This gets asked all the time on Reddit’s Ferret sub. I type out basically the same answer every time.
As with anyone who asks here my standard response is this: Like any pet, you should be ready to care for a ferret for the rest of it’s life. The minimum for a ferret means a couple of hours play time, morning and night, fresh food, water and litter whenever they get low. However, unlike cats or dogs ferrets are very stoic when it comes to their environment. At least, that has been my experience with my ferrets over the past 6 years.
My cat’s food dish is empty, she meows at me to fill it. My dog needs to go potty, she barks at me to let her out. My ferrets’ litter is full, their water bottle is empty, their food dish is empty, they are silent.
This means you cannot trust them to let you know when they need attention. You simply must get into the routine of checking their living space morning and night, every day, for the next 5-7 (hopefully more) years.
Mind you, that’s the minimum they need. So before adopting a ferret ask yourself if you’re willing to devote yourself to caring for that pet in that manner for the next several years. If the answer is not an honest yes, please reconsider your choice and/or hold off until that answer changes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my ferrets. I think they are wonderful pets and I think many more people could find joy in having ferrets in their life. But I have had the unfortunate need to rescue 2 ferrets from a private home, and adopted 2 more from an overloaded shelter who, at the time, had over 40 ferrets. I don’t want people to misunderstand what they are getting into with a ferret and have any more added to the rolls of local ferret shelters.