By Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Housing For Your Pet Ferret
Ferrets are definitely mischievous, and if left alone, they tend to get into everything. Therefore, it’s critical that ferrets be kept caged when they are unsupervised. Since they are truly talented escape artists, ferrets should be housed in cages that can be securely closed and/or locked. Cages should be as large as possible – minimally 24″ wide x 24″ long x 18″ high for a single ferret. Cages should be well ventilated, and the flooring should be solid so that a ferret’s feet don’t get caught. Wooden flooring should be avoided, as it will become contaminated with urine and feces that are impossible to thoroughly clean and disinfect. Since ferrets love to climb, ideally their cages should have more than one level, connected by a ramp, so that they can run up and down. Since ferrets commonly ingest bedding, bedding made of particles, such as wood chips, is not recommended, as ferrets may eat it, leading to gastrointestinal obstruction. Rather, old towels, t-shirts, or blankets can be used as cage bedding and should be washed when they become soiled with food or droppings.
Playtime For Your Ferret
While ferrets should be kept caged when you’re not around, they need time out of their cages to run around and exercise. They should be let out of their cages for at least 2-3 hours a day. They are intelligent, curious, and socially interactive animals who need out-of-cage time to explore. They need a safe, “ferret proof,” penned off area or room that they can wander around in and investigate. This area should contain various objects to occupy them such as boxes, paper bags, blankets, plastic tubes, or PCV piping, as well as things to climb into, over, on top, of and under.
Safety Tips for Ferrets
Since ferrets are so curious and active, all holes, in their play area, no matter how small, must be blocked off to prevent escape or injury. If a ferret can put his head into a hole, eventually his body will fit into it, too. Ferrets will burrow into the foam of couches, chairs, and mattresses, and they will climb into the back of stereo speakers, closets, and drawers. All of these objects should be blocked or sealed off from ferrets’ access. Ferrets love to chew, and they are not very discriminatory as to what they chew on, so all rubber or foam plastic objects must be kept away from them. This includes shoe inserts, ear plugs, kids’ toys, other pets’ toys, erasers, rubber bands, balloons, speaker and headphone foam, swim goggle liners, and a host of other chewable items. If a ferret swallows one of these objects, it may cause life threatening gastrointestinal obstruction that often requires extensive veterinary surgery to treat.
A safe ferret is a happy ferret. Housing your ferret safely to prevent him from becoming injured or trapped somewhere is critical. If you have questions about how to house your ferret properly, be sure to contact your veterinarian for advice.