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How Much Does It Cost to Own a Ferret? (Updated in 2021)

Nicole Cosgrove

July 8, 2021

There are many small animals to choose from when looking for the right companion, whether you’re living in a spacious house or small apartment. Ferrets are very popular and can be a rewarding pet, especially in the right environment. However, they can be somewhat expensive, between the initial and annual costs.

Between buying the right setup, food, and vet visits, pet costs can quickly add up, and ferrets are no exception. It’s also essential to prepare for the unexpected, especially when emergency situations can be costly. If you’re looking into getting a ferret, read on for more information on how much it costs to own one:

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Bringing Home a New Ferret: One-Time Costs

When you’re bringing home a ferret, there are some necessary costs to keep in mind. Whether you’re getting a ferret for free, adopting from a shelter, or purchasing one from a reputable breeder, it’s essential to be prepared to pay fees or a price for your ferret.

Many factors can influence the total amount, including the age of the ferret, physical/health factors, and shelter fees. With the exception of free ferrets, adoption and shopping ethically can be expensive. Let’s take a look at each avenue to see what the potential costs are:

Free

Unfortunately, ferrets tend to be an impulse purchase, which often leaves them with uncertain futures. Because of these last-minute decisions, many ferrets are given away for free on Facebook, Craigslist, and even on Instagram. While it may seem better for your wallet, there’s always a risk of getting free pets on the internet.

Another problem is not knowing where the ferret came from, which can lead to unknown genetic health issues in the future. If you’re looking for a pet ferret, the safer alternatives would be to adopt or purchase one from a reputable breeder.

The exception to a free ferret is asking your friends and family if anyone is rehoming a ferret. While health and genetics can still be a risk because most rehomed ferrets are from pet stores, it’s still a better “free” option than meeting a random stranger online.

hand carrying ferret
Image Credit: Pixabay

Adoption

Adoption is a great way to get a ferret, especially if you are able to find a local ferret rescue. Ferret rescues will help find a ferret that matches your lifestyle and personality, whereas buying a ferret won’t give you that option.

Another reason to go to a ferret rescue is that most of the ferrets are already handled by people, which is a huge benefit compared to purchasing one. Most of the adoptable ferrets will be comfortable around people or comfortable enough to be held without a problem.

Lastly, adoption is less expensive than a breeder, with fees usually around $150 – 200. Adoption will almost always be cheaper, and it helps support ferret rescues that are typically run through volunteers and donations.

Breeder

Purchasing a ferret through a breeder is a great option since pet stores rarely “vet” their kits for genetic health and behavioral issues. Oftentimes pet stores will not even realize a ferret is deaf, which can cause problems for a first-time ferret owner. Buying through a breeder is supporting ethical shopping while also knowing where the ferret came from.

Although there are as many ferret breeders as dogs or cats, most states have at least one reputable breeder. If you can’t find a local breeder, the better option is to adopt. Going to a pet store is an absolute last resort, so it’s important to exhaust all other options.

While it’s the best option, buying a ferret through a breeder is usually the most expensive one. Depending on the type, a kit (a baby ferret) will cost around $100 – 500, and an adult will cost about $100 – 300. Pet stores usually sell them for cheaper to compete with breeders, but less expensive isn’t always better.

ferret outdoors
Image Credit: Pixabay

Most Popular Types of Ferrets and Average Cost from a Breeder (Lowest to Highest)

Sable $100-200
Black Sable $100-200
Albino $100-200
Champagne $150-300
Chocolate $150-300
Cinnamon $150-400

Supplies

While the actual cost of purchasing/adopting a ferret may seem low, there are many things you’ll need to buy when first getting a ferret. Some things are usually a one-time purchase, whereas others will be a monthly or annually recurring cost. Investing in your pet ferret is crucial because you want your new pet to not just survive but really thrive in its new home. Although things add up quickly, it’s important to remember that pets are expensive in general. Here is a general list of supplies and the cost for each, which you’ll need before you bring home your ferret:

ferret in the cage
Image Credit: Pixabay

List of Ferret Care Supplies and Cost

Ferret Cage $50 – $300
Litter Pans $10 – $40
Litter $15 – 30 (Monthly)
Ferret Food $10 – 50 (Monthly)
Nail Clippers $5 – 15
Ferret Cage Hammocks $10 – 30
Food and Water Dishes $10 – 20
Vet Checkups $100-300* (Annual)
Vaccines $20 – 150 (Annual)
Ferret Toys $20-50 (Semi-annual)
Carrier $20-60
Collar/Harness $20-50
Ferret-safe Shampoo $5 -10 (Annual)
Ferret Toothbrush and Toothpaste $10-20 (Semi-Annual)

*-vet costs can vary depending on medical conditions, location, etc.

Annual Expenses

  • $250-600 per year

Annual expenses aren’t as much as startup costs since you don’t need to buy a cage and other items every year. Annual expenses will increase with the economy and other factors like multiple vet visits and medications. The average yearly cost for one ferret is around $250 to $600, which includes monthly and annual expenses. If your ferret is healthy and doesn’t need to see the vet often, your annual expenses will be low. It’s important to remember that this is just the average, and costs can go beyond $500.

Health Care

  • $100-300 per year

Your ferret will need to have an initial checkup when you first get it and routine checkups to make sure everything is healthy and functioning correctly. This can include x-rays, vaccines, and bloodwork to ensure your ferret’s needs are met. Routine checkups are annual and should only cost around $100-300, though it can get more expensive if a health problem is found. Ferrets need to be vaccinated annually and with a series of booster shots as kits, which prevent distemper and rabies. They also need treatments like dental cleaning and parasite preventatives, which can also add up quickly.

ferret lying down
Image Credit: Pixabay

Check-Ups

  • $50-100 per year

Annual checkups shouldn’t be too expensive, though some vets charge more for “exotic pets” and other small animals. A checkup for a ferret may or may not include x-rays to check the spine, bloodwork, stool sample testing, and dental cleaning. If something is wrong, the cost of your visit will increase depending on how serious the medical condition is. Regardless, your ferret needs to be seen at least once a year to ensure it is healthy.

Vaccinations

  • $15-20 each per year

Just like dogs and cats, ferrets also need to be vaccinated annually. If your ferret is still a kit, there will be a series of vaccine booster shots at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 20 weeks, then continued annually. The vaccines are to prevent distemper and rabies that can be deadly, with rabies also being contagious to humans. Even though a ferret is small, they still need to be cared for, and that includes vaccines.

Dental

  • $10-50 per year

Part of caring for your ferret is to help keep its teeth clean and free from buildup, which will turn into dental decay. Your vet should give an annual cleaning, but it’s highly recommended to clean your ferret’s teeth twice a month at home. While this is much easier said than done, it’s essential to prevent dental problems with monthly maintenance. Even a rubber finger brush or a soft-bristle cat toothbrush will help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

ferret yawn
Image Credit: Pixabay

Treatments for Parasites

  • $10-30 per year

Parasites like heartworm not only infect dogs and cats but ferrets and other small animals as well. Ask your vet about how to properly treat and dose Ivermectin or Selamectin, which are the two main treatments for heartworm. There are many forms of preventatives like chewable tabs, pills, and liquids, which your vet can give you during the annual exam.

Emergencies

  • $100-500+ per year

Emergencies happen, even with the most careful of animal owners. Ferrets are naturally curious animals that can fit into the smallest of spaces, so it’s no surprise that they can get seriously injured. They’re also prone to various health issues that can exceed annual costs of care. Just a checkup at 24-7 emergency hospital can be costly, never mind x-rays and any medical treatments that have to be done. In general, it’s important to financially prepare for any emergency trips to the vet hospital.

Medications for On-Going Conditions

  • Unknown

Medical conditions happen, even with ferrets that have been carefully bred by reputable breeders. Medication and other medical procedures can be expensive, especially if treatment is for life. Depending on the condition and your ferret’s ability to heal, medications can add up quickly. Unfortunately, there’s no real figure for how much medication will cost because some medicines are vastly more expensive. As we said above, it’s essential to have funds for your ferret, just for medical emergencies and conditions for the future.

Food

  • $50-100 per year

Your ferret will need to have access to food at all times due to its short digestion period, which is similar to rabbits and guinea pigs. Though ferrets are small, ferret kibble can still add up if you plan on having more than one. Ferret kibble will cost around $15-20 a month, with more premium diets being more expensive. Your vet can recommend food to fit your ferret’s need, though most kibble will do.

feeding little ferret
Image Credit: Pixabay

Environment Maintenance

  • $35-50 per year

Keeping your ferret’s cage clean is extremely important for its health, especially since they can have breathing issues from an unkempt cage. Litter box liners, a hand vacuum, and pet-safe wipes are all examples of what to buy to keep your ferret’s cage clean. You should clean and disinfect the cage at least once every two weeks while dumping out the litter pans once a day. You should also wash the hammocks once a month in a dye-free detergent to keep them clean as well.

Litter pan liners $18/year
Deodorizing spray or granules $20/year
Cage wipes $10/month
Hand Vacuum $35

Entertainment

  • $15-50 per year

Ferrets get bored very quickly, and they don’t mind finding ways to entertain themselves, so it’s important to buy toys and other items to keep your ferret safely entertained. They especially enjoy tubes to run in, and even cat toys will do. Consider purchasing a few tunnels and even a puzzle toy, since ferrets are very smart and will work hard for a treat. We don’t recommend using the runner ball that you put your ferret inside or hamster wheels since the curvature of the ball and wheel can damage their spines.

ferret with leash
Image Credit: Pixabay

Total Annual Cost of Owning a Ferret

$250-600 per year

Although they’re small, ferrets can be expensive to own. While the annual cost average can vary and be even more than $600, the annual costs will not be as much as the initial costs of setup, the ferret itself, and the first vet checkup. However, annual costs can add up over the years, and it’s crucial that you have the funds to keep your ferret healthy and happy. If you’re not sure you can afford the annual costs, it’s best to wait until you’re more financially stable to invest in a pet.


Owning a Ferret On a Budget

For those on a tighter budget, it’s still possible to own a ferret without all the bells and whistles. As long as you’re able to afford vet visits, food, litter, and toys, you don’t need to spend thousands on your ferret for it to thrive. However, if your budget is not stable enough, owning a ferret may not be a right decision. As long as you’re able to provide the primary care and diet needs, a ferret will generally be less expensive than a dog or cat.

Saving Money on Ferret Care

The best way to save money on ferret care is to prevent medical conditions, which are the most expensive part of owning any pet. If you can keep up on dental care at home, parasitic preventatives, and keeping its cage clean, your monthly and annual care budget will be lower. Just like with humans, it’s easier and cheaper to prevent health problems than to treat them. If vet bills are adding up, we recommend talking to your vet about any discounts available to lower the total amount.

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Conclusion

Owning a ferret can be a rewarding experience, especially since they’re a popular and unique pet to own. However, just like with any other animal, ferrets can be expensive. From vet visits to a three-story cage, ferrets have requirements to thrive in their new homes. They need monthly and annual care that can quickly add up. Ferrets can also be more expensive than other small animals, so it’s essential that you’re financially ready to own one. If you’re looking to acquire a ferret, we hope this guide will give you an idea of how much a ferret will cost.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.