It doesn’t matter which belief system you ascribe to. One thing you can agree is that humans has developed an absolute love for the various animals that can be found around them. This has been mostly true when it comes to those furry goofs we like to call dogs. Everywhere you go on earth, there is a local breed of dog that was meant to achieve a certain purpose.
It’s not certain how cats came to be domesticated, or whether it is us humans who are being harnessed by cats for our abilities to provide food and shelter to them. They only cozy up to us whenever they are looking for belly rubs or treats.
You may also be the kind of human that wants something different in the house apart from the usual cats and dogs. You may have tried a bird, and it was lovely. It wasn’t lovely enough though, so you decided to get something else.
In your extensive research, you may have come across different pets such as white mice, which was still too common. The next option on the list was a rabbit, still, no joy. A chinchilla is just out of the question. What you need is something exotic, something that not too many people are aware of.
Enter the Angora Ferret. The mention of the name Angora immediately conjures a fluffy white rabbit, or a particularly hairy goat. The ferrets you are used to are tube shaped creatures with very short hair. If you are familiar with the adventure of Avatar: The Last Airbender, you may already know Pabu the fire ferret.
So, does this mean that the Angora ferret is long haired?
That’s exactly what it is. Like every other pet that one can have in their house, the angora ferret has specific needs, and ways in which things should be done. This article is meant as a guide for people who are looking to get one, and also augment the knowledge that angora ferret owners already have.
What is their story?
It is no secret that humans have traversed over this earth in search of new wonders and discovery. The wandering of humans led to discoveries of fantastic animals such as koalas, chinchillas, the polar bear, the hyena among others.
But that’s not where the angora ferret is from. The ferret in itself is as a result of selective breeding of the European polecat. They both are carnivorous creatures and share the same lineage with other lovely animals such as otters and weasels.
The ferret has therefore been a part of human life for more than 2,000 years. At first, they were bred for various purposes, in the same way that dogs were. Believe it or not, ferrets are actually very good at hunting and identifying prey.
That story has changed though. For more than a century now, ferrets have been raised in homes to simply be pets, seeing as humans no longer need to hunt for food. They then saw an explosion in popularity all around the world, with people taking up the specific role of breeding them.
It was one breeder in Sweden that first came across the angora ferrets. While he was breeding normal ferrets, he began to notice that the hair they were growing was actually quite longer than those of their parents, or even other ferrets. He decided to sell his stock to a Norwegian fur farm.
It is at this fur farm that things actually got interesting. The farm went on to breed these ferrets which were presenting with long hair. As a fur farm, that was their main business, to try to get the best fur from animals. And thus, the angora ferret was bred into existence.
Similar to other pets which are bred to meet a specific need, or to help protect them from the elements, the angora ferret grows hair from two to four centimeters. But this wasn’t as a result of breeding between different breeds of ferret. This was a genetic mutation.
The fur farm didn’t pay much attention to how the animal would be like Healthwise. Their job was simple; keep the ferrets producing fur. This meant that the earliest angora ferrets were pretty poor Healthwise. This changed though.
When word got out of the existence of the ferrets, people started caring for them, and they started living healthier lives and having less issues. Breeders also crossbred them with standard ferrets to help improve their overall health, and the tactic worked.
Now, ferrets are absolutely loved for their characteristics. Imagine having the goofiness and playfulness of a dog, with the attentiveness and intelligence of a cat in one animal. (I’m not saying dogs are dumb.) This is exactly what a ferret is. Boundless energy to keep themselves, and you, active for hours, and also forming strong bonds with their owners.
The Characteristics of an Angora Ferret.
Well, this wouldn’t be a guide if you don’t get all the information available on this animal, and it starts by giving you the most pertinent information on your pet, or potential pet.
As is with every other animal on earth, angora ferrets have their own characteristics and peculiarities. Here are some of the things that define an angora ferret.
- What Colors Do They Come In?
Although ferrets are usually tube shaped, it doesn’t mean that’s the only form they come in. This is also true of angora ferrets, where you will find all shapes and sizes. Color combinations are also several, but the prevalence of blacks and whites make up the largest number of angora ferrets.
The colors you might encounter include:
- White with dark eyes.
- Black Sable.
- How long do they live?
This is probably the thing you had in mind. This is a friend you wan to have in your life as long as possible, perhaps enough to appear in your graduation or wedding photos. The reality of it is that you have to plan yourself quite well, seeing as they may live anywhere from six to ten years.
This, though, is highly dependent on the life that it will lead. Typically, well cared for animals tend to live longer than the rest. If you do want to get one from a pet store, then it might take you a few tries before you find one that will live long.
The reason for this is because pet store ferrets are neutered at quite an early stage in their development. This neutering will mean that the hormones necessary for it to develop into a well function ferret are curtailed quite early in their lives, depriving them of an opportunity to live long.
Your best bet will be to find a reputable breeder. They are better placed to provide animals that are the best quality, and they also provide them before neutering. Most breeders highly recommend neutering a ferret one year into its life.
- Are they legal?
Depending on your point of view, it might be fortunate, or unfortunate as to why there has to be legislation as to what animals you can own. Some are simply for your own safety, others are due to past misconceptions. One of these animals is the ferret.
There are a number of states that require you to jump extra hoops if you want to own a ferret. Some may require you to adhere to the same regulations as you would with a cat, dog or a bird, but others will require you to adhere to special rules that have been set for the ferret.
The state will require you to take out a special permit before you are legally allowed to own a ferret. Note that ferrets are smart, quick, and can easily escape, which is why you should also get a ferret harness for your pet.
If you live in Hawaii or in Washington D.C then you are out of luck. The state and the capital have both banned ownership of ferrets. Don’t celebrate yet if you live in California. The state will require you to take out a special permit before you are legally allowed to own a ferret.
Choosing an Angora Ferret.
Angora ferrets came about as a result of a genetic mutation. As such, they require extra care to get litters that are not riddled with weaknesses. Choosing an angora ferret will require you to conduct some due diligence before you settle on one.
If you already had one in your life, this article may help you make a more informed choice the next time you are ready to have one in your life. Here are the things you should be looking out for.
- The Breeder.
If you choose to purchase one, then it’s always best for you to pick an angora ferret from a breeder. However, not all breeders will adhere to high standards of care and quality for the pets. You really need to investigate the quality of the breeders you are looking at.
It may seem easier to just walk into a pet shop and get one. They might be cheaper to purchase anyway. However, if there are health issues, they may be expensive to maintain down the road.
- The Ferret’s Age.
You might be the type of owner who wants to be involved in the ferret’s life from a very young age, helping to form its character and just delighting in watching it grow. You might also be the type that wants to have a properly trained adult ready to inhabit your home.
If you do choose to get a young one, better known as a kit, then a reputable breeder will only let you take one home when they have hit eight weeks. Some will compromise and do it at five. Young ferrets offer an excellent opportunity to you, as they have more room to absorb training, in your style, and have more time to form a strong bond with their caregiver.
You may not be looking to spend a lot of money getting a ferret. Therefore, an adult is your best option. You can purchase, or you can walk into a shelter and adopt one. As it is with dogs, many people see the rise in popularity and choose to get one without doing due diligence. They will then end up putting the ferrets into a shelter because they do not know how to take care of one.
- The Gender.
Each ferret is an individual. These individuals may have different characters but the one thing that’s common to them all, their characters will be greatly influenced by their gender. Both the males, known as Hobs (no, not that one), and the females, better known as Jills are quite similar in their early lives. However, a change always comes when puberty hits.
The males, as with a good number of other species of animals, will become more aggressive. This is especially true when it is towards females who are in heat. The period which the female ferret will be in heat is much longer than some animals. A ferret will usually be in heat for six months of the year.
During this time the female is in heat, it may exhibit a number of behaviors which you may deem to be uncharacteristic. Although a female will reach sexual maturity after four months, it is best to wait until they reach a year old before you spay them. Neutering and spaying have sometimes led to the ferret losing its hair in its old age.
Another characteristic of ferrets is their musk. Like almost all mustelids, ferrets have a scent sac right below their anuses. They will use this scent to mark their territory whenever they urinate or pass stool. Ferrets have a tendency to mark their territory by splashing urine all around the home. This will definitely be noticeable, especially for the males as they have a stronger scent.
Of course, spaying and neutering will help reduce instances of marking territory.
- A healthy ferret.
While it is possible for a ferret to look silky smooth on the outside, they may be experiencing issues that could lead to serious costs for you, or even their death. These issues can manifest through physical, or even behavioral traits. A healthy ferret will have the following characteristics.
- They will have a clean anus and sexual opening.
- Their paw pads will usually be clean and pink in color.
- They will usually have a coat of hair that indicates they are healthy.
- Their noses and mouths will be free of any discharge.
- Their movements will not be labored, or attempting to mask pain. They will be smooth.
- They will have bright eyes.
- Ferrets are absolutely playful. They are alert to what is going on around them, and they are very curious in nature.
Take your time to observe the ferret that you want to go home with. It might also help if you did a physical inspection to confirm it does not have any of the issues mentioned. If there are symptoms such as those mentioned above, that ferret needs a vet immediately.
Also, if your ferret is not active and playful, this could be an indication of a problem it is experiencing.
Feeding Your Angora Ferret.
Now that you’ve decided to get yourself an angora ferret, it’s worth noting that you will obviously have to feed it if it’s going to be your companion for the next 10 years. That means having to look at what kind of diet that ferrets eat.
Ferrets come from a group of carnivorous animals. That means their meals have to have a significant portion of protein in them. Perhaps the best thing about ferrets is that they are quite close to cats in terms of nutrition, and cat food can be an excellent feeding option for them. You can also include some lovely chicken or turkey in their diet.
There are several things to consider about the food you give to your ferrets. While cat food may work, definitely do not try to give them dog food. Your pup may be able to tolerate some things, but your ferret cannot. This includes vegetables, legumes and seeds such as peas which can be fatal to them.
Also, avoid giving them milk and chocolate. Like with dogs, chocolate will be immediately fatal to your ferret. Whatever is not good for your dogs is definitely not good for your ferrets.
Ferrets are a greatly energetic animal. As such, they need a lot of energy to keep them going. This will usually mean having to feed them up to eight times a day. They also have a short gastric system which combined with their quick metabolism greatly contribute to the number of times you are going to be feeding the animal.
Some owners find this to be cumbersome, especially those who have busy schedules as such, many find it easier to just leave enough food around for the ferret to eat whenever it needs to. If you do want to stick to a routine though, pellets might be your saving grace. Finding out the weight of your ferret will give you the exact serving suggestions needed from the guideline on the side of the box.
This article could go on for ages as it barely scratches the surface of all the information that’s available on the ferret. The information in this article, however, is more than enough to get you on your way towards owning your first, or several ferrets.
The ferret is a unique animal, and comparing it to a dog or a cat is just unfair to it. While it is true that different individuals have different characteristics, the playfulness and curiosity cuts across all types of ferrets. All they need is adequate time to exercise, coupled with food and water, and you have yourself a trouble free pet.