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How Many Babies Do Ferrets Have in a Litter?
Ferrets are fun pets to have. They are energetic and fun to watch, especially when you let them out of the cage. They like to sleep in a hammock, and if you have more than one, they will usually snuggle while they sleep. Since these pets get along so well, many people have questions about how easily they breed and how many babies they have in a litter. The short answer is your female ferret will usually have 4–8 babies (kits) per litter. However, this number can vary widely, and there is a lot to think about before you start to breed your ferrets, so keep reading while we look at ferret babies in greater detail.
How Large Are Ferret Litters?
Unfortunately, there is no set number of kits that your ferret will have. It can give birth to a single baby or more than 10. However, it’s usually between 4 and 8, so that is what you should expect. Some owners claim that they have seen their ferret give birth to 14 kits at once, but the most we have seen was ten.
How Long Do Ferret Kits Nurse?
Ferret kits will typically nurse for about 6 weeks, at which time they are ready to move to their new home. While nursing, the tiny ferrets will stay close to their mother for warmth as well as food, and they will nurse several times per day. The mother (Jill) will carefully control the feeding by keeping unfed kits behind her not to miss any of them. By the time they are weaning off mother’s milk, the kits will already have teeth suitable for chewing soft food.
If you have multiple Jills, you will likely notice that they have a different number of nipples that will affect the nursing speed. Some can have as many as 9 nipples, while others will only have 5. If the Jill only has one or two kits, they might not be enough to stimulate milk production, and you will need to provide a foster provider or hand feed it. Both options can be challenging for an inexperienced breeder, so it’s best to plan for this scenario.
What Do Kits Eat?
Once your kits reach about 4 weeks old, they will start to ween off mothers-milk. You can begin feeding your kits high-quality soft food. Baby food is an excellent choice, but ferrets are strict carnivores, so you will need to stick to meat food like chicken and beef. Avoid foods that contain potatoes and other vegetables.
Once they reach 8 to 10 weeks old, your pet will have adult teeth, and you can start to feed them standard ferret food, which they will eat for the remainder of their life.
When Do Ferrets Start Having Babies?
Females will be ready to conceive in 5–8 months. However, once they go into heat, they must breed or suffer from estrogen poisoning. Once it mates, it will take about 42 days to receive the litter.
Dangers Of Breeding Ferrets
As we mentioned, once the female ferret goes into heat, she must mate, or he can suffer from estrogen toxicity. This condition suppresses the bone marrow, which creates red and white blood cells, so the ferret can suffer from anemia and blood loss if allowed to remain in heat for more than one month.
Male ferrets become aggressive when they are mature and will likely attack other cage mates, including their mate. The males will also produce a much stronger odor if you do not neuter them.
Another thing you might have some difficulty with when breeding ferrets is finding suitable parents. Because of the dangers associated with breeding that we mentioned earlier, breeders will fix the ferrets before they sell them, so you will need to contact a breeder willing to sell you intact ferrets.
If your ferret is pregnant, there is a good chance it will have between 4 and 8 kits. However, the number can be as low as 1 and as high as 10. If it turns out you only receive one or two kits, there is a high likelihood you will need to hand feed them. Once you have gained some experience with the problems that can arise, especially with the aggressive male, breeding ferrets can be a rewarding and profitable experience.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and found it helpful in answering your questions. If we have helped you feel better about breeding these amazing animals, please share this guide to how many babies ferrets have on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: christels, Pixabay
Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.