Where to Get a Ferret

Where to Get a Ferret

There are many places to get a ferret:

Avery at the Pet Store waiting for his new family to find him.... Photo Credit: Shawnda McCollum Ferret: Avery
Avery at the Pet Store waiting for his new family to find him….
Photo Credit: Shawnda McCollum Ferret: Avery

Before deciding where to find your ferret, here are a few things to consider…

There are hundreds of “unwanted” and “homeless” ferrets in shelters, rescues, bad homes, or whose owners have to re-home them for a multitude of reasons. These ferrets are badly in need of homes, and there are many more lined up behind them. You may think that if you adopt you will only find older ferrets – this is not true. Adopted ferrets can range in age from very young kits to senior ferrets in need of health care. If you chose to adopt a ferret you will be giving it a much needed home and the love that it craves. Many ferrets are out there simply looking for the perfect forever home. Many more are looking for a home, and also in desperate need of health care because their owners could not afford it, or did not do their research before getting a pet. Shelters and rescues are overrun with ferrets. Young, old, sick, healthy…look around and you may be surprised at the number and variety of fur-babies waiting for you to take them home! Some people bring home young kits, only to discover they are allergic and need to re-home the ferret; others are in a financial bind and can no longer afford their pets. Some people aren’t prepared for the time and work ferrets take and get tired of them quickly; some abandon them on shelter doorsteps. Check websites such as Craigslist and PetFinder and search your area for rescues and shelters.

One of the great benefits of adopting a ferret is that (s)he will often come already potty trained and bite trained! Their personality is already apparent, so you can get a feel for whether the ferret would be a good fit for you and your family.

In addition to helping a ferret in need, by not purchasing from a pet store, you will not be supporting ferret mills. Which brings us to the next point to consider…

Pick Me!! Photo Credit: Jason Raynor Ferret: Athena
Pick Me!!
Photo Credit: Jason Raynor Ferret: Athena

Pet Store ferrets may initially seem like a good idea. The little kits are just so adorable! However, pet store ferrets typically come from ferret mills, big businesses that don’t care about the health and well being of their ferrets so much as how much money they can make by selling as many ferrets as possible. They breed irresponsibly, trying to get “exotic” colors, leading to a proliferation of congenital defects and genetic disorders. (See Waardenberg’s Syndrome). They have a high population of ferrets in small, cramped spaces. They are often housed in inhumane conditions. Then the kits are torn away from their mothers before they are even old enough to wean, spayed and neutered way to young, and shipped off! Because they are taken from their mother too early, they often do not learn appropriate behavior such as proper hygiene (potty training), bite inhibition, social behavior, ferret vocabulary/body language, etc. This can result in a variety of behavior problems including chewing (oral fixation), biting, bad potty habits, inappropriate interactions with other ferrets; and health issues (esp from not being properly weaned) such as GI upsets. By being spayed and neutered too young, ferrets are experiencing a significant increase in adrenal disease, and it is being seen in younger ferrets each year!

Buying your ferret from a reputable breeder is another option. There are many reputable ferret breeders! Breeder ferrets are often significantly healthier than ferrets who have come from a mill as pet store ferrets and most adopted ferrets have. A responsible breeder carefully monitors their genetic lines to keep genetic disorders out of the equation, and to breed for the healthiest ferret possible. Ferrets are handled and socialized from a young age by the breeder. The ferrets are allowed to be properly and fully weaned before a reputable breeder will even consider rehoming them. This leads to stronger, healthier (mentally and physically) ferrets that have been trained how to be proper ferrets by their mother. Many breeders raise kits on both kibble and raw. This means that regardless of the diet you decide to go with, the ferret will already know how to eat it! Also, breeder ferrets are not spayed/neutered too young, resulting in a decreased rate of adrenal disease. Some breeders will even allow you to opt out of altering your ferret if you agree to use Deslorelin for chemical castration.

Read more in Ferret Mills and Breeders