Learn More About Ferrets
Thinking of buying a ferret? Think again... and again... and again...


The following information is not necessarily meant to discourage you from having a ferret as a pet. It's meant to be more of a "reality check." If any of the information below surprises you, a ferret might not be the right pet for you at this time.


Ferrets are not the right pet for everyone. No pet is right for everyone.

Ferrets require more care than many other household pets. Like other pets they must have yearly vet visits and vaccinations. They also need a minimum of two hours supervised interactive playtime and exercise outside of their cages every day. This cannot be stressed enough (so we'll repeat it again!) Ferrets need a minimum of two hours supervised interactive playtime and exercise outside of their cages every day, without exception! Healthy ferrets live for 10 years. Can you commit to 2 hours a day every single day for the next 10 years? What about vacations? It's not easy to find a pet sitter for a ferret. What if you move? Travel abroad? What if your ferret needs surgery or other medical care? You need to know the answers to these questions before you bring your new pet home.


Ferrets may not cost much to buy or adopt, but veterinary costs for ferrets can be expensive.

Certain cancers are common in ferrets around the ages of 3-6 years old. The medicine and surgery needed to care for and sometimes cure your ferret of cancer during this time can be very costly. Don't assume your ferret won't ever get ill. Assume it will!

Regular vet visits for a ferret vet in NYC cost around $60 or more. Vaccinations will run about another $20-$40 each! Your ferret will need 4 of these their first year and two every year after -whether or not your ferret ever goes outside. Surgery for your ferret (for blockages, hairballs, or cancer) will cost around $1000 in NYC. You can count on your ferret requiring at least one surgery in its lifetime.

It's very important to your ferret's health that it receive its yearly vaccinations and yearly checkups. Every new pet (not just ferrets) should be taken to the vet within the first 48 hours of your bringing it home -no matter how young or healthy it looks or what the previous owner/shelter/store tells you. Don't wait until your ferret is ill to take it to a good ferret vet in your area. Take care of your pet properly from the start and develop a good working relationship with a ferret specialist that you trust.


Getting a ferret as a pet "for your child"

Although ferrets are great pets for children, the daily attention, 10 year commitment and veterinary costs that ferrets require are more than any child can reasonably manage. You may have a very responsible teenager who can make that kind of commitment, but what happens when that teenager turns 18 and moves away or goes to college?

Ferrets are highly intelligent animals that form strong emotional bonds to their owners and to each other. Separating a ferret from its long time owner or cagemate often results in a stress/depression response in the ferret. Without a quick reunion and/or appropriate medical care, the ferret may become depressed, stop eating and die.

Make no mistake, if you are an adult buying a ferret as your "child's pet", it's going to be YOUR pet. Make sure you can make the commitment to properly care for your ferret throughout its entire life before you bring one home.


To be or not to be.... a criminal

If you live in New York City's five boroughs, think very carefully before bringing home a ferret. If your ferret is discovered it may be confiscated and killed or shipped out of state where you'll never see it again and never know how it's doing. Your energies would be better put towards learning more about ferrets and working to legalize ferrets in NYC to create a safe environment for your new pet when the time is finally right to bring it home.

If you live in NYC's five boroughs and you decide to have a pet ferret, do not neglect its medical needs. The veterinarians in NYC's five boroughs who treat ferrets are on OUR side. Not one ferret vet in New York City's five boroughs has spoken against ferrets at any public hearings.


Do your homework BEFORE you bring home a ferret!

Don't bring a ferret home unless

  1. You have read two good ferret books cover to cover (we suggest Mary Shefferman's "The Ferret: An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet" and "Ferrets for Dummies" by Kim Schilling but any two ferret care books will do)

  2. You have around $1000 put away in an emergency savings account for your ferret. (If you're in NYC, that's how much life saving surgery for your ferret may cost. In other cities and states it may be less.) Your ferret's first emergency surgery could be within the first year of it's life if it chooses to swallow an eraser or an earplug. Rubbery things are very tempting to a ferret, and very dangerous.


Do NOT get a ferret as a pet if you do not have the time or money care for it properly for all 10 years of its life.

If you're not able to commit to and properly care for a ferret for the full 10 years of its life and afford yearly veterinary and emergency or long term medical care for your ferret, please do not get a ferret as a pet. If you think they look cute in the pet store, play with them IN the pet store! Or better yet, volunteer at a ferret shelter! That's a great way to get a "ferret fix!" You might even decide to ultimately get a ferret or two from there.


Reputable ferret shelters are great places to get pets

Most ferrets in shelters are there because people didn't do their research before buying their ferret, or because, like other baby animals, the "cuteness factor" wore off once the ferret was full grown. It's amazing how many ferrets in shelters are perfectly healthy and under a year or two old. Shelter ferrets are often housebroken for you and nip trained (All baby animals are nippy when they're young. Even dogs and cats).


Thinking of getting rid of your ferret?

If you buy any pet (not just a ferret) and find that you're in over your head, or if you find yourself neglecting its daily exercise needs or emotional needs or medical needs and care, don't let your pet suffer and waste away. It never asked to be put in that situation. Find someone who will take care of it properly and give it the attention and care that it needs.

  • Don't "set it free". Unlike cats, dogs and other household pets ferrets do not survive more than a few days in the wild and die horrible deaths from starvation, stress, or predators.

  • Don't give your ferret away "free to a good home." Pets (any pets) that are "free to good homes" are often collected by seemingly nice people who then use them for lab experiments, animal fights, or to train attack dogs. -Yes, that really happens, and it's a horrible way for a beloved pet to end its life. Unless your ferret is going to a reputable ferret shelter (non-ferret shelters often kill ferrets), ALWAYS charge at least $50 and do your research on the new owner before giving away your pet ferret. If someone cannot afford to pay $50 for your ferret, they probably won't be able to afford its care and medical costs either. Although I know nothing about the following shelter (It's not even near NY), the information on their page says it all: Don't give your pet away "Free to a good home".

  • Don't dump your ferret on a person's or store's or shelter's doorstep and run! It's important for the new owner to have a complete medical history on your ferret and to know what previous medical care it has or has not received. If your ferret has never seen a vet -they need to know that. If it has, a brief medical history, record of vaccinations (if any) and the name and phone number of your vet (to get a more complete medical history) would be particularly helpful to the ferret's new owner.

    Ferrets can be finicky eaters and will sometimes starve themselves to death rather than try a new food! It's important for the new owner to know what kind of food your ferret is accustomed to eating.

    Additionally, ferrets and other animals can die from heat, cold, starvation, suffocation, stress, other animals, and thoughtless individuals while they're waiting to be "discovered" in the place you dropped them off. Often this can happen within the first hour. Don't assume they'll be "discovered in time" if you dump them and run. Tragically, they're usually not.

  • FACT ferret shelter in CT has a couple of good articles on their site to help people who are considering finding new homes for their ferrets.


Some final thoughts

If you feel you need to give up your pet ferret (or any other pet) please don't get another one to replace it because you think a new one will be easier! Not all pets are right for everyone. If you take the time to research your pet before you buy it, both you and your pet -any pet- will be better for it.


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