Ferrets are inquisitive animals that require considerable attention and care. If they are regularly handled by humans from a young age, they can form strong bonds with their owners and become as good a companion as a cat or a dog. Ferrets display a range of playful behaviours and this renders them a fun pet to have around the house. If well cared for, they can live as long as ten years. However, their average lifespan is around six years.
When ferrets are not adequately cared for, they suffer from boredom. This can result in a variety of physical and psychological problems.
Understanding the Needs of Ferrets
Ferrets are domesticated mammals. Wild European and Steppe polecats are likely to be their ancient ancestors. However, since no wild counterpart is believed to exist, scientists are still finding out about ferrets' habitats, behaviours and needs.
Owning a Ferret
Looking after a ferret is highly satisfying and can bring with it many treasured memories. However, ferret ownership can also prove a challenge. The long-term commitment associated with ferret ownership is not to be underestimated and this is particularly true of the financial cost. Anyone who owns or is responsible for a ferret, even temporarily, is required by law to adequately care for the animal by ensuring that its five welfare needs are met. These responsibilities are detailed under the Animal Welfare Act, which was introduced in England and Wales in 2007.
A Ferret's Five Welfare Needs
No two ferrets are the same and for this reason, there is no ideal way in which to look after this animal. While one ferret owner’s circumstances may differ greatly to those of another, an owner must ensure that their ferret’s five essential needs are met. The way in which these needs are met may vary. However, all ferret owners must take reasonable action to ensure that they provide their animals with
• a suitable place in which to live;
• a nutritious diet and uninhibited access to clean water;
• the chance to behave as they normally would;
• the chance to seek out appropriate company;
• protection against, and treatment for, pain, injury, suffering and disease.
Disclaimer: This is a compensated post and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Enlightened Ferret. It is also from the stand point of those that own ferrets in the United Kingdom and the post does have UK spelling.
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Updated 7/16/14: Removal of dead links