Now you've done it. You couldn't resist that adorable little face and pudgy little body could you. Oh my, you've got this endearing little creature and aren't sure how to take care of it. Read on for some tips!
You'll need to have a safe secure place for your new tiny companion. There are many styles of ferret cages and you'll want one that will give the little one plenty of room for bedding area, food and water, litter box and room to stretch and move around. Wire cages are the most popular and they come in many different sizes. Kennel carriers are not large enough nor airy enough to comfortably accommodate an active ferret, but for a new baby they may temporarily provide a safe, secure area though you'll need one large enough for a small litter box and still leave room for bedding. You DON'T want an aquarium as they don't allow a good air flow and the moisture can cause bacteria to grow on the glass which can make your ferret sick. Even if your ferret will be free roam in your house (boy does ferret proofing open a can of worms!) your little one will be more secure in a cage till they get use to the house and new family. Don't lock them away alone in a room, keep them in an area where they can be with you. Baby ferrets are like human babies and want and need human companionship, love, and care.
Baby ferrets may need special feeding to help them get a good start in life. You want
to feed the same type of food that was being fed where you bought your ferret. Depending
on the age of your new baby ferret, you may have to moisten the kibble with warm water and
a bit of kitten mother replacement milk to make a gruel that is easy and tasty for them to
eat. Very young kits may not know how to eat this mixture and you may need to help them
along by gentle hand feeding. Leave food in the cage at all times so whenever your little
one wakes up he/she can grab a bite to eat. Baby ferrets eat a lot and frequently!
Be sure to check moistened food periodically being watchful that it doesn't get packed
down as then the baby won't be able to eat it. After a few days, slowly reduce the amount
of liquid till the baby is eating dry kibble. Make sure they are eating the kibble easily
and plenty of it.
If you use a water bottle, it is a good idea to put a cage cup or bowl of water under it in case the bottle clogs and also to catch drips. Ferrets eat frequently and should have access to food and water at all times. If your baby is bitey, that may mean he/she isn't getting enough to eat.
Annie was 5 weeks old when we got her. She would not eat the moist food with water or ferretone, and she cannot have the milk since she has an allergic reaction to it or any milk product. We ended up feeding her the kitten chow, because it was so small and she did well with it. We fed her often and watched her weight all the time. She would not eat the Marshall Farms food at all. She needed a lot of love and TLC, she enjoyed being played with gently and held while she slept - she missed her mother very much and the cuddling was soothing to her. She is still not a very big girl, but she is well and healthy. If this is any help to anyone at all, I'll be very glad for you to share it. Sometimes you have to find alternatives to help these little ones, because the ferret products may not be what they want or are able to handle. It took us a long time to get her to a point where we felt she was good to go on her own, but it was worth every minute.
Handle and gently play with ferrets frequently. The more gentle handling the more social
and gentle they will be. Remember, they are babies and need gentle guidance to learn
what is acceptable behavior.
Ferrets play by grabbing with their mouths and by tackling objects. Ferret skin is thick and ours is not. If your little one is too rough, be gentle in disciplining them. A gentle scruff (holding the skin/fur bunched on the back of their neck) and a moderate verbal 'NO' a few times should correct the problem. If they bite too hard, gently, very gently, hold their little mouth for a few seconds by placing your fingers on each side and at the same time say 'No bite'. Be gentle as ferrets are very fragile.
Do not put your ferret down when it bites because then you are teaching it to bite when it wants down. Ferrets are very smart and if you aren't careful YOU can teach them bad habits.
You need to schedule a visit with your vet as soon as possible to get a check up and
vaccinations for your new companion. The recommendation for baby ferrets is a series of
3 distemper - Meriel's PureVax is licensed for use in ferrets - shots given at 3 week intervals starting at 9 weeks, then 1 every year.
Rabies - Imrab3 is licensed for use in ferrets - vaccinations should not be given till they are 3 months old, then can be given once each year.
Because allergic reactions to rabies and distemper vaccines are more common in ferrets, it is recommended that you stay at your vets office for 45 minutes after the shots in case your ferret has a reaction, then monitor them for several hours afterwards at home.
If you have internet access, you may want to search the internet for information on ferret care. There are several great sites and ferret mailing lists such as the FML. Be sure to check out Ferret Central! Check at your library, pet store, and book stores for ferret care books.