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How Long Do Ferrets Live in Captivity

What is the Lifespan of a Pet Ferret in Captivity?

In this fast paced world, every person looks for a partner to talk to at the end of a hectic day at work. Although there are some fortunate ones who can talk and discuss matters with their family members or partners, there are many people who live alone in a far off place. If you are one of them, you will understand the pain people like you go through when they have to return home to find themselves all alone. Such people often have pets at home with whom they can share their small world.

When you talk about pets, the first few animals that flash across your mind are dogs and cats. However, there are many people who like to keep different types of animals as pets at home. Some like to keep rabbits, some prefer rats, and some like to keep spiders. There are also some who love to keep ferrets at home as their pets.

What Are Ferrets?

Ferrets are domesticated forms of European polecats. It is basically a mammal belonging to the same category as the weasel. The fur of ferrets is normally black, white, mixed or brown. Their length is usually around 51cm that also includes their 13cm tail. These small animals have a body weight ranging between 0.7kg and 2kg. It is good for you to know that ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators. The male ferrets are normally much bigger in size than the females.

Most of you may wonder whether ferrets are indeed good pets or not. There is no doubt about the fact that these are playful and intelligent animals. It is rather fun to watch them run and play along on their own. You may also train the pet as per your needs. After all, you will always wish your pet to have a long and healthy life.

What Is The Lifespan Of Ferrets?

There are different species of ferrets out there. These include black-footed ferrets, domesticated ferrets, and European polecat ferrets. The average lifespan of black-footed ferrets is normally 4 to 6 years. However, sometimes their average age is also indicated as 1 to 5 years. On the other hand, the domesticated ferrets have an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years. European polecat ferrets normally live for around 5 to 8 years.

Can A Pet Ferret Survive Alone In The Wild?

You will be surprised to know that the black-footed ferrets were said to be extinct in 1979. Most of you may wonder what actually happened to them. There are several presumably reasons behind their extinction:

  • Human-introduced diseases
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Indirect poisoning
  • Predators’ attacks

What Do They Eat In The Wild?

Prairie dogs comprise 90% of wild ferrets’ prey. These prairie dogs were badly affected by the plague. If you go through Wikipedia, you will come to know that they were poisoned as a result of their population control measures. Thus, black-footed ferrets got endangered. In 1986, just 18 animals from this breed were left.

There were recovery efforts made, due to which their population was soon restored to around 300. Most of you may wonder where ferrets actually live. The place where these animals live is described as prairies or grasslands. Ferrets are normally found in Canada, Mexico, and the USA. The European polecats are their relatives and are native to western Eurasia and north Morocco. These ferrets have dark brown, thick fur and dark masses across their small faces.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Ferret As A Pet?

It is interesting to know that ferrets have been domesticated for more than 2,500 years. Historians used to mention these animals as pets kept by Ancient Egyptians. Ferrets are believed to have started living around humans several centuries before cats. Add to that the fact that Aristophanes, a Greek play writer, mentioned ferrets’ no mean abilities as thieves.

There is no known reason behind the domestication of ferrets. As per the American Ferret Association, this happened earlier than the 4th century. Ferrets were usually kept to hunt rabbits and to keep the mice population under control.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ferrets as Pets

It is usually seen that animals that are domesticated find it incapable of living in the wild in this modern era. Keeping this in mind, allowing ferrets as pets is considered illegal in some parts of the US, such as South Carolina, Hawaii, and California. If the pet escapes or is abandoned, the animal will be in danger. You also need to remember that ferrets can easily hunt, attack, and also kill other rare native birds. Thus, they are considered as predators.

This brings up the question whether ferrets are good as pets or not. These animals demand a lot of care and despite being full of energy, they are easily susceptible to several types of diseases, such as canine distemper, human influenza, tularemia, rabies, and Aleutian disease.

There are some other factors that may also affect the normal lifespan of these animals. These include genetics, diet, and the environment. It is true that ferrets are strictly carnivores by nature. Thus, their nutrition is usually based on a balanced commercial diet. Their food should not contain less than 36% protein. It is also important for you to know that ferrets should never be kept inside a cage for the entire day.

Amount of Space Needed By a Ferret

There is no doubt about the fact that ferrets are great as pets. They are extremely intelligent and social. These animals are small and usually quiet. They appear rather cute and can easily be trained and cared for. As far as their sleeping hours are concerned, it basically depends upon their age.

Baby ferrets are normally found to sleep for around 22 hours a day on an average. As they grow older and turn juveniles, their average sleeping hours fall to around 20 hours a day. By the time they turn adults, their sleeping hours fall further to around an average of 18 hours a day.

Since ferrets are rather energetic animals, they require around 3 to 4 hours of play time every day. You may split this play time into shorter periods. However, it is good to know that there is no guarantee when your pet might wake up from sleep and create a fuss. Thus, it is important that you put the animal in a large cage. You need to choose a bi-leveled cage that comes with two hammocks along with a sleep sack. This will give the animal three different places to sleep inside the cage. Place a litter box inside the cage in one corner. Do remember to keep it away from its eating area.

Average Length of Ferrets

Ferrets are said to be grown up when they reach 8 months of age. Baby ferrets are usually blind, deaf, and lack any fur on their bodies. This is why they are nursed by their mothers for the first 3 weeks. After this period, ferrets need calcium-enriched and protein-rich foods in their daily diet. It is needless to say that baby ferrets require loads of care. This basically means that you will have to ferret-proof your entire house. If there are any electrical and chemical hazards at home, you will have to get them eliminated immediately. Give your baby ferret several toys and some modes of entertainment. Do keep in mind that these toys should be absolutely safe and suitable for the ferret to chew.

It is sufficient to have a single ferret-proof room. Your small pet may get endangered if it enters your kitchen, garage, bathroom, and laundry. If you keep your pet in the living room, do make sure that

  • You block all escape routes
  • You lock all cabinets
  • Clean the floor and cover it with rubber mats or linoleum
  • Keep all the doors closed
  • Make sure that you keep all electrical appliances away
  • Get rid of all the holes in the furniture, walls, and cushion

Ferrets love to hide. Thus, they need to be satisfied with proper safe places to play various games such as crinkle tunnels, shredded paper to dig in, and cardboard boxes. You need to use the safest possible material to make litter for your pet ferret. These include recycled paper or pellets. It should be free from chemical odor that will help to avoid any irritation and allergy.

Do Ferrets Stink?

There are many of you who may not like the idea of owning a ferret. The simple reasons behind this are listed below:

  • They tend to bite
  • Require high-maintenance
  • Are quite damaging and messy
  • Do not get along with other animals and kids
  • Collect things
  • May smell if not cared properly

Ferrets emit a musky smell. The male ferret may have a rather intense smell. This is especially the case with males during the mating season. They use this smell to attract female ferrets. It is good for you not to fear the idea of adopting ferrets. It is usually seen that neutered male ferrets do not emit their musky smell.

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