The Mustelidae family is the weasel family which includes otters, badgers, skunks, pine martens, polecats, wolverines, and more! Domestic ferrets, similar to domestic dogs, have many differences than their wild counterparts though, including an inability to function on their own in the outdoors! The only wild ferret left is called the Black-Footed Ferret and they live in prairie dog burrows!
Ferrets cannot survive in temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit! Here in Florida, ferrets need to be kept inside in appropriate ferret-proof cages!
Ferrets produce a "musk" in their skin's natural oils. All ferrets sold in pet stores have been "de-scented" meaning they do not have the scent glands that make them produce even more of that musk. However, if you keep your ferret clean by changing their bedding once a week and bathing them once a month, their smell is hardly noticeable!
Similar to cats, ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning they must have a high protein diet to thrive! There are ferret specific dry kibbles in your local pet store - just make sure they have about 35-40% protein, and low carbohydrates!
Ferrets are especially sensitive to sugary treats. They are very prone to getting a disease called insulinoma which is often the result of eating sugars. Avoid treats like raisins, bananas, and other sugary substances at all costs. More meat = better treat! Just because a ferret is on the bag, does not mean it's a good treat!
When ferrets are extremely excited and happy, they do something called "the weasel war dance". It looks like they've lost control of all of their limbs and senses, but that's just a ferret way of showing pure joy! Be sure to give your ferret 3-4 hours of dance time a day out of their cage!
Just like cats, ferrets (even indoors) can get heartworm disease through mosquito bites. There is no treatment for this disease in ferrets. Talk to your veterinarian about keeping your weasel on a prevention safe for them!
Ferrets, to their benefit or detriment, are not afraid of anything! This makes them great friends to cats, dogs, and other ferrets. It also makes them dangerously curious - so be sure you ferret-proof your home before playtime! They will jump off of things, dig and bite into things, and hide your things...mischief is their middle name!
Ferrets have relatively short life spans compared to cats and small dogs, but you can bet through those years they will be some of the most entertaining and loving companions! Ferrets have huge personalities and love to match.
The scientific name of the ferret is Mustelidae putorius furo which translates to "stinky mouse thief". They will steal your socks, shoes, and anything else they find interesting and stash them for safe-keeping. Even though that's their favorite job, ferrets have also been used for pulling cables through tubing, and helping with rabbit hunts centuries ago. Some ferrets even worked for the Queen of England by pulling cables for the video equipment for Princess Diana's wedding!