The ferret has been domesticated by humans since Antiquity. Today, it is considered a new domestic pet (NAC), requiring no special authorization, like the pig or the mouse. Here are our tips for taming it.
Who is the ferret?
Ferrets belong to the Mustelidae family, which includes weasels, stoats, polecats, and some mink. Its body is stretched out, resting on short legs. He is very agile, able to climb and swim. Its cylindrical shaped body is suitable for going into burrows. Some vertebrae, especially those in the neck, are proportionately a bit longer than what can be seen in most mammals, making up a long, flexible spine. To maintain the whole, the muscles of the back are developed. Their flexible spine allows them to absorb shock when they jump from a height that can reach 4 times their length.
In the wild, ferrets therefore mainly hunt hares and rabbits. He may be interested in rodents and small birds. In case of lack of food, it can also turn to animal corpses, eggs and small amphibians.
These skills of hunter explain its domestication from Antiquity. He helped farmers to hunt lagomorphs from the fields, or hunters to capture them. Measuring between 40 and 50 cm long, the ferret is smaller than most wild rabbits: it therefore moves with ease in the galleries that the latter have dug.
It can reach a top speed of 25 km / h, when the rabbit can reach 40 km / h and the hare 70 km / h: its chances of catching its prey are therefore higher when they think they are safe. in the burrow.
What does a ferret need?
The Latin word furious from which comes the word ferret means “thief”. The ferret gave the word “snooping” which designates the practice of hunting with a ferret. He is also at the origin of the verb “to ferret”, in reference to the great curiosity of the animal.
Ferrets make great pets. It is the third-largest pet in the United States, a country with more than 5 million such animals. Their life expectancy is estimated between 6 and 10 years, even 12 years in some cases.
They do not like confinement and will appreciate a home with a garden, or at least with a large enough interior to exercise. But they know how to stay in a cage or a backpack, the time of a transport.
Ferrets sleep a lot, 10 to 15 hours a day. His sleep is so deep that nothing disturbs it. During waking times he is very active: he needs to run and play for at least two hours a day.
They are very playful animals, whether with their peers or with men, retaining their dynamism as they age. They need a lot of attention and you shouldn’t see taming as an option but as an obligation as they are sociable in nature.
They love to sneak around; free in your home, the animal will not be able to differentiate between an object that has value and one that does not. So it’s up to you to take care for him. They like to steal things to hide them. They eat the sponges. Boxes and bags of all kinds within their reach will be turned into tunnels. One thing is certain: with a ferret, you will not be bored!
The language of the ferret
To tame a ferret, you must first understand the signals it can emit to better interact with it. When he utters a sharp cry, he is afraid or in pain. He may also grind his teeth in the former case. It is then absolutely necessary to leave it alone otherwise it will pass to the next step which consists in biting. If he feels dominated, he will flatten himself on the ground. If he is not happy or if he is excited, he will bristle his hair. If he wants to play, he will jump and run all over the place. Finally, he yawns when he’s calm or tired. In addition, the ferret has glands in the anus which it uses to mark its territory. They contain a liquid that gives off an odor generally considered unpleasant which is released when he feels an intense emotion, whether positive such as pleasure or negative stress.
Ferrets are known to be smarter than dogs and cats and have a very good memory which makes taming and training easier. However, you have to take into account the fact that he will never respond like a dog can and that he will not be as petting as a cat.
Get him used to his cage
Like any animal grafted in a new environment, it takes a little time for the ferret to understand that its cage is its new home. he can cry during this period of adaptation. It will gradually calm down. You must leave him alone without ignoring him. As you stand next to the cage and speak quietly to him, he will begin to integrate you into his surroundings and get used to your presence. He must also quickly integrate his name that you will repeat very often at the beginning of your relationships.
The ferret’s toilet training
As their transit is rapid, their droppings are numerous. While ferrets can be taught to use a cat litter box, it won’t be as reliable as it is with felines. You can therefore use the reward system when he has deposited his excrement where it is needed (be careful to respect their meat diet), or place the excreta where it should have been, if this is not the case, so that he understands by example. If the lesson is slow to be integrated, one trick is to place several cat litter boxes in the places where he defecates because he always uses the same places for this.
How to handle your ferret
The ferret will bite all the more easily because it is not used to human presence. It is not a recommended animal for children under the age of 10. The ferret bites to respond to a situation that stresses him, that scares him, or in which he feels threatened. The first thing to do is therefore to inhabit the animal at manipulations. As with all animals, patience will be the key word to build trust between you and the animal. Gentleness will govern your actions.
Take out the ferret
From the start, you have to get him used to getting out of his cage, 1 to 2 hours every day, and offering him games. This will be done first in a small room, with no nooks and crannies, no traps and no furniture under which he could squeeze. These animals have a very active nature and you need to adapt to their nature more than imagine preventing them from doing silly things. It’s up to you to provide them with security. Over time, the territory will grow.