Before you bring your new fuzzball home, spend about a week preparing for his arrival (let's assume it's a boy). First, read as much literature on ferrets as possible, and especially check out Pamela Greene's ferret site. There are a lot of medical FAQs and ferret troubleshooting tips there that will be useful later on.

Second, get everything you will need for the basic care of your ferret before you bring him home, including:

  1. Food. There are some great brand name ferret foods out there, and high quality cat foods like Iams or Science Diet (not any cheapo brands) are also sufficient. Keep in mind that a well-balanced diet will cause your ferret to eat less (saving you some money in the long run) and live a healthier life. DO NOT feed your ferret dog food. Or elephant food or emu food or kangaroo food. Only ferret and cat foods provide the necessary nutrients. Make sure you supplement your ferret's diet with daily vitamins (Ferretone and Linatone are available at most pet stores).

  2. A cage. Get a wire mesh cage, because 1) aquarium-type enclosures don't provide enough ventilation and 2) wire is easy to clean. If your ferret will be in his cage more than 8 hours a day, you'll need a cage that's at least 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet. A smaller cage is OK (no less than 1 foot by 2 feet by 1 foot) if your ferret will only be in the cage at nighttime. Of course, luxury cages are best, so we recommend that you get the nicest cage you can afford.

  3. Cage Accessories. You'll need to get a very heavy food bowl so that it can't be tipped. The same goes for a water bowl unless you prefer to use a water bottle. Ferrets love to sleep in old sweatshirts and pant legs, but you should also provide a small basket or cardboard box in case your ferret doesn't like sleeping on the floor. A triangular-shaped corner litter box works well in cages as a toilet. Other than that, your ferret's home décor is up to you. Hammocks provide a great place for a nap and make the cage more spacious. Ramps and tubes can be fun, but your ferret will most likely get bored in the cage and sleep most of the time, so let him out whenever you can.

  4. Toys. Don't spend too much money on toys because your ferret is more likely to enjoy wrestling with a sock than with a $10 ferret ball. You'll know fairly quickly which of your possessions are now your ferret's toys - just make sure they don't have tiny parts, or he'll swallow them.

  5. Litter. Do your nose a favor and get a high quality litter. Clumping litter, while easy to clean, might get clogged in your ferret's butt, as some ferrets have a habit of dragging their rears after they've done their business. Other than that, a good cat litter should do the trick. You MUST clean the litter box every day or your apartment will smell like ferret ass. That's not good.

You should also learn how to perform ferret grooming, such as clipping his nails, give him a bath, and clean his teeth and ears. He'll treat you like an abusive parent while you're doing these things, but you can placate him with a treat. They're stupid that way.

Feel like you're bringing home a new baby? Well you are. Except it's a baby with fur that poops in a box and will only live for about 8 years.