Keeping your ferret happy

If you're keeping pet ferrets, you'll need to make sure they're able to do all the things ferrets naturally like doing. Here's what your ferret needs to stay happy and healthy.

An interesting environment

Ferrets are curious animals, so they need plenty of opportunities to play and explore.

Give them:

  • Constant access to everything they need, such as enough space, food, water, hiding places and companions.
  • Constant access to safe hiding places such as tunnels and closed hammocks, so they can avoid things that scare them.
  • Toys and playtime - ferrets need suitable things to investigate, safe toys and regular opportunities to play. Try giving them squeaky toys, balls, somewhere to dig and opportunities to play hide and seek, and vary play and toys frequently.

Don't forget that their home environment should also keep them away from prey species. Ferrets are predators, so hunting comes naturally to them.

Food and exercise

Ferrets also need:

  • Daily exercise opportunities to stay fit and healthy - ideally, they need daily access to a safe play area.
  • Interesting mealtimes - make them search for food by hiding it or using food toys.
  • A shallow water bath if they enjoy playing in water - some ferrets do, but not all. Always supervise them, ensure it's shallow enough that they can always get out, and never force them to swim.

Monitoring

Keep a close eye on your ferrets everyday, looking out for any signs of excessive aggression in the group - such as biting, with or without shaking or dragging the other animal. 

Also be on the lookout for any changes in their behaviour. If your ferret regularly shows signs of stress or fear, this could mean they're distressed, bored, ill or injured, so ask your vet for advice.

Remember, the way ferrets behave depends on their age, personality and past experiences. Frightened or stressed ferrets may change their behaviour or develop unwanted habits such as fleeing, hiding, screaming, hissing and biting.

Signs of discomfort or pain include:

  • Reluctance to move
  • Weight loss and anorexia
  • Trembling
  • Collapse
  • Crying and whimpering
  • Teeth grinding

Finally, your ferret needs kindness! Never shout at or punish them, as they're very unlikely to understand and can become more nervous or scared. If their behaviour becomes a problem, ask your vet for advice.

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