The Ferret Owners Manual

Shedding The ferret usually sheds their coat twice a year – in the late winter or early spring; and in the late summer or early fall. They will groom themselves fairly well so daily brushing is not necessary, but is helpful and may prevent your ferret from ingesting too much hair, during their self-grooming.   If they ingest significant amounts of hair it could cause upset stomachs and even intestinal blockages. A little bit of a hairball remedy paste (about 1/2 inch or so), such as made for cats, may be given daily or every other day through the shedding period to help prevent the blockage. I like to give a dose of the hairball remedy at least once a week regardless of shedding. Most ferrets prefer the “malt” flavors. If you suspect a blockage, contact a vet immediately. (See the section on intestinal blockages for symptoms.) Substances such as Ferretone or vegetable oils will not break up hairballs.

Toenails Toenails will have to be trimmed about once a week, or once every other week. If you don’t, the nails will grow to painful length and the vein in the nail will expand and make future trimming difficult. The front nails usually have to be trimmed more frequently than the rear ones.

A couple drops of Ferretone on the belly makes nail clipping a snap

Use a regular human-type toenail clipper or the dog/cat type. Make sure it is sharp.

Otherwise, it may cause the nail to split. Clip the nails such that the flat portion of the trimmed nail will be parallel to the floor when the ferret is walking. A couple quick strokes with an emery board to round off the edges of the nail after clipping will also prevent splitting, will make the nail smoother and less likely to snag on things.

Getting their toenails clipped does not exactly top the ferret’s most-fun list. They will wriggle and squirm and twist and pull. For this reason some ferret owners wait until their pet is asleep and get one paw at a time. A much easier way is to lay the ferret on your lap with his head up and his back down; place a few drops of Ferretone/Linatone on his stomach; show the ferret where it is; then while he is busy licking, you start clipping. You’ll find that your ferret sticks all four paws out while reaching for the Ferretone/Linatone. That makes snipping all four paws a snap. You may want to try out the Ferretone-on-the-belly technique a few times before you actually clip the nails so as to get your ferret used to the procedure.

When you trim, look carefully for the dark vein in the nail. Be careful that you do not clip the vein. It is a good idea to have styptic powder handy just in case, because if you do clip into this vein, you will hit nerves, the ferret will scream, and the toe will bleed. The styptic powder will at least stop the bleeding. If you don’t have styptic powder, try corn starch.

Don’t even think about “de-clawing” a ferret. They need their nails like you need the ends of your fingers and toes. They need them for walking. They need them for grasping. A de-clawed ferret is a crippled ferret.


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