{INTRODUCTION TO FERRETS}

   

        Ferrets are extremely rewarding pets and are very quick to learn. They are likened more to having a puppy or kitten than a typical small animal. Ferrets are part of the Mustelidae family, which is a family of weasel-type mammals that contains Polecats, Stoats and Mink. Ferrets are NOT rodents, they have a digestive system more similar to that of a cat as they are obligate carnivores, meaning they can only digest meat and animal proteins. Therefore a diet of fresh raw meats is the best food you can feed your ferrets, however, dry, high protein, biscuit type ferret foods can be purchased when raw meat is unavailable for your ferret. 

 

        Whether you are old or new to keeping ferrets, we strongly suggest you purchase a copy of "Ferrets For Dummies" if you havent already. Ferrets For Dummies is a fantastic book that covers a lot of points in detail such as feeding, housing, training and even illnesses. It is a brilliant go-to guidebook and will really help you with understanding these facinating animals. The book has some dated information (It was published 10 years ago), however the 2nd edition of this book covers a lot of great ferret-keeping points in detail. (Please note, this is an American book some some notes may not make sense to a UK ferret owner, however do not let this put you off!)

Basic Ferret Facts
 
1) The Latin Name for the Ferret is "Mustela putorius furo"
2) The Female ferret is called a jill. A spayed female is sometimes known as a sprite
3) The Male ferret is called a hob. A castrated male ferret is sometimes known as a Hobble or Gib
4) Young ferrets are called "kits" They are often called kits till up to 9 months old.
5) The life span of European ferrets are between 8-11 years of age. Often American mill-bred ferrets hae a life span of just 5-7 years
6) A group of ferrets is called a "Business"
 
7) Sexual Maturity of the ferret is from 6 to 9 months in males, and the spring after birth for females (Usually in March)
8) Ferret come into season with the increasing hours of daylight (As winter approaches summer)
9) The Natural breeding season falls between March and September. Ferrets kept in artificial light will experience unnatural seasons.      
10) The litter size of ferrets is anything from 3 to 11 kits. The average size litter is 5-6 kits.
11) The Birth weight of ferret kits is 8 – 12 grams
12) Eyes open in kits From four weeks, and the weaning age is 6 to 8 weeks.

13) Average Weight of a hob in the UK is 1.2kg - 2.2kg (males tend to be larger and longer than females)
14) Average weight of a jill in the UK is 600g – 1kg
15) Weight can vary by up to 40% dependent on the time of the year. All ferrets will be much heavier in winter and lighter in summer.