Ferrets are gregarious, enjoying the company of their own kind, so it is often better to keep more than one ferret if possible. Neutered males and females will usually live together harmoniously and provide companionship and play for each other. If only one ferret is to be kept you will need to provide extra playtimes and exercise for him to compensate for lack of company.
Ferrets are very active so the more living space that can be provided the better. Male ferrets (hobs) can grow quite large so a roomy cage is a must. For one or two ferrets, a cage should be at least four foot long by two foot wide, and two foot high. It should have an enclosed sleeping area free from draughts, and a solid floor that must be easy to clean. Ferrets are good diggers so make sure that the floor is secure. The whole cage should be weatherproof and placed in a sheltered place away from winds, rain or too much hot sun. In cold or wet weather a rain sheet or tarpaulin should be used to cover the cage to keep the ferrets cosy. Bedding should be straw in the summer and hay for extra warmth in winter. Alternatively, woollen jumpers can be used. Check all bedding daily to make sure it has not become damp. Ferrets are very susceptible to damp and this can lead to health problems. Ferrets also suffer from heat stroke so avoid allowing the cage to be in direct midday sun in the summer.
Another way of housing ferrets, especially if more than two are kept, is to provide them with a shed with an attached outdoor run, similar to an aviary. This arrangement is usually called a ferret court and allows for lots of space and exercise. Again, it needs to be weatherproof and have warm sleeping boxes. Provide two or more sleeping boxes if more than three ferrets are to be kept.
Always provide objects for ferrets to play with. Wide tubes, boxes and cat toys are especially appreciated and help keep the ferrets fit and alert. Bored ferrets become excellent escape artists so keep them occupied and check the cage regularly for small holes or gaps.
Ferrets are naturally clean animals and use only one area for toilet purposes. If this is lined with thick layers of paper or wood shavings, daily cleaning is kept simple and quick. Do clean their toilet corner at least once, preferably twice, a day and give the cage a thorough clean at least once a week.
All ferrets enjoy playtimes in the house with the family. Some people keep their ferrets as house pets and only cage them when they are being left alone or when they would be in the way of hoovering or cleaning. They are very easy to house train provided you let them tell you which corner they want to use! Line this corner with a plastic mat and paper and there are few accidents. Cat litter trays can also be used but be warned that ferrets adore throwing cat litter about! House-ferrets are entertaining pets and soon learn to love sleeping on laps like cats. However, unlike cats, they cannot be let out of the house on their own. Sadly many ferrets manage to slip through an open door and get lost.
Whether your ferret lives in the house, a cage or a court, it is a good idea to buy a very small cat collar with a name and address tag for your ferret. If it ever escapes it will be quickly identified as a domestic animal and returned to you. Unfortunately, many ferrets are mistaken for wild animals and are not recognised as lost pets.
Materials and Diagram for Building a Ferret Cage
Exterior grade 12mm plywood 8ft x 4ft
Sheet of 1" gauge weld mesh 3ft x 2ft (minimum)
One 8ft length of 4" x 1" thick timber
Seven 8ft lengths of 2" x 1" thick timber
Three 2" hinges (suitable for external use)
Exterior grade wood finish (eg. Cuprinol) for cage exterior
Exterior grade White Gloss paint for cage interior.