What Having a Pet Ferret is Really Like
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Imagine a tiny cheetah running laps around your living room...but totally ungraceful, probably bumping into furniture, and making noises you wouldn’t expect. That’s sort of what I envision when our ferret zooms through the house, plus the ability to squeeze through impossibly small spaces and somehow beat you at hide and seek every single time. I never knew our lives would become so much more interesting once we brought home this adorable fuzzy noodle, so if you have ever wondered what having a pet ferret is really like, please read on for some insider information.
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Getting a pet ferret has always been on my imaginary bucket list. Ever since I was a little kid, they were the “mystery” pet that I had seen pictures of but never in person, so of course I wanted to get one. I worked at a pet store briefly before college and caring for the baby ferrets was my absolute favorite task. This experience just increased my desire to take one home, so fast forward about 6 years and I finally surprised Eric with one for Christmas (we both wanted one and discussed it often, so no worries there). She was super tiny with all white fur, and we named her Shiro (literally translates to: white) and she stole our hearts immediately. We got her all settled into her new home and then our adventure truly began.
A few days after I brought her home, we decided she needed a bath (at no fault of her own, she was really smelly due to her previous living conditions) so we gathered up some towels and took her to the bathroom. After her bath, it was like she had been zapped by the energizer bunny - we tried our best to dry her, but it was clear she had plans of her own. We ended up layering towels on the bed and letting her zoom around through them, drying herself in the process. When she was mostly dry, she wriggled out of the towels and started bouncing all over the place with pure excitement (see video above!). After she bounced herself right off the bed, we set her free in the house and she ran so fast she practically rolled herself down the stairs. Never having a ferret before, we were totally startled by her behavior and of course looked to the internet for answers. As it turns out, there are thousands of videos on YouTube of this specific “dooking” behavior, which is just a totally normal way that ferrets play. Fast forward to the present and my morning routine looks something like this:
Wake up and get a cup of coffee
Let Shiro out to play
Play chase with Shiro for 20-30 mins. Protect coffee at all costs.
Prevent her from knocking everything over for another 45 mins until she falls asleep
Make another cup of coffee
The amount of energy in that little noodle is phenomenal. She runs up and down the stairs probably 5-7 times an hour when she’s awake - which brings me to the next interesting thing. Ferrets are a little bit like toddlers, because they have a crazy amount of energy but they also need to take naps...except ferrets sleep 14-18 hours a day, in 4-6 hour increments (see Shiro snoozing below). Sometimes she’ll even sleep for 8 hours and we’ll have to wake her up to play or she’ll be awake all night. It was a little hard to get used to until we had a semi-regular schedule, because we kept waking her up at the wrong time and she would still be awake when we climbed into bed. Her sleeping schedule is still pretty varied, depending on her mood and the day, but we have a pretty regular routine now that helps keep everything running smoothly. Most of my afternoon is spent working on things that need done, like running the blog, doing laundry, etc. and she’ll sleep through almost all of it - but when she’s awake, my time is spent making sure she isn’t getting into anything potentially dangerous.
Before I brought her home, I thoroughly researched everything I could. I wanted to make sure she had the best food, snacks, toys, and cage but I’ll admit that I definitely slacked on the “ferret proofing” section. This was a major struggle, especially when we realized just how tiny she was. We decided early on that we wanted her to have access to as much of the house as possible, but that didn’t include the kitchen (for obvious reasons). The problem was that she could squeeze through, climb over, or wiggle under every single gate we ever put in the doorway. It took us a couple of months to finally figure out a way to keep her out of the kitchen, which meant she also couldn’t enter the dining room but we decided it was worth the sacrifice. That wasn’t the end of our struggles though, because despite her being contained in “approved rooms” that didn’t mean there weren’t still things she could get into. Cups, bowls, and spoons oh my! Forget about accidentally leaving a glass of water on the coffee table, because in 2 seconds it’ll be all over your carpet. Forgot something in another room? Take your bowl of ice cream with you! The last thing you need is a sugared up ferret with a sensitive stomach. Our girl has a particular obsession with spoons, as in, she steals them and hides them in unknown locations. We still don’t have a full set and I’m pretty sure one of them is hidden inside the couch. We’ve come a long way and have learned from our mistakes, but there will always be room for error. Much like a toddler, it’s best to check on them frequently - especially if it’s suddenly much quieter in the house than it should be!
This is just an insider look at some of my personal experience with what it's really like to have a pet ferret. There are many more stories I could tell you, of things being stolen and games of hide and seek where I honestly wasn’t sure who was winning, but the point of it all is that ferrets are so much more than people think - more fun, more energetic, more loving. There is nothing more satisfying to me than watching Shiro chase Eric around the house and hear her little snorts of joy when he chases her back. My advice to anyone thinking of getting a pet ferret is do your research, because loving one may just change your life - but don’t skip out on the ferret proofing! Do you have any fun or crazy ferret stories? Be sure to leave them in the comments, we'd love to hear them!