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Caring For a Ferret Baby
Back to where it began:
It is important to know and get fully acquainted with a baby ferret and his birth circumstances. A pregnant ferret needs a lot more sleep and more food during its pregnancy that usually lasts to 42 days. She needs to be kept until she becomes restless to nest.
Before the baby ferrets are born, usually 2 weeks before birth, the pregnant female is moved to a secluded barn or room with fresh paper or pine shavings on his bed. She needs to pluck some fur to build her nest. Make sure that the ferret is kept warm, undisturbed, and always with plenty of fresh food and water.
When she gives birth, the mother and the ferret babies must never be touched only when very necessary. Once the baby ferret is born, the mother may eat the placenta as she produces milk. Always monitor the mother with plenty of high density calories food and fresh water for her to produce more milk.
Ferret mothers usually produce 7 or 8 ferret babies. The babies are blind, hairless, and pink-skinned, and are very small. Like all other babies, they need all the time to suckle and sleep to grow. Wait for 20 more days and you will see that the baby ferrets change colors as their eyes start to open. Wait for another 4 months, and the baby ferret will look just the same for the next 4 years.
Baby ferrets must be at least 8 weeks old to arrive in stores for sale. By this time, they must have had their first vaccination, neutered or spayed.
Feeding Ferret Babies
By 6 weeks, the ferret babies can now stop milking from the mother as they now require adult food. You do not need a high quality ferret food, just what adult ferrets eat are okay. This is the stage where their skeletal structures grow fast.
Soak their food in warm water for 5 minutes before feeding. Gradual switch is very important so it is advisable to talk to the breeder or caretaker of what brand is used. Never feed them with cat food. They need more fat than kittens and more protein but fewer carbohydrates. They have a short digestive tract and food transit from the stomach to the intestines is very fast especially for growing ferrets. This type of food may cost you more than cat food but ferrets eat in small amounts so make sure that you buy something with 35% protein, and 20% fat. They need real protein coming from animal sources and never from soy or corn meal. They will grow faster and healthier if you do this. Eggs and poultry are the best sources. Always provide clean water from bottles and not bowls. Never feed them with milk and ice cream, and anything with sugar as this will cause diarrhea.
Same with adults, growing ferret babies need a cage that is roomy, safe, and easy to clean. If the ferret can squeeze through any part of the cage, the ferret is in danger.
Keep this in check: cage must have a big wide door, but do not get a multilevel cage for growing ferrets. Make sure that the cage has a solid bottom. Let it have a break from the cage by letting it play outside 2 times a day at the most. Bedding has to be regularly cleaned. An old towel can do but make sure that their nails wood not get entangled. Hammocks and sleep sacks are good, but you can always sew an old shirt or rag.
This is the time you can toilet-train your growing ferrets. Start with a litter box and fill with clean and not clumping paper. Putting a small amount of waste into the litter box will help remind them where to litter.
Be Careful with Toys
A toy can just be anything for a young ferret though extra precautions have to be exercised. Do not use tiny parts that will cause them to choke or anything with rubber for them to chew. Remember that their teeth are very sharp and make sure that they are supervised when at play. Never leave the toys inside the cage while they are young because later on, they are chewed and they might choke which will require a surgical procedure. Never use foams or rubber toys if you do not want them to choke.
De-scented, Neuter or Spayed?
There are some cases where their anal glands will have to be removed. This is true for castration or spaying when they are 7 weeks old. Cuts from these procedures are small and barely significant. If they are, do a daily check and clean them with a little peroxide of a little bit of infection starts. Females have incisions on the center of their tummy and under her tail while males will have this near the testicle area.
This procedure at the early stages is considered controversial since abnormalities may develop. But without early neutering, females will have dangerous estrogen toxicity and males will be abandoned because of their ferocious smell.
Vaccinations and Exams
Check if their first distemper vaccines have been administered. Check on their medical records or try asking the breeder. The second shot is due in 3 weeks after the first, and a third one should be given 3 weeks thereafter. Annual vaccines will then follow. Distemper is a very dangerous illness for ferrets and cat vaccines must never be administered to ferrets. Check too if they have fleas, ear mites, parasites, diarrhea, or any other defect. Be warned once they litter in liquid green feces. Use antibiotics recommended by your vet and follow special care instructions as well.
Be warned too of virus in ferret babies. Make sure they all have good hygiene. Growing ferrets are the only animals able to contract colds, influenza and pneumonia, so warn your family never to touch them if they are afflicted by these. Symptoms include constant sneezing and a nasal discharge with rapid breathing and lethargy. Use oral antibiotics as recommended.
Check too if there are other defects in your growing ferrets. Are they deaf, have undershot jaws, do they have cataracts, or any heart defect? Try doing a sound assessment from a ferret. Once they ignore these rattle distractions, it can be very problematic.
Teach them to socialize at their first month. They may not yet see very well, but this it the time they are most receptive of love, learning and affection. Maintain physical contact with the baby ferret 6 times a day, and not any lesser, for 5 to 10 minutes. If you do not do this, expect them to prolong their “nipping phase” which is bad. When it tries to nip, caress it gently, and clearly say NO. Never punish or physically harm them. Children at home must always be monitored when handling ferret babies.
Never ignore them because ferrets, from their growing stages to adulthood, need a lot of cuddling and touching. Most baby ferrets sleep frequently as they should so never worry if they have been sleeping all day.
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