There are a lot of different animals in this world, and if you’re a person who enjoys taking care of them, you probably have the desire to keep various animals as pets. If you are looking for something different than a dog, cat, or hamster to have in your home, you might consider getting a pet weasel.
What Is a Weasel?
The U.S. is full of animal lovers, and people often treat their pets as members of the family. They get the best food, medical treatment, and get to go on trips like anyone else. They are loved and spoiled. While dogs and cats make great pets, some people want something a little different.
When it comes to deciding if a pet weasel is what you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to know exactly what a weasel is. They are carnivorous animals that have long, slender bodies and short legs. In some cases, they are considered a nuisance animal, but they also eat other rodents and smaller mammals.
Weasels can be found practically all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica and the neighboring islands and Australia. They are incredibly quick and agile predators and move over areas using a series of quick, short jumps. They are also skilled climbers, so in addition to a normal diet of shrews, rats, and voles, they may climb into trees and target birds and eggs in their nests.
To most people, weasels have an adorable appearance, but they can actually be pretty ferocious when it comes to hunting their prey. They are typically about 6.8 to 8.5 inches long and have tails that are between 1.3 and 2 inches long. Because they are so long and slender, they can easily follow their prey into small holes and burrows.
These animals are generally brown or red on their upper coats, but some species will turn completely white. They belong to the Mustelidaie family, which also has other animals such as ferrets, polecats, badgers, stoats, fishers, otters, martens, tayras, wolverines, and minks.
More often than not, weasels make nests or burrows in hollow logs, under barns, or in rock piles. After killing and devouring their prey, they may even take over their burrow as their new home. They can be found in fields, grasslands, bush piles, and woodlots. Wherever you find other rodents, you are likely to find weasels.
Some Fun Facts
Here are some fun facts about weasels to help you get to know them a little bit better.
- Weasels are the smallest carnivorous mammals in the world
- They can take out prey that is ten times their size
- Weasels can take the term “hangry” to a whole new level
- Weasels and skunks are cousins
- Weasels will store leftovers for later
- A pet weasel will sleep up to twenty hours a day
- Some pet weasels prefer the company of another weasel
Do Weasels Make Good Pets?
In general, weasels are harmless to humans. More than likely, they realize that we are much bigger than they are, so they aren’t going to take us on. While they may be ferocious and vicious to their regular prey, they can make great pets. This is especially true if they are raised from birth to be around people.
The most common weasel that is kept as a pet is a ferret, and there are millions of these around the country. Their popularity as a pet only took hold a few decades ago, so their growth in households has been phenomenal.
As mentioned, a pet weasel can sleep up to twenty hours a day. This isn’t much different than a cat. However, if you want to play, they will be more than willing to get up and play with you. They are incredibly smart and active animals, so keeping them entertained and engaged isn’t a challenge.
They are incredibly curious and observant, so you may find them watching you when participating in activities around the house. They may even decide to join in, which could make doing chores a whole lot of fun.
Since weasels look like rodents, many people fear that they will be carriers of disease. They do not pose any greater threat than a dog or cat does when it comes to disease. They can pick up certain diseases, including rabies, but again, this isn’t any different than if you have a dog or a cat. In fact, weasels might be a better pet choice than reptiles, which can carry bacteria or other diseases that easily transfer to humans.
What to Know Before Getting a Pet Weasel
Weasels can make great pets if this is something you are interested in. However, they may not be a good fit for every home. Even if they have been domesticated, they are still carnivores and have an instinct to kill. If you have other pets, including rodents (hamsters), rabbits, birds, or even puppies or kittens, a weasel might view these as prey animals and go after them.
In addition, the personality of a pet weasel can vary. Like humans, they come with unique characteristics and a mind of their own, so you may get one that’s grumpy. As small animals, if they feel like they are being threatened or backed into a corner, they may bite. If you have young children in the house, this could be upsetting and scary, for both the child and the weasel.
How to Care for Your Pet Weasel
Your weasel may really enjoy being able to follow you around the house and being engaged with your activities, but this can also lead to them getting into areas where they don’t belong. They may decide to chew on wires and other dangerous items, and that could be deadly. Giving them a space they can call their own such as a wire cage will ensure that they are safe when you aren’t home or at night while you are sleeping.
On average, a weasel will need two feet of floor space for their home. If you are bringing home more than one, you will need to double that. Since they enjoy climbing, you’ll want to ensure that their cage is tall enough to accommodate this desire.
You’ll also need to place a bed in their new home so they have a place to sleep. They prefer to be off ground level when they sleep, so getting a hammock or a small cat bed is beneficial. Your pet weasel will also need a food dish and water bottle in its cage. Since they are curious and active, you’ll need to get a dish that can’t be tipped over and spilled.
Another thing you’ll need to add to the cage is a litter box. Weasels have a tendency to back into corners to go to the bathroom, so get something with high sides. There is also litter that is designed specifically for weasels that consists of paper pellets that you will need to put into the litter box and change often.
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At some point in time, you may find that you need to take your weasel to the vet to ensure it is healthy or to take care of a medical emergency. Having a cat carrier is the best way to transport it to keep it safe and comfortable.
Since weasels need to spend time outside of their cage on a daily basis, you might also consider getting them a harness and leash so that they can go outside. They’ll love being able to explore the outdoor environment, but they can easily become prey to birds, cats, raccoons, and other animals. That’s why keeping them on a leash is beneficial.
To keep your weasel entertained, you’ll need to get them some toys. If you don’t, they will find things around the house to play with and may even steal. The toys you get will depend on the interests of your weasel, but try to find them things that will keep them happy inside and outside their cage.
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When it comes to food, your weasel doesn’t need a lot of choices. There are special pellets made just for them that are optimized for their health. As carnivores, their diet needs to consist of meat. They don’t need dairy, carbohydrates, fruits, or vegetables. The pellets will give them the nutrients they need, but if you want to give them a treat, you can feed them chicken or scrambled eggs.
You’ll need to make sure that your weasel has fresh water, so check this on a daily basis and change or fill as necessary.
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Owning a pet weasel can be a rewarding and entertaining endeavor. They make great pets and are active and curious, but they need to be in a home that doesn’t have other animals that the weasel will view as prey. They will need to be entertained and exercised, so make sure you have the time to dedicate to their wellbeing so they can live a long, happy life.