Pet Care Guides Small Pet

Ferret Care


Southern Europe and Northern Africa

Average Size:

16-24 inches including tail. 1- 5 lbs.


5 - 10 years

Small Pets for Children

Good pets for older children when cared for properly.

Ferret Introduction

Having a ferret as a pet can be a very rewarding experience! Before purchasing, do plenty of research to understand their behaviors, proper handling, and care requirements. Help them live a long and healthy life in your care.

Ferrets are very inquisitive, playful, affectionate, and intelligent small animals. They make wonderful pets, but they require more care than other small mammals. Their care is more comparable to that of a cat or a dog. They are obligate carnivores, meaning they only eat meat or meat-based food, no vegetables.

In the wild, ferrets are solitary creatures, but it is recommended that the owner keeps a pair as pets. That Pet Place cannot guarantee that any animal will get along with any other animal, even if they are purchased from the same cage. If an owner chooses to keep a single ferret, they must plan to spend extra time each day interacting with their pet to alleviate boredom and promote exercise for proper health. These pets may not be the best choice for small children. When ferrets play, they often "play-bite". This is natural behavior, not aggression.

That Pet Place cannot guarantee the sex of any animal of any age, especially young rodents, since they are very difficult to sex.

Housing Your Ferret

A large cage and plenty of additional room for essential exercise are a must when caring for a ferret properly. We recommend a 36” x 24” x 36” cage with up to 6 levels for 1 to 2 ferrets. The cage must have a secure latch and the wire spacing should be no larger than 1” since ferrets are very accomplished escape artists. Provide stairs or ramps to help them move safely from level to level. The bottom can be solid or wire. If it is wire, it is recommended that pet safe mats are placed over at least half the bottom and levels to provide areas to rest their feet.

Add a covered pet playpen to give them plenty of room for required exercise. The more room the better, so provide a minimum of 10 square feet to play.

The ideal temperature for a ferret is 60-80 degrees and away from drafts. Temperatures above 8o degrees are too high and can be deadly. Ferrets are very susceptible to heat exhaustion and cannot tolerate extreme temperatures. Ferrets suffer more from extreme heat than they do from the cold. They cannot sweat and dehydrate easily.

If it is too hot, provide them with a “chinchiller” or a frozen water bottle to lie next to and cool off. Keep ferrets in normal household humidity levels which would be approximately 40 to 70% humidity.

You can save time cleaning your ferret's habitat by teaching them to use a high back pan/litter box. Place it in a corner of their cage and use pelleted ferret litter, since other litter can irritate your pets' eyes and lungs. Place beds, food dishes or other furniture in the other corners of the cage to discourage elimination in these corners. If your ferrets have the run of a playroom, place two litter boxes in opposite corners of the playroom.

Ferret waste can be significant and rather messy. It is more of the consistency of dog poop and nothing like rabbit or guinea pigs pellet poops. To control odors, we recommend spot cleaning throughout the day. We also recommend a thorough daily cleaning of the litter box. Remove waste completely and wipe out or wash out the litter box with pet friendly disinfectant or soap and water. In addition, we recommend that the owner change any soiled bedding daily. Soiled wet bedding can lead to health issues with breathing and sore feet. Lastly, the cage itself must be cleaned at least once a week with pet friendly disinfectant.

If an accident happens during playtime in your house, use an enzymatic cleanser like Clean Cage Safe Deodorizer to clean the mess and prevent repeat soiling.

Provide clean, fresh spring water in both a bottle and bowl, not one or the other. Many ferrets prefer a water dish, but a water dish alone can get dirty. Use a heavy crock food dish so that is more difficult for them to tip over or spill their food.

Just as important to a ferret as dishes and bowls are levels, hideouts, hammocks, tunnels, and other toys. Ferrets are active animals that need mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Provide a variety of toys that encourage play, exploration, and problem-solving. Toys such as balls, stuffed animals, and interactive toys can all provide the necessary furnishings for regular exercise.

Catching some z z z’s is very important to a ferret’s health. Ferrets love to curl up in cozy, dark spaces to sleep and hide. Include hammocks or hideouts in their habitat to provide a sense of security and comfort for your ferret. Tunnels are great too!

Feeding Your Ferret

Your Ferret's diet should be:
• 80% Fortified ferret food
• 18-20% Supplemental foods
• 2% Treats

Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning that they only eat meat-based foods. In other words, they do not eat veggies. Provide your ferret with a fortified ferret food. Ferrets require a specialized high-protein, high-fat diet comprised predominately of animal-based ingredients. Food should always be available and provide unlimited spring water.

Supplemental foods can be high quality, animal-based proteins, and fats such as boiled or cooked muscle meats, eggs, and dehydrated organ meats.

Freeze-dried animal proteins provide a good treat option. Provide in moderation. If a treat causes digestive issues, discontinue its use. In general, avoid food ingredients like corn, peas, potatoes, cereals, grains, fruits, and other plant-based ingredients.

Ferrets typically poop several times a day. Food usually passes through their system within a few hours. Healthy ferret poop should be firm, well-formed, and brown in color.

Habitat Maintenance & Care for Your Ferret

Ferrets require attention and care every day. You will need to
• Provide fresh food & spring water daily.
• Empty and wash litter pan daily.
• Replace bedding daily.
• Wash dishes and bottles daily.
• Clean the cage itself daily or a minimum of every other day with pet friendly disinfectant.
• Replace toys and chews as needed.

Grooming Your Ferret

Brush them weekly to remove loose hair that can cause hair balls. This also helps alert you to bumps and scratches they may have. Do not bathe unless medically necessary. Small pet wipes are best as a stress-free, dry bath if need be. Brush their teeth weekly, trim their claws and clean their ears monthly.

Enrichment for Your Ferret

Enrichment, exercise, and fun are required😊! Provide toys, chews, and tunnels to encourage natural behaviors essential to a ferret’s health and happiness. Can’t ferret-proof a room…. set up a pet playpen with a cover. Put them in there a few hours a day and make sure they have access to water, food, and their toys. Always supervise your ferret. They are expert escape artists!

Bringing your Ferret Home

Allow your ferret time to get used to their new surroundings. Put their cage in a quiet area for the first few weeks and limit handling for the first 2-3 days. Avoid giving them treats at first, feeding only ferret pellets for at least the first two weeks. Check on them often and watch for signs of possible illness such as lack of appetite or loose poop. Their eyes, ears, and nose should be free and clear of any discharge. Treat any sign of illness immediately.

Handling Your Ferret

Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling any pet animal. Help prevent the spread of germs and prevent accidental bites by washing away smells that may entice them (like if you recently handled food or treats).

Handle your ferret with easy, calm movements; loud noises and quick movements can startle these animals. Any animal, even a friendly one, will bite or scratch if it feels threatened. To pick up your ferret, grasp it firmly between its front legs with one hand and slide the other hand under its back feet, bringing the animal to your chest quickly.

Use caution when holding your ferret as they may try to jump out of your hands. Handle them while you are in a seated position to minimize the chance of a fall. If your ferret falls or is dropped, they can become seriously injured. They should be seen by a vet, as not all injuries are visible to the naked eye.

If you are selecting a pet ferret for a young child, ferrets may prefer not to be handled like some other pets. Young children should always be supervised by parents when interacting with their pet. Not only are these animals fragile, but they can, if frightened, bite or scratch. Parents are encouraged to handle the animals first to get them used to contact and to teach children the proper way to hold or carry their pet.

Health Concerns

It is important to keep up with your ferret's annual vet visits and vaccinations to prevent or diagnose common health issues. Ferrets are susceptible to most mutations of the flu virus, including strains that can infect humans. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms it is best to limit your contact with your ferrets. Watch your ferret for nasal discharge, sneezing, decreased appetite, lethargy, and fever. The flu and the highly fatal distemper virus share many common symptoms and can progress rapidly. Ferrets are highly susceptible to canine distemper, and the disease proves fatal for virtually all the ferrets that come into contact with the virus. Though the disease is extremely deadly, proper vaccination protects ferrets from infection. If you observe any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you take your pet to the veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible.

Gastrointestinal obstruction or impaction is also common in ferrets. Often ferrets try to ingest any number of inedible objects or fruits, vegetables, and grains that they cannot digest. Impaction can be very serious, even fatal, if not treated early. The best medicine is prevention. Keep small objects out of reach while ferrets are running free. If your pet becomes lethargic, unwilling to eat, produces diarrhea or darkened, green, or very thin poop take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.


1. Provide a large multi-level cage with hides and a playpen for exercise.
2. Provide unlimited spring water in a bowl and a bottle.
3. Provide fortified, ferret pellet food. (80% of diet)
4. Provide tunnels, hides, cozy beds, and hammocks to sleep in.
5. Provide a chew for good teeth health.
6. Provide clean, fresh, dry, bedding daily or as necessary.
7. Provide high-back pan/litter box.
8. Ferret proof your home.
9. Handle your ferret carefully with two hands, while on or near the floor.
10. Provide love, care, and company. Ferrets are social. They like having a friend.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about your new family member.

We recommend scheduling a check up with an exotics veterinarian soon after you bring your ferret home. Just like a dog or a cat, ferrets need vaccinations and annual vet visits. It is also helpful to keep a medical record about your pet should an emergency ever occur.

Pet care is always evolving & changing. Please continue to research and monitor your pet’s behavior to assure they are thriving. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our small animal department at 717-299-5691 ext. 1274 or