Posted: March 1, 2009, 5 a.m. EST
Q: I've wanted a ferret since I was 6, and I'm 17 now. Can you help me with some care questions? Does a ferret cage have to be two stories, or can it be just one level? What size should the cage be? What food would you recommend? Do ferrets like wearing clothing?
A: A ferret’s cage should be as big as you can manage. The minimum recommended size for one ferret is 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, although larger is better. Because ferrets are quite active, a multi-level cage is ideal. A ferret cage should have lots of room to play and to keep the ferret’s sleeping areas separate from its water, food and litter. Ferret cages also need plenty of ventilation, so avoid glass tanks.
Ferrets should have a lot of supervised time out of their cage to play and run around. Ferrets need access to dry food in a heavy dish (to prevent spills) and water at all times. You also need to make sure that ferrets have bedding like sheets and towels, as well as hammocks. Litter for ferrets should be a non-clumping, no-dust litter.
Many ferret-specific foods are on the market. Look for one that has a minimum of 15 to 20 percent fat and 32 to 40 percent of a meat-based protein. Keep the fillers, grains, vegetables and carbohydrates low.
It is possible that a ferret will tolerate clothing, although I am not sure how you can tell that they like wearing clothes. Most ferrets are wriggly and tend to squirm out of the clothes. Some may be more laid-back and will be able to wear clothes for a little while. Ferrets tolerate cold weather reasonably well (inside or outside for a short time), so there really isn’t a need for them to wear clothes. Even a bald ferret can be fine with some blankets for bedding. If you want to dress up a ferret for fun, be patient and take it slow so that the ferret gets used to wearing clothes.