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How Long Do Ferrets Live?

How Long Do Ferrets Live?How Long Do Ferrets Live?

When we add a pet to our family, whether it is a cat, dog, bird, hamster, iguana, ferret or any other critter, we don’t want to think about how long he or she will live.

Each type of animal has a general life expectancy range, but as with any animal or person, the lifespan of a ferret can vary greatly.

The answer to How Long Do Ferrets Live? Depends on several factors. Some of these factors are more controllable than others.

Ferrets in the U.S. have a life expectancy of 5-9 years. Ferrets in the U.K. tend to live a bit longer–6-11 years.

There are 4 main determinants that influence how long a ferret lives.

1. Genetics

Genetics is a huge factor in influencing how long a ferret will live.

Ferrets are originally from Europe, where they tend to live longer. They have a more diverse gene pool that may help to lessen the predisposition toward various diseases.

Ferrets in the U.S that come from a pet store tend to have shorter life spans than ferrets that come directly from a breeder.

The reason for this may be that ferrets in pet stores are generally spayed and neutered too early–often as early as 5 weeks. Breeders recommend spaying and neutering ferrets around 1 year of age. Delaying this procedure allows hormones to fully develop.

Also, if a ferret’s parents and grandparents lived to a ripe old age of 9, then he will have a better chance of reaching that age as well. If his parents both developed an illness or disease and each only lived to be 5, then he may be genetically prone to a similar fate.

There is good news, however! Genetics is a predisposition toward certain diseases or illness–not an absolute fate. There are other factors involved in predicting how long ferrets live.

2. Diet

Diet is a huge factor that influences how long a ferret lives. This is also a determinate we can control.

As ferret parents, we have an obligation to provide our furry family members with appropriate and  proper nutrition.

Providing your ferret a quality high protein diet and avoiding foods that are unhealthy for ferrets is essential in helping your ferret live the longest, healthiest life.

3. Care

The care we give our ferrets is an important determinate as well. This, too we can control.

Ferrets need a lot of interaction, attention, enrichment and love. They do not do well left alone all day or caged up all day. They are very social and playful and need lots of ways to have fun and a variety of toys, so they don’t get bored.

The most important thing is that a ferret needs to spend quality time with his family. Having 2 ferrets is a good way to ensure your ferret doesn’t get too lonely. But having another ferret is not a substitute for human interaction.

However, dangers lurk in every room. When your ferret is running around outside his cage, it is critical for his safety to make sure your home is ferret- proof.

Another part of caring for a ferret is making sure he has his annual checkups with his veterinarian, (one who is experienced with ferrets) as well as keeping up on his vaccines.

Paying close attention to changes in your ferret’s behavior is very important. If you notice your ferret isn’t acting like his usual self–changes in eating habits, play, sleep, communication it is important to have him checked by your veterinarian.

4. Illness

If your ferret’s behavior changes and something is wrong, the sooner you catch it, the better. Whether your ferret has ear mites, a respiratory infection, insulinoma or anything else, the right treatment at the right time can make all the difference.

Even with an illness or disease, proper treatment in the early stages may extend your ferret’s life span several years.

So How Long Do Ferrets Live?

With proper diet and care, ferrets can and do live 9 years or more, but 6-7 is common.  

Our pets are part of our families. No length of time is enough for a loved one.  We need to make the most of the time we have with our pets. It enriches their lives as well as ours.
For information on where to find a ferret to add to your family, click on the link.

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6 thoughts on “How Long Do Ferrets Live?

  1. Hi Sandra,

    I remember we had ferrets as kids many many years ago haha! Finding your post bought back memories.

    I am in Australia. Do you know how long they live here? Great post. Really enjoyed reading about the little fellas 🙂


    1. Thanks for visiting Ferret Lovers and reading “How Long Do Ferrets Live?”. Generally, ferrets tend to live longer in Australia, than in the U.S. Similar to the U.K–6-11 years. Do you remember how long your ferrets lived? Interesting to know.

  2. We may not have them for as long as we would like, but no matter how long you have them for, ferrets are the most entertaining pets (sorry, dogs & cats). They live and play with utter abandon and are insatiably curious about their environment.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Bryce! Ferrets may not live long, but they live it with enthusiasm!

  3. Great site I am a ferret owner and lover my baby is 4 years old and very healthy we now travel so much for work that we are having a hard time giving him the attention he needs I do have wonderful pet sitters but they can not devote their time as well we adore him and are completely a mess about this but we need to find him a great home any suggestions crying as I type this

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you need to rehome your ferret, Lisa. You can check ferret rescues in your area to see if they can help. The link below is a ferret shelter directory that may be a resource for you.
      ferret shelters

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