Finding the Best Ferret Products for New Family Pets
Ferrets have specific needs that pet parents must know before bringing home these lively creatures.
Known as lovable, playful and curious, ferrets can bring a lot of joy and excitement to the right pet parent. Educating families about bringing home a healthy ferret and recommending the right products for a safe home environment is an important role for retailers who want to offer a comprehensive experience to their customers.
When customers are considering adding a ferret to their homes, ensuring they recognize these animals require a lot of care is crucial. John Gerstenberger, vice president of product development for Phoenix-based Ware Pet Products, advises retailers to make sure families conduct thorough research prior to bringing a ferret home.
As with any animal, pet parents should research the ferret’s origin, primary veterinary care—which includes spay or neuter—and ways to accommodate the animal within the home.
“Security of the containment is a top priority and should be secure,” says Gerstenberger. “Look for housing where the doors do not easily come open, one with proper bar spacing on cages. Also, the containment home environment should be open to allow ample air flow and taller is best, as ferrets love to climb.”
While they should have their own space within a secure confinement structure, these animals are sociable creatures, which means they should spend quality time outside of cages or confined areas. For a ferret, time spent outside of a cage does not mean these animals should be left unsupervised.
Curious and quick, ferrets are able to find mischief within seconds of pet parents turning away, reveals Tara Whitehead, MidWest Homes for Pets’ director of marketing and communications, who says some pet parents attach a small bell to ferret collars to easily locate these animals.
“They can open drawers and cabinets. They can find small holes, dig into furniture and generally get into all sorts of mischief,” explains Whitehead, whose company is based in Muncie, Ind. “You must ferret-proof your home much like you would for an active toddler.”
To help customers prepare for a new ferret addition, retailers can alleviate some of the pressure to be the perfect pet parent. Creating an online and in-store checklist for customers can help them easily find supplies.
“All new ferret parents should start with a cage; a [quality] ferret diet; a food and water bowl; high-back litter pan; litter that is not dusty; and a hammock, tube or sleep sack,” says Amanda Altman, marketing coordinator at Marshall Pet, located in Wolcott, N.Y.
Acclimating to life within the home is one consideration when preparing to welcome a ferret, but families can also take these animals outside. Altman advises pet parents to invest in a lead if they would like bring ferrets outdoors.
A Healthy Ferret Makes a Happy Family
Unfortunately, customers will visit retailers for advice regarding their sick ferrets. Educate store associates to recognize the signs, which will help pet parents identify illness and find the veterinary help necessary to heal their beloved animals quickly.
“A healthy ferret has clear eyes, is energetic, eating, drinking and going to the bathroom regularly,” explains Altman. “Signs of a sick ferret would be lethargic, not interested in food or water and has what we would call ‘signs of a cold.’ They have runny eyes, nose and they sneeze!”
Due to the similarities between the human and ferret respiratory systems, Altman reveals that viruses can easily infect the animals from their caregivers. This means sick pet parents should avoid unnecessary interaction with their ferrets.
A large consideration in ferret health stems from their lovable—yet mischievous—nature that can sometimes lead them into trouble when left unsupervised or not properly contained. With a tendency to nibble, ferrets should be surrounded by products that are manufactured using nontoxic materials and can withstand the animals’ teeth.
“Regarding safety and oral health, it’s important to know that the manufacturer of your cage and related products uses safe materials and finishes, and does routine testing for such poisons as lead,” says Whitehead.
Another threat to ferret safety is their affinity for consuming spongey or foam products. Monitoring ferret activity to ensure they are not eating foam stuffing from furniture is extremely important.
“The biggest threat is intestinal blockages,” warns Whitehead. “So, it is important to keep such materials away from ferrets.”
While pet parents should be concerned about how ferrets can use their teeth to destroy items around the home, oral health is an important aspect of comprehensive veterinary care for these animals.
“Like all pets, oral care is critical and neglecting proper oral care can lead to periodontal disease, so all pets (ferrets included) should be checked regularly by a veterinarian,” advises Gerstenberger.
Retailers should not only advise pet parents to speak with their veterinarians regarding proper ferret oral care, but stores must be stocked with products to help ease this task at home.
Playtime with Pet Ferrets
Once customers are set with all the products that will create a safe, healthy home environment, retailers can guide pet parents toward the fun part of having ferrets. These animals enjoy resting, but they also love to play and toys are an important part of quality time spent between ferrets and humans.
“Many people believe that ferrets as a pet offer a blend of the best characteristics found in dogs and cats,” says Gerstenberger. “Borrowing from their cat-like characteristics, [ferrets enjoy] toy wands, hard-plastic balls, ferret tubes and household items, like cardboard boxes and paper bags.”
In addition to a ferret’s feline-like play style, they enjoy cuddle time, which is similar to their canine counterparts. Scheduling time for curling up with a ferret is integral to the human-pet bond.
“Perhaps the most important thing your ferret will need is your love and attention,” explains Whitehead. “To raise a happy and healthy ferret, be sure you can dedicate an hour of your time every day for snuggling and playing.”
The similarities to dogs don’t end with their preference for affection. In addition to their energetic spirit and ability to be taken out on a leash, they are highly intelligent and capable of being trained.
“This is not a caged animal that you forget,” says Altman. “Ferrets need exercise, love and affection, and training!”
To provide the perfect life for ferrets, consumers will seek answers from retailers whom they trust. By understanding the common health issues, personality traits and specific needs of ferrets, store managers and associates can help customers enjoy many healthy, happy years with these lovable creatures. PB