There are a few basics to learn before taking on ferrets. I'm not writing this to put anyone off, ferrets make wonderful pets. It's just that so many people impulse buy without doing any prior research into the animal and then surrender their pets to a shelter, or worse, let them loose into the wild to almost certain death.
Ferrets are not a short term commitment like a hamster for instance. They can live for anything between 6 and 9 years, sometimes even longer than that.
Ferrets need daily human companionship with at least two hours out of their cage for play every day. The beauty about having ferrets is that if you are at work they will be safely tucked away in their cage, probably sleeping, and can then come out to play when you get home.
It isn't really a good idea to buy a single ferret unless you are at home most of the time and can devote a huge amount of time to keep the little one company. Ferrets really do need to live in pairs or groups, they can entertain each other when you cannot and keep each other company. Having two ferrets instead of one doesn't make much of a difference to the amount of time you give them or cash that you need to spend. It is likely that you will already have a large cage and toys, there will just be one more mouth to feed. The only downside to having a pair of ferrets is that they can become so closely bonded that if one passes away, the other can often follow close after due to grief.
Ferrets need to be fed rather as a working dog would, with a constant supply of food, particularly if feeding dry kibble. They have incredibly fast metabolisms and need to eat every four hours or so, and all that food has to come out the other end too!
As I mentioned when I spoke about lifespan ferrets are not the same as a small rodent in terms of care, which is a common misconception. They will require trips to the vet for yearly check ups and vaccinations and they need to be neutered . So before you go crazy and get say 4 or 5 ferrets you need to consider whether you will be able to afford to care for them all! There has to be nothing sadder than an elderly, sick ferret being given up for re homing as the owner has decided they can no longer see to it's needs.
One thing to consider is where you are going to place the cage (if indoors) or hutch (if outdoors). With an indoor placement you need to keep the cage out of direct sunlight, away from draughts, not directly near a heater or radiator and far enough away from the TV/radio so that they will not be frightened of any loud noises and can sleep peacefully. If they will live outdoors then you will need to study the garden at various times during the day to discover the shadiest spots (it's no use if the area is shaded in the morning but then in full sun at midday when the sun is highest!) Ferrets cannot handle heat well and can die very quickly from heat exhaustion. The hutch/enclosure used will need to offer protection from the elements, preferably with an enclosed sleeping area for warmth during the winter. Placement near a fence or wall would be ideal to protect from harsh winds blowing through their home. Ferrets do not deal very well with damp conditions either.
If you feel that you can meet these requirements then definitely consider getting ferrets, they offer years of love, fun and companionship with a hint of cheekiness! Also if you ensure that you meet all their needs then you can have a happier, healthier pet and avoid heartache in the long run. For information on your local ferret rescues then please contact your local area's ferret club. For more information on what to expect before you commit then you could try http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/ferret-as-a-pet.html.