Dogs, cats and rabbits come in lots of breeds, but ferrets come in just one. However, they do have a wonderful range of colours and patterns, with no two ferrets sporting exactly the same striking coat
Posted: 31 May 2019
Fun-loving ferrets are lively and curious pets who are actually a domesticated version of the European polecat. They are part of the Mustelidae family, which includes otters, stoats, weasels and badgers. Ferrets don’t have varying breeds, but they do come in all manner of stunning colour combinations.
Common colours in the UK are: Fitch/Sable/Poley, Sandy/Champagne, Albino, Dark Eyed White (Dew) or Black Eyed White (Bew) and Silver. However, the different combinations of colours, patterns and markings produce an infinite number of variations.
DID YOU KNOW?
In addition to overall coat colour, ferret coats can also be classified by pattern – although Individual ferrets can have multiple colour patterns, so it can be tricky trying to categorise them definitively. Common pattern terms include:
To throw even more confusion into the mix, when ferrets shed their coats – usually twice a year in autumn and spring – their coat texture and colour can change. As they age, ferrets also may develop more white guard hairs, especially on their hind ends, making them appear lighter.
Depending on whether they live indoors or in an outdoor ferret house, ferrets generally sport a thicker, longer coat in winter and a shorter, silkier coat in summer. And, while ferrets are really good at grooming themselves and each other as part of social bonding, regular grooming by their human with a suitable brush (ask your vet for advice) should also be part of their routine.
Not only does this help you bond with your playful pets, it enables you to keep a close eye on their general health, by checking for any unusual lumps and bumps or other health issues.
DID YOU KNOW?
Just like cats, when ferrets groom themselves, they will naturally ingest a small amount of the loose fur that comes off their coat when they lick themselves. This generally passes out through their digestive system. However, at times of heavy shedding, a ferret can ingest hair that then may form into a hairball, or matt of clumped hair. This can get lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to a potentially life-threatening obstruction requiring surgery to treat. To prevent this, spend extra time each day in the spring, brushing your ferrets’ coats. Older ferrets will also benefit from regular brushing as they tend to shed more as they age.
If your ferret friend is losing handfuls of fur, shedding heavily out of season or even beginning to display bald patches, it’s unlikely it relates to a normal shed, and may indicate a problem, so always consult your vet.
The merits of ferrets
Like a cat, most ferrets can be trained to use a litter tray. Like a dog, they’re playful and can even be taken for walks on a lead. They also like to sleep for up to 20 hours a day. Could ferrets be the perfect pets for you?
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Ferrets are highly intelligent and providing a variety of toys is a great way to keep your slinky friends busy and happy. But what toys are best for these inquisitive, mischievous little carnivores?
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Sources: petmd.com, bluecross.org.uk, rspca.org.uk, pets4homes.co.uk, starescue.org.uk, ferretinfo.co.uk