Ferrets are very popular and can be a rewarding pet, especially in the right environment. However, they can be somewhat expensive, between the initial and annual costs.
Between buying the right setup, food and vet visits, pet costs can quickly add up, and ferrets are no exception. It’s also essential to prepare for the unexpected, especially when emergency situations can be costly.
How much a Ferret costs
Adopting a ferret from a shelter can cost around $100, but many shelter ferrets are up to date on their vaccines, saving you the cost of those. Shelter staff will work extensively with their ferrets to get to know their personalities, do any behavioral training (if necessary), and understand what type of home environment would be best for them.
Pet store ferrets generally cost more (up to $300), depending on the area, but come with no prior veterinary care, creating additional costs on top of purchase price for owners to get their ferrets vaccinated, tested for any diseases, and examined by a veterinarian.
Reputable private breeders who put a lot of time and effort into tracking family lines and socializing their animals generally sell ferrets from $275 and up.
Must have things
Like cats, ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means that the only food from which they can get the nutrients they need is meat. They require a diet high in meat protein (40 percent or higher) and fat (20 percent or higher).
Fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates can actually be harmful to a ferret’s health, as some people believe they may be associated with the development of insulinomas, a tumor of the pancreas. Food pellets made specifically for ferrets are best, but most high-quality kitten foods can also work.
Ferrets require a safe place to stay when they cannot be supervised by their owners. Cages vary in cost, you can’t afford a new one, many shelters offer gently used cages for much less.
While a family of humans can get by with one toilet, a single ferret requires multiple litter pans. Most of the people recommend two for the cage and a few more for their play area, as ferrets won’t do you the favor of running back to their cage to do their business.
For litter, cautions against the clumping or clay litter used in cat litter boxes, as these can cause respiratory issues for ferrets. We use pelleted litters that are safe and inexpensive. Think recycled newspaper pellets or even wood stove pellets, which come in 40-pound bags for around $5 at many hardware stores.
Ferrets like to dig in and move their bowls around, and can be especially messy with their water bowls, Stick with a bowl that attaches to the cage and won’t move.
What you use for bedding in your ferret’s cage can vary greatly in cost and materials, and can be purchased from a number of suppliers or made at home from fabrics such as fleece or flannel. Some ferret owners even make and sell their own custom bedding, cage ramp covers, and hammocks.
How much you spend on toys will vary based on your budget, but are a must to keep your ferret stimulated and happy. There are some great toys out there that you can buy or things you can make yourself.
For example, you can take an old pill bottle, put a small bell or a few popcorn kernels or pennies in it, and secure the lid to make a jingly toy. Ferrets will also love toys you probably already have around the house, including paper bags and cardboard boxes.
Experts recommend regular check-ups once yearly for young ferrets (up to two years old) and wellness exams twice a year for older ferrets. Ferrets also need annual vaccinations against rabies and canine distemper virus. Check-ups can range in cost depending on where you life, while the vaccines generally cost between $15 and $20 each.
Annual expenses aren’t as much as startup costs since you don’t need to buy a cage and other items every year. Annual expenses will increase with the economy and other factors like multiple vet visits and medications. The average yearly cost for one ferret is around $250 to $600, which includes monthly and annual expenses.
If your ferret is healthy and doesn’t need to see the vet often, your annual expenses will be low. It’s important to remember that this is just the average, and costs can go beyond $500.
Just like dogs and cats, ferrets also need to be vaccinated annually. If your ferret is still a kit, there will be a series of vaccine booster shots at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 20 weeks, then continued annually.
The vaccines are to prevent distemper and rabies that can be deadly, with rabies also being contagious to humans. Even though a ferret is small, they still need to be cared for, and that includes vaccines.
Part of caring for your ferret is to help keep its teeth clean and free from buildup, which will turn into dental decay. Your vet should give an annual cleaning, but it’s highly recommended to clean your ferret’s teeth twice a month at home.
While this is much easier said than done, it’s essential to prevent dental problems with monthly maintenance. Even a rubber finger brush or a soft-bristle cat toothbrush will help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.
Grow your Ferrets at budget
For those on a tighter budget, it’s still possible to own a ferret without all the bells and whistles. As long as you’re able to afford vet visits, food, litter and toys, you don’t need to spend thousands on your ferret for it to thrive.
However, if your budget is not stable enough, owning a ferret may not be a right decision. As long as you’re able to provide the primary care and diet needs, a ferret will generally be less expensive than a dog or cat.
Save your money
The best way to save money on ferret care is to prevent medical conditions, which are the most expensive part of owning any pet. If you can keep up on dental care at home, parasitic preventatives, and keeping its cage clean, your monthly and annual care budget will be lower.
Just like with humans, it’s easier and cheaper to prevent health problems than to treat them. If vet bills are adding up, we recommend talking to your vet about any discounts available to lower the total amount.