Many people spend time scouring the web or asking other people for information about ferrets: what caring for them means, how long they live, what diseases can affect them, what they eat, do they smell bad and so on and so forth. And yet, most of those that eventually decide a ferret is the right pet for them simply enter the first pet shop they can find, pick a ferret they like and that it, they’re ferret parents. Well, not so fast!
Yes, out of the many places you can buy a ferret from, pet shops are probably the most accessible of choices (everybody has a pet shop nearby and that pet shop probably has one or two ferrets on display), but not all shops were created equal. There are a couple of things you should consider when stepping in a pet shop.
Chances are that the ferrets you find there come from a so called ferret farm, that is, a mass producer of ferrets. Think of poultry farming, where hundreds and sometimes thousands of chickens, turkeys etc. are reared for food, often in less than stellar conditions (to say the least). That’s pretty much what ferret farms are, except that they don’t raise ferrets for food, but for selling.
In contrast to the ones raised by independent breeders, ferrets from these farms will generally be smaller and sometimes even a bit more aggressive, but that doesn’t mean all such farms provide shoddy conditions or that a ferret raised there can’t be just as loving and playful as any other. It’s just one of those things I think you should be aware of when buying a ferret from a pet shop.
Here are some other pointers that will be useful when going this route:
- The best shops offer a health guarantee for any ferret you buy. If a pet shop doesn’t offer this guarantee, don’t waste your time and money. Say thanks, but no thanks, and go somewhere else.
- The shop’s staff should frequently play with the fuzzies (and in fact with all animals they sell). Playing keeps the animals socialized and this means a lot when you walk in to check them out because they already know how to behave in the presence of a human.
- If you have reason to believe the staff is ignoring the ferrets, you should know that any pet you buy from them will probably not act as you’d expect once you bring him home. It’s definitely not something that discounts the animal, but be prepared for some extra socializing works and playing.
- The people working at the pet shop should have at least a decent knowledge about ferrets. Ask a lot of questions and learn to spot when the person you’re talking to is clueless (this is when that ton of research we talked about earlier pays dividends).
- Ask if they offer after-adoption support and try to stay clear of those that don’t or you might end up being sold a ferret that has problems.
- Never ever adopt a ferret on your first visit to the store. You should visit two or three times to get a good picture of how consistent they are in their care for ferrets.
- The cages should be clean and tidy and the entire shop should be lean and tidy itself. If it’s not, the health of all of its residents, not just the ferrets, are at stake.
In conclusion, yes, pet shops are a very convenient place to adopt a little fuzzy, but they also present limited options because, for the most part, they only have a few commercially bred ferrets. On the plus side though, the good ones offer a health guarantee and after-adoption supports.