Happy National Ferret Day!!
Ferrets are unique and interesting pets and right now we have 2 at the shelter. Wiggy and Ziggy are 2-year-old silver and white ferrets who were surrendered to the shelter at the end of March. To help you learn more about ferrets and what they look for in a family we interviewed them!
KK: Hi Guys, it’s so nice of you to sit down, err… hang out in your hammocks, and talk with us.
Wiggy: Hey there. It’s awesome to see you too! In addition to our regular care we really need 2-4 hours of exercise and interaction a day so this is great for our health as well as fun for us.
KK: So, to start why don’t you tell me about your set up here at the shelter?
Wiggy: Sure! We love the multi-level ferret cage we have here. It’s got hammocks, shelves and climby things, and toys for us.
Ziggy: No rubber toys!
Wiggy: Right Ziggy, no rubber toys! We chew on them and eat small pieces that we can choke on or that we could develop an intestinal obstruction from that could require surgery. Hard plastic toys are OK though as well as squeaky toys and cardboard. In fact, we can even be trained to come to the sound of a squeaky toy.
KK: Trained to come huh, that’s good to know. I hate to say it guys, but ferrets do have a bit of a reputation for being, well, messy.
KK: Yes, Ziggy, messy. Are you messy?
Wiggy: We’re like many other pets in that we like to play but we are also highly intelligent and can get into spaces others don’t. We can squeeze through really tiny holes to escape our enclosure and get into mischief. That may make us messy but it’s more about how well our families keep us occupied and ferret-proof our space. Covering potted plants for example makes it harder for us to dig in there and buying the right enclosure for us will keep us safe. Some people also put collars with bells on us so they can hear us when we’re exploring.
KK: I get that, but I was actually thinking more about the…other kind of messy.
KK: …Yeah. That.
Wiggy: Oh that! I won’t lie, ferrets can have a reputation for being both dirty and smelly but again, that has a lot to do with our living conditions. Here at the shelter we have a litter pan, did you know we can be litter box trained?
KK: Litter box trained? I did not know that. Easily like a cat or eventually like a guinea pig?
Wiggy: Not quite as easily as a cat but pretty fast. Remember, we’re super smart so the same strong brain that we use to get into mischief also helps us learn things like how to use the litter box easily and quickly.
Ziggy: In the box!
Wiggy: As for our famous and, if I may say so myself, alluring “ferret musk”, neutering your ferrets greatly reduces the smell. We’re both neutered, by the way.
Ziggy: The big snip!
KK: I see. We talked a bit about cats earlier. Do you get along with cats, dogs, or other pets?
Wiggy: That’s a great question so let me give you a detailed answer. First though, some background. Ferrets have been bred as both pets and as “vermin hunters” for centuries so it’s part of our instinctive nature to go after small animals like mice, guinea pigs, bunnies, and even pet birds. For that reason, you may not want a ferret of you have these other types of pets in your home. We are extremely social though and can get along well with cats and dogs and of course, with our other ferret friends.
Ziggy: Besties Forever!!
Wiggy: Yes Ziggy, you and I are a bonded pair. We’re besties forever and I wouldn’t dream of leaving the shelter without you.
KK: You two are so cute!! How long have you been together again?
Wiggy: We’re 2-year-old brothers so we’ve always been a family, but ferrets live an average of 6-10 years, so we have a lot of time left together.
KK: Love it! So, if you were bred to catch vermin what do you eat day to day? Pellets? Lettuce like a rabbit?
Wiggy: Not at all. We’re carnivores so we eat meat in the form of ferret food. It’s similar to cat food, nothing scary. For a treat we love a bit of cooked egg or some meat like chicken. Treats like that are rich for us though so only a little or we may get sick.
KK: That’s all great information. Is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
Ziggy: Just that while ferrets are highly social, intelligent, and inquisitive pets we do need more maintenance than a typical small animal, cat, or dog. We need regular human interaction and socialization, supervised exercise, and annual vet visits. With proper and consistent care however, we make highly rewarding pets.