Like most albino mammals, an albino ferret is one that lacks pigmentation due to inheriting recessive gene alleles. Simply put, for a ferret to be an albino, both his mother and father must carry the albino gene. Generally, albino ferrets only differ from colored ferrets in terms of pigmentation and, where allowed, are just as popular choices for house pets as other ferrets.
Unlike his sable- or polecat-colored cousins, the albino ferret has a white coat with pink eyes and a pink nose. Just as some ferrets are bred to achieve a certain coloring or pattern, some ferrets are bred to be albino. Since all ferrets are born white, however, it is difficult or impossible to determine whether a ferret is an albino or will have coloring during the first few weeks of his life.
Similar to most ferrets, the albino ferret usually is a domesticated mammal and has been for centuries. Generally, albino ferrets kept as house pets have a longer life expectancy than those in the wild. Rather than health problems, this probably is due to their typically poor eyesight and the white coloring that’s unable to provide adequate camouflage against predators. Though, like all ferrets, albino ferrets can develop health complications as they get older. Certain ferret health problems can require medication for the rest of the ferret’s life.
Other similarities between a colored ferret and an albino ferret include curiosity, playfulness, and the ability to live in social groups. Like some other animals, ferrets are often used as pets for therapeutic benefits. Owners can regularly bathe them once a month as they would colored ferrets, and albino ferrets can sleep in the same kinds of cages and play with the same kinds of toys. Since all ferrets are obligate carnivores, an albino ferret can eat the same kinds of foods as colored ferrets. This means he will need a diet consisting of meat.
A person interested in keeping an albino ferret as a pet can check pet stores, breeders, and shelters. Before purchasing or adopting an albino ferret, however, the prospective owner must check his area’s laws regarding ferrets as pets. These include laws regarding the import of ferrets. For example, certain American states ban ferrets as pets, and others require the owners to apply for permits. Some areas in Japan require ferret owners to register their ferrets with the appropriate government agencies, and in Brazil ferrets are only allowed if their owners have them sterilized and give them microchip identification tags.