Guide to Ferrets
Basic care and information for municipal animal control handling a ferret.
Help! I Took in a Ferret!
Don’t panic! The only domestic member of the weasel family has arrived at your facility. He or she is not wild, poses no threat to the local ecology, and is unlikely to harbor any disease.
Is It a Ferret?
Ferrets weigh 1-4 lbs. and come in a range of colors, from albino to chocolate brown, to dark brown with a raccoon-like mask. They may have white socks or bib, but if they have a white bib, and either golden brown or nearly black fur and eyes, this may be a mink! They look very similar and in spring/early summer, mink kits may escape from their mother’s care and be found wandering. A ferret is normally a friendly, sociable creature, most often found when lost outside by walking up to the first human they see, seeking protection.
Basic Care & Handling
Although a ferret found outside or coming from an abusive situation may be very scared and try to bite, most are comfortable being handled by people.
Ferrets have poor eyesight and may be blind or deaf. The noise level in the typical animal facility may frighten them, also. Let them smell the palm of your hand before reaching for them, or distract them with a toy or treat with one hand while grasping them from behind with the other. Hold them securely around their shoulders, close to your chest but not too close to your face. Ferrets may nip at the scent of facial lotion or aftershave.
A ferret may arrive with fleas or ticks. You should use flea products labeled for use in kittens only. Never dip a ferret.
Most ferrets in New England originally came from pet stores, where they were altered at a very young age. Males can be identified by their penis, which is located partway up their belly, like a dog’s. Females are often much smaller.
Ferrets eat dry kibble. While some may only be accustomed to specific ferret foods, most will eat high-quality dry cat food. For a day or two, inexpensive dry cat food will do. They should always have food and water available. They should be housed in a wire cage with no more than 1” x 2” space between wires. A piece of fabric should be provided for bedding—preferably smooth fabric that their nails will not catch on. A ferret may use a litter box, but is more likely to use flat newspaper on the bottom of the cage for a toilet.
When ferrets are excited, they will hop up and down, lunging at you with their mouths wide open and “dancing” back and forth. They are not “mad!” This is their invitation to play. Allow a ferret daily time out of the cage to explore and play until you can place them.
Ferrets have specific care needs and are not the right pet for everyone. We recommend you carefully screen potential adopters if you choose to adopt ferrets out of your facility.
A Word About Rabies
The State of CT currently recommends a quarantine period for ferrets involved in bite incidents regardless of their vaccination status. Each state has it’s own recommendations regarding ferrets, but any animal that appears to have been injured by another animal should be isolated and carefully watched for signs of illness.
Ferret Specific Assistance
The Ferret Shelters Directory has a list of facilities that accept/place pet ferrets. Many are willing to accept transfers from animal control should you be unable to house or directly adopt them out. Our website has care information about pet ferrets that can help you understand and find an appropriate home for the little creature in your shelter.
If you already place ferrets, you are welcome to submit your facility for inclusion on the Ferret Shelters Directory website free of charge.
CT ACO’s are welcome to contact us directly should you need to transfer the ferret at 860.247.1275 or firstname.lastname@example.org