a Ferret laying next to some bedding that they shredded

Ferrets are small, furry mammals that have become increasingly popular as family pets. They are members of the Mustelidae family, which also includes weasels, otters and badgers. Ferrets are small mammals that originated in Europe and have been domesticated for thousands of years. They’re known for their playful personalities and mischievous behavior.

Ferrets make great pets for those looking for an active companion. They are very social animals and love to interact with their owners. They are also very intelligent and can be trained to do tricks, such as fetching objects or playing hide-and-seek. Ferrets are active during the day, so they require plenty of playtime and interaction with their owners.

They are very curious animals, and will investigate anything new. They are very agile, and can climb through tight spaces. Ferrets are playful, energetic and curious pets that can make excellent companions for children. 

When considering a ferret as a pet, it is important to understand that they require a lot of care and attention. They need to be fed a high-quality diet, given regular exercise, and kept in a clean environment.

They’re not the best choice for first-time pet owners because they require a lot of time and patience to properly care for them. However, if you are willing to commit to providing your ferret with the love and attention they need, they can make wonderful family pets. They are very loyal and affectionate animals that will bring a lot of joy to your home.

Because they’re active and attracted to interesting objects, Ferrets are ideal pets for children with mild to moderate attention-deficit disorders. Ferrets can make good pets for people who live in apartments or smaller houses. They don’t need a lot of space, so they are a good choice for city dwellers who don’t have a yard.

Ferrets are great pets for the whole family. They are playful, intelligent, and friendly, which makes them a great alternative for kids who can’t have a dog or cat. Ferrets are also very easy to take care of. From a health perspective, ferrets have to be the most well-bred animals on the planet. This makes them much healthier than other pets, such as dogs or cats.

They love to play, run and hide for hours at a time. They make excellent family pets because they are so playful and curious. They are great for children over 6 years of age because they will keep them busy running around and playing games with them.

Ferrets are social animals and they’re usually happiest if you have 2 or more of them. Having more than one will keep them from feeling lonely while the family is out for the day, or if there isn’t time to let them out and run around for long.

They need a lot of space to roam and play, so they should be kept in a large cage or enclosure. The cage should be equipped with plenty of toys, tunnels and hiding spots for them to explore. Ferrets also need access to fresh water and food at all times.

Ferrets make great family pets if you are willing to commit to providing them with the love and attention they need. They are very social animals that will bring a lot of joy to your home. With proper care and attention, ferrets can live up to 12 years.

Information about Ferrets

  • Average Size: 9 to 15 inches
  • Average Weight: 2 to 4 pounds
  • Coat Colors: Sable, Black Sable, Black, Chocolate and Cinnamon
  • Grooming Needs: High
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: Cold yes but not to heat 
  • Good Pet: With early socialization and training, yes
  • Safe with Children: With training yes but not for children under 6 years.
  • Good with Other Ferrets: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: With dogs and cats yes but not with smaller pets like birds and rodents.
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: No
  • Training: Easy to train
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate
  • Weight Gain: Low
  • Health Concerns: Ferret Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Ferret Lymphoma, Aplastic Anemia, Dental Issues and Digestive Disorders
  • Allergies: Ferrets are allergic to strong scents, dust and dirt which can lead to respiratory infections
  • Average Life Span: 6 to 12 years

Physical Appearance of Ferrets

a Ferret laying on some bedding

Ferrets have a long thin tube-like body with a short tail. They look very similar to weasels but are larger and also have different coat colors. Male Ferrets are longer and weigh more than females.

Ferrets can be a variety of colors and patterns like solid, striped, points and panda. Sable color Ferrets are the most common type kept as pets. These Ferrets have a top coat of brown with an undercoat of cream to gold.

Ferrets are classified by type, which is a mix of colors and patterns. There is only one breed of Ferrets, but depending on the color and pattern they have is what type they are called.

Temperament of Ferrets

Ferrets are curious, sociable and playful. They are intelligent and enjoy solving complex puzzles and games. Ferrets are mostly quiet and make noise only when they feel frightened or excited. Most Ferrets love to interact and cuddle with their family but sometimes like all animals they can enjoy time alone or with another pet.

Ferrets are nocturnal animals and most active during the early morning and in the evening. They sleep between 14 to 18 hours a day! These are great pets for owners who are busy during the day and don’t have any free time for their pets until the evenings. Ferrets are known to adapt to the sleeping patterns of their owners.

They tend to bite other Ferrets and their owners during playtime. They can bite out of fear or in a way that seems playful for them. If their bite is anything more than a playful nip, correct their behavior when they do it, and eventually they will learn not to bite. Try not to punish them for biting because it can increase their aggressive behavior. You can use a time-out cage to reduce their biting.

Training Ferrets

a Ferret sleeping in a blue hammock

Ferrets are intelligent and can be trained to perform various tricks and tasks. To train them you have to be consistent and affectionate. They should be rewarded with praise and treats while training. Some tricks that you can train your Ferrets to do are shaking their paws, to sit and to roll over.

An important part of training Ferrets is to reduce their biting. One way to reduce their biting is to put them in a time-out cage every time they bite. The cage does not have to be big but should have a litter box and water bowl. It should be separate from their cage that your Ferret uses to sleep. A 24”L x 12”L time-out cage is enough space since they will not be in it very long. Keep them in the cage for around 5 minutes but not any longer. Slowly they will associate the time-out cage as a punishment for biting.

Just like Rabbits, Ferrets can also be trained to use the litter box. You can train them to use the litter box by placing them inside the box after they wake up. Reward them with treats or toys every time they use the litter box to encourage them to use it.

An easier way to train Ferrets is by using clicker training to reinforce and reward positive behaviors. Your Ferret will understand from the click that they did a good job, and positive attention is the easiest way to teach things to pets.

Their Compatibility with Children

Ferrets are not a good choice for families with children under 6 years. Young children can get excited and be rough with your Ferret which can cause aggressive behavior from these small animals. They may bite your child and hurt them. Likewise small children can also injure your Ferrets because they do not have an understanding of how to hold these long animals.

a Ferret yawning while laying in someones hands

Older children should be trained how to handle and play with your Ferrets. Your child needs to know that Ferrets behave differently than pets like cats and dogs. Until the children know how to properly interact with your Ferrets an adult should supervise their interactions.

How to Handle a Ferret

Ferrets have varying temperaments and it is difficult to determine how they will respond to handling. Try to be gentle and slow when you start to handle them in the beginning.

Hold them by placing one hand around their neck and shoulders. It will support their fragile spine and help them feel safe. The other hand should support their bottom. If you lift them up, make sure to hold them against your body because it will keep them from falling.   

If you need to carry them around you can place your Ferrets inside a pet carrying bag that is available at most pet stores.

Best Habitat for Ferrets

When selecting a cage, make sure you have enough space for a water bowl, litter box and toys. Multi-level cages are great for your Ferrets because it lets them climb around and get some exercise even while you are not around. Their cage should be easy to clean for your convenience. 

Place their cage in a location that is in a well-ventilated are and in a room with a temperature of 60 to 80 degrees. Avoid putting their cage close to the window that receives direct sunlight or in a hot area. Ferrets do not have sweat glands and can get a heat stroke if exposed to too much heat.


2 Ferrets lying together on their bedding

Ferrets are smart and small and can squeeze through tiny spaces. The bars for their cage should be spaced be less than 1 inch to keep your Ferrets from squeezing through. For Ferrets a wire cage with a padded bottom is the best option. The wire cage should not have any sharp edges or rough wire that can hurt them.

The cage should be at least 3’L x 3’W x 2’H or they will feel cramped. A larger cage will let your Ferrets exercise and move around more. If you have more than one Ferret then the cage should be larger.

Ferrets are smart and will figure out how to open door doors with latches or clasps. To stop your Ferrets from escaping the cage door should have a double-latch or be secured with a tight lock.


For bedding (the material at the bottom of their cage), shredded paper is a popular option, but newspapers don’t do much to absorb if your pet misses the litter box. There are commercial shredded paper options that are soft and hold odors well.  Soft cloth like felt can be nice and soft, and it’s reusable after it’s washed. A clean towel or a small blanket can also be used for bedding. If you use fabric, make sure that when it starts to shred that you dispose of it so that your pets don’t try to eat it. Avoid using rubber or foam as bedding because your Ferrets can eat these materials which can lead to intestinal problems.

Sleeping Area

2 Ferrets sleeping together on their bedding

Ferrets like to burrow and sleep in a small and cozy area. You can expect that the Ferrets will arrange whatever bedding materials you get them in a way so that you will not even be able to see them while they’re sleeping. Anything that’s washable is a great choice. Old towels, or t-shirts, dishrags or scraps of felt all make good choices.


Their cage should have enough toys to keep your Ferrets entertained while they are inside. Plastic toys or balls, Ferret balls, cardboard boxes, hanging parrot toys, play tents and cloth bags are some toys that should keep their interest. Avoid using soft rubber or latex material toys because your Ferrets can chew them apart and may choke on the pieces. 

Because Ferrets are very smart, another good option for them are puzzle toys.  Something that can keep them occupied for a short period of time and stimulate their mind. Pets are much happier if they have something that they have to actually think about to solve.  Most puzzle toys involve small treats being found as an incentive to have them solve it.

Litter Box

Keep one litter box in their cage and a few more in their playing area. If you have several Ferrets, you should have more litter boxes than you do Ferrets. Shredded paper or newspaper can be used for litter bedding, or cat litter can even be used.

Habitat Maintenance

a cute baby Ferret sitting

Any poop or uneaten food on the bed of their cage should be removed every day. Clean their food dish and water bowls every day and make sure they have fresh water everyday.

Every week their bedding and toys should be washed. The cage should be cleaned once a week using a light 3% bleach solution. Carefully wipe the floor, walls, and sleeping area inside their cage with the bleach solution.

Rotate and replace any broken or worn out toys with new ones every week. Giving them new toys will keep your Ferrets interested and help them avoid boredom from the same toys.

The Attention Requirements of Ferrets

Ferrets are social and need a lot of interaction and playtime. They should spend 2 to 4 hours every day outside of their cage. Because of their social and play needs we recommend keeping Ferrets in pairs so that they can play with their companions. Ferrets are low maintenance pets that like to cuddle.

Make sure you Ferret-proof your home before letting them out of their cage. They’re small animals that can escape from tiny openings or easily climb over baby gates.

Ferrets are known to chew just about anything. All the wires and the cords in your house should be covered with a casing to prevent your Ferrets from chewing them.

Health Issues

Ferrets do not adapt well to changes in diet and many health conditions are because of poor diets. Diet changes can lead to digestive issues or changes in the texture of their coats. With good food and enough exercise, most Ferrets will live healthily and be happy.

Digestive Disorders

Small mammals are susceptible to many gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, including those caused by inflammatory diseases, nutritional deficiencies, parasites, and bacterial and viral infections. GI disorders can cause abdominal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss in small mammals. It’s important to recognize the signs of digestive distress and diagnose the underlying cause in order to treat it effectively.

Dental Issues

Small mammals can have a number of dental issues that can be both painful and frustrating. Dental problems in small mammals, such as hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets, are very common and can range from mild to severe. There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of these problems. 

Proper diet is key in preventing dental issues because it helps keep their teeth clean and healthy. Regular veterinary checkups and dental cleaning are also important to ensure any existing issues are identified and treated quickly.

Small mammal owners should not feed their pets hard objects, because these can lead to broken teeth and other dental issues. By taking the necessary steps to prevent dental problems, owners can help keep their pets happy and healthy.

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic Anemia is a rare blood disorder that occurs in small mammals, including cats, dogs, ferrets and rabbits. It’s associated with a decreased production of red and white blood cells and platelets. This decreases the amount of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, leading to anemia, as well as an increased risk of infection due to a lack of white blood cells. There is also an increased risk of bleeding due to having less platelets.

Aplastic Anemia can have various causes, ranging from genetic predisposition to exposure to certain chemicals or medications. It can also be caused by unknown factors or a combination of factors that lead to the decrease in production of red blood cells and platelets in their bone marrow.

an illustration of a sick ferret

Ferret Lymphoma

Ferret Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects ferrets and is the most common form of cancer they’ll get. It’s caused by the abnormal growth of their lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell involved in their immune system.

Ferret lymphoma can be difficult to diagnose due to its similarity to other illnesses, like anemia or infections. Some ferrets will have a swollen abdomen and possibly difficulty breathing. If left untreated, the cancer can spread throughout their body and cause organ failure.

Ferret Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Ferret Dilated Cardiomyopathy (FDC) is a progressive and potentially life-threatening heart condition that affects ferrets. It’s caused by an enlarged heart muscle, which can eventually lead to a weakened cardiac muscle wall and decreased heart contractions. It can also cause abnormal blood flow throughout their body, leading to a variety of symptoms.

General Grooming Tips for Ferrets

Just like rabbits and cats, Ferrets also like to keep themselves clean but they still need some grooming. Grooming includes bathing them, trimming their nails, brushing their fur and some dental care.

Just like rabbits and cats, Ferrets also like to keep themselves clean but they still need some grooming. Grooming includes bathing them, trimming their nails, brushing their fur and some dental care.


a Ferret lying on their bedding

When it comes to bathing there are a wide range of opinions on how often to bathe them. Most owners will bathe their Ferrets because of the strong scent that these animals produce. Bathing tends to dry out their skin and coat. It‘s recommended to bathe them only when they get dirty, if they smell too bad or once a month. Use a special pet-friendly shampoo to bathe your Ferret. See how your Ferrets respond to bathing because some may not enjoy bathing as others do.


Regular brushing is important because it will help to keep their coat clean and also lower the chances that they’ll get hairballs inside their stomach or intestine. You can use a soft-bristle brush to brush their coat. Ferrets may not like being brushed for long, try to finish brushing them before they try to get away. Brush your Ferrets once a week and more regularly when they’re shedding.

Dental Care

To prevent tooth and gum infections, the Ferrets should be brushed once a week. A toothbrush for cats can be used to brush their teeth. Avoid using human toothpaste because it can be harmful for them. Some Ferrets may not like brushing and a lot of patience might be needed. 

Use a liquid supplement to gently wipe their teeth.

Nail Trimming

To trim their nails use a clipper designed for animals. Avoid trimming too far because it can cut the blood vessels in their nails and cause them pain. The part of the nail with blood vessels will have a slight pink shade. Make sure you restrain your Ferret carefully before you start trimming their nails and have a styptic powder close to you. If you accidentally cut their blood vessels, take some powder and apply it to the cut. 

Ear Cleaning

Ferrets tend to have wax build-up in their ears. Check and clean their ears a week to prevent possible blockage or ear infections. Put a few drops of mild ear cleaning solution in their ear and massage their ears from the outside. When you finish your Ferret will almost always shake their head. Any loosened wax should come out of their ears when they shake their head. Avoid inserting a cotton swab inside their ears because it can compact the wax or damage their ear canals. Use the cotton swab to only remove the wax from the outside part of their ears.

Feeding Ferrets

Ferrets love cat food

Ferrets are carnivores and should be fed eggs, fish and meat. You can also feed them commercial Ferret food or kitten food. Make sure the commercial food you get is a high-quality pet food that has high levels of fat and meat-based protein. To keep their gums and teeth healthy they also need to be given some dry food. If you want you can feed them frozen pinkies, mice, and chicks daily because it will more closely mimic their diet in the wild. Because of the price, most families will feed them commercial animal food.

Most Ferrets generally eat 5 to 7% of their body weight a day. You can give them more and they will eat only what they need, they are not known to overeat. Treats should not be more than 5% of their daily food intake. Feeding them more treats can lead to health issues from a poor diet.

Ferrets have a high metabolism rate and a short digestive tract that allows them to digest their food quickly. Their high metabolism means they need to be fed more frequently than other animals and it’s recommended to feed them 3 or 4 times a day. If you are not able to feed them as much you can feed them extra when you can because overeating is usually not a problem for them.

If Ferrets don’t have access to water they can overheat and get dehydrated. Water should always be available in their cage. 

They should not be given a plant-based diet because it can cause bladder stones. Avoid feeding them milk and other dairy-based products because these are difficult for them to digest. Sugary foods like honey, fruit, raisins and other snacks are also not good for them.

Related Questions:

Is it Legal to have a Pet Ferret?

In most states Ferrets are legal to be kept as pets but some states have banned them. Ferrets are not allowed as pets in Hawaii, New York City, California and Washington, D.C. The State of Hawaii has an outright ban on keeping Ferrets as pets. Any violation can lead to imprisonment and a fine of up to $200,000! Some areas like California and the District of Columbia (Washington) grant waivers on a case-by-case basis. Reasons for banning Ferrets include concerns about biting, rabies and the possibility of escaped Ferrets establishing their own population that can disturb the local wildlife. Check with your local municipality before getting a Ferret as a pet.

Does the Ferret’s Coat Change Colors?

Yes, Ferrets shed their coat twice a year – in the winter and summer. While shedding, the color and the texture of the coat can change. The summer coat is short and silky while the winter coat is darker and thicker. Their coat can also change when they age or if they are fed a poor diet.

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Contributing Author & Social Media Expert

Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.