Christmas Ferret Toys and Ferret Gifts – Commercial or Homemade?

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 forFerret Playing in Tube System 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.

Homemade toys:

  • Can be virtually free if they are created from items you already have around theFerret Playing in Box 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.

Inexpensive and Homemade Ferret Toys as Ferret Gifts for Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching. And if you’re like us, you’ve barely begun your shopping. When it comes to your pet ferrets, though, Christmas gift shopping gets a whole lot easier. Ferret toys for Christmas can be very inexpensive and easy to find. You may already have many of these ferret gifts lying around your house. If your ferrets can play with it, they willPanda Ferret Playing like it – and they can play with just about anything.

Here are a few ideas for ferret toys for your fuzzies’ Christmas that won’t break the bank.

  1. Christmas stocking. A Christmas stocking makes a perfect sleep sack for your fuzzy. Your ferrets will immediately climb in and make it a holiday home. Of course, the stocking needs to be big enough for your ferret to get inside easily. Also, make sure it is securely made with no jingle bells, bows, pompons, or other items that could be choking hazards.
  2. Squeaky toys. Remember that your ferret, as cute and cuddly as she is, is a predator by nature. So your carpet shark would probably love to find a toy or two that can she can attack. Just be sure that these ferret toys are made of really solid materials – those teeth were meant to gnaw, and a flimsy plastic toy won’t last through Christmas morning. (By the way, you may want to keep out of the way when your fuzzy is playing with his new toy – in its frenzy, he could mistake your toes as part of the toy.)
  3. A pan for splashing or rummaging in. You already know that your fuzzies like to dig in their litter pans, so a low pan, like a dish pan or a kitty litter pan, would be ideal. Maybe you can use the pan to wrap other toys in. When your ferrets tear through the wrapping to open their gift, they’ll find a lot of fun inside. They may have so much fun that the rest of your household can go and open their gifts in relative peace.
  4. Cat-scratching posts. Those carpeted platforms-with-columns are not just for kitty. Put one in a large, sturdy crate and snake some ferret-tunnel tubing around it. It will take only a few minutes to create a wonderland for your ferret. Best of all, when your ferret goes back in its cage, you can disassemble the playground and set it up a different way tomorrow.
  5. Cardboard boxes. Remember when your kids were small? You’d find the perfect (albeit very expensive) electronic learning toy for them, but they ended up having more fun with the box it came in. Ferrets are the same. Give them a box (perhaps the ones from your human family’s gifts), and they’ll be quite content.
  6. Plastic bags. Just as cardboard boxes make perfect toys for kids and ferrets, paper or plastic bags also work well – as long as you remove or cut off the handle portion, which could be a choking hazard. Ferrets love making noise with the crinkly material and exploring the interior.
  7. Medicine bottles. Those child-safe containers left over from prescription or over-the-counter medications are perfect. Clean them out thoroughly (and that means VERY thoroughly), dry them out, and then fill them with whatever small noisemakers you have on hand – rice, popcorn, jingle bells, etc. The child-proof caps will hold the items securely inside while your ferrets play.

For more ferret-toy ideas and recommendations take a look at Getting Started with Pet Ferrets. You can sample our new book on ferret care and ferret health at both Amazon and Smashwords.