Start Up Costs, and Yearly Spending
Here's a breakdown of the start-up expenses of owning a ferret!
The cage is perhaps one of the biggest expenses when gathering supplies for your new ferret. A quality cage can cost upwards of $200 or more (like this Ferret Nation at right)
It may be tempting to purchase a smaller or less expensive cage up front, but smaller cages are often cramped (it's hard to fit lots of beds and litterboxes in a small cage) and difficult to clean. Ferrets are more likely to escape from a poor quality cage, which could be hazardous.
Although a larger cage is more expensive up front, it's definitely a long term investment.
Ferret food is also something where cheaper is definitely not better. Cheap foods are often full of fillers such as grains and vegetables- definitely things ferrets should not be eating! Quality kibble may be more expensive up front, but your ferret will need to eat less to get the nutrition they need, so the cost balances out. A bag of quality food will cost around $25 for 5lbs.
For ultimate low food cost, consider a raw diet. Many butchers or grocery stores will sell meat scraps, such a chicken frames, for a low price. I've also gotten a lot of meat free from people cleaning out their freezers. It never hurts to ask! If you do choose to feed a raw diet, I highly recommend signing up for a mentor at the Holistic Ferret Forum.
Bedding is also something else your ferret needs. Hammocks, beds, and blankets are all appreciated for ferret sleepytime. Commercial ferret hammocks usually cost around $15 apiece. Custom sets are even more, at $50-150 for a whole cage setup.
Of course, you can always use cheap fleece blankets, old t-shirts, and old quilts for your ferrets as well. Thrift stores are a great place to check out!
Your new cage will also need accessories such as litterpans, food dishes, water bowls, litter, a litter scoop, nail clippers, food storage containers, and toys. Expect these items to run around $50 total, depending on quantity.
The pans pictured usually run around $12
Food/water dishes- $5 each
Litter- $15 for paper pellets, $5 for wood pellets
Toys- around $15-25
Expect initial costs, including the cost of the ferret ($150 from pet stores) to be around $500.
This initial cost does not include vet care (and no, ferrets do not come from a pet store fully vaccinated, that is a common misconception)
I'd like to note that vet care should not be considered optional when owning ferrets. Ferrets should be vaccinated for canine distemper and rabies, and yearly checkups are essential to ensure the health and wellbeing of your new furbaby.
My vet charges $45 for an exam, and $25 for shots. There are also other small costs, such as disposal fees, or fees for ear mite checks. This can really add up for multiple ferrets! It's a good idea to set up a savings account where you can set aside a few dollars each week.
So, in conclusion, ferrets really aren't cheap pets. But they sure are a lot of fun!