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

Ferrets have become very popular pets in the last couple of years. They are known to be friendly and fun to have around, and many people own and love them.

How much do ferrets cost, how aggressive are they, and how long do they live? 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 or nip when they are young. Ferrets can live anywhere from 5 to 12 years, depending on how they are bred and cared for.

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, 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 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. Sometimes they can even be free!

All that being said, the average price you can expect to pay for a ferret is $100.

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, though it can be more or less depending on the cage you choose. I found an example of a good one on Amazon that I will link here if you are struggling to find one.

$474 is the average start-up cost of owning a pet ferret.

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.

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 since 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 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.

I will link a bag of dry ferret food here, and wet ferret food 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 a ferret 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, this behavior needs to be trained out. 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.

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.

Ferrets 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.

Ferrets are actually used to being around humans and are not normally aggressive toward them.

It can also be a sign that your ferret is in pain. If your ferret suddenly starts biting when you pet them or try to hold them, it could be a sign that the contact hurts them. 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.

Ferrets were domesticated and bred to hunt rodents, so it is not a good idea to have a ferret if you have rabbits, guinea pigs, other similar rodents and reptiles unless you plan to keep them separated at all times. Your ferret may end up hurting or killing them out of instinct.

They can, however, get along and bond with dogs and cats. Just be sure your dog or cat doesn’t hurt your ferret.

The Life Expectancy of a Ferret

The lifespan 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, so you’re looking at the ferrets being fixed at like five weeks of age, 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.”

PetMD

Vickie McKimmey

It really just depends on your ferret. When purchasing a ferret, you should plan on caring for it for the maximum 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 living 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 over-feeding as Ferrets are known to only eat until they are full, and 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 kitten 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 they need. It may fill them up, but it won’t give them any nutritional value. Do not feed your ferret human foods or snacks as this can make them very sick and sometimes even kill them.

#2: Providing Proper Housing for Your Ferret

Ferrets need large cages that provide them plenty of room to run around, and not feel cramped. Ferrets 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. 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.

They also need proper bedding in their cage. No one wants to run around, sleep, and go to the bathroom on a hard metal or plastic floor, and that includes your ferret. Be sure to cover the floor of the cage with pet bedding.

This will keep the cage cleaner because it will absorb any liquids, and it will also keep it softer and more comfortable for your ferret to walk and sleep on.

I would recommend getting pet bedding that is odor control, because Ferrets have a reputation of smelling bad, so it is best to do whatever you can to control the scent especially since they live inside.

#3: Give Your Ferret Lots of Attention

Ferrets are needy and social animals. They need a lot of attention and time to keep them out of trouble. A lot of owners will get two or more ferrets to keep each other entertained, but if you only want one you are going to need to spend at least 2 to 3 hours a day hanging out with your ferret.

If you neglect to take your ferret out of their cage enough, they will focus that cooped up energy on punishing you. Owners have reported their ferrets tearing things up, throwing their food, and breaking accessories in their cage when they have been ignored for an extended amount of time.

You should let your ferret out of their cage and play with them every single day. Ferrets are social animals that need to create bonds with other ferrets or people. Some of the best ways to bond with your ferret is to hold them and let them come around the house with you or even take them on walks.

You can buy ferret harnesses that allow you to walk them on a leash. Ferrets are very active and love to play so many times just by letting them out of their cage, they will try to engage in playing with you.

You need to figure out what your ferret likes to do to play. Some ferrets like to be chased around the room, some like to play tug of war, and some like to pounce on your feet to get attention. Figure out what your ferret likes.

You can also spend time with your ferret by training them. Ferrets are intelligent animals and can be trained to do certain tricks.

#4: Groom Your Ferret

Ferrets are just like any other household pet in that they need to be groomed. This will help you keep them clean and healthy, and reduce the smell of having a small animal living in your house.

You should brush them at least once a week to keep their fur from getting knotted or matted. This will also keep out anything that may get caught in their fur and keep them more comfortable and reduce the amount you have to bathe them.

Ferrets should also be bathed once every couple of months or as needed just to keep them nice and clean, and reduce the chance for them to get some kind of bacteria or get sick.

When I was younger I really wanted a Ferret, but my mom would never let me get one because “they smell bad”. That’s one thing that everyone seems to know about ferrets. They do indeed smell bad.

This scent cannot be washed away, so while ferrets need to be bathed once every couple of months, you should not over bathe them in an attempt to get rid of the smell.

It will not go away and overwashing will do more harm than good. If you wash your ferret too much, it could cause their skin to dry out and get itchy, which will cause the skin to produce more oil, making the scent stronger.

Many ferrets, especially those from pet stores are de-scented, so the natural odor they have is underwhelming and not very noticeable.

Many Ferrets, especially those from pet stores, are de-scented.

Make sure you are giving your ferret dry food, as this helps to keep their teeth clean and healthy, but you will still need to brush their teeth around once or twice a month, as ferrets are prone to several teeth and mouth diseases. By keeping your ferret’s mouth clean, you are reducing their chance of getting these diseases.

There are several ways you can go about brushing your ferret’s teeth. The first one is with a pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste. Odds are your local pet store is not going to have a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically made for a ferret, but ones made for puppies and kittens will be small enough and work just as well for your ferret.

Before going straight into brushing your ferret’s teeth you need to get them used to having their face and mouth touched. You can do this by gently massaging their face, cheeks, and gums for about 30-second intervals several times a day for a week leading up to brushing their teeth.

Reward them afterward so they associate with their face being touched as a good thing. This way when you go into brush their teeth for real, they won’t be frightened or confused.

Other ways you can clean their teeth is by giving them teeth cleaning treats such as the ones made for kittens or puppies, just watch them to make sure they don’t choke on them.

If you have the money, you can take them into the vet to have their teeth professionally cleaned regularly but this option can get very pricey.

#5: Set Up Regular Veterinarian Visits for Your Pet Ferret

Ferrets are prone to many diseases and sicknesses that they need to be vaccinated for yearly. Any animal that lives in the same space as you should go into the vet at least once a year for vaccinations and check-ups to keep them safe and healthy.

Ferrets are no exception and they shouldn’t be neglected when it comes to making sure they stay healthy.

Origin of Ferrets

Common Name: Domestic Ferret

Scientific Name: Mustela putorius furo (stinky little thief)

Type: Mammal

Diet: Carnivore (meat eater)

Ferrets have been domesticated and kept as pets for thousands of years, and are no longer found in the wild. They have even found hieroglyphics that show people walking ferret-like-creatures on a leash.

Modern ferrets could not survive on their own out in the wild, as they have become completely reliant on humans.

It is thought that ferrets were originally Polecats that were caught and domesticated, but through thousands of years of domestication and breeding, ferrets are now genetically separate from Polecats, which can still be found in the wilds of Europe and Asia.

They were first used as working animals, much like early dogs and cats, to help catch mice and rodents because they were smaller and thinner than cats and could follow the rodents into their holes making them a more efficient hunter.

DifferencesPolecatFerret
Size12-18 inches long11-16 inches long
DomesticatedNoYes
ColorDarker ShadesLighter Shades

Ferrets first appeared in America around 300 years ago, when early colonists brought them over on their boats for rat control. They are still used on some boats and in barns for rodent control in countries such as Canada and Australia, but using ferrets to hunt is now illegal in America.

Many people mistake ferrets as still being out in the wild because of the endangered Black-footed Ferrets, which are still in the wild. But they are just about as much related to each other as wolves and household dogs are.

Their scientific name, Mustela putorius furo, meaning stinky little thief, comes from ferrets infamous odor, and their love of taking anything they can get their little paws on such as car keys or jewelry.

The reason that ferrets make such amazing and loving pets is because they’ve been doing it for thousands of years.

Related Questions

How much do ferrets sleep? Ferrets sleep around 14 to 18 hours a day. Ferrets are very active animals that love to play and exercise while they are awake. This means that they need more sleep, because of all the energy they burn throughout the day.

How big do Ferrets get? Ferrets will be fully grown by four months old. Male Ferrets will be about 16 inches long from nose to tail and weigh about 2.5 pounds. Female ferrets are smaller and will be about 12 inches long from nose to tail and weigh about 1.5 pounds.

Do Ferrets recognize their owners? Ferrets do bond with and create a relationship with their family. They are very social animals that love attention and can create bonds with people in almost the same way as a dog or cat would.

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