Ferret Lifespan: How to Improve Their Health and Longevity

Help your pet ferret live a long, full life with these 6 tips to increase their healthy years and keep them feeling young.

Published April 25, 2023
Woman holding her pet ferret

Getting a pet ferret is an exciting event, and you probably want to know how long these critters live. A ferret's lifespan depends on several factors, including weight, diet, and genetic makeup. Even though you can't control all these elements, you can provide your ferret with the best care possible so they can live a full and healthy life, however long that might be.

Ferret Lifespan Expectation

On average, pet ferrets live between 5 and 9 years, but they can live longer with the right care. Ferrets have a similar lifespan to a Guinea pig, and they live quite a bit longer than small rodents, such as hamsters, rats, and mice. But they typically don't live as long as rabbits or chinchillas.

Need to Know

The oldest known ferret reportedly lived to be 14 years old.

Factors That Affect Ferret Lifespan

If you're trying to predict exactly how long your pet ferret will live, you're out of luck. It can be really hard to say for sure because so many factors impact a ferret's lifespan. These include:

  1. Environment
  2. Activity level
  3. Mental enrichment
  4. Diet
  5. Weight
  6. Genetics
Fast Fact

What is "old" for a ferret? Most veterinarians consider a ferret to be a senior after age 3.

Are Ferrets Not Living as Long Anymore?

Unfortunately, ferrets are not living as long as they used to. This is most likely due to inbreeding and the fact that these pets are being bred for their personality rather than for their health. But on the flip side, veterinary medicine continues to advance, so we have more diagnostics to identify illness earlier than in previous years, and treatments for small pets are more readily available.

Female vet listening to ferret's heartbeat

Do Ferrets Live Longer in the Wild?

Wild ferrets live an average of 1 to 3 years, which is a much shorter lifespan than the domesticated ferret's 5 to 9 years. This is because wild ferrets are at risk of being hunted by predators like hawks, eagles, foxes, and coyotes.

Humans are also invading their natural habitat for crops, which affects their life expectancy. As a result, wild black-footed ferrets are actually one of the most endangered species in North America, and there are only about 350 left in existence.

How to Help Extend Your Ferret's Healthy Years

Do you want your pet to live forever? Of course you do. While we can't guarantee forever, we can offer some tips to extend your ferret's life so you can get as many years with them as possible.

  • Feed your ferret a high-quality carnivorous diet so they get all the nutrients they need.
  • Keep them at a healthy weight through exercise and diet to avoid obesity-related health problems.
  • Engage in enrichment activities to keep them mentally sharp.
  • Keep your ferret's enclosure clean to minimize illness.
  • Take them to the vet for regular check-ups and vaccinations.
  • See your vet at the earliest signs of illness to catch anything early.

Grin and Ferret

Unfortunately, pets simply live shorter lives than humans. Even though most ferrets live 5 to 9 years, it's possible your ferret could live into their teens with the right care and good genetics. However long your little friend lives, make sure you provide them with optimal care so you can rest assured you gave them exactly what they need. They'll be sure to thank you with tons of snuggles and whisker kisses.

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Ferret Lifespan: How to Improve Their Health and Longevity