Ferrets have an inquisitive, exploring nature and display a variety of playful behaviours. If well handled by people from a young age, ferrets can become socialized and learn to see humans as companions. They can form a strong bond with their owners. If well taken care of, healthy ferrets can live up to 10 years of age in captivity. Their average lifespan, however, is approximately 6 years.
When ferrets are not properly cared for, however, they can easily get bored. This can lead to health and welfare problems and suffering
Understanding ferrets’ needs
Ferrets are domesticated animals. Their most likely wild ancestors are the European polecat and the Steppe polecat. Since no wild counterpart exists, we are still learning about the ferret’s natural needs, habitat and behaviours.
Your duty to care
Owning and caring for a ferret can be great fun. On the other hand it can be quite challenging and also a big responsibility and long-term commitment in terms of care and finances. . If you own or are responsible for a ferret, even on a temporary basis, you are required by law to care for him/her properly.
Read more about the Animal Welfare Act and your duty of care to your animals.
The five welfare needs
There is no one “perfect” way to care for ferrets because every ferret and every situation is different, but certain essential needs must be met. It is up to you how you look after your ferret, but you must take reasonable steps to ensure that he/she:
- has a suitable place to live
- has a healthy diet and access to clean fresh water
- is able to behave normally
- has appropriate company
- is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of ferrets: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company and Health and welfare.