15 -20% fat. The protein should be of animal origin and highly digestible.

*The first three ingredients of ferret food should be meat-based.


More Resources
All About Ferrets
Ferrets Health Care
Ferrets Cafe
Dr.Foster and Smith Ferret Facts
Ferret Food Comparison


How to trim Ferret Nails


Ten Tips to Help Keep Your Ferret
Happy and Healthy!

Spoiler:

1. Feed your ferret a premium ferret or premium kitten food (only if ferret food is not available). Make sure the food you choose contains at least 34% protein and less than 2% fiber. Make sure that meat is the first ingredient on the list of ingredients on the back of the bag. Avoid any ferret foods that contain dried fruits and vegetables. Remember, ferrets are strict carnivores!

2. Give your ferret meat based treats or fatty acid supplements as treats. Give your ferret cooked chicken, chicken or turkey baby food, chicken livers, cooked egg, and chicken or turkey flavored cat or ferret treats. Avoid giving your ferret fruits and raw vegetables as treats. A raison a day won't hurt your ferret, however raisons provide no nutrients for your ferret (and they contain sugar). Raw vegetables can cause intestinal blockages in ferrets. Remember, ferrets do not have a cecum and cannot digest vegetable matter.

3. Give your ferret a one-half inch ribbon of hairball remedy a few times a week during non-shedding seasons, and a one inch ribbon daily during shedding season. Be sure to give your ferrets the hairball treatment at least one hour after they eat. Don't give your ferret hairball remedy right before he or she eats a meal. Remember, hairballs can and do cause stomach and intestinal blockages in ferrets. They can't cough up hairballs in the same way cats do.

4. Give your ferret at least three hours of supervised out of the cage play time each day. Invent creative games to play with your ferret and provide him or her with lots of interactive toys. Remember, ferrets are very intelligent animals. They can get depressed and stressed if caged for too long. This can lead to illnesses such as ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems (plus it is just isn't nice). Hold your ferret often and give him or her lots of affection. Ferret are social animals (like dogs) and need interaction with others for good mental and physical health.

5. Purchase the largest cage possible for your ferret. One ferret requires a cage that is at least three feet wide, two feet deep and three feet high. If you have more than one ferret, you need a much bigger cage. Choose a ferret cage that has multiple levels. Fill the inside of the cage with tubes, tunnels, hammocks, sleep sacks, dangle toys, a litter box, food bowls, a water bottle and lots of soft fabric bedding. Don't ever use a fish aquarium as a ferret home.

6. Use recycled paper litter in your ferrets litter boxes. Do not use cedar or pine chips as litter for the litter boxes or as bedding in the cage. These products may cause respiratory problems in ferrets.

7. Ferret proof your home!!! Keep your ferret away from shoes, soft rubber items, foam rubber, Styrofoam, pencil erasers, rubber bands, nuts, candy, chocolate, soda, chips, gum, cleaning supplies, soap etc.. Be aware that ferrets like these items and will do anything they can to get them. All of these items are potentially lethal to your ferret. Block off any openings around the dishwasher, stove and under cabinets. Keep your ferret away from the laundry room. Also be aware that ferrets can climb into reclining chairs, sofas and beds to fall asleep. Ferrets are often injured by getting crushed in furniture. Always know where your ferret is at all times. Never let your ferret run around the house unsupervised. Ferrets can open cabinets and climb into bath tubs, washers and dryers and drawers. Try to have a ferret safe room for your ferret to play in.

8. Groom your ferret. Make sure your ferret's nails stay trimmed. Clean your ferret's ears whenever you see wax building up. Keep your ferret free of fleas. Don't bath your ferret more than once a month (unless he or she gets into something). Brush your ferret's fur regularly, especially during shedding seasons (spring and fall). Brush your ferret's teeth with cat toothpaste at least once a month.

9. Have money set aside for medical emergencies. Be sure to have enough money set aside for emergency surgeries and vet visits. Try setting aside a certain amount of money every month for your ferret's medical care. Just one surgery can run as much as $800.00 or more. Your ferret depends on you to care for it in the event of a medical emergency. Have at least $1000.00 available at all times for medical care. Ferrets do tend to get illnesses that require surgery.

10. Keep your ferret up to date on his or her vaccinations and heart worm medication. Ferret do need to be vaccinated against rabies and canine distemper on a yearly basis. Both diseases are lethal to your ferret. If you live in an area with mosquitos, your ferret needs to be on a monthly heart worm prevention medication. Take your ferret in for a check up and vaccinations every year (more often if your ferret is ill).

Written by Mahri

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