Tressie Dutchyn has shared her life with pets including horses, cats and turtles. But Dutchyn, chair of the Ferret Lovers Society of Atlantic Canada, says nothing compares to her seven ferrets.
“They are fearless, intensely curious-and they play constantly.” Though she is passionate about ferrets, Dutchyn admits owning one isn’t for everybody-and as someone running a rescue group, she has seen what can happen when people don’t do their homework.
Here are some points to consider before bringing a ferret home.
- Amazingly empathetic. They form deep bonds with their owners and other ferrets.
- Easily trained to use a litterbox.
- Bright, and fun to be with. “They have different signals to let me know it’s time to get off that damn computer,” says Dutchyn. “One will sit down and put her paws on my shin, another will rest her head on my foot.”
- Not recommended for most families with children under five. Ferrets can bite or be hurt if dropped.
- Home needs to be thoroughly ferret-proofed. They can burrow into small spaces or be killed after squeezing into reclining furniture.
- Lifespan: 6 to 8 years.
- Common medical issues: Exotic pet vet Donald Benoit says ferrets are prone to insulinoma (tumour of the pancreas) and adrenal cancer, along with heart disease. Vet bills can add up.
Housing and Exercise
- Multi-level cages are great. But ferrets also need several hours of out-of-cage exercise per day.
Fun Ferret Facts
- Domesticated for over 2,500 years.
- Love to sleep in hammocks.
- A group of ferrets is called a business.
Are ferrets worth it? Definitely, says Dutchyn. “A cat or a dog captures your heart. But a ferret captures your soul.”
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