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740456 tn?1260449809

New ferret, Need help

Hi,

We just adopted a 3 year old ferret and really need some help with him.
He has been kept in a mouse/hamster cage for his entire life... yes i'm talking about a 1 foot by 8 inch cage....

Since we got him a couple of days ago, he's been loose in a bedroom, don't worry, I emptied it out, there is ABSOLUTLY nothing in there except for a tunnel for him to play in, a nice blanket he's tunneled in, some safe cat toys and a litter box which he is not at all interested in... and of course his food and water.

He seems a little nervous, but it's understandable, other then that very friendly and fun. He seems to be learning how to play, which is REALLY cute.

I work in a pet FOOD and ACCESSORY store, a woman brought him in because she thought we sold pets and thought she could get money for him if we could sell him. He was bought for her kids who of course didnt take care of him and she was "grossed out" by him because "he looks like a weasle"  ....duh....

Anyway, I need to know a couple of things about ferrets. I've done a TON of reading online but alot of things contradict each other.
First of all, can i feed him cat food, if it is a high quality, grain free formula? I looked through the ingredient list, it's very similar to ferret food.(42% protein, 18% fat) I know ferrets are carnivors and cats are aswell sooo.... ? just asking =P
I'm going to build him a cage tomorrow.... I'm doing the "blue prints" if you will, i've added a den for him because i know they "tunnel", i have a maze type area (he seems to be pretty smart), carpeted areas and areas i will cover in astroturf. also I've added a ton of things for him to climb on.....Please let me know if any of this sounds like a bad idea.

Ok, another thing, he has wicked little teeth. He's not aggressive but during play he's a little rough. A little rough as in.. he's broken my skin a few times. For the life of me I can't find anything on training an older ferret. Any tips on how to discourage bitting... or at least bitting that hard?

I brought him to the vet, everything looks fine. They gave me a de-wormer for dogs... that doesn't seem right to me. I couldn't gather a fecal sample so we don't know if he has worms... but i'm hesitant to give him the pills... any thought on it? The vet doesn't seem well versed in exotique pets. He's been eating dog food on an off.... should i be worried about this? I know dog food is NOT good for ferrets because they are not made to process the fruits and vegetable and grain.... I realize he probably won't have a great life expectancy because of his tiny cage and poor quality food, but from now if there anything i can do to reverse anything?

Last thing is; I need to fatten him up a bit, he looks pretty pathetic right now.... I've read I can give him cooked or raw meat... I don't think i'll give him raw... But is it OK to give him cooked meat? steak, chicken, pork??? one better then the other? I read that they may become a bit more agressive once they've had meat... My dogs and cats have meat all the time and it hasn't altered their behavior??

I'l just add quickly, I'm 99% sure he's a marshall farms ferret, he's tattooed on the ear... which would mean he's "deglander" and fixed... the vet wouldn't tell me either... but judging by my rats you can tell if they aren't fixed... although he does smell... if i put a small tub in his cage do they like that or will it be dangerous?

Sorry for the length of the post.... I just want to do whatever is best for this little guy! Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
Thanks!!!

4 Responses
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Avatar universal
I know you asked this a long time ago, but I'm going to answer anyway incase you still have this guy and not much has changed.

All pet store ferrets are fixed and descented.  Not that it matters for the descenting, their glands might be gone, but the oils is a natural scent and its not that big of a deal.  Their food and whether or not you clean their bedding weekly will control that "odor".  DO NOT GIVE THEM WATER IN A TUB IN THEIR CAGE.  These guys can't all swim and some seriously detest water.  There is a chance they may drown, don't ever leave them alone in water!

NO ANIMAL BECOMES AGGRESSIVE BECAUSE OF EATING MEAT!  That is some sick stereotype.  If your dogs and cats are fine, why would a ferret turn vicious?  Thats such an annoying thing that people say in response to the feeding raw or cooked meats to their pets.  Its natural, animals in the wild are not aggressive because they eat raw meat, they're aggressive for survival.

Anyway, its perfectly safe to feed your ferret raw or cooked meats, of course take the same precautions concerning raw meats as you would do for yourself.  Don't leave raw meat out in hot/warm weather and be sure to clean up all areas that the raw meats touch.  Cooked is fine, however they will be missing the nutrients of raw meat, not too mention the added benefits that raw meats help to clean the teeth.  

Ferrets don't need a dewormer and it could seriously jeopardize your ferrets health if you do not find a quality ferret-specific vet.  Please try to find one in your area!  They have such a short digestive tract its less likely that eating raw will negatively affect their health like it does people.

Do not put anything rubber-consistency in his cage, they often chew and swallow stuff like that, thus causing a potential blockage and major surgery costs for you, even death if it goes unnoticed!

As for bite training, same thing you would do for a ferret kit.  Buy Ferrets for Dummies 2nd Edition, its a great resource and an entire chapter devoted to biters and nip training that is very helpful.  Also, try using a stuffed animal to play with to avoid the bites!  Those teeth can hit straight to the bone, can also break raw chicken bones, so yes, they can do some damage but they are good!  I swear, these guys can be taught to give lovely kisses on your nose without those chompers coming out!
Helpful - 0
1249519 tn?1269144868
Mine were on marshall ferret food..but i switched over to cat food with high protien that and really low crude fiber u dont want that fiber to reach over like 5% thats too much..as for mine they eat boiled chicken and they love it cause it has no salt or pepper...its good for them but not too much mine get em as treats i have 3 of them...Also i use the scruff and treat her like a dog mine is a sable mitt so when i snap my fingers she knows not to use the corner of the cage and to go in her box but i use the scruff for the biting and tell her no! like you would a dog...and for her it works but i had her since i was small that may be my advantage i dont know if a 3 year old would listen as much now...good luck though
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Chicken raw or cooked is fine, any meat is, but you can't add any seasonings, even salt or pepper because they can have negative effects on them, possibly they are toxic for animals.

Scruff is a good method, you could you tube scruff ferrets to find out how to do it correctly.  Never punish your ferret (or other animal) with physical violence.  Shaking, slapping on the nose, pinching ears or any other physical harm will teach your ferret that humans and human hands hurt.  Trying the scruff method, done correctly doesn't hurt them, its what their mother would do, like a cat, to carry them.  Or you could try a "time out" in a carrier (not cage) without any bedding, toys, or treats.  Less than 5mins, longer and their ADD kicks in and won't be learning anything! :D
Helpful - 0
908149 tn?1248716219
I know this is a little late, but this story breaks my heart. Cat food isn't really the best choice unless you have nothing else to give him.

The person about said not to put a water tub in their cage, my babes have a bowl of water and a lot of ferrets like to "snorkel" in it. Of course, by all means, be very careful about drowning, but my older ferret couldn't see very well and would occasionally stick his whole head into the water without realizing it right away, and he was ok.

Give him time to trust you. Lots of love. I'm sure you have been. If you happen to know any other ferrets/ ferret owners, maybe set up a play date. Be sure everyones healthy and what not first, but they love to socialize. And it might just show him what he's capable of, you know? Good luck. You did a wonderful thing.
Helpful - 0
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