WHY SUPPORT THE MANITOBA FERRET ASSOCIATION?
The Manitoba Ferret Association is supported solely by the community, run by volunteers who only want to protect those in need. Supporting our shelters allows us to take in all those in need not only to supply a home and food but also to cover any medical expenses required to keep them healthy and all our love. We strive to educate the community through; online presence, brochures, newsletters and ferret frolics. Help us to keep doing what we love 🙂
Updated March 2019
Know the difference between a ferret and a wild weasel, stoat, mink, pine martin or Ermine. It seems every year, someone tosses their ferret(s) out in a park or back lane thinking that the ferret(s) can fend for themselves and even go feral! Well meaning folks will post notices in parks and walking trails to avoid “picking up” the wild ferrets/weasels. In 2018 3 ferrets were tossed out in the walking trails in Charleswood. It became a heated debate whether these were ferrets or wild weasels. It was in fact 3 ferrets. Sadly only one was rescued thanks to one person recognizing the poor thing as a very cold and hungry and scared ferret. The volunteers from the MFA tried in vain to catch the remaining two ferrets but their efforts were sabotaged by folks not knowing the difference between a ferret and weasel. From this encounter, the MFA developed an Educational Poster showing the differences. Our goal is to have these posters up in all vet clinics and on the walking trails in and around the city.
Our hope is that no other ferret will loose it’s life because someone did not recognize it as a domesticated pet!
WHAT IS A FERRET?
Domesticated ferrets [Mustela putorius furo] belong to the Mustelidae family, they are not rodents. Ferrets sleep up to 18 hours a day but when they are up they go crazy. Ferrets love attention, toys and getting into everything so always make sure you have properly ferret proofed your home.
Come back later when we blog a post on identifying a ferret…
DO FERRETS SMELL?
Most ferrets are descented but do retain a slight musky smell, keeping their bedding clean and regular changing of litter will minimize any smells. If you happen to get a ferret that has not been descented do not worry! They poof when scared yes, but this smell lasts around two minutes and goes away – it does not stain like a skunk.
DO I HAVE A BOY OR GIRL FERRET?
Only boy ferrets have a ‘belly button’ which is located low on the stomach, this is the opening of the male’s reproductive organs. A male ferret’s penis is protected inside the body so all you see is the opening.
WHAT COLOURS DO FERRETS COME IN?
The original colours were Sable and Albino; sable presents with black guard hairs over a white undercoat while the albino is pure white with pink eyes. Ferrets can change colour and pattern over the span of it’s life, for more information click here [link to blog posting on colours]
WHAT DO FERRETS EAT?
Ferrets are obligate carnivores; they need to eat meat proteins and can become ill when eating plant protein based foods. Ferrets cannot digest sugar and should never be given licorice, marshmallows, candy and chocolate. Many cat foods current on the market contain good amounts for meat protein and can be given to ferrets. Dog food does not meet the ferret’s nutritional needs and should not be given. When choosing cat or ferret food ensure the first three proteins listed are meat based and avoid corn, protein percentage can range from 34% to 40%, fat should be 20%. The Manitoba Ferret Association strongly recommends that two different brands of good quality meat based foods be mixed together and served to your ferret. This will ensure that your ferret can adjust to any changes in the formulas as well as all nutrient requirements are met.
WHAT KIND OF TREATS CAN I GIVE MY FERRET?
Remember ferrets are meat eaters; they cannot digest fruits and vegetables. Cat treats such as Pounce can be used, ferret treats such as Bandit brand come in a variety of flavours and ferrets love them. You may give your ferret; cooked chicken, turkey or beef, some ferrets love fish (but it can cause their waste to be a little smellier), wet cat foods also make good treats. Ferretone a liquid vitamin supplement for ferrets, also makes a good treat and always comes in handy when clipping nails.
ARE FERRETS CAGED ANIMALS?
This is a controversial topic; the Manitoba Ferret Association strongly recommends that you cage your ferret when you are not home. Ferrets are naturally curious and can get into serious trouble when left alone (it is like leaving a two year old child alone)! A dedicated (ferret proofed) room is an excellent alternative. Ferrets sleep up to 18 hours a day and a safe place to do this is the best idea. In case of a fire where do you or the fireman look for a ferret that is free range?
Ferrets love to play, adventure and get into trouble! Make sure their play area is safe and enjoy all the war dances, dooks and stealing of ALL THE THINGS!
WHEN SHOULD MY FERRET SEE THE VET?
A healthy ferret should get the distemper vaccine every second year after the first year of life. A vet should see a ferret with diarrhea for more than one day as dehydration can kill. A ferret that cannot pee or pop within a 24-hour period is in a life-threatening situation and must be seen as an emergency by the vet. If you know your ferret has chewed something and you cannot find all the pieces, the vet needs to make sure the foreign object is not lodged in the stomach or intestines.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY FERRET PROOFING?
Ferrets are very natural thieves, more curious than Curious George himself! The best way to ferret proof a home is to get on your hands and knees to see what a ferret sees. Think like a ferret and ask yourself what you can get into!
WHAT IS THE SAFEST TYPE OF LITTER FOR MY FERRET?
It is dangerous to use litter that is very dusty, it can cause respiratory issues and clumping litter can smoother a ferret as they tend to snorkel through it. Newspaper pelleted litter, wheat or corn husk litters are safe, hardwood (not softwood) pellets work great as well.
WHAT KIND OF BEDDING SHOULD I USE?
There are many choices; old towels, sweatshirt, hammocks, sleep sacks, etc. Some ferrets chew on their bedding and can give themselves blockages from the material. Avoid items made of flannel such as baby receiving blankets, watch out for commercial hammocks that have foam and plastic linnings as this can be fatal if the ferret chews it. The Manitoba Ferret Association makes a split hammock that can be used as a hammock or a sleep sack, these split hammocks do not have dangerous linings.
WHAT KIND OF TOYS SHOULD I BUY MY FERRET?
Instead of telling you what to buy it is much easier to tell you what not to purchase; ferrets should not be given toys made of vinyl or soft rubber. Stuffies should not have tiny beads or foam, no button eyes that can be chewed off. If you think your ferret could chew a piece off then this is not the toy for them.