Ferrets are often mistaken for being a type of rat or weasel, but they’re actually related to polecats and minks. Ferrets are most closely related to the European Polecat, which is why they have such long, slim bodies. They are mammals and therefore they are warm-blooded.
So do ferrets need protection from heat? And if so, what should you do? Read on to find out more about this fascinating animal’s needs.
Are ferrets Warm-Blooded or Cold-Blooded?
They are mamals, so they are warm-blodded.
While ferrets are in demand, they are equally high maintenance pets. They are many times misunderstood and misjudged because of their appearance.
But if you have the time, energy, and desire to take care of a pet that is not like any other – ferrets are the way to go!
A warm-blooded creature produces body heat and can adapt its body temperature according to the surrounding conditions.
While said that, barely a year comes by without a ferret’s death, all due to hot weather conditions. It is essential to ensure that pets do not overheat.
Ferrets are prone to heat strokes and heat exhaustion in summers. Suppose you do not take appropriate measures to ensure that they remain cool.
In that case, they can perish from hypothermia, a condition wherein the ferret has a too high body temperature which can be fatal to its life; this comes to pass because ferrets have very few or if any, sweat glands.
Hence, unlike other mammals, they cannot “sweat off” to cool themselves. Some people think that ferrets do not sweat.
This is actually only partly true because even though ferrets have sweat glands the thick fur on their bodies prevents body cooling by evaporation
Here it is our task as responsible pet parents to look out for the welfare of domesticated ferrets. Providing them with a cool and calm environment will keep all the heat-related dangers at bay while also protecting them from excessive heat and dehydration.
Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you and your ferret beat the heat!
• Cool the room
Ferrets thrive in ideal temperatures of 70°F. If you live in a region of high humidity levels and heat, you will need to cool the temperatures down.
Guarantee that their enclosure has good airflow and does not snare heat.
Use air conditioning or oscillating fans to bring the temperatures down. They help in improving air circulation. Avoid keeping the enclosure under the direct impact of the cooling devices to thwart chills.
Take care to have a backup source of cooling ready if a power cut during extreme heat waves.
If you are low on the budget, you can use these instructions. You can also choose the northernmost facing room of your house or the space that stays the coolest despite the summer heat.
If you have a basement, bingo! Downstairs is, by default, cooler than upstairs. Keep your ferret in a cool and dry basement, and you’re all done!
• Keep them away from direct sunlight
If your ferret enclosure is outdoors, you will need to be meticulous. Exposing ferrets to the sun is fatal for them.
The sun changes its directions throughout the day. Ensure that you have adequate alternatives to protect them at several angles.
Use massive white coverings, pavilions and summer parasols to deliver a lot of shade.
If you are not home and leave your ferret in a cage, make sure to keep it in a shaded space. Watch out for the changing sun angles, even when indoors.
It is advisable to check if all the windows have secure screens to prevent direct sunlight from warming your ferret up.
• Always keep ice handy
On particular days when the sun is unrelenting, it is advisable to leave a bottle of frozen water that will keep your ferret cool.
Wash a plastic bottle thoroughly and remove all the labels. Film it with water and freeze overnight.
Wrap the bottle in thick fabric or towel and leave it in the cage or any place where your ferret frequents to hang out.
As the ice thaws in the hot summer temperatures, the water’s condensation will turn the towel damp and reduce the surroundings’ temperature.
Your ferret may even stick to the bottle like his life depends on it to cool himself.
Ferrets are very active and energetic. If you don’t mind a bit of mess, go ahead and leave a dish with ice cubes for your fur ball so that it can play with it. Most of them love it! A frozen treat sounds cool!
• Water is the Answer to all Dilemma
Remember what your parents advised you as a kid? They always made you carry water bottles on mainly sunny days wherever you went, right?
Nonetheless, it may have sounded annoying then; it was a testimonial to the saying “mommy knows best”.
While your parents may have coerced you to drink plenty of water, you cannot do so for your ferret; however, it may be suitable for him.
The only other thing you can do is always keep fresh water available. Ensure to use a shallow container to make it easily reachable for your pet.
This will furthermore guarantee a much less messy enclosure for you to clean. The chances of the pan spilling reduce significantly!
Another brilliant idea would be to spray cool water on your pet’s fur, provided your ferret is not hostile to the idea.
A gentle misting will keep the ferrets cool, mainly when used in conjunction with a fan or a cooler.
You can also make arrangements for your ferrets to splash in a shallow makeshift tub or a mini pool. If humans enjoy a good old swim in a pool or a beach, why should a ferret be an exception! Always keep an eye on them!
While we have discussed all the major tricks and tips to keep your ferret cool in hot weather, you also need to keep a close eye on your ferret because they are prone to heat-related dangers for emergencies and never knock on your doors with a notice.
Symptoms of your ferret encountering heat stress are as follows:
> Difficulty in breathing: panting, gulping air, breathlessness or any other changes in regular breathing patterns.
> Drooling: Excessive drooling, thick saliva are all signs of something seriously wrong with your ferret.
> Lack of activity: Ferrets are usually very lively and energetic, often very playful. The word ferret’s etymology can be traced to the Latin word “furittus”, meaning little thief, a plausible consideration to the propensity of ferrets for sneaking away small articles.
A lethargic ferret that is performing poorly in terms of activity and exploration is for sure sick.
> Lack of consciousness and mental awareness: A ferret is facing difficulty walking around, is posing a clumsy gait and is constantly stumbling around is a cause of serious concern.
If your pet is very inactive and looks like it is in a daze, a confused state of mind requires immediate attention.
> High body temperature: A high fever is just the indication of your pet suffering from a heatstroke. If the body is burning and its temperature is over 103°F, you need to call a vet.
> Dehydration: On scorching days, ferrets are likely to get dehydrated as their bodies do not have any cooling mechanisms. Sunken and tired eyes, skin-tenting concentrated urine, a dry and thirsty tongue are all indications that your ferret is severely dehydrated.
If you observe any of these symptoms in your ferret, jump on to cool your pet while the vet arrives. Any of the signs mentioned above are life-threatening and signals that your ferret is in distress.
What Ferrets do Exists?
There are only two species of ferrets. One is the extremely rare black-footed ferret native to the continent of North America and the ferret we all love as a pat.
Between 1996 to 2008, people started considering the black-footed ferret as extinct.
The captive breeding program launched by the United States Fish and Wildlife Services led to significant growth in their numbers, and they moved to endangered species classification.
The Black-Footed Ferret is often called North America’s rarest mammal.
There are small pockets of self-sustaining populations that survive in South Dakota, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Utah. They are restricted to the Great Plains of North America.
Ferrets have been domesticated for over 2,500 years and are very popular as pets for the last few decades, especially in the United States. If you want to find out more about ferrets and their heritage read here.