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The common ferret, also known as fitchet, is one of the most formidable carnivores. The animal belongs in the family Mustelidae, which also contains weasels.
In many countries, ferrets are commonly found in their natural wild habitats. But for pet parents looking for exotic animals to add to their homes, a ferret can be an excellent recommendation.
In this article, we share some invaluable insights into a ferret’s life expectancy.
How Long Do Ferrets Live?
The average life expectancy of the common ferret is 5 – 10 years. However, the answer isn’t as cut and dried as it may sound.
As with any pet, the actual duration your ferret will live comes down to several variables.
Factors Determining a Ferret’s Life Expectancy
The best way to ensure you’re investing in the right ferret breed is to source the animal from a reputable breeder.
You can establish a breeder’s reputation by checking the duration they’ve been around and the nature of reviews they’ve garnered from some of their past clients. Also, determine if the breeder is duly licensed to operate and accredited by relevant state agencies. Affiliation with renowned pet organizations like the American Ferret Association is a bonus point.
Once you’ve hunkered down on a reputable breeder, take some time studying the breed’s genetic makeup. This will help you predict the ferret’s physical characteristics, personality, and overall life expectancy.
Ferrets are cage animals. A cage offers your ferret a sense of security from other common house pets, such as cats and dogs.
However, ferrets that spend most of their waking hours in cages might die young of stress and boredom. It’s worse if the cages are short of toys to keep these bubbly animals stimulated.
A proper ferret environment also entails one that’s free of potential hazards like sharp objects, electric wires, and toxic plants. Besides, the living space should be relatively warm, always dry, and adequately ventilated.
Ferrets are obligate carnivores and require a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.
According to the American Ferret Association, ferrets can safely eat commercial cat or dog food provided it contains at least 35% protein. Insist on canned or wet food as ferrets can be picky drinkers.
As you strive to give your ferret high-quality food, also be sure to practice moderation. Like most cage animals, a ferret can easily pack up weight if overfed.
4. Medical Conditions
Ferrets were relatively hardy creatures. However, improper breeding practices have lowered these animals’ life span considerably over the years.
This is another reason to only get your pet ferret from a licensed animal breeder. And while you’re at it, insist on breeders who prioritize disease resistance over aesthetic considerations.
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with common medical conditions that affect ferrets. These range from canine distemper to rabies, Aleutian virus, adrenal gland issues, and pancreatitis.
You can minimize the risks of disease by taking your ferret for routine medical checkups. Besides, keep up to date with all the required vaccinations.
Do Male Or Female Ferrets Live Longer?
Gender plays no direct role in determining a ferret’s life expectancy. Male and female ferrets will typically live for the same duration.
However, certain secondary gender-related factors may affect how long male and female ferrets live.
For instance, male ferrets are usually very aggressive during the mating seasons. During these periods of high testosterone levels, a male ferret can easily inflict life-threatening bites on rival males.
You can overcome these potentially deadly confrontations by going for a neutered male fitchet.
On the other hand, female ferrets are usually most vulnerable during their gestation and lactating months. Not only is the animal more prone to diseases due to her reduced immunity. She may also not feed or exercise as required, consequently lowering her life expectancy.
Fortunately, you can always have your female ferret spayed to prevent her from becoming pregnant and potentially suffering related medical issues. Spaying can also lower estrogen levels in female ferrets, a condition associated with anemia.
How to Identify the Common Ferret
Common ferrets are distinguishable from other ferret varieties by their yellowish-white fur and reddish-pink eyes.
The animal measures around 20 inches or 51 centimeters in length (inclusive of its 13 centimeters tail) and weighs an average of two pounds.
For comparison, the common ferret is slightly smaller than the polecat.
Reasons to Adopt a Common Ferret
Common ferrets are relatively small and lightweight. Coupled with their cute faces and mischievous-looking eyes, these animals are irresistibly adorable.
Ferrets are also playful and energy-filled. Their boisterous nature can easily breathe life into an otherwise dull household. Just watching these cuties play is sure to lift your moods.
You may also love ferrets for their sociable and affectionate nature. Despite their reputation for being occasionally ferocious, ferrets will generally coexist with other pets if properly socialized. Besides, their playful tendencies make them great companions for young kids.
Last but not least, ferrets are fairly intelligent. These animals enjoy mentally challenging puzzles and can quickly work their way out of potentially dangerous situations. They’re smart enough to remember sights and sounds from months back, which makes them remarkably easy to train.
Common ferrets are low-maintenance pets that make a perfect addition to any household. These animals have a lifespan of 5-10 years, although certain factors might prolong their life expectancy.
However, remember to check your local laws before adopting a ferret. In certain jurisdictions, such as California and Hawaii, keeping ferrets as pets is illegal.