Being a ferret mom for quite sometime now, the most common question I get asked is How To Tell How Old a Ferret Is? This is an extremely important question, as you should be aware of your ferret’s age.
Sometimes, even the source of your furry friend is not aware of the ferret’s age. By knowing the ferret’s age, you can be aware of what to expect in terms of your ferret’s behavior and signs to look out for as far as its health is concerned.
There are a few basic things that you can follow to determine your ferret’s age. So, without any further ado, let’s discuss How to Tell How Old a Ferret Is?
How to Tell How Old a Ferret Is?
Most of the time, the source from where you get your pet ferret will inform you about your ferret’s age. However, sometimes you may not get that answer from the pet shop.
But worry not! There are a few methods using which you can determine your ferret’s age at the comforts of your home itself!
It is important to get an idea of your furry friend’s age, since age is directly related to the care that your ferret will need, as well as it will give you a better understanding of the behavior of your ferret.
Understand the Ferret’s Lifecycle
Before trying to calculate your ferret’s age, you must have a basic understanding of the ferret lifecycle and know when they will stop growing.
Ferret Kits: The newly born ferrets are known as kits. At the age of 8 weeks, a kit starts its weaning process.
Adult Ferrets: A ferret will reach its full size in 4 months. Now, you can consider a ferret as an adult ferret. An adult ferret will achieve sexual maturity at 5 to 8 months.
Midlife Ferrets: A ferret, at 3 years of age is considered to be in its midlife.
Senior Ferrets: Ferrets aging 4 or more are considered old ferrets.
How to Tell How Old a Ferret Is? Top 5 Ways
Now that you are aware of your ferret’s lifecycle, let’s get to the interesting part. Get ready to determine your ferret’s age!
1. Dental Examination
A dental examination is one of the most widely used methods to determine your ferret’s age. As the name suggests, proper examination of your ferret’s teeth is done to determine its age.
To check your ferret’s teeth, you should hold it firmly by the scruff of its neck. This will immediately cause your ferret to open its mouth.
If you are uncomfortable doing this, you should ask for assistance or take your ferret to a veterinarian who can check the teeth. You need to check the two, long incisors in your ferret’s mouth.
A. Ferret Age: 1 Year or Less
White, unstained, and smooth teeth indicate that the ferret’s age is one year or less. Ferrets of this age will show no signs of teeth yellowing.
B. Ferret Age: 1 Year to 2.5 Years
If your ferret’s teeth appear slightly yellow from the tips, and also appear translucent, it indicates that your ferret is between the age of one, one, and a half to two and a half.
The yellowish color is due to the plaque buildup in the teeth. The teeth appear translucent as the tooth enamel begins to wear away as your ferret’s age progresses.
C. Ferret Age: 2.5 Years to 4 Years
A ferret aged two and a half to four years will have visible yellow color teeth and teeth will be more translucent.
D. Ferret Age: 4 Years and Above
As the ferret grows past 4 years to 6 years, you will notice that the entire teeth along with the gum appears yellow. In most cases, the tooth will appear yellow or brown and might appear rotten. However, it only appears rotten. It will not cause any pain or discomfort to your ferret.
Sometimes, small teeth also start to fall off from your ferret’s mouth. The teeth may also appear chipped due to so many years of wear and tear.
So, in a nutshell, the whiter the teeth, the more young the ferret is. More yellow color and translucent indicates an aging ferret.
If you do not maintain proper dental hygiene in your ferret, it can form calcium and plaque deposits from a young age. Try using this toothpaste for regular dental grooming of your ferret.
2. Physical Changes
Your ferret will demonstrate physical changes at every different stage of its lifecycle.
A. Energy Levels
Ferret kits are extremely curious and active. They have high mobility and energy levels. Baby ferrets and adult ferrets tend to be hyperactive and will run, jump and climb a lot. You can consider them very bouncy.
As your ferret grows old, i.e 4 years and older, you can see a decline in its physical activity. However, the alertness will be the same. An older ferret tends to sleep more, and also is less bouncy. If given a hammock, your older ferret can probably snuggle in it comfortably for the majority time of the day.
B. Ferret Weight
You will also notice a decrease in your ferret’s weight as it grows older. This is due to the loss of bone density and muscle tone.
C. Hair Loss
One other noticeable factor in an aging ferret is the process of hair loss. As the ferret gets older, it will experience hair thinning. Hair loss usually occurs at the lower end of the body and the ferret’s tail.
3. Behavioral Changes
As a ferret starts getting older, you can see behavioral changes such as:
- Increase in the nap time
- Choosy about food
- Likes to stick to a routine. Has a hard time adjusting to new kits or any other companion pet
- Decrease in the playtime
4. Weight and Appetite
Your ferret’s weight and appetite are directly related to its age. Usually, ferrets will gain weight during the winter season, to protect themselves from the cold. As summer approaches, the shedding starts, and their weight decreases.
A ferret up to 3 years of age follows the above-mentioned cycle of weight gain and loss. As the ferret ages, 4 years and more, the weight variation during winter and summer stops.
Also, as a ferret gets older, his appetite will decrease. It is essential to provide him with a healthy diet as per his needs.
5. Ferret’s Personality
A ferret’s personality changes are per his age. Kits and young ferrets do not have rigid personalities and they seem to accept any form of change quite well.
On the contrary, an elderly ferret hates making any form of adjustments. He will not like the entry of any new pet in his cage or may become extremely attached to an already existing animal in the cage.
So, you can now understand that if your ferret is intolerant towards any new thing, it is probably because he is aging.
What Is Your Ferret’s Age Equivalence in Human Year?
The average life expectancy of a ferret is between 5 to 10 years. This is mainly dependent on the lifestyle of a healthy ferret and its origin.
Depending upon how the ferrets behave, below is an approximate chart that will give you an idea of your ferret’s age in human equivalent years.
|Ferret’s Real Age||Human Equivalent Age (Years)|
How Should You Care for Your Older Ferret?
As your ferret becomes older, he will need special care from your side. Keep in mind the below things to take care of your elderly ferret, often referred to as a Geriatric ferret.
1. Provide A Diet Rich in Proteins and Fat
Just like young ferrets, older ferrets too require a diet rich in protein and fats. With aging, your ferret is more prone to constipation or diarrhea. Hence, it is very important that you carefully plan out your ferret’s meal.
It is best not to make any drastic changes or introduce any new food item to your old ferret.
2. Provide Coconut Oil to Reduce Hairballs
As hair fall increases with aging, hairballs will also become common in your ferret. If not treated or prevented, hairballs can cause blockage in the digestive tract of your ferret. So, you should give coconut oil.
It works as a great laxative and helps your ferret pass any fur easily.
You should note that the oil should be given in low quantity, only half a teaspoon on alternate days.
3. Regular Oil Massage to Soothe Dry Skin
Your ferret’s fur and skin will also tend to become dry as he ages. The nails will become brittle and thicker, and the pads of the feet might become harder. To ease these issues, you should increase the fat content in your ferret’s food.
Regular oil massage on the affected areas will also help your ferret.
4. Maintaining a Proper Dental Hygiene
The teeth of older ferrets will tend to become yellow or brown, affecting the gums as well. In some cases, the lower small teeth tend to fall off too.
Tooth and gum decaying can occur if proper dental hygiene is not maintained. This can lead to loss of appetite in your ferret.
Hence, you must brush your ferret’s teeth properly with a soft toothbrush. It is best if you brush your furry friend’s teeth daily, however, once or twice a week will also suffice.
5. Taking Special Care if Physical Mobility Decreases
Your ferret’s mobility may decrease with aging. Common reasons for the decrease in mobility include arthritis, stiffness in joints, and pain in muscle or joint. You should watch out for the below signs to determine if your ferret requires physical mobility care:
- Unable to play even though your ferret tries
- Difficulty in grooming itself
- Having a hard time climbing the stairs or the hammocks in the cage
- Difficulty in getting in and out of the cage or litter tray
If your ferret shows any of the above signs, you can help him ease the pain by following the below steps:
- Having a soft sleeping area in the ferret cage
- Avoid putting hammocks at a height since your ferret might not be able to climb
- Put litter boxes at multiple places so that your ferret can access them easily
- Select a litter pan with lower sides for an easier access
- If possible, make provision of a ramp for your ferret instead of stairs
6. Look Out for the Common Diseases in Older Ferrets
A geriatric ferret is more prone to diseases. Look out for the clinical signs of the below-mentioned diseases in your elderly ferret:
|Heart and respiratory disease||– Coughing|
– Weight loss
– Loss of appetite
|Adrenal Gland Disease||– Male ferret: Enlarged prostate|
– Female ferret: Enlarged vulva
– Dry skin
– Brittle coat
– Difficulty in passing urine
– Excessive drooling
|Canine Distemper||– Loss of appetite|
– High fever
|Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis(ECE)||– Diarrhea|
– Weight Loss
You should immediately consult a veterinarian if you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
FAQs on How to Tell How Old a Ferret Is?
1. How Long Do Ferrets Live as Pets?
A ferret can live up to 10 years of age as a pet. Though their average lifespan is approximately 6 years, if proper care is taken of the ferret, the lifespan can increase.
Proper grooming and proper handling of the ferret by its owner can make it more comfortable with humans, thus helping the ferret in socializing.
2. What Are the Signs of a Ferret Dying?
Below are the signs of a dying ferret. Immediately rush to a vet if you see any critical signs:
- Lack of appetite
- Continuous vomiting
- Bloody stool or not stool
3. What Happens When a Ferret Gets Old?
A domestic ferret will show many physical and behavioral changes as it gets old. You can expect changes in the skin, teeth, and nails. The skin tends to become dry and thin, the teeth appear yellow and the nails become brittle and thick.
Behavioral changes in senior ferrets include less energy to play and more rigidness to accept any new change.
In conclusion, now that you know how to tell how old a ferret is, you can observe your ferret and determine its age. However, if you are unable to do so, you should consult a vet who can let you know your ferret’s age.
Along with that, being a ferret owner, it is your responsibility to take proper care of an aging ferret. Never ignore any warning signs your ferret shows and immediately head to a vet.