Spending time with your ferret
Although he's fiercely independent, that little bandit called a ferret--you know, the critter who has stolen your heart, not to mention your car keys and earrings-needs plenty of companionship.
Highly social animals, ferrets love to play and explore with their Pet Parents or other ferrets, and will likely grow bored, frustrated, and depressed if left in their cage all the time. Deprived of the attention and camaraderie they crave, ferrets become unhappy, unsociable animals.
While it's true that ferrets do sleep a great deal--anywhere from 15 to 18 hours a day-during those few hours of rambunctious consciousness they need a sidekick to make them happy. If neglected, ferrets tend to sleep even more than usual, which can lead to health problems. Often they will adjust their sleeping habits to conform to your schedule; they'll be awake when you're ready for breakfast, and they'll be ready to romp again when you get home from work.
Exercise and playtime outside the cage must be a part of your ferret's daily routine. Allowing him plenty of time to explore his environment will keep him alert, curious, and contented as he expends his natural exuberance.
Spending quality time with your ferret--at least an hour or two every day-is also essential in order to provide the training he needs. Both you and your ferret will be happier if he is trained to use his litter box properly. He also must learn to travel on your shoulder, to get used to a leash, and to play nicely with humans.
The more time you spend with your ferret, the more friendly and secure he'll become. By gaining his trust, you'll also be able to perform the regular grooming he needs--such as brushing his fur and clipping his nails-with less resistance.
While a ferret doesn't necessarily need another ferret to be happy, if you're often away from home you might consider adopting a second one. Usually, you can mix males and females in any combination, as long as all are spayed or neutered.
Ferrets enjoy each other's company and almost always get along, even preferring to be in the same cage and to eat from the same bowl. Ferrets love to sleep curled up together in a pile and also delight in wrestling and chasing each other in mock combat. But don't worry--they'll still have time and energy to play with you, too!
Ferrets to go
Just because you have to leave the house doesn't mean you have to leave your ferret behind. Ferrets enjoy the stimulation and sociability of being out and about. You can train your ferret to walk on a leash or harness without too much trouble. Just make sure he's always wearing a collar with an ID tag that bears your name, address, and phone number.
Your ferret will enjoy a leisurely walk, but don't try to take him for a jog; his short legs and short stride aren't built for fast travel, and besides, he'll want to constantly stop to inspect everything.
Toys and games for the party animal
Ferrets love to play every waking minute. They like to be chased and to chase you. They enjoy playing tug of war, jumping on beds, hiding behind pillows, and playing "carpet shark" under your throw rugs. They're also very fond of toys of all kinds, and having a variety of ferret--friendly toys on hand will help keep your pet entertained during those times you can't amuse him yourself.
Furry or squeaky cat toys work well for ferrets, but avoid any toys with small, removable parts or foam stuffing that might choke him or cause digestive--tract blockages if swallowed. You can devise any number of homemade toys to keep your ferret constantly enthralled. Ferrets enjoy crawling and capering through paper bags, cardboard boxes, or the legs of an old pair of jeans. An excellent, inexpensive toy that your ferret will have fun racing through is a piece of plastic dryer hose about 4 inches in diameter.
Still, as much as your pet adores his toys, he'd much rather clown around with his Pet Family. Few animals are his equal when it comes to his talent for ferreting out your sense of humor and your imagination.
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