The Ferret Owners Manual

TOYS

Ferrets are naturally courious critters. They love new things.  Consequently, finding that their environment is the same, day after day, they quickly will become bored and listless. Try to keep life interesting to them by providing new “adventures” regularly. It doesn’t take much. A cardboard box, a paper sack, a few small stuffed toys, baby rattles will likely cause considerable excitement for your ferret. No need to be constantly going out a finding new toys. Simple “rotate” the toys from time to time. Pick up the “old” toys and put them away for a few weeks, while bringing out others which you had previously stored.

Ferrets are “packrats.” They will take anything that interests them and drag it off to their “hidy-hole” usually in/under a couch or bed or chair. This may include: socks (clean or dirty), foil, bottle caps, keys, hair brushes and combs, wallets, pencils and pens, jewelry, slippers, (my wife lost her flute – case and all – dragged under and up inside the couch), TV remote controls (ours is still missing); anything small enough for a determined ferret to drag off. Usually these will stay “hidden” and not constitute an everyday “toy.”

Ferrets seem to love toys that squeak. Normally these are made of vinyl rubber. The major problem with these toys is the ferret’s sharp teeth. Ferrets will, in very short order, puncture and tear the toy. The risk is high for ingestion of the pieces and possible intestinal blockage.

One possible approach to the ferret’s having his toy and not eating it too, is to put the toy in an old sock and tying a knot in the end of the sock to keep the toy in where it can’t be eaten. Not only does it protect the toy itself, but the sock is a toy all by itself. Other possibilities are squeak toys that are contained in lamb’s wool coverings. These are typical cat or dog toys. Inspect all toys periodically; even the socks. If they appear to be eating it, it is time for a new toy.

A flexible dryer hose makes a great toy that will satisfy the ferret’s tunneling instincts. This is our ferrets’ favorite toy; one that they’ve never tired of. These come in various lengths from about 4 feet to 50 feet or longer. Some are opaque white, others are clear, some are made of a heavy gauge aluminum foil. With the clear dryer hose, you can watch the ferret at play, or, with two or more ferrets in the clear hose, watch the mock battles and tail wagging. Run a strip of duct tape around the edges to keep the sharp wire inside the hose from working loose. Ferrets never seem to tire of running through the hose. To make it more interesting, buy some round, plastic, four-inch diameter “Y” and “T” connections and connect several pieces of dryer tube to these using duct tape. You can make fairly complex “mazes” that will entertain a curious ferret for hours. Two or more ferrets will invent games based on these hoses and it will be as entertaining for you as for them. The heavy cardboard tubes that carpeting is rolled onto is a great substitute for the dryer tube, and does tend to last much longer.

If you have the space for it and an area that will allow for it, a sand box is a very entertaining play area for a ferret. They love to dig, and a sand box full of clean sand will satisfy their digging urge. Most will quickly learn all kinds of new “games” including “make-a -pattern”, and “sand snorkeling”. You can hide some of their smaller toys in the sand for them to find. They will sling the sand while digging, so this is not recommended for your living room.


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