Pet of the week: The ferret

Who's this funny little fellow? He's a ferret, traditionally the beloved companion of farmers throughout the land, though more recently he has been co-opted by people seeking an inquisitive, if rather pesky pet. In days of yore, the ferret would have been used as a highly efficient and ruthless vermin catcher. Nowadays, he's more likely to be found rummaging around in your sock drawer.

Is that how we get the expression "ferreting around"? I suppose so. They love digging, so you must bear this in mind when you are taking one on as a household pet. As young 'uns (or kits) they will play for hours with loo-roll holders, makeshift hammocks, balls, etc, but they are like "mini chainsaws" according to Lara Young of the GEM Ferret Care Group (gemferret.co.uk), so be prepared to make your house "ferret-proof". Anything is seen by the ferret as a plaything, and that means electrical cables, pot plants, framed photos, valuable family heirlooms – you have be warned!

Where does he come from? The same family as that former stalwart of this parish, the weasel; the male of the species is a hob and the female is a jill. They are legendary kippers, and will happily snooze the day away when they are not being stimulated. But mind where you sit yourself down, as they are wont to find cosy little corners on the sofa and just crash out.

How do I contain this energetic bundle of fun? If indoors, you must make sure they have a spacious cage – the British Ferret Club (britishferretclub.co.uk) says they like to sleep somewhere quiet and dark. Cleanliness is important to the ferret, so weekly cleaning of the cage is important, but their bedding doesn't need to be too elaborate – torn up bits of yesterday's Independent will do nicely. You can keep ferrets outside throughout the year – in a large rabbit hutch, for example – as long as their dwelling has plenty of bedding and is out of the wind. It is best to keep them in pairs – preferably neutered – as they will crave company when you are not around.

What about treats? There's nothing ferrets like more than a bit of fresh fruit or some cooked meat occasionally, but on the whole they should be fed on ferret mix which can be bought from most good pet stores.

Anything else? Yes. Ferrets can live up to 12 years, so be prepared for the long haul. You won't regret it, says Lara Young, they pay you back with love and affection in spades. If a furry friend's for you, go to a rescue centre – the ferret will only cost you the price of a donation, and the staff will be on hand to give you lots of advice.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

Ashdown Group: PHP Developer - Buckinghamshire - £29,000

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior PHP Developer - Milton Keynes...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales & Marketing Assistant

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This UK based B2C and B2B multi...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003