21 Pros and Cons of Having Ferrets as Pets [Explained]


Today, we’re diving into the world of ferrets – these curious and playful creatures that can brighten up any home with their antics. But like any other pet, having a ferret has its own set of pros and cons.

As much as we adore their playfulness and unique personality traits, it’s essential to understand the challenges that can come with owning one.

So, whether you’re considering getting a ferret, or just interested in learning more about them, stick around as we explore the advantages and disadvantages of having a ferret as a pet.

What is a Ferret?

A ferret is a small, carnivorous mammal that belongs to the same family as the weasel, the Mustelidae. They typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur, and are known for their elongated, flexible bodies and their mischievous and playful nature.

Domesticated for thousands of years, ferrets have been used for hunting rodents and rabbits, and more recently, have become popular pets.

Ferrets have an average length of 20 inches (51 centimeters), which includes a 5-inch (13 cm) tail. They usually weigh between 1.5 to 4 pounds (0.68 to 1.8 kilograms).

They are intelligent and social creatures, and when they are not sleeping — which is often for long periods — they are very active.

One unique aspect of ferrets is that they are crepuscular, which means they are most active during the dawn and dusk hours. This sleeping pattern is something potential ferret owners should be aware of, as it differs from many other common pets.

The average lifespan of a ferret is around 5-10 years when given proper care. This is a longer commitment compared to smaller rodents, but shorter than dogs and cats, which can make them a good middle-ground option for some pet owners.

Fun Fact: When a ferret's hair turns yellow, it can be a result of a condition known as fur staining. Ferrets have natural oils in their skin that, when combined with saliva or other substances, can cause the fur to discolor over time.

Understanding Ferrets’ Behavior and Lifestyle

Before we dive into the specific pros and cons of owning a ferret, let’s first familiarize ourselves with their unique behavior and lifestyle. This will give us a deeper understanding and context for the advantages and disadvantages we’re about to discuss.

Ferrets are known for their high energy levels and playful behavior. They love to explore their surroundings, often bounding around in a frenzied manner, which is often referred to as the “ferret war dance”.

This kind of playful behavior can be highly entertaining for their owners.

Their curiosity knows no bounds, which can lead them to squeeze into tight spaces, or even hide household items. It’s not uncommon for ferret owners to find missing keys or socks in the ferret’s hiding spot!

This is part of their natural behavior as they were historically used for hunting burrowing animals, which often involved navigating through tight tunnels.

Ferrets are also quite intelligent and trainable. They can learn to do tricks and follow simple commands. Some owners even manage to litter-train their ferrets, which can make cleaning up after them a little easier.

However, they do have a few distinct behaviors that can pose challenges for some owners. Ferrets have a natural musky odor, and they can be prone to biting if not properly trained.

Moreover, ferrets are strict carnivores, which means their diet mainly consists of meat. Their dietary needs can be a bit more complex compared to other pets.

Fun Fact: If a ferret's hair is turning white, it could be due to a condition called adrenal disease, which affects the production of hormones in the adrenal glands. Adrenal disease can cause a loss of pigmentation in the ferret's fur, resulting in a white or silver appearance.

Pros and Cons of Having Ferrets as Pets

When it comes to having ferrets as pets, there are several considerations to bear in mind. Below, we’ve detailed 21 specific pros and cons that can help you make an informed decision.

Pros of Having Ferrets as Pets

1: Playful and Curious Nature

Ferrets are full of energy and are always ready to play. Their inquisitive nature can be a source of endless entertainment for their owners.

2: Small Size Makes Housing Easier

Ferrets are small pets, which makes it easier to create a comfortable living space for them in most homes.

3: Social Animals

Ferrets are very social creatures. They enjoy the company of their human family and other ferrets.

4: Intelligent and Easy to Train

Ferrets are highly intelligent and can be trained to use a litter box, and perform tricks, making them engaging pets.

5: Long Lifespan for a Small Pet

With a lifespan of 5-10 years, ferrets live longer than many other small pets, providing companionship over a longer period.

6: Can Be Potty Trained

Ferrets can be trained to use a litter box, much like cats, which can make cleanup a lot easier.

7: Adapt Well to Temperature Changes

Unlike some other pets, ferrets can adapt well to temperature changes, making them suitable pets for various climates.

8: Unique and Fun Pet

Owning a ferret can be a unique experience due to their fun and distinct behavior.

9: Quiet Pets

Ferrets are relatively quiet compared to dogs and some birds, making them suitable for those who prefer a less noisy environment.

10: Ferrets Don’t Need Outdoor Space

Ferrets don’t need access to outdoor space to be happy and healthy, as long as they get enough exercise and stimulation indoors.

11: Form Strong Bonds with Owners

Ferrets can form deep bonds with their owners, providing a sense of companionship and love.

Cons of Having Ferrets as Pets

12: Ferrets Need Lots of Playtime

Ferrets require several hours of playtime each day, which can be time-consuming for the owner.

13: Potential for Biting

Like any animal, ferrets can bite. This usually occurs when they are scared or feel threatened.

14: Regular Cage Cleaning Required

Ferrets’ cages need to be cleaned regularly to maintain a hygienic environment.

15: Susceptible to Certain Health Issues

Ferrets are prone to certain health issues that may require frequent vet visits and potential medical expenses.

16: Diet Can Be Expensive

Ferrets are strict carnivores, and their diet can be pricier than that of omnivorous or herbivorous pets.

17: Can Be Destructive

Ferrets are known to chew on various items, which can lead to damaged property.

18: They are Nocturnal

Ferrets are most active during dawn and dusk, which may not align with the owner’s schedule.

19: Not Ideal for Allergy Sufferers

Some people are allergic to ferrets, so they’re not the best choice for homes with allergy sufferers.

20: Require Regular Vet Check-ups

Like all pets, ferrets need regular vet check-ups to ensure they remain healthy.

21: Can Hide and Lose Household Items

Ferrets like to hide things, and small household items may disappear into their hiding spots.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: What do ferrets eat?

A: Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning they need a diet high in animal protein and fat. They should be fed a diet of high-quality ferret food, raw diets under veterinary supervision, or wet cat food if ferret-specific food is not available.

Q2: How long do ferrets live?

A: On average, a ferret’s lifespan is around 5-10 years when given proper care. However, this can vary depending on factors such as diet, genetics, and quality of care.

Q3: Are ferrets good pets?

A: Ferrets can make wonderful pets for the right people. They are intelligent, playful, and sociable animals. However, they also require a lot of care and attention. They’re best suited to those who can provide plenty of interaction and mental stimulation.

Q4: Are ferrets nocturnal?

A: Ferrets are actually crepuscular, meaning they are most active during the dawn and dusk hours. However, they can adjust their sleeping patterns to some extent to match their owner’s schedule.

Q5: Can ferrets be potty trained?

A: Yes, ferrets can be trained to use a litter box. This requires patience and consistency, but many ferret owners find it an achievable goal.

Q6: Can ferrets get lice?

A: Yes, ferrets can get lice, but it’s not a common issue. Lice can be treated with medication under the guidance of a veterinarian. You can find more information about ferrets and lice here.

Q7: Can I use coconut or salmon oil on my ferret’s skin?

A: Both coconut and salmon oil can be beneficial for a ferret’s skin and coat. However, they should be used sparingly and only under the guidance of a vet to avoid any potential health risks. Find more about using coconut oil and salmon oil on ferrets.


And there you have it – a comprehensive guide to the pros and cons of owning ferrets as pets.

It’s clear that while these little critters can bring heaps of joy and endless entertainment into your life, they also come with their fair share of challenges.

From their charming personalities to their energetic nature, ferrets are undeniably unique pets that offer a different kind of companionship.

But remember, they demand significant time, effort, and commitment too. So, whether you decide to bring one (or two) of these adorable animals into your home will largely depend on your lifestyle and the level of responsibility you’re prepared to take on.

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