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Ferret FAQ [1/5] - About Ferrets and This FAQ
Section - (3.8) Is a ferret a good pet for a child?

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Many people have both children and ferrets without problems, but
there's a difference between having both children and pets, and
getting a pet for your child.  It's important to remember that a
ferret is a lot like a cat or dog, and will require the same kind of
attention and care.  It's not at all like keeping a pet hamster or
guinea pig.  If your child is responsible, careful, and not too young,
and you're willing to supervise and help out with the care, a ferret
will be a great pet.  Otherwise, consider getting a low-maintenance
pet you can keep in a cage instead.

It is definitely necessary to monitor interactions between young
children and ANY pets closely, and to make sure children know the
proper way to handle pets.  A living creature needs, and deserves, to
be treated with more care than a toy.  Ferrets in particular love to
pounce and wrestle when they play, which may frighten children, and
children tend to play rather roughly, which may prompt a more vigorous
response from an active ferret than from a typical cat.

Just as some very friendly dogs become nervous around children because
they don't look, smell, or act like adults, some ferrets who aren't
used to kids don't quite know how to behave around them.  Make sure
both your child and your ferret understand what's expected of them,
and what to expect from the other one.  At least one person suggests
that ferrets brought up around other animals, including other ferrets,
will adjust to a child better than ones only used to adult humans.

There are several stories floating around about ferrets attacking
babies, some more true than others.  Ferrets are unfamiliar to most
people, so it's easier for them to make sweeping statements on the
basis of a tiny amount of information.  Some of the reports are simply
rumor, or the result of confusing another animal with a ferret.
Others are based in fact, but omit important information (for
instance, that the child and pets had clearly been neglected or abused
prior to the attack).  A small number are unfortunately true.

However, plenty of children have been attacked and even killed by dogs
and cats.  The number of people injured by ferrets each year is a tiny
fraction of the number wounded or killed by dogs.  People don't claim
that all dogs and cats are too dangerous for pets, but rather that
more responsible parenting and pet ownership is needed.

According to Chris Lewis, former moderator of the Ferret Mailing
List [1.3]:

    The FML has carried confirmed reports of two, possibly three,
    cases where an animal identified as a "ferret" has seriously
    injured, and in one case, I believe, killed, infants.  One in the
    UK, and one or two in the US.  In none of these cases has it been
    proven that the animal was a ferret - particularly in the UK, it
    is quite possible that the animal was actually an European polecat
    which are raised for fur and sometimes for hunting (in the UK).
    And in each case gross child and animal abuse is well documented.
    But it's important to remember, that even the most pessimistic
    statistics on ferrets show that a ferret is about a thousand times
    *less* likely to cause injury than a dog.  Indeed, every year
    there are hundreds of very serious or fatal dog attacks in the US
    alone.  Worst case statistics show approximately 12 ferret attacks
    ever recorded in the US.

Dr. Bruce Williams, DVM, adds:

    I can say from personal experience that there are many, many more
    bite incidents with the household dog or cat, and that either of
    these species tend to do a lot more damage.  I have seen children
    require over a hundred facial stitches from getting between the
    dog and its food, but never anything like this with a ferret.  But
    I've also been nailed by my share of ferrets too.

    Personally, I don't recommend ferrets for people with children
    under 6 or 7 - either the child or the ferret ends up getting
    hurt.

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [1/5] - About Ferrets and This FAQ
Previous Document: (3.7) Do ferrets smell bad? What can I do about it?
Next Document: (3.9) What are the different ferret colors?

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