close up of a ferret inspecting an object

What You Should Know About Your Unique Pet: Ferrets

Ferrets are wiley small mammals that are intelligent, curious, and love attention! They do require daily quality and play time with their owners and form strong bonds to them. Domestic ferrets weigh between 1.5 and 4.5 pounds when mature and have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years. Ferrets can also be litter box trained. They do spend 18 to 20 hours a day sleeping and are most active in the early morning and early evening. Ferrets love to squeeze into small spaces and hide toys and food.


A healthy diet for ferrets should consist primarily of fats and protein and little to no fiber, carbohydrates, and sugars. Ferrets are carnivores, so it is best to feed a commercial ferret diet. Dairy products, fruits, and vegetables are not recommended. Small meals should be fed throughout the day and fresh water should be available at all times.


An open wire cage with smooth floors designed for ferrets is recommended since ferrets are known escape artists. Single and multi level options are available. The cage should be placed in a quiet location with a temperature between 60 and 80 degrees fahrenheit. If using a litter box, litter should be recycled newspaper or aspen shavings. Pine or cedar shavings and cat litter should be avoided as they may be ingested or cause respiratory irritation. Towels, hammocks, blankets, or t shirts may be added for additional bedding, but take care to wash regularly and avoid items with holes, fringe, or strings. Sturdy toys that have no small parts can be great for environmental enrichment and keeping your ferret’s curious mind entertained. Toys made of foam rubber, plastic, or latex should be avoided as they could cause issues if ingested.

Veterinary and Preventative Care

An annual wellness examination, rabies and distemper vaccines are important to keep ferrets immune response levels up and ensure they are healthy. Intestinal parasite screenings and checking for ear mites will be done at this time. If fleas are a concern, flea preventative is available. Nail trims may also be needed if they are not being worn down appropriately. Several medical conditions common in ferrets include gastrointestinal foreign body, insulinoma, adrenal disease, lymphoma, and gastric ulcers.


Hawthorne Animal Hospital, a small animal hospital and veterinary clinic, serves St. Louis Metro East area, including the communities of Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Troy, Alton, Granite City, Collinsville, Highland, Wood River, Roxana, Bethalto, Godfrey, Worden, and Hamel.

Skip to content