It is most common to get a ferret from a shelter or ferret rescue. They are run by experts who are knowledgeable regarding ferret care and will match the ferret’s personality to the best-suited person. Typically, shelter ferrets are desexed/neutered before being rehomed. They will also be vaccinated, treated for fleas and ticks if they have them and socialized with other ferrets. Most shelters or rescues will charge a donation fee between $50 and $150.
Ferret breeders are usually very careful about tracing the breeding lines of their ferrets to ensure a reduced chance of their ferrets suffering from certain diseases. Reputable breeders will have their ferrets tested for common diseases, match them well with prospective partners and will ensure any potential owners are given information on ferret care.
Unfortunately, there are some less trustworthy breeders who are only interested in money. The breeder should always allow you to see the kits (babies) with their mother and they should ask you lots of questions to make sure you are a suitable home for a ferret. Generally, ferrets from breeders will cost up to $350.
You can also purchase ferrets from pet stores, however, this should be a last resort unless the pet store can confirm where the ferrets have come from/who bred them. Most pet stores source their ferrets from large-scale commercial farms where there is a high risk of disease and poor breeding practices. Although pet store ferrets are more affordable – priced around $100-$150 – they are the least healthy and come with less information regarding appropriate care.
It is important to note that it is illegal to own a pet ferret in three American states; Washington DC, California and Hawaii. It is legal to own a ferret in New York state, but they are banned as pets in New York City and residents of Rhode Island must have a permit to own a ferret. The penalty for owning a ferret could be a $1000 dollar fine, a misdemeanor charge or even up to 6 months in jail!