- Classification: Mammal.
- Family: Mustelidae.
- Diet: Strict carnivores.
- Adult weight: 500g to 2 kg
- Sexual maturity: 6-12 months.
- Gestation: 40-42 days (8 pups on average, born blind and deaf, with downy fur)
- Weaning: 6-8 weeks (it is important not to separate the young from their mother too soon, to ensure they are properly socialised)
- Life span: approximately 10 years
- Period of activity: Diurnal, and sometimes nocturnal.
Distinctive features of the ferret: the rutting period lasts for several months in males, and females remain in heat until they have been covered (covering triggers ovulation and stops the heat). It is very important to sterilise females who will not be used for breeding. The long heat period gives rise to significant increases in oestrogens (hyperoestrogenism), which can trigger bone marrow aplasia from the second month of the heat. This situation can sometimes become very serious for female ferrets. Surgical or medical (implant) sterilisation is possible; ask your veterinary surgeon for advice.
Ferrets are strict carnivores, even more so than cats. The recommended diet is a raw meat diet (BARF: bone and meat, or indeed whole prey, such as mice or chicks, for instance). Dry ferret food is also an option, taking care to select products with a crude protein content of at least 35%, not more than 20% fat, the lowest possible carbohydrate content, and no cereals.
Meat and egg treats are also preferable to dairy products (which they cannot digest) and industrial treats, or opt for cereal-free treats with the same characteristics as dry ferret feed.
Also ensure your pet has unrestricted access to fresh clean water.
Your ferret’s cage should not be too small, and should be tall enough to add hammocks and platforms. Your ferret also needs clean bedding to do its business, and also to create hiding places. Keep your pet away from draughts and heat sources (ferrets prefer cool temperatures) and in a well-lit place (but pay attention to heat from the sun during summer if close to a window). Ferrets are very sociable, playful animals which enjoy the company of other ferrets, and are close to their masters.