Ferrets as Pets: Cost to Buy, Their Aggressiveness, and Life Expectancy

Ferrets are very popular pets. They are known to be friendly and fun to have around, and many people own and love them. But there is so much more to learn about ferrets.

The price of a ferret can vary a great deal being anywhere from $50 to $250. Ferrets are not very aggressive animals, but they do need to be trained not to bite. Ferrets, in captivity, live anywhere from 6 to 10 years.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to owning a ferret. Below you will find information on the cost of ferrets, the aggressiveness of ferrets and how to deal with it, the life expectancy of a ferret, and more. If you are interested in learning all the ins and outs of owning a ferret keep reading.

The Cost of Buying a Ferret

As everyone knows that buying a pet comes with more than just purchasing the actual animal. There is a lot more that goes into making sure your new furry friend has a good home to go to. Before buying a ferret it is important to be prepared and ready with all the necessary materials.

ItemCost (On Average)
Ferret$100
Cage$110
Cage Accessories$34
Bedding$15
Food (dry)$15
Veterinary Fees$200
Total$474

The Ferret

The first and main purchase will be the actual ferret itself. The cost of a ferret can range anywhere from $50 to $250 depending on where you get them, how old they are, and what type of ferret they are.

According to Cost Helper Pets, the price for certain breeds of ferrets varies. The cheapest breed is a White Albino Ferret, their price ranges from $50 to $130. The next cheapest is the Sable Ferret mixes, their price is about $130. The most expensive is the Black Sable Ferret which price ranges from $75 to $250.

Another thing that affects the price of a Ferret is the age. Many people prefer to buy ferrets when they are young because they are easier to train and bond with. Because they are in higher demand, baby ferrets will usually cost a little bit more than an adult or fully grown ferret.

The cost will also vary depending on where you buy it from. Ferrets from your local pet store are more likely to be cheaper than if you buy from a private breeder. A private breeder will be more likely to be able to give you a direct family history of the ferret and you will know exactly what you are getting.

You can also adopt a ferret which can also be cheaper. Often times when adopting a ferret the only cost you will have to pay is the adoption fee which can be as cheap as $15 or sometimes it can even be free.

The average price you can expect to pay for a ferret is $100.

The Habitat

The next thing you will have to pay for is a habitat for your ferret to live in which includes a cage, cage accessories, and bedding.

The cage you purchase for your ferret should be at very least 2 feet wide, 2 feet long, and 3 feet high to provide adequate room for your ferret to move around and play. Many ferret cages have several tiers that allow for your ferret to climb around. An appropriate cage will cost around $110, it can be more or less depending on the cage you choose. There is an excellent habitat on Amazon that I will link here if you are interested in a new and awesome place for your ferret to live.

The next things you need to purchase are cage accessories and bedding. You can accumulate the accessories across the duration of time you have your ferret, but the very minimum you should start with is a sleeping hut, a food dish, and a water bottle.

Ferrets need a shelter to sleep in, you can purchase a basic one for around $9. I will link one that I found on Amazon here.

Ferrets also need a dish for their food preferably one that hooks to the side of their cage to prevent food from spilling or getting lost in the bedding of the cage.

This will cost about $15 for a basic one. I found one on Amazon here that works great.

Along with the food dish, they need a bottle for their water. It is very important for small animals to stay hydrated and have water at all times. Your ferret’s water should be kept in a bottle on the outside of the cage that they can access through a drinking tube. This will help keep the water clean and prevent it from being spilled. I will put a link to a bottle that you can buy on Amazon here. On average the cost for a basic one will be around $10.

To keep your ferret’s cage cleaner, and more comfortable you will need to line the bottom of the cage with pet bedding. There are several different kinds of this, I recommend getting the odor control bedding as ferret cages can get very smelly. I will link one that you can buy on Amazon here. Bedding will cost you $15 on average.

The Food

The next cost that needs to be covered is food for your ferret. The cost of food will depend on what you decide to feed your ferret, whether it be wet or dry food. You can buy food made especially for ferrets at your local pet store or online. Here is a great foot option; a bag of dry ferret food here.

If you are looking for wet food, you should try this option here. The average cost for dry food is $15 a bag, while the average cost of wet food is about $20 for a 12 pack.

You also need to make sure that your ferret gets its vaccinations and it is also a good idea to get your ferret spayed or neutered. These costs will add up to be around $200 initially, but you will need to continue to get your ferret vaccinated yearly and take them in for regular check-ups.

This totals up to be about $474 to start up. Before purchasing one of these pets, make sure you are prepared for the additional costs so you aren’t overwhelmed with the amount of money that goes into purchasing a ferret.

Ferret Aggression and How to Deal with it

Contrary to popular belief, ferrets are domesticated animals and have been kept as pets for thousands of years. This means that they are used to being around humans, and are not normally aggressive toward them.

When ferrets are young they may bite or nip when playing or teething. Just like puppies or kittens, training is necessary to overcome this problem.

They usually don’t have malicious intent. Ferrets have very thick skin, so a play bite to them may hurt a little more for you. Make it clear to your ferret that biting and nipping is not appropriate behavior and as they mature and learn the biting will stop. Treats are a good motivator.

If your ferret is being deliberately aggressive, especially if it is not normal behavior for them, this is usually a sign that something is wrong. This can happen if you aren’t letting your ferret out of its cage enough or not letting it get enough exercise. These guys are very active animals so if they can’t release that energy, they will start focusing it on more destructive behaviors such as biting or being aggressive.

It can also be a sign that your ferret is in pain. If your pet is all the sudden biting when you pet them or try to hold them it could be a sign that it hurts. If you are letting them out enough and nothing has happened to cause a change in behavior, you should take them to a vet to have them checked out.

They may also bite if they are scared or feel as if they are in danger. If you try to pick them up while they are sleeping, or catch them off guard, they may respond defensively and bite you.

Always make sure they know you are there, by making your presence known. Talk to them, reach your hand in and pet them, and when picking them up, grab them slowly and gently to prevent frightening them.

The Life Expectancy of a Ferret

The life span of a ferret is a little bit more complicated than the average life span of more common pets such as a dog or cat, as many factors go into how long a ferret lives.

Ferrets were first popularized in Europe as household pets, in which they lived about 8 to 10 years. Throughout the years, and spreading to different countries have shortened their life span to about 5 to 9 years.

Another thing that can determine their life expectancy is if they were purchased from a pet store or a private breeder. As told by PetMD:

“…the lifespan difference between a ferret purchased from a breeder compared to a ferret purchased from a pet store may have to do with how early the ferret was spayed or neutered. Ferrets in pet stores are fixed before they go into the pet store… whereas a breeder will recommend you wait until a ferret is at least a year old. That way, it’s had all of its hormones fully developed.”

Vickie McKimmey

It really just depends on the ferret you get. Genetics, as well as care, truly determine how long a pet will live.

When purchasing a ferret, you should plan on and prepare to have it for the max amount of time. Ferrets are long term commitments. So, be sure that you will be able to care for it and keep it for several years when purchasing it.

How to Care for a Ferret

Ferrets are high maintenance pets and require a lot of care and attention to live happy and healthy lives. They aren’t the best option for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to care for and spend time with their ferret. Here are some things you need to know about caring for a ferret before you purchase one.

1. How to Properly Feed Your Ferret:

Ferrets have a very high metabolism, which means they need to eat a lot throughout the day. They should be fed a small scoop of food 8 to 10 times a day to stay full and healthy. Don’t worry too much about overfeeding as ferrets are known to only eat until they are full. Additionally, because they are so active and have such a high metabolism, they need a lot of food.

Ferrets are carnivores which mean they only eat meat.

You should feed them dry ferret food which has all the nutrients they need. This can be kind of difficult to find. So, many people feed their ferret kits food, because ferrets and cats have very similar diets and need the same nutrients. Avoid fish-flavored kitten food, as this can make your ferrets smell very bad.

You can also give your ferret raw chicken or cooked chicken in addition to the food pellets for added protein and nutrients. You can also give them chicken baby food in addition to pellets.

There are wet ferret food options, but they should only be used in addition to dry food, as dry food is necessary for teeth strength, and keeping their teeth clean.

I linked a good dry ferret food in the cost section, and I will link it again here if you are having trouble finding proper things to feed your Ferret.

Do not feed your ferret dog food, as this does not have the nutrients that your ferret needs. So, it will fill them up but won’t give them any nutritional value. Do not feed your pet human foods or snacks as this can make them very sick and sometimes even kill them.

2. How to Provide Proper Housing for Your Ferret:

Ferrets need large cages that provide them plenty of room to run around, and not feel cramped. These animals spend most of their time in a cage so it is important to provide things that will keep them entertained and comfortable.

The main accessory they need is a sleeping hut. Ferrets sleep up to 18 hours a day, which is a lot. I’m a little jealous. Provide them with a sleeping hut which will give them a quiet, warm, and peaceful place to rest especially when everything around them can be so noisy.

They are usually pretty good about adjusting their sleeping schedule around you, but it is still comforting for your ferret to have a shelter to sleep in and feel safe.

They also enjoy having toys to play with, in their cage. Toys will help keep your ferret entertained when you can’t. Toys can include things to chew on, things to roll around, things to climb, or even things to hide in. Ferrets have a lot of energy to burn, and toys will help them focus their energy on something not destructive.

3. How to Give Your Ferret the Attention He/She Needs:

Ferrets are pets that like to have companionship. They like to be held, played with, and paid attention to. If you want a pet that you don’t need to take time to hang out with, you’re mistaken.

Give them interaction by using toys. Place toys like chew toys, wheels, and/or plastic balls in their cage. All of these toys should be hard and plastic (hard to get small pieces of), as ferrets are prone to swallowing things. This will help them understand what things they can bite and chew and what they cannot.

It’s also good to let them out. At first, you will want to make sure it is a secure area. Maybe a plastic kiddie pool with high walls, or a large container. Once they are trained, or if they are leashed, you can let them play around the house.

You can hold your ferret. These creatures are social and may get lonely. So you can handle them, just remember to wash your hands before and after.

If you are unable to supply attention to your ferret often enough, it may be a good idea to get a companion. Make sure that this ferret is of the same sex. You may be surprised to know that these pets actually do remarkably well in groups, so this may be the way that you want to go anyway.

If you are going to take your ferret out and give him/her attention, make sure he/she is awake first. Ferrets aren’t aggressive, like we talked about earlier, but can be frightened if they are picked up without warning. Try clicking or squeaking a toy to alert the ferret that you are around before grabbing him or her.

Giving the proper attention to your ferret means letting him/her sleep, as well as feeding and maintaining their habitat.

4. How to Exercise a Ferret:

All pets need exercise. A ferret is not going to be able to get the amount of exercise needed if kept in a cage all day. So, as a caretaker, you will need to be able to provide some sort of release.

This video gives you a good idea of what you need to do to prepare your home for exercising.

One of the best things that you are going to do to help exercise your ferret is to create a playpen. It is a safe area that lets them run a bit more than they can in a closed-off habitat. They will need to be lined with blankets and have all the best toys as well.

Tubes and tunnels are some of ferrets favorite things to play with. Long tunnels, sort of like hamster tubes, will let them run around and tucker themselves out a bit.

Some ferrets, when trained, will like to go on short walks outside. This will require them to be on a leash. This is probably one of the best ways to ensure that you are getting your ferret enough exercise. However, not all ferrets will like this. Give it a try, and if it doesn’t go well, relax. There are some other great ways to ensure your ferret is up and moving.

Here are some excellent ideas that provide entertainment and exercise for our favorite furry pets. It comes from Ferret.org. These are fun, playful ways to help ensure that your ferret stays active.

5. How to Groom Your Ferret:

Grooming a ferret is not super grueling. That being said, it is super important that it is done regularly to ensure that your ferret is being taken care of.

You will want to check over your ferret over every day. Check his/her fur. Make sure the fur is not patchy.

Now, let’s get into more specifics.

Nails

You will also want to look over the ferret’s nails. These nails will need to be trimmed every week. But, if you check every day, you will get a better sense of what your specific companion needs.

If your ferret’s nails are too long, it could be dangerous to you, to itself, and to your areas.

Clipping a ferret’s nails may seem tricky, but here is the best way to do so:

  1. Lay ferret on his/her back. It is best if the ferret is on your lap.
  2. Put a little bit of liquid snack, such as salmon-oil or olive drops, on his/her belly.
  3. Clip nails while your ferret is licking the treat off of his/her belly. Do not clip the little red vein, as it will be painful and bleed.

Keep in mind that it is a trim. The first few times will be the most difficult. Your ferret will be a little squirmy. You will probably be a little nervous. But the news is that it does get easier. Your ferret will get used to the weekly habit and pretty soon, you’ll be a pro.

Brushing Teeth

Since most of what ferrets eat is kibble, their teeth have to deal with a lot. They also put everything into their mouths. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they need their teeth cleaned.

Ferrets need to have their teeth brushed once every two weeks. If your ferret eats more wet food, you will have to brush more frequently, probably once a week. Brushing is to remove all the plaque build-up, which happens more with wet food.

Just a fair warning, teeth brushing can really be a difficult task in the beginning. The first couple of times will be so unfamiliar to your ferret so things may be tricky. That being said, after your favorite little guy knows what to expect, it will be easier.

Here is how to brush your ferret’s teeth:

  1. Get a pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste.
  2. Start with back molars. Pay attention to these back teeth because the most plaque build-up will be here.
  3. Move forward to the canines and incisors in slow, sweeping motions.

Every other year or so, your vet will need to do a professional cleaning.

Ear Cleaning

Ear cleaning is another grooming task that is super important to make sure you stay on top of, but it’s not a challenging task. Ear cleaning will have to take place at least once a week in order to keep your ferret free from infection, stink, and ear mites.

The best thing to use for ear cleaning is a solution designed for… well, ear cleaning. Your vet will be able to recommend the best for you ferret, but something like this Marshall Animal Ear Cleaner, available on Amazon should do the trick.

Here’s the best way to clean a ferret’s ear:

  1. Warm up the ear solution to at least room temperature
  2. Place a few drops of solution onto a cotton ball or q-tip
  3. Massage the solution into your ferret’s ear with a cotton ball/q-tup.
  4. Loosen up debris and wax. Change q-tips or cotton balls when needed.

Don’t insert the q-tip too far. Ferrets have “L-shaped” ear canals, so it’s really hard to hurt an eardrum. That being said, it is possible. Also, you should be watching out for the color of wax. If it is dark-colored or black, your ferret might have ear mites.

If this is the case, contact your vet right away.

Bathing

Bathing is one part of grooming that you should not be too worried about. It really is something that should be done quarterly. This is to prevent overbathing. Bathing too often can lead to a dry coat and can actually make a ferret smell more.

So, every 3 months or so, this is what you should do:

  1. Fill up a sink or tub with warm water, not lukewarm. Fill it so he/she head can be kept out of water.
  2. Lather ferret shampoo onto your ferret, avoiding the eyes.
  3. Rinse his/her fur thoroughly of any soap.
  4. Dry your ferret until he/she is damp.
  5. Lay him/her onto a towel to finish drying. Your ferret will wriggle and worm, drying himself/herself while having fun.

That pretty much sums up the grooming necessities of your ferret.

Just Remember:

Ferrets are lovely pets. They are really sweet after they have been trained and love to play, eat, and sleep.

Remember to give them the love and attention they need. Buy great food, and make sure you give them the best and most loving home. Because it is what your furry pal deserves.

If you already have a ferret, it’s best to have all of your questions answered by your vet. Ask a ton of questions the next time that you go.

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