Housing your ferret

Ferrets make wonderful pets because of their engaging personalities, playful activity and fastidious nature. Housing is important for your ferret, whether you keep them inside or outside.

They can easily be trained to use a litter box because they tend to habitually urinate and defecate in the same places. Provide a low-sided litter box for easy entry and exit. More than one litter box may be necessary if the ferret has free run of the house.

There is no innate animosity between ferrets and dogs and cats, and all can usually share a household with little difficulty. However, ferrets have been known to attack pet birds, so it is advisable for owners of both to take appropriate precautions to prevent these encounters.

Ferrets are naturally inquisitive and can squeeze through very small spaces. It is important to “ferret-proof” your house before bringing your pet home. Thoroughly check every room it will inhabit, sealing all holes and openings wider than 1 inch in diameter. Make sure that all windows that may be opened have secure screens. It is also important to check the openings around plumbing, heating and air conditioning ducts or pipes and gaps under doors.

Ferrets are small and silent, so you will usually not hear them approach. They are easily stepped on when they are sleeping under a throw rug or suddenly turn up under foot. Their love of tunneling and their inherent curiosity frequently places them in potentially dangerous situations.

They could very easily crawl unnoticed into your refrigerator, into the bottom boiler of a stove, through the rungs of a balcony railing, out the front door, or even end up in the washing machine with clothes under which the ferret was sleeping. Other dangers include folding sofa beds and reclining chairs. The obvious solution to avoiding accident and injury is to learn your ferret’s habits and be constantly vigilant.

To help protect your ferret, especially if it is allowed free run of the house, obtain an adjustable, lightweight cat collar, the kind with elastic on one end, a small bell, and an ID tag. The bell will signal that your ferret is underfoot or has perhaps slipped out the front door and will warn caged birds allowed unrestricted freedom in the home that the ferret is nearby. The collar also indicates to unknowing neighbors (many people have no idea what a ferret is) that whatever it is must belong to someone.

While ferrets are not destructive to most household items, such as furniture, clothing, etc, some have a tendency to chew on soft rubber or other soft materials. This is especially dangerous because the pieces of rubber can become impacted in your ferret’s intestines. This means that you should not give your ferret rubber squeak toys to play with either.

You should ensure that the cage is plenty big enough so that you can give your ferret plenty of toys to play with, tubes to run through and places to hide. You should also provide an enclosed area within the cage where your ferret can go and sleep. If your ferret is kept in a cage you will need to let it out regularly for exercise, either in a safe enclosure outside or in a dedicated “ferret-proof” room of the house.

Ferrets are especially fond of tunnelling under things, like towels, and prefer to sleep in this manner, so make sure you provide plenty of possible nesting material so your ferret can exhibit it’s natural behaviour.

You can use hay, straw or wood shavings on the floor of the cage to make it easy to clean, and they will most probably use the hay and straw to tunnel through as well. Make sure the bedding you use isn’t dusty as this can irritate their eyes. Ferrets are naturally very clean and will usually use one or two corners of the cage for toilet purposes. These areas can be lined with paper and wood shavings so daily cleaning is quick and easy.