The Pros and Cons of Having a Pet Ferret

Discover the pros and cons of keeping a ferret and whether they are the right pet for you.

Mar 28, 2023byDonna Hobson
pros cons having pet ferret

When deciding which pet will work best for your family, a ferret might not be the first thing that springs to mind. Still, these cute creatures have playful and curious personalities, which can make them perfect companions. They enjoy having fun and will love spending time with their own.

But ferrets aren’t ordinary “pets,” which can make them quite costly. In addition, you’ll need to learn how to look after them correctly to ensure their needs are met. Here are some pros and cons of keeping a ferret to help you decide whether they are the right companion for you.

Pros: They Are Playful and Loving Companions

Pet ferret petted by owner
Human hand tickling Ferret’s tummy

If you’re looking for an animal companion that you can interact with, the ferret will not disappoint you. These playful pets especially love to play hide and seek. They will have hours of fun scampering away from you and crawling into tiny spaces for you to try and find them.

They have incredible amounts of energy, so they will be ready to play with you whenever you want to interact.

Ferrets need constant companionship, with regular attention from you and other members of their species. If you cannot provide this, then a ferret is not the right pet for you. Extended periods of loneliness can lead ferrets to experience loneliness and significantly impacts their mental health.

Having said that, when housed in groups of 2-4, ferrets can accommodate many of their own needs and keep themselves entertained. Generally, they will match their routine to your own – going to sleep and waking up at a similar time as the rest of your household.

They Are Extremely Intelligent

Ferret playing with puzzle toy
White Ferret solving puzzles

Thanks to a ferret’s intelligence, you can quickly get results from training. This means that with regular and consistent training they can quickly adapt to potty training, and appropriate handling behaviors. You can even teach them tricks, just like you would a dog. In fact, you can follow many of the same dog training principles when training your ferret and expect to see results quickly.

Ferrets are also highly entertaining; when you have two or more, it can be a joy to watch them interact with one another. They love puzzle-based games and toys and display surprising persistence when presented with new challenges.

Though they have special requirements, a ferret’s good temperament, sociability, and intelligence make them relatively easy to care for. For example, it’s easy to teach them where to eliminate, which makes it easy to clean out their cage. And they don’t need human interaction to thrive, so other ferret companions happily entertain them if you have to work during the day. But these affectionate creatures will still love getting cuddles and attention from you when you are at home.

They Are Small and Quiet Pets

pet ferret lying on blanket
Brown and White Ferret laying down on bed

Ferrets may need daily roaming time, but a small house is sufficient to satisfy their curiosity, making them the perfect pets for small living spaces. While they are highly energetic, ferrets do not make much noise and will sleep for a good portion of the day. Some can sleep up to 18 hours a day, just like cats.

Ferrets possess vocal abilities; they make a sound called “dooking” (which sounds like chuckling) when they’re happy; they squeak during playtime and hiss if sad. Despite this, these small animals don’t often vocalize, making them the ideal pet if you live close to neighbors.

Although they have a quiet nature, ferrets are full of personality, and if you adopt these cute creatures into your life, you’ll soon notice that each one possesses an individual character.

Cons: They Do Not Make Suitable Pets for Children

pet ferret biting owner
White Ferret biting human arm

While ferrets generally make loving and playful companions, they can bite if handled too roughly. In addition, they will try to escape given the opportunity, so your doors must always stay closed. As it’s challenging to teach young children proper handling and maintenance procedures, ferrets might not make the best pets for young families.

Ferrets can also become aggressive and territorial around other animals, so they work better in a ferret-only household. These creatures are social and need companionship while their owners are away. Many suggest that the optimum number of ferrets for one house is between two and four to balance social factors, companionship, and cost. If you add more than four, they may set up a social hierarchy, dictating which animals can receive your attention.

Some owners do house ferrets with other pets, but you must supervise these creatures whenever they encounter other pets.

They Can Be High Maintenance

ferret standing next to cage
Curious Brown Ferret outside its cage

One of the great things about ferrets is that they’re playful and curious, but this can also mean higher maintenance than other pets. Ferrets have tiny skeletons, which means they can squeeze through the smallest gap (such as the one under your door). If you plan on bringing a ferret into your home, you’ll have to block up potential “exits” to avoid losing them.

It’s imperative to train ferrets early as they are mischievous creatures who will often “team up” to evade their owners from catching them. These cute creatures enjoy playing these games and don’t necessarily understand when playtime is over; they don’t mean to be naughty; they’re just trying to have fun. But setting appropriate boundaries is essential in preventing behavioral issues and teaching them to respond to your commands.

You can help to meet their energetic needs by adding tunnels, toys, and ramps to their cage to keep them entertained. And provide space to burrow as this allows them to satisfy an instinct.

Not only will training make them more responsive, but it will also help them understand where to relieve themselves and how to accept human handling (while preventing bites). Toilet training is particularly important as ferrets have a pungent odor which can overpower the scent of your home if you don’t clean out their cage regularly.

They Require Special Treatment

baby pet ferrets
Several Ferrets caged up hoping to get out and play

Ferrets aren’t your typical pet; you’ll need to do your homework beforehand to meet their needs adequately. For example, they are highly energetic animals who need adequate play space; you can’t set up a cage and leave them in it all day. They need regular daily playtimes outside their cage in a safe and controlled area.

There can also be more cost involved than with “traditional” pets, as these quirky creatures require specialized food and vet treatments. And a ferret’s inquisitive personality can sometimes get it into trouble. For example, they will eat anything they find, which can cause vet bills to stack up.

These animals need feeding around 6-8 times daily to meet their nutritional requirements, which means you must establish a good routine. In addition, an increase in food means that they produce a lot of waste, which is why you’ll need to clean out their cage every 2-3 days to prevent odors.

Donna Hobson
byDonna Hobson

Donna believes that keeping a pet is the key to a happy life. Over the years, many creatures have passed through her home - Sooty the cat, Millie the rabbit, Stuart (Little) the guinea pig, and Trixie the tortoise, alongside her pet goldfish, Zippy, who lived to the grand old age of 24 years! She currently resides with her black kitten Jinx and an aquarium full of fish and snails to entrance them both. When she is not looking after her pets, Donna enjoys researching and writing the answers to all your pet-related wonders.