Are you looking to buy a ferret and find your jaw-dropping at the price of maintaining these adorable creatures?
You’re not alone. Although ferrets aren’t expensive to buy, they can be very pricey to own, feed, care for, and keep happy. Ferrets need vaccinations, vet exams, neutering or spaying, litter, vitamin supplements, and many other essentials that can quickly shoot their prices up and make them difficult to maintain.
This article covers the nine main reasons why ferrets are so expensive to keep as pets.
1. Ferrets Should Only Be Bought From Good Breeders
Domesticated ferrets are descendants of the European polecat. Ferrets were likely domesticated to protect food and grain stores from other rodents like rats or mice.
The name ferret means ‘little thief’ after their habit of hiding small items away, and it’s due to their colorful history that many people want to have them as pets.
Although ferrets can be bought from pet shops, the difference in the life expectancy of a store-bought and specially bred ferret should make a significant impact on your choice.
Pet store ferrets may not live as long as those from a breeder because pet stores typically spay or neuter them when they are only a few weeks old, preventing complete hormonal development.
Breeders only recommend spaying them once they are mature and have completed their development cycle.
Another reason why ferrets may be a bit more expensive to buy is their constantly increasing demand. More and more people want to keep them as pets, and this is driving up the price across the US and Europe.
There are around 15 different types of ferrets, although only some are available for purchase.
The most popular ferrets are the Sable ferret, Black Sable ferret, and Albino ferret.
They can range between $50 to $300 each, depending on the breeder and the ferret’s perceived rarity.
If you choose to buy a ferret from a breeder, make sure you ascertain the following:
- Has the ferret been vaccinated?
- Has it been neutered/spayed?
- Does the ferret get along with other animals?
- What is the ferret’s health history?
These questions could help you make sure you are buying a healthy, happy ferret that has a long life ahead of it.
2. They May Need Licenses and Import Procedures
Some cities, counties, states, and countries regulate or ban ferret ownership.
This could shoot up the price of owning a ferret, especially if you need to apply for a license or permit to keep one as a pet.
In California, only neutered male ferrets may be kept as pets [Source]. Other regions like Hawaii and the District of Columbia, have banned them entirely.
The UK and much of the EU accept ferrets but they must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and licensed.
They have to be treated for ticks and tapeworms and arrive via an authorized route before being allowed to enter, all of which could significantly increase their prices.
Some ferrets arriving in the EU may also need to undergo a six-month quarantine.
3. They Need Vaccinations
Ferrets need to be vaccinated against rabies and canine distemper every one to three years.
Ferrets who are not vaccinated against rabies are at risk of contracting the condition and passing it on to humans. Distemper in ferrets is fatal and must be vaccinated against regularly.
These vaccinations could amount to $50 a year, adding to the yearly upkeep of your pet.
4. They Have to be Microchipped
Many regions and countries require domesticated ferrets to be microchipped as early as 8-16 weeks after their birth [Source].
A microchip can help the pound or authorities find you should your ferret run away and get picked up.
Microchipping a ferret costs around $45.
5. They Need Regular Vet Checks
Not all vets or veterinary clinics are equipped to deal with ferret patients.
This means you may need to look for an exotics vet for your pet’s regular checkups. Ferrets should visit the vet at least twice a year to check for congenital defects, nail clipping, mites, ear infections, and possible weight gain or loss.
Each vet check will cost about $60.
6. They Need Special Cages and Enclosures
Ferrets are incredibly active, social animals that don’t do well in cramped spaces. Due to this, they need special cages and lots of tunnels and stimulating obstacles to keep them entertained.
Ferret cages can range in price from around $250 to thousands of dollars if they are well-built and have several floors.
7. They Need Lots of Toys
Since ferrets are playful pets, they’ll need a variety of toys to stay happy.
This could mean buying anything from a few balls to setting up a complete ferret obstacle course complete with tunnels, climbing equipment, and stimulating activities.
8. They Need Hygiene Materials
Ferrets need litter boxes and should be bathed at least once every two months. This will require special shampoos and other hygiene material that could add even more to your annual ferret bill.
9. Ferrets Need Special Food
Ferrets are carnivores and prefer raw meat and a protein-rich diet. Ferrets also have very fast metabolisms and require a small meal 8-10 times a day.
Their specialized meal plans can work out to cost quite a bit every year.
What’s the Average Cost of Owning a Ferret?
A breakdown of the yearly cost of owning a ferret is included below:
Licenses: $25 – $100
Vet checks: $200
Hygiene materials: $200
The total yearly cost of a ferret’s upkeep comes to a total of $1,000.
Initial ferret ownership costs include:
Ferret: $50 – $300
Cage Accessories: $50 (including food bowls and water dispensers)
All things considered, ferrets are relatively average pets to own cost-wise. It’s only when comparing a ferret to other similar rodents like guinea pigs or rabbits that they seem very expensive.
Sure, there are lots of costs when you first buy a ferret but if it is kept healthy the annual costs will be kept to a minimum.
A sick ferret could quickly rack up a $500 vet bill if it needs emergency treatment.
Reasons to Buy a Ferret as a Pet
Despite their initial and upkeep costs, ferrets make very rewarding pets if cared for properly. Some of the best reasons to keep a ferret as a pet include:
- They are incredibly cute
- They are playful and fun to have around
- They are sociable animals and like spending time with humans and other animals
- They are quiet, so there’s no barking or meowing to deal with
- They are very intelligent and can be trained to do tricks and follow commands
- They’re small and don’t take up much space
- They can be litter trained
- They are easy to provide with exercise and love being active
- They love warm cuddles
- Every ferret has a distinct personality that adds to its charm
Ferrets make excellent pets if you’re looking for a companion with the energy of a puppy, minus the size. However, despite their small stature, ferrets can be quite pricey to acquire and maintain compared to other rodents their size.
Still, there’s no other animal on earth that can rival their cuteness and mischievous behavior, making them more than worth it to keep as a pet.