Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Ferret World
Home
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

What Is A Ferret?
       
First, the domestic ferret is not a team to wild animal anymore than a poodle or a Persian cat.  The domestic ferret is a separate species from its wild cousins, the Lisle, mink, ermine and it's more distant cousin, the native American black footed ferret.  Some researchers estimate that the ferret has been domesticated for over 3000 years, which is 500 years longer the house cat.  The domestic ferret has lost its ability to survive in the wild and depends totally on humans for its survival.

 

Myths
        "The ferret is a vicious animal."
  Actually the ferret is one of the least likely of the companion animals to cause a serious injury.  By statistics, normalized to the number of animals, show that any given the domestic ferret is much less likely to bite and any given the pet dog.

            The domestic ferret is one of the least likely companion animals to catch or transmit the rabies virus.  The IMRAB-3 rabies vaccine was approved for the domestic ferret in 1990.  Since 1956, 16 cases of rabies in the domestic ferret has been reported.  Compare this number to the thousands of dogs and cats that have been found to carry the rabies virus.  The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has stated that there has never been a reported case of the domestic ferret transferring rabies to a human.

 

Vive La Difference
   
     Domestic ferret have a variety of personalities.  In comparison with the more common household pets, the domestic ferret could be said to be somewhere between the dog and the cat is overall behavior.  It is not as demanding for attention as the dog nor is it as aloof and independent as the cat.  Like the dog, the ferret can be trained to come to its name and to do tricks.  Like the cat, it can be trained to use a litter box most of the time.  Unlike the dog, it does not have to be walked and makes little glaze.  Unlike the cat, it retains its playful kittenish behavior all of its life. 

Unaltered male ferrets are called "Hobs".  Altered males are called "Gibbs".  I altered females are called "Jills".  Altered females are called "Sprites".  Even though most private breeders and knowledgeable veterinarians do not recommend altering domestic ferrets until after they have sexually matured, which occurs at approximately five to six months.  Most ferrets born on the large breeding farms are altered and a few weeks after birth.  Unless your breeder, both the male and female should be altered shortly after sexual maturation.  A jail at about five to six months of age will come into heat in the spring.  Unless bread, she will remain in heat.  This condition likely lead to a fatal infection or to fatal aplastic anemia.  Hobs will exhibit a very strong, musky odor when they come into season.  Thomas will proceed to market their territory, your home and even you with urine.  If not allowed to breed, the hob will often develop gastric ulcers or other potentially fatal stress related diseases.  If you get an unaltered ferret, be sure to have it altered by about five to six months of age.  Their life will depend upon it. 

The temperament of the altered males and females is similar.  The male tends to become twice the size and weight of the female.  On the average began tends to weigh between two to five pounds while the sprite tends to weigh between one to two and a half pounds.  Males also tend to have a broader face them the females making them easily identifiable once you know what to look for.  Late altered males are typically larger and have thicker, more muscular necks as well as wide heads.  Late altered females may be smaller than their early altered sisters.  They have shorter legs and bodies as well as wide or necks and heads. 

Young ferrets are called "Kits".  They generally reach maturity at around five to six months but may put on an additional growing spurt at eight months.  They are considered adults at one year.  During this process, the domestic ferret goes through several behavioral stages.  The earliest age is the "Gee, I have teeth!" stage. 

Picture 6

Gee. I have teeth! 

Kits love to play for shortly after birth, they have littermates to play with.  The ferret kits, unlike humans, are blessed with incredibly tough skin.  Normal play involves biting and shaking that would read most other quarter past animals into small bite-sized pieces.  To the kit, this is just great fun. 

Suddenly the kit finds itself with a great, new, funny looking playmate.  You!  One of the first things it will try to do is engaged you in "play".  However, you will probably find this "play" somewhat painful.  Kits are very intelligent and will quickly learned that their new playmates don't appreciate this type of play, if you firmly and consistently discourage it.  The main thing to remember is that all young animals will use their mouth to grasp things.  They aren't being me.  They don't mean to heart.  You, as the owner, are responsible for teaching them what constitutes acceptable behavior.  The ferret learns faster than most animals just what is acceptable.  Nip training is discussed a little bit of (no pun intended) is later. 

At this stage in their life, kits love to explore.  Put them in a new room and they will examine every looking cranny.  Then they'll go around the second time to make sure they have missed anything with first-time through.  Then they'll go through it again to make sure nothing changed since the last time.  In this stage, they tend not to like being held for long periods of time.  There is just too much that they want to see and do. 

Kits sleep for considerable amounts of time and sleep very sadly.  Many and owner of a young ferret will think there's something terribly wrong because they can't get their ferret to wake up or, if they do, it shakes uncontrollably.  This is normal behavior in a ferret, particularly in the kit. 

The Ferret As An Adolescent
   
     Just when you think you have all of the training behind you, your ferret enters adolescents and forget everything you've taught it.  At least it seems that way.  At about six months of age, the domestic ferret begins to mature and develop its adult personality.  Like a human adolescent, this is a time for testing boundaries.  Just be firm inconsistent.  Provide play and love in large measures.  The patient.  It only lasts a few months. 

Picture 7 

Adulthood
   
     The domestic ferret reaches adulthood by one year of age and will live on the average for 69 years.  Ten-year-old ferrets are not uncommon with some reported to live twelve years or more.  By one year of age, however, you will probably noticed a significant change in its personality.  Although still very playful, it will begin to seek you out and "ask" to be picked up and held.  It will actively seek your approval and take an interest in things you are doing.  It will enjoy going on "outings" with you.  Many knowledgeable people will recommend that first-time ferret owners considered the adult ferret as their first choice. 

Picture 8

 

General Behavior
   
     Regardless of age, you'll find that your ferret is a hyperactive, energetic little bundle of fur.  The ferrets remain playful for their entire lives and are constantly into everything.  If this is your first ferret, one of the things he will probably observed in the first day or two is the "ferret dance of joy" sometimes called the "ferret war dance".  They will hob about like they have spring was on their feet, backs arched, mouths wide open, heads swinging back and forth while sometimes making a hissing or chirping sound.  This has panicked many who are unfamiliar with this call to play.  What's wrong with my ferret?  Is it sick?  Don't worry.  It just means your ferret is happy it is having a great time. 

Another almost universal pose is the "flat ferret".  Here the ferret gets as close to the ground and as flat as possible, usually right in front of you.  This is actually a hunting instinct and the ferret is stealthily attempting to sneak up on something.  Or at least it thinks it is.  Sometimes it almost seems to be saying, "Gee, look how pitiful I am.  How can you not hold me?  Please pick me out."  Ignore this and it might even come up and tap you on the leg or ankle to get your attention before going back to the "flat ferret" pose.  Ignore this and, as a last resort, your ferret may grab your ankle in its mouth.  This is in its way of "shouting" to get your attention.  This usually works quite well for the ferret.

  Picture 9 

Ferrets are very clever and their front paws are great at manipulating objects.  They can open cabinet doors and drawers so be careful where you leave your caustic cleaning materials.  Childproof lots are not necessarily ferret through flocks.  They are also in genius at figuring out has two things that are up and out of reach.

 

For questions or comments about the web site contact: jcoghill2@cox.net