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Ferret 101

Thinking of adding a ferret to your family? These small, curious creatures appear to make great pets. While there are many ferret lovers out there, many people might not know much about ferrets. If you’re considering a ferret as a pet, learn more in this quick guide from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Ferret Association, Inc.

About the Ferret
These small pets, which usually live 5 to 9 years, make great house pets but do require specific knowledge. A common misconception about ferrets is that they’re rodents. Actually, rodents are in a completely different scientific classification. Another popular misconception is that ferrets are wild animals. While their cousins may be wild (like otters, weasels and badgers), ferrets are domesticated and have been for thousands of years. The first universally accepted reference to the ferret was in 63 BC by a Greek historian named Strabo, who stated that the ferret was bred in captivity in Libya and used for hunting rabbits.

Ferrets as Pets
Ferrets are highly social and require a time commitment from their owners. They need to be socialized and handled from a young age to be good house pets. Also, a sturdy and escape-proof cage is necessary as ferrets like to squeeze through small spaces. Ferrets tend to have a naturally musky odor, which can be better controlled by de-scenting. Like cats, ferrets are small and quiet. Like dogs, they are playful and affectionate, making them great companions!

Healthy Ferrets
Like any pet, a well-balanced diet is essential for ferrets. They are carnivores and require a diet based on highly digestible animal protein. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian on the best diet plan for your ferret. To maintain a healthy coat, proper grooming is vital. They typically shed their fur twice a year and should be combed to prevent loose fur. Also be sure to maintain their nails, ears and teeth regularly.

Fun Facts (via peteducation.com)
- Baby ferrets are called kits.
- Ferrets like to crawl into small, dark spaces to sleep.
- All ferrets have white fur at birth.
- Ferrets have been domesticated for thousands of years.
- A newborn ferret can fit into a teaspoon.

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