Ferrets are wonderful pets to have. They are loving, friendly, playful, and are incredibly loyal to their owners.
You might be considering giving a ferret a home, but before you do, you need to make sure that you can look after a new ferret properly. One factor you need to consider is its size.
How big do ferrets get? Male and female ferrets grow to different sizes. Male ferrets usually grow to 15 inches long (tails excluded) and weigh 2 to 4 pounds, although they can get bigger. Female ferrets can grow to around 13.5-inches including their tail, and typically weigh up to 2.5 pounds.
This article will answer all your ferret size questions, and more. Knowing how big ferrets get will further help you decide whether or not you will be able to properly care for one and help you make sure you can get appropriate “housing” for them. Plus, it’s just fun to know. So let’s read on!
How Big Do Ferrets Get?
There is a significant difference between male and female ferrets. They are sexually dimorphic, so male ferrets become considerably bigger than female ferrets once they reach full maturity.
Once they have reached full maturity, male ferrets (Hobs) can grow to about 15 inches long, not including their tails. They can weigh between 2 to 5 pounds pounds, although neutering seems to make a difference. Neutered males typically weigh between 2 to 4 pounds, whereas unneutered males can weigh as much as 5 to 6 pounds.
Ferrets will stop growing when they reach full adult maturity, and a male ferret should not grow any further than this.
A female ferret (Jill), will be smaller. Jills typically weigh between 1 to 2.5 pounds; a little over 2 pounds appears to be average. We couldn’t find any information on whether spaying affects their size in maturity.
So if you are considering owning a male ferret, keep in mind that they can weigh nearly double that of a female!
How Long Do Ferrets Get?
Unsurprisingly, male ferrets grow longer than females.
From nose to tail, male ferrets can grow as long as 22 inches, although 15 inches (excluding tail) seems to be average. Females on the other hand tend to grow up to about 13.5 inches, tail included.
Their tails are usually as long as half the length of their body. The average body length (including their heads) will range from 8 to 18 inches; their tails will range from about 3 to 7.5 inches.
Ferrets are part of the Mustelid family. Most of their “cousins” have the same long and slender body shape and are on the smaller side.
Interestingly, some think that ferrets were initially bred for hunting. Although they may not have the power of, say, a husky, their lean physique could potentially be useful for running down holes and chasing smaller creatures like rabbits out of them.
The Lifespan Of Ferrets
The average ferret will live between 6 and 8 years, although some live as long as 10.
Unfortunately, ferrets are prone to quite a few diseases, with the most common being adrenal diseases and cancer. It is so important to find a vet close by who is knowledgeable on ferret care and to do this before any complications arise and you need urgent help.
Diseases and conditions often begin to show in ferrets when they reach around 3 years, and you might find yourself at the vet quite often.
You can improve your ferret’s chance of living to an older stage by feeding them the correct diet, which will help them stay healthy and strong throughout their years, and helping them to stay active and live a fulfilling life.
Ferrets need lots of play, space (more on this later) and interaction. These little carnivores also need the right diet.
Fortunately, ferret food is easy to get these days. You should have no trouble buying wet or dry ferret-formulated food from the pet store, your vet, or online (we’d recommend this brand).
Remember to ask a vet or research high-quality food that is actually made for your ferret. Don’t assume they can eat the food other small animals eat (and by the way, they aren’t rodents, so you really shouldn’t try to feed them rat or mouse food!).
You should also keep your ferret away from any small items that they could swallow or chew. Almost like dogs, ferrets seem to beeline for little things they shouldn’t be eating! Tidy up after playtime and always keep a look out for harmful objects near your ferret.
Being so small, ferrets can get into small spaces and easily get up to some mischief!
When Do Ferrets Mature/Stop Growing?
Ferrets stop growing quite early. They reach their full size and weight at about 4 months.
By 8 months they should be fully mature adults. These little mammals age quickly and are considered to be midlife at 3 years old.
While ferrets can technically begin to reproduce at 4 months old, they reach sexual maturity a bit later. Females reach sexual maturity from 5 to 6 months old, and males reach sexual maturity between 6 and 8 months of age.
Unless you want to reproduce your ferrets, spaying or neutering your ferret is considered a must by many vets, and it can actually extend their lifespan.
Spaying is especially important for female ferrets, who physically need to breed if they do not get spayed. Unlike cats and dogs, Jills are not simply uncomfortable in heat. A lack of breeding can elevate their estrogen levels, halt the production of new red blood cells – causing aplastic anemia, which is life-threatening.
You will find that most pet stores and breeders automatically spay/neuter before selling them, but if you need to “fix” your ferret, your vet should be able to take care of it, just as they do for cats and dogs.
Ferret Growth Rate
Ferrets grow quite fast, which is perhaps not surprising once you consider they’re reaching their full size and weight by about 4 months.
Ferrets double their weight within the first 5 days after being born. By ten days, they will have tripled their birth weight, and weigh about 30 grams. (10 to 12 grams is average at birth.)
Ferrets continue gaining weight and growing rapidly. After the first seven days or so, ferrets gain about 4 grams a day – and then they start to gain 6 grams daily during their third week! By the end of week 3, ferrets will weigh about 10 times what they weighed at birth.
When they reach 2 weeks, their baby teeth begin to emerge; their permanent/adult teeth will come through at 7 weeks.
Once they reach week 5, the differences between males and females become more apparent. Males start developing broader heads and begin growing even faster at this point.
When they reach 16 weeks or so, ferrets will have reached their full adult weight. As we said before, adult males are usually 16-22 inches long including their tails, and females will be around 13.5 inches.
Ferrets also have rapid pregnancies; female ferrets are pregnant for only 42 days. Newborn Kitts are deaf, blind, and completely helpless, so they need to stay close to their mothers in the early stages of life.
Ferret Growth Chart
In case you want a play-by-play, here’s how a review of how big your ferret should get by age.
|Age||Female Weight and Length||Male Weight and Length|
|Newborn||8-12 Grams||8-12 Grams|
|1 Week||30 Grams||30 Grams|
|2 Weeks||60-70 Grams||60-70 Grams|
|3 Weeks||75-95 Grams||100 Grams|
|4 Weeks||100-500 Grams||125-200 Grams|
|5-6 Weeks||130-200 Grams / 12-inches not including the tail||230-250 Grams / 12-inches not including the tail|
|6-8 Weeks||300-500 Grams||400-500 Grams|
|16 Weeks||600-900 Grams / 13.5-inches including the tail||1000-2000 Grams / 15 inches not including the tail|
Thanks to Pet Educate for this awesome chart!
How Big Does A Ferret Cage Need To Be?
Ferrets may not be very big, but they are fairly long. They need a cage that is large enough to suit their long and slender body shape.
Ferret cages should be be at least 24 inches long and wide and 18 inches high (24 x 24 x 18″). Larger cages are sure to be appreciated, as well.
Ferrets are also very active mammals and love to exercise. It is best if their enclosure has multiple levels for them to explore.
When choosing a cage for a ferret, be sure to consider their potential future size. Gender plays a big role in determining their full growth size, but you should also consider that ferrets need the companionship of other ferrets, and you might need a cage that accommodates two.
You should also remember that ferrets need lots of space to play – this means outside of the cage, as well. It is a good idea to have an open living room area or similar space where you can play with your ferret to keep them happy.
Do Ferrets Cuddle With Humans?
As they grow, ferrets often become very affectionate and love being picked up and given cuddles. Your ferret might even love falling asleep on your lap or snuggled up on your shoulder.
Ferrets who are kept as pets hardly ever bite. They might nip if they are accidentally hurt or stepped on, but otherwise, they are fiercely loyal to their owners.
Some ferrets do get stand-offish or less tolerant of people and other pets with advanced age, however. It is important to remember they can change and have preferences like any other animal (including humans!). But if you treat your ferret well and bond early, you will likely get along well lifelong.
Do Ferrets Recognize Their Owners?
Ferrets are incredibly social animals and bond very well with their families. They become very close to their owners and do recognize them.
You will need to spend time playing with them to increase your bond. You cannot expect it to happen if you don’t put some extra work in! That is why it is quite a commitment owning a ferret. Like most pets, they need lots of love and care.
Considering The Size Of Ferrets
Ferrets really do make excellent pets. As an owner, you will build a very close bond with your little pet, but you need to remember that they require a lot of care and attention.
With regards to their size, ferrets do not grow very big and are not large pets. They are perfect if you live in an apartment and don’t have too much space, but you will need to give them some room to exercise and play, in the cage and without.
Being active and adventurous, it is a good idea to have a pair of ferrets, so they can keep each other company. Just make sure to do this when they are young; not all ferrets will appreciate a playmate later in age!
Small but full of energy and love, ferrets are great pets!
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