Ferrets have been domesticated for over 2000 years. We are now able to provide premium care for them in our homes. In this article, not only are we going to explore where do ferrets live in the wild but also our homes? What are some of the living conditions that you should keep in mind when getting a ferret?
I am going to outline the basic preparation you must undertake when you are getting a ferret. We will also look at the natural ferret habitat as well as how to live with one.
If you are considering getting a ferret, brace yourself as you need to understand what is expected of you.
Natural ferret habitat
Before I go ahead to explain the natural ferret habitat, I must say that this will solely depend on the type of ferret we are talking about. Because ferrets are born of different color and behavior, the only way to differentiate them is through their habitats.
Well, below are the most common types of ferrets:
- The European ferret
- Black-footed ferret
- Domesticated ferret
As the name suggests the European Ferrets are found in Europe, some parts of Asia and Northern Africa. Well, these can reside in various habitats such as forests, grasslands, and urban suburbs. As with all Mustelids, ferrets will reside somewhere they can easily access food.
On the other hand, black-footed ferrets are found in North America. There have been inconsistencies about this and this species almost went extinct but has since been reintroduced in their natural habitat in North America and some parts of Mexico.
The history of ferret domestication goes back more than 2000 years ago. they have become the third popular pets across the globe. In the early stages of ferret domestication, they were used to hunt and eradicate pests such as rabbits and rodents.
Let us now talk about getting a ferret and also the preparation you might need before bringing a ferret home.
Preparing your home for a ferret
Are you considering getting a ferret? Well, my advice to aspiring ferret owners is to find out as much as you can about them before bringing one home. Ferrets are great pets to keep when you know how to take care of one.
So, where will your ferret live? Once you get a ferret, you should already have prepared a place for him at home. Below, I will give you a step by step guide to getting your ferret home:
Step I Get a ferret cage
Unlike in the wild where ferrets would live in tunnels and burrows, at home, they live in cages. Well, ferrets are small creatures but you cannot underestimate their intelligence. They are mischievous and curious which makes it impossible to let them roam freely in our homes.
A ferret cage will have smaller gaps, unlike the average cage to keep them from escaping.
I suggest that you go for a cage that is meant for ferrets only. It should, however, be spacious enough for your ferret to move and play around. If you are getting more than one ferret, I suggest you get a larger cage.
I suggest you install cage carpeting, to prevent your ferret from hurting his paws. Alternatively, you may use old T-shirts or rugs in the place of carpeting.
You can also choose a multi-level cage. It will be spacious and also allow you to install several food stations and litter boxes.
Step II Fit in a food station
Once you have bought the perfect cage for your ferret, it is time to settle down. I advise you to choose the cage area very carefully. It should be away from direct sunlight and away from noises, preferably a dark corner.
Once you settle for that, it is time to equip the cage for your ferret. you need to fit into a food station in the cage. Now, ferrets are heavy feeders. Unlike dogs and cats, it is almost impossible to set a feeding schedule for ferrets.
For this reason, almost every ferret owner is going to free-feed their pet. I suggest you set up two or more food stations, especially if you own more than one ferret. In case you have a multi-level page, it will be easier to leave enough food for your ferrets.
You should buy ferret-specific food from the pet store. You will rest assured that your ferret is getting the needed nutrients.
While talking about feeding ferrets, I cannot forget to include the need for a water bottle. You should provide enough clean drinking water as well.
Step III Install litter boxes
The good news about owning ferrets is that they are easy to live with, especially when you litter train them. Fortunately, these small creatures are very intelligent and so you will not spend as much time training them.
It is unlikely that you will have any problems once you litter train your ferret. Install two or more litter boxes in your ferret’s cage. Make sure that you get the right type of litter boxes for your ferret.
Since ferrets are small, you should ensure that the litter boxes have a lower entrance end. This will enable him to get into the litter box to do his business without tipping the whole box over.
When you have a litter trained ferret, then you will have a hard time cleaning his cage and beddings.
Step IV prepare a place for your ferret to sleep
I wouldn’t blame you if you had forgotten about the sleeping arrangements. You must provide clean and comfortable bedding for your ferret.
I have previously written about how and where ferrets sleep. My ferret loves his hammock beds more than anything. Note that ferrets will spend most of their time sleeping and thus, it is only fair to make it comfortable.
There are several options when thinking about ferret beddings. You can even make a hammock bed in your ferret’s cage using your old clothes. alternatively, you can use a fleece blanket as a bed for your ferret.
He is going to love making a nest out of the blanket and hence a place for him to sleep. If you can find tunnel toys, install them in his cage as they also love taking naps in there.
Step V Provide plenty of toys
Now, domesticating ferrets means that you are taking them out of their natural habitat. I mean, out there, a ferret can never get too bored. There is so much to do and explore unlike living in a cage with quite nothing much to do.
Now, to keep your ferret busy and entertained, you should purchase ferret toys. Some ferrets enjoy having tunnels and even maze puzzles installed in their cages.
Toys can also include stuffed animals, staircases if you have a multi-level cage.
However, I must warn you against smaller toys as your ferret can end up ingesting one. It could lead to intestinal obstruction.
If you are lucky, you can get a ferret cage with in-built tunnels.
Domesticated ferrets should also get some time out of the cage, and maybe out of the house. I advise you to include a leash and harness in your ferret shopping list. You can occasionally take him out for a short walk.
Do ferrets in the wild live together?
You are going to love owning a ferret. These creatures, even as small as they are, are quite self-sufficient. Ferrets, unlike many species, do not live in groups, even in the wild.
On the contrary, ferrets live and hunt alone. They will only associate with other ferrets during mating and then they resume their independent lives. Once the mating is over, the female ferret will have a gestation period of 35-45 days before delivery. Once the kits are born, they only nurse for 42 days and they are now mature enough to go and fetch for themselves.
However, this should not discourage you from getting two ferrets. Domesticated ferrets are very accommodating of other pets, and especially other ferrets. They will play and chase each other around and it is so much fun watching them.
Ferret proofing your house
Now, you will also need to ferret proof your house before you let him out of the cage. Remember I talked about getting a leash and harness, well, you will need to take your ferret out of his cage at least 3-4 hours per day.
You need to proof your house, and especially the play area. Ferrets are exciting but they can try to escape through small spaces. I mean, if you are getting a ferret, then you have a lot to do.
For instance, keep all the cabinets doors closed. Also, all your doors, leading outside, to the balcony or other rooms should remain closed during playtime.
It is quite easy for a ferret to run off and go outside. Once a ferret escapes, he could get lost or preyed on by bigger predators.
do not forget to keep all the tiny items out of your ferret’s reach. They are also known to steal items and hide them. Rubber-like items can be intriguing and your ferret might chew them and swallow. This usually leads to intestinal obstruction problems.
A ferret can live up to 7 years, even though there are a few cases where ferrets lived for more than ten years. Ferrets are not pets that you are going to get rid of soon, which is why I insist on learning how to care and live with them since you are going to be with him for a couple of years.
Ferrets are both intelligent and curious. This makes them interesting pets to live with. You will, however, need to learn the favorable living conditions for ferrets. As a ferret owner, you become responsible for feeding and caring for them.
Get a good ferret cage, spacious enough to facilitate play. Install all the necessary things such as a food station, litterbox and a few toys in the cage.
Well, understanding how ferrets live in the wild is crucial to how we live with them in our homes. You are going to enjoy having a quiet and intelligent pet for the next few years.
If you can, get two ferrets that will keep each other busy while you are away. As long as ferrets are well-fed and healthy, they will be happy.