While ferrets should not be strictly caged, she also said there’s a lot to be considered before letting them wander a house.
“Ferret-proofing is a very serious issue,” she said. “Do you have a safe place? Not only can this ferret be safe from himself ... because they are very inquisitive ... but can they be safe from other pets? Dreadful things can happen if you’re not vigilant.”
Helms agreed. “I think people see them in the pet store and they’re sleeping a lot,” she said. “While they do sleep a lot, they do need a lot of one-on-one. They need human interaction, new toys, new smells.
“You can’t buy them and forget about them. People just don’t think.”
Wilson also said that people need to take the responsibility seriously.
“They need to make a commitment,” she said. “Ferrets are very attached to their people. If you can’t afford to take care of them when they’re sick, or you just think for some reason, you’ll get bored with this ... don’t do it. This animal will get attached to you and it’s heartbreaking for them when you give them up.”
In addition to this, ferrets have very specific dietary needs, Houseman said. As obligate carnivores, they eat strictly animal protein, and cannot digest complex carbohydrates. Some common foods, such as onions, are toxic to them.
The critters, members of the weasel family, also have special medical needs, and require a veterinarian who has experience with them. Common medical issues include adrenal gland and pancreatic diseases, Houseman said.
“Medical bills, they can skyrocket in a heartbeat,” she said. “Every special need can be a challenge.”
Even with the challenges, though, Houseman said that ferrets are the best of pets, combining playful and mischievous personalities with the best traits of dogs and cats.
“It’s a total riot,” she said. “I absolutely could not imagine my life without them.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• Contact Ferretpallozza on Facebook, by calling 348-8119 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• For more information, visit the American Ferret Association at www.ferret.org.