Friday, January 8, 2010

Selecting A Good Ferret Breeder

Christmas and New Year celebrations got in the way, so it’s been awhile since ferrety Friday. But despair no more, my dear readers, because this blog’s favourite theme is back.

[Yawn] “Where in the world did you ever get the idea that we care about ferrets?”

Oh, be quiet! Maybe you don’t care but I have other readers that do.

[Snort] “Yeah, right...there are readers that care...zzzzzz”

Of course they do. They come for Bailey. She’s the most famous ferret in world.

“That’s because there aren’t that many blogs writing about ferrets because NO ONE CARES”

Just go away...

“Fine! Wake me up when it’s over”

Hmmm... Now, where was I?

Ah, yes. The last time I added a ferrety Friday on my blog, I wrote about where you can actually get a ferret, which included 1) Pet store, 2) Shelter, 3) Private breeder and 4) Classifieds. And since the information for the pet store was getting a little long, I decided to place the different subtitles together in another post or each one in its own. Well, after some research, I’ve decided to break the remaining three into at least two separate posts. Today, I will write about private breeders and in the future I will add some information about the other two.


The first thing you must do if you’re interested in getting a ferret from a breeder is to find a good one – a breeder, that is. Well, a ferret too, but you still have to start with a good breeder. Good breeders breed good ferrets. What I mean by a good breeder is a reputable one. And the way to go about finding one is with some research.

Now, like any other type of breeder, there are good and bad ones. Some breed because they really love ferrets, others breed only for profit. Not that the ones that love ferrets don’t breed to make money. Obviously they do or else they’d be giving away the baby fuzzies instead of selling them. But the former is concerned about the health and welfare of the animals (this motivates them to provide good care) while the latter raises ferrets in substandard conditions (this can affect the long-term health of these fragile animals). If you’ve ever visited a breeder (I have once, when I was searching for a Siamese cat), you’ll get a feeling for them just from the conditions you’ll find the animals living in.

But I digress. Let’s just say that there are good and bad breeders, and concentrate on how to go about choosing a good one.

One of the best methods for selecting a reputable ferret breeder is by word of mouth. Try to meet people locally who have acquired a ferret from a breeder. They will be able to assist you in your search by sharing their own experience. Hopefully you’ll meet people who are happy customers that can recommend a good breeder. You can also find reputable breeders in ferret-specific magazines or by meeting some people in online ferret communities, such as forums and such where you can ask for advice and suggestions.

When you do finally settle on a specific breeder, make an appointment for a visit. You’ll want to drop by and see how the little fuzzies are being kept. Once you’re there, pay attention to the living conditions of these little animals. Are their cages clean? Are they spacious? What type of food do they have? Do they have enough food? Is their drinking water clean? Are the ferrets alert and active? Are they allowed out of their cages to play and exercise? Do they have regular human contact? Are they picked up, petted, held and offered affection? Ferrets that are hand raised are more likely to grow up docile, friendly, happy, eager to be held and highly-sociable.

A good breeder will have no trouble accommodating your request to stop by for a preliminary visit to check out their place because they’ll have nothing to hide. In addition, a good breeder won’t just hand their fuzzies over without asking a few questions; they’ll want to make sure that a ferret is the right pet for you and that you are right for a ferret. They may inquire about you, your home, your lifestyle, what knowledge you have in caring for this furry critter and whether you are prepared to dedicate time and effort to its care, which may include supervised play time. Feel free to ask questions of your own, such as how long they’ve been in this business, whether they offer some type of guarantee and whatever other information you feel is pertinent.

Once you’re comfortable with a specific breeder, it’s time to select a ferret. The breeder will show you the available pets, and may even try to match you with one that best suits your personality and lifestyle. After you’ve decided on a fuzzy and finalized all the details, including payment and whatever paperwork needs to be done, it’s time to take your pet home. The absolute best way to get your fuzzy home is in a small pet carrier that is padded to make it more comfortable.

That’s all there is to it folks. Choosing a ferret from a private breeder with a very good reputation is often much better than choosing one from a pet shop. Good, caring breeders provide optimum care, which in turn produces healthy and highly-sociable ferrets.

Now before I wrap this up, let’s hear from Bailey:

[Blush] Shhhhh Bailey! We don’t have to air our dirty laundry. And anyway, the pet store where we got you from was walking distance from our home, so we didn’t feel that a carrier was necessary.

Great, now I have guilt...


  1. Great information, Martha. Very helpful for anyone looking for a pet, I'd say. And I always love pictures of that adorable little Bailey. I'm sure she really didn't mind that box so much once she saw her lovely new home.

  2. Yep, great breeders will also be much more careful at screening the prospective buyers than a pet store which means less returns to shelters and happier babies. How old should ferrets be before being old enough to go home?

  3. Hi Beth! Thanks for your kind words. Now that I've learned so much more about these misunderstood (and often neglected) animals, I feel the need to share that information with the world. Ferrets are often taken home without people realizing what they're getting into. It's best to be informed, and if it's not the right pet for someone, it's best not to take one home.

    Tatiana, many years ago I got a siamese cat from a breeder. She was a really nice lady and her kittens, cats and all her other pets were very well cared for. Nothing tops a caring breeder. Of course, there are bad ones, but that's why you should visit with them.

    Ferrets are very much like kittens when it comes to going home with you; a good age is about eight weeks old.

  4. Choosing a ferret breeder is a matter of research, common sense, and knowing about ferrets before choosing a breeder. I hope this guideline help you select a responsible breeder that is concerned with the betterment of the breed. Here is a list of questions you can ask your potential breeder. You will be able to choose a ferret breeder with confidence, and you'll be on your way to enjoying your new ferret.

    *Compile a short list of potential breeders you would like to interview.

    *Have you made a checklist of the characteristics you're looking for?

    *Interview the Breeders. A quality breeder should be happy to answer all your questions. While you’re in the process of finding the right breeder to supply you with the newest member of your family. That breeder should feel as strongly about the well being of your ferret as you do.

    *How long have you been breeding ferrets? Do you show? Why or why not?
    You want someone who has breeding ferret long enough to know what they are doing.

    *How large is your breeding operation? Where do your ferrets spend most of their time?

    Are the kits raised in the house, how often are they handled, have they been socialized daily on an individual basis?

    Are they used to being handled by strangers?

    More than 3 months old, does it run around the house on a daily basis or playpen at least 2-3 times a week?

    *What is the family history?

    *Ask to meet the Ferret's parents.

    *Genetic defects? How are you breeding to avoid those defects?
    Breeders should be honest about the breed's strengths and weaknesses and knowledgeable about the genetic diseases that can affect their breed. You want someone who's up-front and knowledgeable about problems in the breed, and someone who's actively working to minimize them.

    Ask about an health problems in the background of the kit or adult.
    At least the last 5 generations, not just the parents, grandparents,
    etc, but their litter mates as well.

    What did they die of and how old were they when they developed
    the disease or condition?

    Did they have any other health issues?

    What other health problems have occurred in any of the ferrets
    bred by this breeder and at what ages?

    *Information on the Kit /Adult

    What shots have they had and at what age?

    What are they eating, and have they been fed any raw or whole prey?

    Has any of breeder's ferrets ever had a reaction to a vaccine?

    *What sort of health guarantees does breeder offer?
    Your ferret may become ill within days of you bring it home, or ferret may manifest congenital
    health defects months or even years later.

    What does the breeder guarantee in writing in reference to health and temperament and for how long?

    Does the sales contract stipulate that the buyer can return the kit or adult within 1-2 weeks for a full refund or replacement if the temperament or personality is not satisfactory?

    Does the contract stipulate breeder’s rights? What are those rights?

    *Recommendations? Ask the breeder for a couple references of ferret owners that they have sold within the past year. Call them. Find out if the breeder was fair, if they were happy with their ferret and how any problems were handled.

    Talk to people and ask them about their ferrets. Everyone loves to talk about their ferrets. (Ferret clubs, ferret events, ferret forums)

    *Do you like the breeder?
    Will you feel comfortable replying on this person as a resource to help you if you ever run into problems with your ferret? If you feel that the breeder is rude, ignorant, or disagreeable, look elsewhere to purchased your ferret. One of the advantages of buying from a breeder is the support and help they can offer you and your ferret.

    Good luck in your search for a breeder and your new ferret.

    1. Excellent advice! Thank you for these great points! You certainly know your ferrets.