The Ferret Owners Manual

Ferrets love Ferretone

This group surrounds the Ferretone bottle so that it won’t get away 

Ferretproofing Some ferret owners claim that you can never ferret-proof your home, only make it ferret-resistant. Ferrets are intensely curious about everything. They can fit through very small openings. Unfortunately not every place they wish to explore is hospitable to small, furry animals – the underside of refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, stoves and ovens; the insides of walls and floors. Many places contain rotating machinery, open electrical terminals, flames, heating elements, drive belts, or just places to get lost in and not be able to find one’s way back out.

Plaster over holes in walls and floors. Screw in the adjustable feet on appliances so that they sit flat on the floor. If possible, place screening material over holes with the tape on the inside (ferrets love to pull off tape). Cabinets quite often have an opening at the top of the toe area just above the floor. These should be sealed, or else you need to plan on a way of getting into them to get your ferret out. On ours, I used thin wooden strips cut to length and width, and used an adheasive to glue them in place.  Look at every opening made where a pipe or duct passes through a wall or floor – seal as necessary. In fact it may be a good idea to look over your home at ferret eye-level” . You might be surprised at what you see from a viewpoint just an inch or two above the floor.

Another thing to look for are small, almost ferret-sized spaces behind “hard” furniture, between vertical pipes and walls, under baseboard radiators, etc.. If the space is small and slightly tapered, (becoming narrower at the bottom or one end) the ferret could fall in or become wedged and suffocate.

Ferrets love to sleep in dark spaces. You can provide sleep boxes or sleep sacks for them to

go into and curl up to sleep. We found some small wooden boxes with hinged lids at a local unfinished furniture store that work great as sleep boxes. The measure about 14 in x 6 in x 6 in. I cut a 4 inch hole in the back and provided soft bedding for the interior. It’s usually the first place I look for them when they suddenly “disappear.”

Speaking of “dark spaces” most ferrets love to climb into stuffed sofas and chairs, as well as into box springs. They’ll claw a hole in the thin bottom fabric and make themselves at home. With sofas and chairs you can staple a heavy fabric over the thin material, or go so far as to cut thin plywood or particle board to fit, and nail it into place. (We resorted to futons.) Box spring sleeping can be deterred with a fitted sheet, fitted and stapled to the underside of the box springs.

Fiberglass window and door screens are easily cut by the ferret’s nails. I recommend metal . (They can still cut through it but it does take longer.) While you’re at it, check to make sure that the screen is in tight and can’t be pushed out. Ferrets are very nearsighted and will jump out of a multistory window as quickly as off of a chair or couch -check balconies for access by the ferret. My son’s ferret jumped off of his second floor balcony – fortunately landing in soft dirt. Check for access to open stairways too.

Try to introduce a ferret to a new brand of food and they’ll turn their nose up at it. Leave a piece of Styrofoam, foam rubber, a small button, a rubber band, vinyl rubber (a toy or balloon, for example) lying about, and they’ll eat it; block their digestive systems; and require emergency surgery to save their life. Pencils with erasers have caused more blockages than I’d care to count. Same with foam rubber ear plugs. Watch out for the rubber backing on throw rugs. Ferrets often find it tasty but very dangerous.

You can not ferret-proof a recliner or pullout sofa bed. They are deathtraps for ferrets. They will climb in the mechanisms and be crushed. No matter how careful you are, someone will eventually come into your home, sit on the chair and operate the mechanism. Get rid of the recliner, or bind the mechanism so that it can not be operated; and, if it has a handle on it, remove the handle.

Treats Ferrets can be fussy eaters when you want them to eat something – even treats.

Basically, with exceptions, you can try them on anything that you can eat; just do so in very small quantities. Some of ours like Cheerios; some love strawberry flavored licorice; some love raisins, mellon, bananas, cucumbers. No onions, please. There is a substance in raw onions that may cause serious blood disorders. Nuts may cause a blockage. Steer clear of foods very high in fibers such as lettuce and carrots which may also cause intestinal blockage. Even raisins are fairly high in fiber and no more than 2-3 per treat should be given in any one day. Milk and milk products may cause diarrhea in some ferrets, although many seem to do just fine on small portions. Lactose free milk substitutes seem to be better. Many love yogurt. Some people claim that Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause serious illness (but ours have survived eating stolen chocolate bars with no obvious problems, and others have reported similar stories so I include this as a caution only). Caffeine is also not recommended (coffee, tea, colas, etc.), since it might overstimulate the heart. All in all, try to keep the sugar quantity to a minimum.  Ferrets generally love Ferretone.

 

A few treats, once in a while won’t hurt, just make sure that any treats you give them constitutes much less than 10% of their diet – maybe a teaspoon or less per day. (Of course, if your ferret is ever diagnosed with a disease called “insulinoma,” where the pancreas produces too much insulin, no sugars should be given. This prohibition includes honey. (Look at the ingredient list. Anything ending with the “ose” (fructose, glucose, etc.) should be avoided.)

 


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