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In the United States, ferrets’ popularity began to grow since the 1960s, becoming known as the ‘90 pets, and currently, the number of pet ferrets in the United States is estimated to have reached 80 million.
This is a mammalian predator. Some species can be incredibly active and aggressive. Despite this, ferrets get to live not only in their natural environment but also in apartments, as pets. Ferrets have become so popular that people nowadays buy them more often than cats.
The domestic ferret, Mustela putorius furo, has been domesticated for more than 2500 years, and its name comes from the Latin “furritus” meaning “little thief”.
They are a domesticated version of a mammal called the European Polecat. They belong to the genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae, which is the same as that of the weasel.
Their fur is brown, white, black, or mixed and they are known to have a lifespan of 7-10 years. They grow to an average length of 51 cm, which includes their 13 cm tails. They weigh about 0,7-2 kg and are dimorphic predators. Their males are larger than females.
Experts have estimated that their domestication dates back about 2.500 years, but the exact timing is still questionable. They have been domesticated to hunt rabbits in some parts of the world, but most are kept as pets.
Types Of Pet Ferret
Ferrets are often kept as pets. If you’re thinking of bringing one into your home, here’s a list of different types of ferrets you should consider!
Albino ferrets have pink to red eyes, pink noses, and white fur. If you take care of them properly, they look really attractive and their appearance allows owners to easily find them even in dark rooms. Ferrets become lethargic in the afternoon and will need a lot of napping.
However, they are particularly active and energetic in the morning. They must be bathed by their owners at least once a month so that they remain fluffy and soft. Many children and elders often keep ferrets as pets for therapy.
From their small nose to the tip of their tail, these ferrets have an intense black color. Their heads have hooded-like marks that reach up to their noses. The substrate of the animal’s hair is cream or white in shade.
The basic hair has no warm tone and is brown-black in color. The eyes are small and often dark brown or black. Their nose has a black-and-ash brownish color.
Black Sable Mitt
Black Sable Mitt ferrets are the same as Black Sable ferrets, except for one major difference: They have four white legs – two-thirds from toes up the foot.
Apart from the white color of the socks, they also have a pretty white beard. Their nose and eyes are black or almost black.
Sable Siamese Ferrets
Siamese Sable ferrets are the same as Chocolate, Cinnamon, or Sable ferrets, but with a darker shade of hair on their legs. They have a unique V-shaped mask, which is darker in color than their tail and extremities. The lower part of their body has a dark line, the same color as the fur on their tail and legs.
Blaze ferrets have fur in layers of different colors. The animals have an uninterrupted white stripe, which starts from the small area between the eyes above the head and descends into the area behind the neck.
They also have four gloves and a white beard like many other species of ferrets. Blaze ferrets are also characterized by small, colored rings around the eyes, which can sometimes make them appear to have small masks.
Champagne ferrets are truly unique because they have brown-chocolate milk protective hair. They usually have a white underlayer, but they can also have a slightly golden shade on the abdomen. They have pink, pink brown, or beige eyes.
Some chocolate ferrets look like they have ruby red eyes, but most of them have black eyes. Their nose has a T-contour like many other ferret species and is pink to brown in color.
Their tails, feet, and masks are dark brown to red. Small brown protective hair covers the entire head, body, and neck. The underlayer of the animal has wheat-like hair with a creamy color.
Chocolate Mitt ferrets
Chocolate Mitt ferrets are identical to Chocolate ferrets because they have small brown protective hair, masks, tails, and reddish-brown legs. However, there is a major difference – they have four gloves, which fit very well with the light color of the coat.
Cinnamon ferrets have cute hair and tails with reddish-brown nuance. Their legs often have a darker shade of reddish brown, and their nose is pink. They have a variety of shaded cinnamon masks that complement the red-brown fur they have.
The eyes of the cinnamon ferret are dark to light in burgundy color. They may also have black eyes.
Cinnamon Mitt Ferret
Cinnamon Mitt ferrets look exactly like their cinnamon-colored counterparts because they have cinnamon-colored shade masks and red-brown fur on their bodies. The only difference is that they have four white gloves.
Dalmatian ferrets have white fur, with different patterns of black spots on the back. This makes them look like little Dalmatian puppies. They have black or dark ruby eyes and a pink nose.
Silver ferrets have a very unique layer of deep gray and black hair. Their nose is pink, mottled, or black. Their eye masks appear to be a small spot around the eyes instead of proper masks, and their gloves have a bright white color that fits well with gray.
Panda ferrets are cute creatures with white hair on their nose, head, and shoulders. They have a large white beard that covers the entire lower body.
The only colored part of the body is the saddle shape on the back. They have a white-tipped tail and four gloves. Their nose is pink and their eyes can be of any color.
Lately, ferrets have become beloved members of many households. However, it is important to take care of these species and protect them.
The benefits of owning a pet ferret
Ferrets are very lazy and sleep for a long time, about fourteen to eighteen hours a day, but during the hours they stay awake they are very active animals, exploring their entire environment in an exhaustive way. They adapt to the rhythm of their owners’ lives. Even though they are nocturnal predators, they do not make too much noise when people sleep.
They are clean animals, they are easy to train to use the litter box, which facilitates their maintenance in a city apartment.
A pet ferret at home does not require much space. In addition, they can be easily transported in special bags. This creature reacts well to all kinds of movements, unlike many cats and dogs.
If you compare a ferret with other animals, for example, with a puppy, then, as mentioned earlier, they have the same playful character and agility and can practically replace the dog. But, in the ferret’s case, you don’t have to take them out every day. If the owner has such a desire, the pet will not oppose a walk in the harness, as do most felines.
This will be a great pet, even for people with allergies. Even if you have no allergies, but children live in the house, this will be a huge plus.
What to know before getting a ferret?
Caring for a ferret is not difficult, but the pet will still need time to socialize. Without this time, the animal simply wilts and can begin to bite. The ferret sleeps a lot, plays, eats, and does its needs in the same place as a cat, but can get close to its owner like a dog and even be walked on a leash.
Because of the aggressive way they play, they are not recommended around small children or small animals, however, they can successfully socialize with larger carnivores such as dogs and cats.
You also need to take into account the potent odor it gives off. This smell can be considerably diminished by castration or eliminating the perianal glands responsible for this smell.
The ferret can be washed like a dog, about once a month using special shampoo to remove its specific smell.
You will need a large cage with strong bars very close one to another because the ferret is very mobile and can sneak through very small holes. In the cage, you should put quality bedding for rodents and even a litter box, as they are known to be doing their needs in the same place.
The cage can be equipped with cottages, wooden shelves, and hammocks. Small toys for dogs can also be added. Given the nocturnal and twilight nature of the animal, the light should not be very strong in the cage area.
Ferrets are highly extroverted animals; they love to play with humans. Play, from the animal’s perspective, may be something that resembles hiding, or more like a way of representing a hunt, in which a human has to capture it, or it will have to try to bite people by the limbs. Just like in a playful cat game, ferrets do not bite their playmates most of the time, but gently grasp a finger or foot with their mouth and then roll around it. But if it is an animal that has been abused or is injured, it will bite people very firmly.
The pet ferret’s diet resembles that of the cat, eating both dry and wet food with high protein content and low-fat content. Some owners also offer raw meat to their animals and occasionally even live rodents.
Ferrets can be the ideal alternative to classic pets like dogs or cats, but they don’t need as much attention as the rest do, being almost as easy to maintain as rodents.