It might be hard to tell whether or not your ferret is nocturnal, since he spends so much time sleeping. A ferret's sleeping habits can make felines seem eternally awake and energized. They're normally most active at dawn and dusk. However, like cats, another naturally nocturnal creature, ferrets can adjust to your schedule.
Ferrets can sleep 18 hours out of 24, or longer. While it's not advisable to let a ferret have the run of the house while you're not home, that shouldn't be a problem because he's sleeping anyway. However, you shouldn't leave him in a cage all the time. He'll adjust to your sleeping schedule because he wants to be with you. He needs at least four hours of the day to run around and stretch his legs outside of the cage. Those four hours don't need to be consecutive.
When you're home, allow your ferret time to play. According to Veterinary Partner, ferrets play intensely for an hour or so and then go back to sleep for several hours. Before you let your ferret loose in your house, make sure to ferret-proof it. Curiosity has often killed the ferret, because these little animals love to explore and find unusual ways to get themselves in trouble. Because he's a predator by nature, he needs to look for possible prey, even within the confines of your house or apartment. While ferrets usually get along well with dogs or cats, you probably shouldn't get one if you own smaller animals, such as gerbils, birds or rabbits. To your ferret, these animals spell dinner.
You can buy commercial ferret beds at pet stores, or you can easily put one together yourself. Ferrets enjoy sleeping in hammocks. The most important thing, beside comfort, is that it make your little friend feel safe and secure. If your ferret doesn't have a suitable place to lay his little head, he'll make one himself, which results in a lot of creative destruction as he digs. If you design your own ferret bed, line with synthetic lambswool or a similar substance. Don't use cedar chips, because they absorb ferret odor so you'll have to replace the bedding quickly. Cedar chips might also cause respiratory ailments in your pet.
In The Wild
Wild ferrets sleep even more than their domestic cousins. In the United States, the black-footed ferret sleeps up to 21 hours per day. During his three hours of activity, the wild ferret hunts prairie dogs. The black-footed ferret is now considered endangered but was previously close to extinction. A government program helped bear the cost of eliminating prairie dogs, whose underground dens were hazardous to livestock. That nearly eliminated its primary predator as well. According to National Geographic, "In 1987, 18 animals were captured in the wild to begin a captive breeding program, which has since reintroduced ferrets into promising western habitats."
ferret image by Olga Barbakadze from Fotolia.com
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.