Hayward, CA goldenstateferretsociety@gmail.com 510.755.9532

California Ferret Owners

We get a lot of emails from out-of-staters who are planning to move to California, but are worried and don’t know what to expect upon arrival with their fuzzies. To help clarify and put people’s minds at ease, we’ve put together these helpful tips and advice.

Q: Are ferrets really still illegal in CA?

A: The long and short of it is — yes, ferrets are very much still illegal here, but there are also estimated to be 250k+ pet ferrets in the state, so people absolutely do have them. It’s all about keeping a low profile, and being smart.


Travel

  • You CANNOT fly in with ferrets (this one seems pretty obvious, but just in case)
  • You’ll need to drive in with them, but be aware that most entries into CA have guarded checkpoints. They are primarily looking for out-of-state vegetation (fruits,  veggies, plants, etc), but if they do notice a ferret in your car, it will not be good. There are some areas that have no checkpoints at all, so if possible, target those. FerretsAnonymous has a checkpoint map, but we can’t vouch for how up-to-date it is.
  • Even if you do have to come in through a checkpoint, all is not lost.
    • MOST of the time they’ll just wave you in without stopping you if you have CA plates, so if possible, register your car and get CA plates before bringing any ferrets in. That helps, but definitely not required
    • Most checkpoints are unmanned on holiday weekends, so if you can come through then, luck may be on your side
    • If all else fails, figure out a way to hide the ferrets in the car in a carrier/cage, and cover them up. Don’t have anything that looks like a cooler with food around, since again, they mostly just care about you bringing in foods/plants. They RARELY actually go through your vehicle, and most times just take a peek inside, make sure it all looks groovy, and wave you through.

Dealing with Authorities

  • If you do get caught with ferrets at the border, I’d suggest playing dumb. You can easily get away with the old story of “you had no idea they were illegal” and don’t let them take the ferrets, just turn the car around and find another route in.
  • If you get caught later on, there is supposedly a SLIGHT benefit to having them neutered & records of rabies shots. The old story goes that if Fish & Wildlife confiscate your ferret, and you have records of this, then they are willing to “transport the ferrets out of state to a new home of your choosing” rather than euthanize. If you don’t have those records, it’s unknown what they’ll do. I think they got enough flack the past few years that they rarely euthanize anymore.
  • It also really depends on WHO you encounter. Some cops, or Animal Control, will look the other way and nothing will happen. Some will confiscate or call Fish & Wildlife. Honestly many people, even authorities, don’t even KNOW that ferrets are illegal, so nothing happens.
  • Please be careful careful about who you talk to about your ferrets. People can turn on you on a dime, and if you encounter someone who has a grudge, all they have to do is call the police, and that’s it. 99.99% of the time this doesn’t happen, but just be cautious when dealing with “non ferret people”. 

Living Arrangements

  • If you’re lucky enough to be able to buy a house and not deal with a landlord, nothing to worry about. But if you’re like the rest of us schmoes, you’ll need to navigate that one carefully.
  • Medium/large apartment complexes are an easy one; as long as they accept animals in general, then you tell everyone you have guinea pigs. Guinea pigs work best since they aren’t interesting enough for people to want to meet them, but they are also similarly sized and caged, so if you’re walking around with a carrier, or a maintenance person comes in and sees a cage in your place, it’s not weird.
  • If you HAPPEN to find a landlord that you SUPER super trust or have known a while, then you’re probably fine, but we recommend you play it safe. 

Vet Care

  • It is 100% LEGAL to get your ferrets treated at a Veterinary Clinic in CA, so NO worries there. There was a law passed many years ago that made it safe & legal to get them treated. So basically it’s illegal when you’re driving over to the Vet, legal while you’re there, and illegal again when you’re driving them home 🙂
  • It’s important to really make sure the Vet you select is qualified to treat ferrets and actively treats others. Many Vets will claim they can treat them, but don’t really know enough about them for proper care.

These is just our personal advice based on experience. We tend to be an overly-cautious bunch, and wouldn’t want to risk anything for our babies, so take this advice for what it’s worth. Honestly in general it’s mostly totally fine to have ferrets here, but it’s important to be cautious. Most people will either look the other way, or not even realize that they are illegal. But stories do still surface every now and again about someone getting “caught” with one. As long as you’re careful, you’re fine. 

Why Are Ferrets Illegal in California?

How did things go so awry in California for the domestic ferret? When the Department of Fish and Game (Now Fish and Wildlife) was created its mandate was to protect wildlife. In 1933 a statue entitled, “The Importation and Transportation of Live Wild Animals” was drafted. This statute banned a host of animals which were wild and not native to the state of California. The intent of the statute was clear: to avoid problems with non-native wildlife competing with native wildlife. Fortunately for existing ferret owners in California, neutered male ferrets were allowed to be possessed. 

About a decade later when the Department of Fish and Wildlife reevaluated the statute, they changed the regulation and banned all species of ferrets. The Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to believe in this regulation and remain the cause of our problems today.

When the original statute was enacted in 1933, the domestic ferret was not a popular pet and its depiction as wildlife was an obvious oversight, as they have been domesticated for over 3,000 years. In the 1980’s, the Department of Fish and Wildlife had requests from ferret fanciers for a relaxation of the regulation which allowed for neutered males only. Some folks actually wanted to share their household with a spayed female. Typically, when a conflict regarding an un-neutered, non-permitted male ferret would wind up in front of a judge, the owner was ordered to neuter the ferret and the Department of Fish and Wildlife was ordered to issue a permit.

Rather than taking the time to examine the issue honestly, the Department of Fish and Wildlife began a campaign to eliminate the ferret entirely from the California. This was in clear violation of the State constitution which protects a citizen’s right to private property, specifically defined to include all domestic animals. So, the Department of Fish and Wildlife asked the California Department of Health Services, which shared the department’s bias towards the ferret to write a report supporting the department ban. The report’s authors later admitted to a New York vet that they believed they were specifically chosen to write a biased report because of their long established anti-ferret leanings.

​Objectivity was never a consideration. To no one’s surprise, the report came out exactly as what was intended by Fish and Wildlife. It is prejudiced, it wildly misrepresents statistics on ferret bites and attempts to further a rabies scare which, given a grand total of 12-14 cases of rabid ferrets over a period of 300 years, can only be described as hysterical. Domestic dogs kill 17 people per year and account for hundreds of thousands of rabies cases. If the Department of Fish and Wildlife believe that owning a ferret poses a public risk that cannot be tolerated, all you dog owners in California had better be on guard for the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s intervention in your life.

This agency’s recalcitrance on the ferret issue has deeply hurt, offended and even criminalized honest citizens. It has also institutionalized the abuse of these companion animals in California. Because of this inappropriate law, criminal status was forced upon respectable California citizens who love and own ferrets. In the past, these beautiful animals were cruelly and needlessly killed each year by the orders of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Currently, most confiscated ferrets are deported out of state, and are no longer euthanized.

Ferret Clubs / Groups

There are more like-minded groups out there! If you’re not local to the SF Bay Area, or you’re just looking for more ferret information, we recommend the following organizations.

Animals That Look Like Ferrets

Came across this great article on Chewy.com that really helps clarify what a mustelid IS and ISN’T, and how that wild creature you saw in your yard is definitely not a ferret! Read the full text here.


With about 57 species of mustelids, the scientific classification that includes ferrets, people often confuse many different species for ferrets. All mustelids are warm-blooded, carnivorous mammals with long, tubular bodies, short legs and thick necks. 

The Following Are Mustelids

  • Otters – river and sea
  • Badgers
  • Mink
  • Weasels
  • Martens
  • Fishers
  • Polecats
  • Wolverine
  • Ferret (the only domestic mustelid)

The Following Are NOT Mustelids

  • Mongoose, including dwarf mongoose and meerkats. While they also have anal scent glands and are similarly shaped, the 34 members of the Herpestidae family are native to Africa, southern Asia and southern Europe.
  • Skunks! In recent years, they were officially classified as Mephitidae. Most of the 13 different species range from Canada to the northern parts of South America. They, of course, have the most developed scent glands of all!
  • Civets (aka civet cats) and fossas (known from the “Madagascar” animated films) are Viverrids of the family Viverridae. They are native to dense forests of Africa, Asia and some islands.

Lost & Found

For ferret emergencies like…

  • Your ferret has been confiscated by authorities
  • Your ferret is lost
  • You have found a stray ferret
  • You need to find a new home for your ferret

Call us immediately at (510) 755-9532

Leave a message if we do not immediately pick up. Any information we receive is kept strictly confidential.


If you find a ferret…

Finding a lost ferret is not a lost cause! Nor is it hard to help a found ferret. Lost ferrets will not bite or attack you – in fact, they are simply scared and wondering what is happening. If you have trouble getting a ferret to come to you, squeak toys and whistling are usually a good way to get them to approach you. Bring the ferret inside and place them in either a large box with the top open, or a small carrier. Be sure to provide them with some water and kitten food.

Once the ferret has been tended to, please call us immediately to arrange pick-up and out of state transportation. There is NO cost to you to do this, and all information we receive is strictly confidential. If you’d like to post signs that you have found a ferret, we recommend you use the phrase “small animal” rather than ferret on your signage, since ferrets are illegal in California.


If you lose a ferret…

Ferrets have extremely flexible bodies and can sneak into or out of almost anywhere. Because of this, ferrets may be able to escape from their cage or house without you even noticing. If you’ve looked in all of the usual hiding spots and you can’t find your fuzzy, please get the word out that your ferret is missing.

Please remember that ferrets cannot survive out in the wild.​ Their hunting instincts have been bred out of them, so in the wild they will starve or be killed by predators. You can use this template to alert people around your neighborhood that you have lost one of your ferret friends.

Ferret Philosophy

  1. Hoarding is a form of art.
  2. Life is short. Take what you can as quickly as possible.
  3. If you get caught stealing, divert attention and dance a jig.
  4. Happiness is a great hidey-hole and a soft sleeping bag.
  5. Know no fear.
  6. Your socks are my socks.
  7. Upon entering the room, walk the perimeter.
  8. Hands off the stash.
  9. Dance like no one is watching.
  10. Play like there is no tomorrow.
  11. For all around good health, poop often.
  12. Rear-end. Corner. Reverse. Poop.

Caring for a Pet Ferret

What’s so special about ferrets? What makes them unique? What makes them so darn lovable? And what does it take to own a ferret?


Summary

Any ferret lover will tell you that ferrets make great pets. Ferrets are playful, joyful critters and are endlessly entertaining. They not only steal your heart, but they take over your home and your life (in the best possible way)! A ferret will bond with you and love you unconditionally.

Although loveable and cuddly, ferrets are typically messy, difficult to potty train, and can be very expensive when they have health problems. They also need a lot of exercise around the house and typically fare better with a buddy.

It is believed that ferrets have been domesticated for over 2,500 years. They have a life span of 6-10 years, so if you decide to get one as a pet, be prepared to make a long-term commitment. Ferrets who lose their homes or families can become very depressed and can die of a broken heart.


Personality

I like to say that ferrets are a perfect mix between a cat and a dog, having the absolute best qualities of each animal. Every ferret has their own unique personality – some are calm and mellow, some are energetic and hyper, some are sweet and kissable, and some have a little bit of everything! But the one thing all ferrets have in common is that they will love you unconditionally, and having a ferret will improve your life more than you could ever imagine. Not to mention they are supremely intelligent and curious beings, and can outsmart even the cleverest of humans.

No matter what kind of ferret you have, you can be assured that it will be one joyous and happy little weasel. In fact, when ferrets are REALLY feeling playtime, they do what’s called a “weasel war dance”, hopping around like fresh popcorn kernels in the microwave. In fact, most ferret owners try not to wear shoes around the house, since a feisty ferret will most certainly get in your way, under your feet, or just beneath your next step. Almost all ferrets are also avid climbers (so nothing stored low or high is safe!), and they also infamously like to steal and hide anything and everything. The term “ferret out” or “ferret away” was named after these cunning creates who will go to great lengths to steal all of your stuff and hide it in the unlikeliest of places.


Habits

  • Play: Ferrets are little balls of pure energy. They need to play for several hours a day to get all that energy out and to stay happy. Play time can be as simple as running around the room/house, getting into a friendly battle with their ferret friends or toys, or playing hide-and-seek in the most unlikely places.
  • Sleep: Ferrets can sleep for 20+ hours in any given day. It’s important that they get their beauty rest – how do you think they stay so cute?!
  • Diet: A ferret’s diet should consist of foods high in protein and fat. Ferrets are strict carnivores, so they should never be given any fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, or sugars. Their food should have at least 35% animal protein and 20% fat.  
  • Grooming: Ferrets need their nails clips, their ears cleaned, and their teeth brushed on a regular basis to help keep them healthy and comfortable. You should only bathe your ferrets a few times a year, as frequent bathing can strip their skin of essential oils.

Medical Care

Taking preventative health actions are super important for your fuzzy. Since many ferrets develop serious health issues as they get older, it is important to do whatever you can when they are young and as they grow to reduce the risk of diseases. Here is what we suggest to keep your fuzzy in tip-top shape:

  1. Consider a deslorelin acetate implant for your younger ferrets, which can often prevent or postpone the all-too-common adrenal disease (More information can be found here: http://www.virbacferretsusa.com/about-suprelorinf-implant).
  2. Ensure they are eating good-quality food, like “Totally Ferret” or grain-free cat foods.
  3. Give them “Uncle Jim’s Duk Soup” mixed with “Complete Care for Ferrets” and “FerreTone” every 3 days as an additional nutritional supplement (All of these can be found at www.ferretdepot.com).
  4. Give them a dab “FerreTone” on their bellies every day as an added nutritional supplement.
  5. To avoid hairball buildup, give your ferret a few dabs of “Ferret Lax” every few days.
  6. Bring them to an experienced ferret Veterinarian every year for a check-up.
  7. For skinny or sickly ferrets, give them some “Duk Soup” to fatten them up.

What They Need

  • Lots of love and attention from you!
  • Other ferret friend(s) to live with (preferably). Ferrets are very social creatures, and often live happier lives with at least one other ferret buddy at their side.
  • Supplies
    • A cage with plenty of space to stretch out and walk around in.
    • Fresh food and water daily. Keep the food and water in separate bowls in the cage. If your ferret is allowed to wander around the room or house, make sure to have food and water available outside the cage as well.
    • Lot of soft and plush bedding, like hammocks, blankets, and sleep sacks (Do NOT use woodchips, pine shavings, or anything that could cause irritation – this is bad for a ferret’s sensitive respiratory system).
    • Litter boxes with ferret-safe litter (do NOT use clumping litter). Although it can be tricky to litter-train your ferret, it is very possible with patience and repetition.
    • Lots of toys! Ferrets love tunnels, anything that squeaks or makes noise, and soft and fuzzy items. Just make sure their toys don’t have any small pieces that can break off and cause a choking hazard. They also cannot have any rubber or foam objects. Socks and empty cardboard boxes are always a hit!
    • Yummy treats should be given in moderation, and ensure that the treats you give your fuzzy follow their dietary needs (i.e. protein and fat)! Ferrets should never be given raisins or other human foods, other than pure meat proteins.

What You Need

  • Time to dedicate to your fuzzy. Plan on being available to play with them or watch them play at least 2-3 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Ferret-proof your house! Ferrets can and will dig, push, and squeeze their way into even the smallest of openings, so be sure to block any openings that they could get in to. Some prime examples are: kitchen and bathroom cabinets holes, dishwashers, appliance vents, recliners, couches)
  • Commitment. Ferrets live on average 5-8 years, so you need to be able to devote at least this amount of time to your fuzzy.
  • A savings account. No one ever said that ferrets were cheap! As ferrets get older, their chances of encountering medical issues drastically increases, and they will need to visit the vet more often.
  • A trusted ferret-sitter. If you plan on going away for more than 24 hours, it’s important that you have someone knowledgeable to watch your ferrets.

It takes a special person to fall in love with ferrets – do you think you have what it takes?  

Ferret Do’s & Don’ts

Ferret Dos

Ferrets are crafty little creatures! They are also very different from typical domesticated animals like cats or dogs, so they require some special attention in various areas of care and treatment.

  • Do read, study, and talk to other ferrets owners, locate an experienced ferret veterinarian, and make sure a ferret is the right animal for you and your family before you bring one home.
  • Do make sure a high quality, high protein food is available at all times (A mix of 2-3 ferret food brands is best).
  • Do make sure your ferrets have a dark place to hide and sleep.
  • Do make sure your ferrets have fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Do put your ferret in a covered carrier when in the car.
  • Do get regular vet check ups and shots from an experience ferret veterinarian.
  • Do ferret-proof your house thoroughly.
  • Do trim your ferret’s nails, clean their ears and brush their teeth regularly. Also make sure they are protected from fleas.
  • Do be aware of their legal status in your area.
  • Do clean their litter boxes daily and wash their litter boxes and bedding weekly.
  • Do keep your ferrets indoors with their families where they belong.
  • Do give them hairball remedy weekly.
  • Do give them plenty of play time: With you daily, out of their cage (if you must cage them), and give them toys which are constantly rotated.
  • Do be aware of their temperature sensitivity. Ferrets cannot stand temperature over 80 degrees. Make sure their cage is not near a window or under a heating or air conditioning vent.

Ferret Don’ts

  • Don’t get a ferret if you do not have the time or the money to commit to it. Ferrets live 7-10 years. Your ferret will love and trust you, please commit to him for the duration of his life.
  • Don’t give you ferrets too many treats. Treats should not make up significant portions of your ferrets diet.
  • Don’t bath your ferret more than once a month. Remember a ferret’s body temperature is 102°F so water that feels cool to you is icy to them.
  • Don’t wait to take your ferret to the vet when showing signs of illness.
  • Don’t rely on the advice of a pet store or breeder regarding Ferret Law. Check with an appropriate agency for information regarding ownership where you live.
  • Don’t take your ferret out in public in California, except to the veterinarian, due to their illegal status.
  • Don’t leave your ferrets loose in the house when you have guests. They don’t know about them the way you do and could harm or release your ferrets accidentally.
  • Don’t declaw your ferret! This will cripple your ferret. They need their claws to climb, keep balance, and grab on to things.
  • Don’t release a ferret into the wild. They have been domesticated for so long that they wouldn’t know how to survive without you. Call your local ferret club for placement or help.
  • Don’t purchase a ferret on impulse. Read, study, prepare and be sure a ferret is the right pet for you and your family before bringing a ferret home.
  • Don’t let your ferret run loose in your laundry room or kitchen. They both have potential safety hazards.
  • Don‘t allow your ferret to play unsupervised with other animals or children.
  • Don’t let anyone baby-sit your ferret that isn’t experienced in ferret care.
  • Don’t put a ferret cage directly in the sun or under a heater or air-conditioning vent. Ferrets cannot tolerate temperatures over 80°F . Your ferret could get sick or even die if he can’t escape the sun, heat, or cold.
  • Don’t use wood shavings in your ferret’s cage or litter that is clay or corncob. Recycled newspaper litter, such as Yesterdays News, or wood stove pellets are the safest and best to use.
  • Don’t feed your ferret chocolate, alcohol, coffee, soda, dairy products, seeds/nuts, high sugar foods, or raw egg whites. These can cause serious health problems.
  • Don’t feed your ferret dog or cat food. There are plenty of high quality ferret foods out there designed just for their nutritional needs.
  • Don’t ever use human toothpaste to brush your ferret’s teeth. This can be poisonous. Use a ferret paste such as “Marshall Ferrets” Ferret Toothpaste.
  • Don’t let you ferret play with or chew on anything made of rubber. This could cause an internal blockage, which can be fatal to ferrets.

Household Hazards

  • Garbage Cans: Ferrets can hide in here and get dumped out, and escape or be crushed, or eat something they shouldn’t.·
  • Electrical and Computer Connections Cords: Ferrets will chew these or pull whatever they are attached to down on themselves.·
  • Box Springs: Ferrets will dig through the backing and get up in there.·
  • Recliners: This is deadly when the chair is closed or opened.·
  • Refrigerators: Many are open in the back and easy for ferrets to get into.·
  • Dishwasher: They like to get in there and lick the food from the plates; always check before running your dishwasher. They can also get behind them.
  • Rocking Chairs: Ferrets can easily be crushed by the chair rockers. Especially watch out for their tails.·
  • Carpets: Look for bumps in your throw carpets before you step. Ferrets love to curl up in dark places.·
  • Chair Cushions: Again, check for bumps before you plop down. The same goes for your bed!·
  • Dryers: This warm, dark place will be the end of your ferret if you turn it on. Always check your dryer before drying your clothes and know where your ferrets are!
  • Laundry Room: Most laundry rooms have a dryer hose which runs to the outside world. Nothing is more natural for a ferret than to dig into the tube, run it and escape.·
  • Landry Baskets: Your dirty clothes smell good to ferrets so they will often burrow in there. Count your ferrets and know their whereabouts before starting any laundry.·
  • Rubber: You name it, they like it! And it is deadly to them. They have very small intestines and a blockage, if not operated on, will kill them. The list of what they are especially fond of includes: cell phone button, erasers, remotes, Barbie dolls, small toy parts, shoes, flip flops.
  • Under the Sink: A lot of us store chemicals for cleaning under there. Please use child proof locks on all your cabinets and drawers in the rooms you allow your ferrets to access. Also many cabinets have small holes which a ferret can get into and then he is off exploring the underworld of your house. He may or may not remember how to get out! Try to imagine your delight at sawing holes in your living room wall to rescue the ferret!·
  • Shoes/Feet: Besides the obvious of stepping on our delicate ferret friends, we could track weed killer, antifreeze, or any number of harmful things in on our shoes and our ferrets won’t hesitate to try a taste test on anything you track in. Once your shoes are off…do you have any medication on your feet such as athlete foot medication? That’s deadlier to ferrets than it is to athletes foot fungus.·
  • Window Screens: Ferrets can climb and they can dig. It’s no large matter to a ferret to hop up to the open window, paw at the screen and it’s born free ferret. Most ferrets don’t survive more than a couple of days outside the home.·
  • Screen Doors: You may think your ferrets are safe in the house while the door is open and the screen door is shut. However, ferrets are pretty clever little critters and it won’t take them long to figure out how to open the screen door. Or if it is locked, it isn’t beyond them to claw right through the screening material and it’s born free ferret again.·
  • Guests and Visitors: Most guests simply don’t know about ferrets as you do. It’s best to keep the ferrets caged while you have guests over. They don’t know to watch their feet when they walk or watch for the speeding fur bullet when they go in and out.·
  • Plants: Many plants are poisonous. Ferrets like to dig up plants and might eat them or might ingest whatever fertilizer you have on them. Here is a brief and incomplete list of plants found around the house that are poisonous: Poinsettia, all plants in the lilly family, bird of paradise, wisteria, rhubarb,  almonds, mistletoe, tobacco, daffodil, onion, aloe, asparagus, belladonna, crocus, holly, all fruit seeds/stones/pits 

10 Amusing Facts about Ferrets

Ferrets were being used rarely as pets until the 1980’s. Before then, they were mostly used for hunting. Jordan Walker, the lead content curator of Coops and Cages, shares some other interesting facts about this domesticated creature.

Ferrets are believed to be the domesticated versions of the European polecat. Belonging to the Mustela genus of the animal kingdom, ferrets are closely associated with weasels. These animals are usually seen with either black, brown, white or mixed fur. While they may not seem interesting at first, it is actually the contrary. There are tons of interesting facts surrounding these sneaky creatures.


Ferrets can be potty trained

Like cats, although not as proficient, ferrets can be taught to use litter boxes. A common problem with ferrets is that they aren’t entirely accurate when using their primitive bathroom. However, most pet owners argue that it a whole lot better than with dogs and other pets.

It’s important to pick out a good litter box or litter tray for your ferret. These animals are known to “snorkel” or nosedive into the entire thing. As such, the litter product should be of good quality and safe for pet use. The advisable type of litter to use is the unscented, dust-free variant.


Unique naming convention for ferrets

As babies, ferrets have white fur and are called kits. The males are called hobs while the female ferrets are called jills. When the male is neutered, he is subsequently called a gib. If the male is vasectomized, he is called a hoblet. Females that get spayed, on the other hand, are called sprites.

​Lastly, can you guess what a group of ferrets are called? They’re referred to as a “busyness” or simply, business.


Ferrets are carnivores

Ferrets are what you would call obligate carnivores. This means that they rely solely on animal flesh for nutrients. In fact, the only reason they would take in plants is to induce vomiting. Carnivores would choose to do this to expel any harmful substance they may have ingested earlier.


They sleep a whole lot

Ferrets are regarded as crepuscular. This means they are mostly active when it is dawn and dusk. Other than that, they are asleep for majority of the day (14 to 20 hours). This isn’t necessarily a straightforward slumber. Their sleeping pattern is usually divided into 4 hour intervals.

It’s also worth noting that these animals sleep very soundly which gave rise to the term, “ferret dead sleep.” They are also known to adjust their sleeping pattern to match their owner’s schedule.


Ferrets have been domesticated for some time

It is estimated that ferrets have been domesticated for as much as 2,500 years. There are many conflicting backgrounds that place ferrets in various civilizations such as the Egyptians, Romans and the Greek. Whichever the case, it is pretty established that they have been around for ages.​​​​​​​


They are excellent hunters

The main reason why ferrets were domesticated was due to their prowess in hunting which gave rise to “ferreting”. Ferrets have long, nimble bodies and are equipped with intelligence and curiosity. That is why they are perfect for deployment in holes and burrows. They are used to flush out rabbits, rodents and moles easily.

Sometimes, they are also used in conjunction with falcons. The ferret’s role is to drive the prey from their hiding spot so that the falcon can nab it. This hunting team is usually very successful.


Ferrets have professional uses

Due to this knack for burrowing, humans have also put ferrets to good use in the industry. When there are wires that need to be pushed thru tunnels or tubes, these ferrets are sent to do the job.

Similarly, they are also used to clean inaccessible, clogged or extremely tiny pipes and tubes. All that’s needed is to attach a swab to the ferret’s collar.


They are very sociable

Ferrets love the company of humans and even other ferrets. In fact, in the sport of ferret racing, the animals are seen enjoying the race as they are with their fellow ferrets.


Ferrets are restless and entertaining

Considered a very restless pet, probably due to their intense curiosity, ferrets are almost always jumping around. When they’re happy, they continually make noises while repeatedly jumping in the air.

They are also known to practice a unique ritual called the weasel war dance. Ferrets in the wild usually do this when they feel threatened, while domestic ferrets use it to signify that they want to play. This behavior is characterized by sideway hops, leaps, tail puffing, back arching and also dooking, a soft clucking noise.


They are known to steal things

The word ferret comes from the Latin word furittus which means “little thief”. This is because ferrets are observed to whisk away little things and then stash them away without you noticing.

Ferrets make great pets as long as one is properly educated. Be sure you know the facts and don’t believe any myths that may have been thrown your way. As long as you have the basics of ferrets down pat, you’re sure to have loads of fun with this curious, fun-loving creature.


Author: Jordan Walker

Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops and Cages as well as other pet-related blogs. His passion for animals is matched with his passion for “attempting” to play the guitar. If you would like to catch more of him, you can by following his Twitter or Facebook accounts.

References:

  • http://animalquestions.org/mammals/ferrets/7-fun-ferret-facts-for-kids/
  • http://mentalfloss.com/article/62329/15-furry-ferret-facts-national-ferret-day
  • http://facts.randomhistory.com/ferret-facts.html
  • https://www.lovethatpet.com/small-pets/ferrets/fun-facts/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferret

Featured Bay Area Veterinarians

Finding a qualified ferret Veterinarian in California can be a challenge. Many Vets who say they treat “exotic” pets don’t really know the intricacies of ferret medicine. It’s important to find a Vet who has lots of hands on, recent experience treating lots of ferrets. Here are our recommendations if you’re in the SF Bay area!


Dr. Carl Singer
Noble Veterinary Hospital

36 Barnes Court, Hayward, CA 94544
(510) 537-3292
https://noblevet.com


Dr. Rene Gandolfi
Castro Valley Companion Animal Hospital
​​
2509 Lessley Ave, Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 582-6311
http://www.cvcah.com


Adobe Animal Hospital
4470 El Camino Real, Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 948-9661
https://adobe-animal.com


Dr. Andrew Moffatt
Groveway Veterinary Hospital

2423 Grove Way, Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 581-6629
http://vetncare.com/groveway


​For a searchable list of California Vets by area, visit http://www.fevang.org/ferrets/fvl.html

If you would like your veterinary practice to be included in this list, email us!

Ferret Myths Debunked

Content reference from the 2015 legalizeferrets.org calendar theme featuring ’12 Ferret Myths’.

01. Ferrets are NOT wild animals.
There are wild ferrets, but our pet – the domestic ferret – has been domesticated for thousands of years. There are no examples of domestic ferrets surviving in the wild; they simply can’t live long without human assistance. There are wild ferrets, but our pet – the domestic ferret – has been domesticated for thousands of years. There are no examples of domestic ferrets surviving in the wild; they simply can’t live long without human assistance.


02. Domestic Ferrets are NOT dangerous pets.
Domestic ferrets are often classified as exotic pets, and some people lump tigers, lions, alligators, etc. as exotic pets. So it depends on your definition of “exotic”. We prefer to think of them as less common, but being uncommon doesn’t make them dangerous. Domestic ferrets are often classified as exotic pets, and some people lump tigers, lions, alligators, etc. as exotic pets. So it depends on your definition of “exotic”. We prefer to think of them as less common, but being uncommon doesn’t make them dangerous.


03. Ferrets do NOT pose a threat to the environment
The California Fish and Wildlife Department warns people that if ferrets are legal, they will prey on native wildlife. Yet despite repeated requests, state officials in California can’t name one instance of that ever happening.


04. Ferrets do NOT attack human babies
One report from the Department of Health Services actually states that ferrets bite in a machine gun fashion and suck the blood of human infants. While it’s true that anything with teeth can bite, ferrets are near the bottom of the Center for Disease Control’s list of biting animals. The guinea pig is the only pet deemed safer for children.


05. Ferrets do NOT threaten California agriculture
We actually read a report that ferrets could damage the cattle industry. Again, not a single example of a domestic ferret ever hurting a cow (or chicken or broccoli for that matter) can be produced.


06. We DO need to have more pets running around!
“We don’t need another pet running around.” This quote came from Fish and Game Commissioner President Jim Kellogg. It simply isn’t his right to say which domestic pets we can or can’t have.


07. Ferrets do NOT spread rabies
There is no rabies vaccine for ferrets in California– officials would not recognize the USDA approved vaccine for ferrets because ferrets aren’t legal. Ironically, One reason they cite for keeping ferrets illegal is the fact that there is not an approved rabies vaccine. Rabies in ferrets is extremely rare, and no person has ever contracted rabies from a ferret. Furthermore, testing from the US Department of Public Health Veterinarians in 1997 proved that ferrets cannot pass the rabies virus in their saliva. The ‘no rabies vaccine for ferrets in California’ statement is patently false.


08. Ferrets do NOT stink (sort of)
Well, yes they can. Any animal kept in a dirty cage is going to stink. The trick is to keep your ferret’s cage and bedding clean. This actually works to our advantage— Agricultural Checkpoint workers are told they can smell ferrets in a car so they don’t search as thoroughly as they might.


09. Ferrets are NOT nocturnal animals
One neat thing about ferrets is that they will adapt their schedule to match yours. They want to be active when you are around, but experience shows that midafternoons are not their most active time.


0. Ferrets are NOT prolific breeders
Ferrets have an unusual husbandry: both male and female ferrets have to be in season. If a female enters estrus and is not bred, she will die. An intact male ferret will smell so bad that few people would want them in the house. Therefore, there is very little backyard breeding of ferrets. Most come from large breeders and are already spayed or neutered when they are sold at the pet store.


11. Ferrets do NOT kill animals (or kill more than they can eat)
This is a logical extension of the “ferrets in the wild” fallacy. Organizations that have animal shows for education that include domestic ferrets are required to say that ferrets kill their more than they need to feed. However, since there are no domestic ferrets in the wild, this statement falls flat.


12. Ferrets are NOT rodents
Oh, I hate this one (not that there’s anything wrong with rodents). Ferrets are mustelids: a family that includes otters, badgers, weasels, martens, ferrets, minks and wolverines. Our ferrets are the only domesticated members of this family.