Myths and misconceptions abound for ferrets.
From stories about ferrets carrying rabies to being stinky biters, they get a bad rep based on a bunch of falsehoods. Here we debunk 25 of those myths and misconceptions.
1. Ferrets are silent creatures.
Tell that to ferret owners. Ferrets can make noises and often do so while playing or dancing (known as “dooking” by some ferret owners). While they may not be the most vocal animals, they are certainly not silent.
2. Ferrets can’t be trained.
They certainly can be trained: to use the litter box, come on command and even do tricks. And if you still don’t believe ferrets can be trained, check out the tricks up Demon’s sleeve in this video:
3. Ferrets have great vision because they burrow in the dark.
Ferrets do not have good vision and can see only in reds and blues.
4. Ferrets can’t use a litter box and poop everywhere.
They can — it just takes time and patience with training and a lot of litter boxes in corners (ferrets typically “go” in corners).
5. Ferrets must be caged.
Not true. In some homes ferrets have free run of the house just as a cat or dog would enjoy. You will need to proof your home, though (close openings, remove small objects, cover cords, etc.).
6. Ferrets will bite you.
Not all ferrets. In fact, not most ferrets. Although any animal with teeth has the potential to bite, the key to prevention is socialization, proper care and training. With these necessities covered, ferrets will not be prone to biting. Ferrets that do bite have typically endured abuse and are fearful. Ferrets that receive proper care are affectionate and friendly.
7. Ferrets attack people.
Ferrets don’t attack people as recently portrayed on an episode of Two and a Half Men titled “Ferrets, Attack!” Ferrets will try to get away from the source of harm first, although abused ferrets may be more prone to biting as a form of self-protection. They do not chase after people in packs on command as shown on the show.
8. Ferrets don’t need vet care.
Yeah, they do, just like any other animal. Annual exams and screenings are important for a ferret’s health, along with exercise and good nutrition. They also receive vaccinations such as rabies and distemper. The earlier you catch and treat an ailment or disease, the better chance of recovery you give to your ferret.
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9. Ferrets need to eat fruit.
Giving ferrets fruits (and veggies) regularly can actually cause health problems such as tumors. Ferrets need protein from a high-quality food. And by the way, they’re carnivores.
10. Ferrets are rats.
Ferrets descend from a polecat and are mammals — not rodents (not that there’s anything wrong with rodents). They are a member of the weasel family along with skunks, otters and badgers to name a few.
11. Ferrets are wild animals.
There isn’t a wild ferret colony hiding in the woods. In fact, ferrets would have a hard time surviving outdoors with their limited eyesight, lack of fear, and inability to endure heat and dehydration. Ferrets were domesticated a long time ago and are indoor companion animals. There are black-footed ferrets that were reintroduced to the wild after captive breeding because the animals had become endangered, but these are in specific areas and monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Check out the antics and funny moments of these four ferrets. Funny dancing appears at 3:25 and some hopping that looks like piloerection:
12. Ferrets are illegal.
Only in some places. Ferrets are legal in most states, although city and county laws can be stricter than state laws (and in some cases ban them). You may need to provide proof of a rabies vaccination to obtain a license for your pet ferret in some areas. Always check the local laws before adding a ferret to your home.
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