Ferrets and rats are sometimes feared and often misunderstood. With April 2nd dedicated as Ferret Day and April 4th as Rat Day, now is a great time to learn a little more about them.
Ferrets make great family pets as they bond strongly with their owners. If you are considering a domesticated ferret as a pet, here are some important things to know.
- Ferrets aren’t rodents – they are actually part of the weasel family!
- Ferrets are playful and affectionate like dogs and independent like cats, making them a perfect companion for some people.
- Ferrets are social! It is often recommended to have two (or more) as they like to play together. Keep in mind that this does not mean that owners don’t need to play with them too – ferrets bond with their owners and require their attention.
- Ferrets can get along with most cats and dogs, especially if socialized early, but they should always be supervised when together.
- Ferrets require time and attention – several hours of supervised exercise and play each day.
- Ferrets play hard and sleep hard – they will sleep 12-18 hours a day!
- Ferrets need to be trained to have good manners (i.e. to curb any aggressive behaviors or bad habits) just like dogs, and can be trained to use a litter box just like cats!
- Ferrets, like all other pets, need regular veterinary care. Most are spayed or neutered and de-scented before adoption.
- A pet ferret is a long-term commitment. Ferrets live about 6-8 years but have been known to live as long as 12 years.
- Some areas have banned the ownership of ferrets as pets, while others have specific regulations around owning them. Check your state, provincial, and local regulations and laws.
Domesticated (or fancy) rats are excellent companion animals for people of all ages – even young children can provide the basic needs for a pet rat. If you are thinking about adopting a rat, here are some tips to know before you make the decision.
- Rats are social animals, and like ferrets, are happier when kept as a pair or in a group. To avoid unwanted babies, keep them in same-sex pairs or groups.
- Rats are very intelligent and can be taught tricks such as fetching small balls, jumping hurdles, weaving through poles (just like agility dogs!) rolling over, and even untying shoe laces!
- Rats love to play and need about an hour of exercise outside of their cage each day.
- Despite what you might think, rats are clean and spend a lot of time grooming.
- Rats, like all other pets, need regular veterinary care, so it is important to budget accordingly.
- Fancy rats live for 2-3 years with an average age of just under 2 years.
- It is illegal to keep pet rats in some municipalities, so be sure to check your local regulations and laws.
A group of rats is called a “mischief” and a group of ferrets is called a “business” – so if you choose both, be ready for some mischievous business!