Ferrets have an inquisitive 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. However, their average lifespan is approximately 6 years.
Your duty to care
Owning and caring for a ferret can be great fun and very rewarding, but it can also be quite challenging and is a big responsibility and long-term commitment. If you own or are responsible for a ferret, even on a temporary basis, you are required under the Animal Welfare Act to care for him/her properly.
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.
There is no one “perfect” way to care for ferrets because every ferret and every situation is different. It is up to you how you look after your ferret, but you must take reasonable steps to ensure that you meet all of their needs.
Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of ferrets: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company and Health and welfare.
Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) belong to the carnivore family of the Mustelidae. Despite their rather misunderstood nature, they have recently become very popular pets for their charming and cheeky characters. Why not view our full Ferret factfile (PDF 44KB)
Ferrets enjoy exploring
- Ferrets are very curious and will test out most items with their mouths.
Ferrets are sociable
- Domestic ferrets are sociable and usually enjoy living in groups, although this does depend on the individual animals.
Ferrets like sleeping
- A healthy ferret may sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day.
Ferrets use a range of methods to communicate
- As well as using smell to hunt, ferrets use scent to communicate with each other.
- Ferrets also use postures and vocalisations to indicate how they’re feeling.