Domestic ferrets have been living around humans since 450 BCE, according to the American Ferret Association. They were kept to help hunt rabbits and keep the mice population under control. Back then, domestic ferrets probably didn't live very long. Today, domestic ferrets are common in American households -- which means better health care, better food and more knowledge about them is available. As a result, ferrets are living longer, healthier lives.
A healthy domestic ferret can live between six to 10 years, according to the American Ferret Association. In comparison, the black-footed ferret -- the wild cousin of the domestic ferret -- has a lifespan of just three to four years in the wild.
How long a domestic ferret lives depends on many factors. Ferrets who live in stressful environments or are kept in cages for most of the day might not live as long as ferrets who are happy and well-adjusted to the household. A balanced diet is key to keeping a domestic ferret around for longer, too. Ferrets are meat-eaters -- and members of the low-carb diet club -- who require a diet high in animal protein in order to stay healthy. Special ferret food is available at pet stores, or you can feed wet cat food or wet dog food as long as it contains at least 36 percent protein, according to the American Ferret Association.
Ferrets are susceptible to three fatal diseases: canine distemper, rabies and the Aleutian disease virus. And yes, ferrets should be vaccinated yearly with a special vaccine created specially for ferrets. The Aleutian disease virus is the ferret version of a cold -- and he can actually get it from you. Preventing or treating such health issues ensures that your furry friend will be around for longer. Ferrets also suffer from problems of the adrenal glands and pancreas -- both of which can affect life expectancy if not addressed properly.
you must spay your female ferret to keep her healthy. According to Cullen's Archangel Rescue, unspayed females suffer from high estrogen levels, which in turn causes serious anemia -- so serious, in fact, that the ferret will eventually die. To keep your girl around for as long as possible, make sure you spay her. Boys don't have this problem, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't neuter him, too.
ferret image by marinatlt from Fotolia.com
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.