With an inquisitive nature and intriguing markings, ferrets are considered exotic pets that actually require permits to own and are banned in some places, such as California. The critter lives an average of 6 to 8 years, but can sometimes reach the age of 12. When you are ready to bring this playful creature into your home, you should be aware of just how much a ferret costs to own.
The Cost of a Ferret
The average cost of buying a ferret as a pet is between $100 and $400.
There are factors that can affect the cost of a ferret, including who and where you purchase your ferret from, as well as the type of animal you choose. The cost of buying a ferret varies when you purchase from previous owners, breeders, and local pet stores. A private breeder could sell their ferrets for $125 to $400 – depending on the color and whether the bloodline of the animal is considered superior. Pet stores tend to sell their ferrets for around $125 or more. For example, an advertised price for a ferret at Petco in 2011 was $129.95. If you live in New Jersey, Rhode Island or Illinois, you will need to get a permit to buy a ferret – New Jersey and Rhode Island both charge $10 per year for a ferret permit .
The type of ferret color and markings will also affect the cost of the animal. Colors for domestic pet ferrets range from a black sable to an albino white. Other shades include chocolate, champagne, silver, badger, and cinnamon. With the exception of a white ferret, your pet may display the following markings:
- Mitts – white paws
- Hooded or Banded – band over the eyes
- Siamese – eye rings and a line that runs down their underside
- Panda – white head, belly and feet
- Blaze – white bib and a head with a colored streak
The initial cost of getting supplies for your ferret can total around $500. You will also need to purchase supplies on a monthly basis for the rest of the ferret’s life. Typical annual costs are around $200 for food, $200 for litter, and $70 to $80 for treats and toys. A breakdown of expenses associated with owning a ferret includes:
Cage and Habitat: Ferrets need to stay in cages when you are not home with at least three hours of daily play time outside the cage. A popular option for housing is a large, multi-tiered cage for a ferret. Cages need to measure at least 2x3x2, which typically costs between $60 and $150.Their habitat should include a hammock, tubes, litter box, and toys. If you plan on traveling with your ferret, you will need a portable cage – average cost is $15 to $30.
Food: Specialized food is needed to feed your ferret in order to ensure its health. Pet stores, such as Petco, can sell a 3-pound bag of food for $11. Yearly costs for ferret food average between $50 and $60. You can also give your ferret vitamins – a small bottle of concentrated solution costs around $8 .
Toys and Exercise: Toys will help keep your playful ferret busy and stimulated – usually costing from $5 to $10. Some owners will take their ferret for a walk using a leash and harness – at a cost of around $10 to $15.
Veterinary Costs: Ferrets can come down with an illness or disease – even during their first year of life. Veterinarian costs can reach $250 to $500 a year. When not taken cared of properly, neutered too early, or a product of improper breeding, your ferret could face future medical issues.
If you wish to “descent” your ferret, expect a cost of between $75 and $250. After buying a ferret, they will need three additional distemper vaccinations that are required at 9, 12, and 16 weeks of age. Rabies vaccinations are needed between 13 and 16 weeks of age. Other veterinary care includes dental cleaning, blood screening test, and chronic illness treatments .
Other accessories to keep in mind for your pet includes bedding ($10 for 30 liters), ferret shampoo ($5), nail clippers ($8), deodorizing and conditioning spray ($7), litter scoop ($4), ear-cleaning solutions, habit cleaner ($10), hairball preventative, and grooming brushes ($5).
To save money, get your ferret from an animal shelter or previous owner, which means that you don’t have to pay for vaccinations or the spaying or neutering of the pet. Purchasing used ferret equipment can also help lower your overall costs. Check out eBay, Craigslist and the local classifieds for deals on used cages, feeding bowls, and other ferret products.