Guest Post by Michael Hearing
Pet ferrets absolutely must have daily play time, as well as something to play with. Pick up any ferret magazine or check out any ferret website, and you will likely see countless ferret toys for sale. You may also find directions for making your own ferret toys. Is there an advantage to commercially produced toys over homemade ferret toys or vice versa?
Commercially produced toys:
- Are designed specifically for ferrets to play with. They use materials that are safe for ferrets and made with ferret safety in mind.
- Are produced in bulk so they are generally less expensive than they would be if you made them at home using identical materials.
- Can be returned if they break (if you keep the receipt).
- Often come with instructions for games you can play with your ferret.
- Can be of better quality. A manufacturer does not want to deal with hassle of shoddy workmanship.
- Can lead you to resources for other ferret information if you order them from a catalog, website, or magazine.
- Will look exactly as they are pictured in the ad, on the box, in the catalog, or on the site.
- Can be enjoyed the day of purchase (if bought at a brick-and-mortar store).
On the other hand, commercial toys:
- Can be more expensive than homemade toys because a commercial manufacturer has to price the item to make a profit and also cover packaging and other costs of doing business. Also, if you purchased them online or via a catalog, you may have to pay significant shipping and handling fees.
- Can be a hassle to return for a refund or an exchange.
- May expose you to increased “junk” emails and surface mail if the company manages to get your contact information during the sale.
If you choose to buy a commercial product, look for a toy designed specifically for ferrets made by a company that has expertise in and knowledge of ferrets. If necessary, carefully read the specifications to be sure the toy will fit your ferret’s situation. Check out the company’s return policy and save your receipt.
- Can be virtually free if they are created from items you already have around the house.
- Can be fun to create.
- Encourage you to develop your own talents.
- Are unique. No other ferret will have exactly the same toys yours does.
- Can become a source of income if you develop a toy that others may wish to buy for their ferrets.
- Are a labor of love for your pet (or as a gift for a fellow ferret lover).
On the other hand, homemade toys:
- May be unsafe because the materials used may not be healthy or safe for ferrets.
- Take time, money, and skill to produce. Your ferret won’t be able to play with them until they are done.
- Can’t be returned to a store if the item just doesn’t work well for your ferret.
- May require the sacrifice of a favorite item (such as a T-shirt or blanket) for your fuzzy’s pleasure.
If you decide to make your own ferret toys, read and follow all instructions carefully. Use only materials safe for ferrets (e.g., no cedar chips, no Styrofoam peanuts, etc.). Make sure all openings are at least 4 inches in diameter and that all toys are at least 2 inches in diameter. Make sure all seams are thoroughly sealed and all rough or sharp edges removed. Don’t hesitate to discard or remake an item if it appears unsafe for your ferret.
It’s easy to see, then, that there is no one-size-fits-all answer about which kind of ferret toy is best. Most ferret households have a mixture of both commercially produced and homemade toys.