Ferrets are true carnivores; their diet must consist mainly of meat and animal products. Commercial balanced ferret diets such as Vetafarm Ferret Origins or premium kitten dry food (such as Hills, Iams or Royal Canin) are excellent choices. Killed whole prey diets are preferred by some ferret owners (day old chicks, mice, rats).
Never feed cooked bones as they may splinter and cause internal damage, and if feeding raw bones ensure that the bone is large enough to not be swallowed whole.
Note that there is seasonal fluctuation in body weight, with ferrets becoming lighter in summer and heavier in winter.
Ferrets are susceptible to canine distemper virus and vaccination is recommended. Two vaccinations are required if under 14 weeks old, and thereafter an annual vaccination is recommended. The first vaccination is typically given at 8-10 weeks of age and the second is given at 12-14 weeks of age.
Ferrets are susceptible to the same strains of influenza (flu) as people. The influenza virus can be transmitted from ferrets to humans and vice versa. There is no flu vaccine available for ferrets.
Ferrets are also susceptible to heartworm, which is spread by mosquitoes. We recommend using Revolution to prevent heartworm infection - please ask us to calculate the correct dose for your ferret. Ferrets can also be affected by fleas and mites.
Desexing female ferrets is absolutely essential if she will not be bred, as a female ferret will remain 'in-season' until mated. This results in sustained high-levels of oestrogen which is toxic to the bone marrow and can lead to death from anaemia.
Ferrets can be surgically desexed or chemically sterilised with an implant called Suprelorin (which will need to be repeated over time, and requires a brief anaesthetic to place).
It is advisable to desex male ferrets as it reduces their musky ‘ferret’ smell substantially, and helps reduce aggression. Contrary to common belief the main smell of a ferret comes from the skin and not the anal or 'scent' glands. Removal of the scent glands is NOT recommended. Desexing females also significantly reduces the smell from the glands in the skin.
Desexing is typically performed at 4-6 months of age.
Dental disease is common in older ferrets, just as it is in dogs and cats.
Acclimatising ferrets to having their teeth brushed from a young age is recommended. They will often accept chicken flavoured pet toothpaste.
Professional dental treatment including scaling and polishing may be required from time to time. The dental health of your ferret can be assessed during a routine health check with the vet.