Exercise & Variety for Ferrets

The ferret needs three things: exercise, variety, and attention – combined with healthy nutrition. Then the vivacious housemate always stays fit and happy.

Below ground, as above ground, nothing is safe from a ferret. Born hunters, they scour every nook and cranny of their multi-story habitat. Once wild animals (ferrets are descended from the European polecat), they preyed on birds as well as mice, rabbits, and frogs. This is how they behave today, even if they no longer catch their own food. Ferrets should therefore not be allowed to live freely in the apartment like a cat – unless you set up their own playroom for them. An enclosure consisting of a spacious living cage (minimum dimensions per animal: 2 m2 floor space, height at least 80 cm) is the basis for animal-friendly husbandry in the house, preferably on two or three floors. In addition, they enjoy daily supervised free running in the apartment and walks outside (on a leash if you like).

Ferret’s Gym

Now, ferrets are not only predators, they are also true high-performance athletes: jumpers, runners, climbers. Your living space (with sleeping box, litter box, food bowl, and nipple drinker) needs the quality of a fitness studio. Climbing elements such as ladders and branches, hammocks, and tubes are the appropriate furniture. Many things can now be bought in specialist shops or, with a bit of imagination, you can make them yourself: “Household leftovers, cardboard tubes, pieces of wood from the forest, branches from fruit trees, cardboard and much more can be used,” says Dr. Harold Schwammer.

Sometimes ferrets want to look down the drain

According to the Viennese ferret expert, tubes made of fabric or plastic are particularly popular. A freely suspended sack serves as a sleeping bag. Ferrets like to use baubles, small balls, and bells as toys. And in boxes of different sizes, which are cleaned and given loopholes, they act as cavers. A balanced diet is part of the fitness program. As predators, ferrets need solid food that they need to chew on to keep their teeth healthy. In terms of composition, it should be as similar as possible to the natural prey, i.e. 80 percent meat and 20 percent plant-based food (fruit, vegetables, whole grain flakes). dr Schwimmer recommends as much variety as possible: chopped beef, game offal (a calcium supplement added), egg yolk, chicken. But pork is taboo. Then a ferret can easily live to be eight years or more.

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