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.

Christmas Ferret Toys

I’ve been getting a lot of enquiries lately about Christmas presents for little fuzzies.Ferret Playing in Box

There are a lot of toys out there (from inexpensive to very expensive) for our ferrets. But there are also a lot of ideas for your fuzzy in your head. All you have to do to come up with some great inexpensive Christmas ferret toys is let those ideas run wild – while using just a little common sense to ensure ferret safety.

Actually, my fuzzy kids have more toys than my human kids did when they were little. Not only do I buy my woozles toys, but I also make them homemade toys.

Fuzzies love boxes and tunnels. What I do is take a box, cut a hole in one end, and then tape up the flaps. Their tunnel systems I bought from Amazon and Doctors Foster and Smith. Rikki and Possum play for hours running in and out of their boxes and in and out and through their ferret tunnels.

And you can’t go wrong with a big box. I know it sounds silly buying a box filled with packing peanuts made out of starch for ferrets. But it is well worth it when you see how much they play in it. You can get these big boxes and starch peanuts from Doctors Foster and Smith.

Rikki and Possum also have many different-sized balls. Most of them are balls made for cats and range in size from ones like soccer balls to those for small kittens. One thing I make sure of is not to get soft rubber balls or balls with strings attached. If bits or pieces were ingested, these could result in choking or blockage in fuzzy kids.

Rikki and Possum also have the kind of cat toys that resemble a stick with a dangly toyFerret Playing with Cat Toy attached to an elastic band. They love these.

The cheapest toys you can give your pet ferrets are SACKS! They will go crazy with them. If you give your ferrets plastic sacks from Wal-Mart or other stores, make sure you supervise your little fuzzies to guard against choking or smothering hazards. Paper sacks are the best!

There are so many things lying around the house that are fun and safe for your ferrets. It doesn’t really take much to entertain your little babies, and it doesn’t have to cost much. To them it’s the thought that counts. 

Get more great ideas for ferret toys and tips on ferret care in Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Safe Ferret Toys for Happy Pet Ferrets

New ferret owners often have many questions about ferret toys. It’s easy to think that justPanda Ferret Playing with Ferret Toy any small object will work as a ferret toy, but there are some important safety features to consider. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Chew toys – Ferrets were built to gnaw, so they really like chew toys.  Your best bet is to buy chew toys made specifically for ferrets because they are made to withstand those sharp teeth. There are several brands of chew toys on the market that can be readily found online.

Chew toys not made specifically for ferrets are acceptable IF they are not made of soft rubber, which can be broken off into little pieces that your fuzzy could choke on. This is especially true if the toy houses a jingle bell or some other noise-maker.

Rawhide chew toys made for dogs are also dangerous for your ferret.  As with soft rubber, a rawhide toy could break into pieces that could become embedded in your fuzzy’s throat. If the rawhide is swallowed, then it becomes an even bigger danger as your ferret would not be able to digest it. While a ferret laxative or hairball medication might help, you may need a veterinarian to remove a rawhide piece.

You may also be tempted to make your own ferret chew toys. Some people have done so by using large pieces of leather or even sewing together pieces of Velcro. However, be sure the pieces are large enough and sturdy enough for your active pet. And never connect them to wood, plastic, or other flimsy materials. If you fill the toys with a jingle bell or other small objects, make sure they are securely in place. Discard the toy if you find that it is wearing out.

Tubing – As you know, ferrets love to run through and around tubes. Any tubing that is at least 4 inches in diameter and made of sturdy plastic or other strong materials will make a fine toy. But be sure all edges are smooth and that there are no nails, screws, wires, or other objects protruding from the ferret tunnels.  If you link tubing pieces together, make sure the joints are secure and so your fuzzy won’t get caught in the spaces between them.

Water toys – Some ferrets, but definitely not others (like Rikki and Possum), love to play in the water, so it is great fun to watch them romp in a dishpan of water. Do supervise them at all times, and be sure the pan you use has at least one side that is no taller than 2 inches so your ferret can get out safely.  Put a washcloth or a hand towel at the bottom of a pan with a smooth surface. The water should be warm but not too hot or too cold. If your ferret is skittish at its first few attempts at water play, hold it and gently put its feet in the water, just as you would with a toddler.

Play yards – Some ambitious ferret owners build ferret runs and play yards. These allow their pets to run around freely without disrupting the rest of the household. If you decide to build one, make sure the walls are securely attached to each other. If you use fencing, make sure the holes are no more than 1 inch in diameter so your fuzzies won’t escape and predators can’t get in. The flooring should be solidly built of linoleum or some other hard surface. If you use a bedding material, do not use wood chips (splinters) or old newspaper (which your fuzzy could use as a litter box).

People and pets – Ferrets are very social beings, so their favorite toys are people and animals, especially other ferrets. Even these toys have an element of danger however. A toddler or anyone who has not been around ferrets will not know how to handle them correctly and may drop or otherwise endanger them.  They also may not know how to keep a ferret from becoming a little nipper.

Supervise your ferret in these and other circumstances until you are certain everyone is safe and respectful of boundaries.

No matter what you use as ferret toys, be sure they are inspected regularly.  Repair or replace any toys that have become worn out or are missing pieces. Make sure people or pets are completely comfortable with your ferrets – and your ferrets are comfortable with them.

For a more through treatment of ferret safety and ferret toys, both commercially produced and homemade ferret toys, take a look at Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

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.

Our Newest Favorite Ferret Toys

Do you love your pet ferrets? If you really love your fuzzy kids, then you have got to get them a Dig Box and a Super Thru-Way ferret tunnel from Doctors Foster and Smith.

My fuzzy kids absolutely love these new ferret toys! I thought my husband and I were going to rollFerrets Playing in Box on the floor laughing from just watching Rikki and Possum play in the Dig Box – which is a fairly good-sized box filled with starch peanuts. The peanuts are shaped just like the Styrofoam packing peanuts, but these are made of starch and dissolve in water and are ferret safe.

As we watched, Rikki and Possum wrestled, dug down in the peanuts, popped out and over the box, and ran around the room. Then, they raced around the room and dived into the Super Thru-Way flexible tunnel. (This is a slinky-like tunnel covered with clear plastic that expands to 20 feet long! And it is awesome!) Then it was back into the Dig Box to do it all over again.

I can almost guarantee that you will spend several hours watching your woozles playing in and with the tunnel. Possum, for example, will go in one end, Rikki will crawl into the other end, and then they meet in the middle. Then they commence play biting and rolling, each trying to get the other out of way and out of the tunnel.

Since Possum is too fat to turn around inside the tunnel, he has to back out and run over to theFerrets Playing in Ferret Tunnel other end where Rikki entered. With this approach, he tries to push her out from behind. But Rikki, who is definitely much smaller than Possum, sees what he’s up to and turns around inside the tunnel and winds up pushing Possum out.

Now, at this point, Possum is so aggravated he runs and jumps into the Dig Box, where he burrows under the peanuts to wait for Rikki – and, of course, he doesn’t have to wait for long. She hears him digging and rustling around in the peanuts, so she flies out of the tube and jumps into the box herself. (Their dad, my husband, made them a little bench so they can get into the Dig Box easier. He doesn’t like them, does he? LOL)

When Rikki jumps on Possum in the box, he doesn’t realize his rear half is sticking out of the peanuts. And the boxing match begins. It really does look like they are boxing. And since they don’t wear a mouthpiece like boxers do, the little fuzzies bare their teeth. But that’s okay – it’s all in fun.

So if you really love your fuzzy kids, please get them a Dig Box and a Super Thru-Way ferret tunnel from Doctors Foster and Smith. And watch the fun begin with these new favorite ferret toys!   

You can find out more about Doctors Foster and Smith here. I am in no way affiliated with them. I just think they have good ferret accessories and ferret toys and offer great service.

More About Ferret Toys

One thing I strongly advise is that when you get a ferret (purchase, adopt, rescue, or however), you also get . . . A LOT of ferret toys. Because pet ferrets are very curious and very playful and get bored very easily.

I’m always telling my husband that whoever came up with the saying “Curiosity killed the cat” got it wrong. It should be, instead, “Curiosity killed the ferret.” They are indeed curious (and thieving) critters.

So if you don’t want your ferrets getting into things you don’t want them in, then make sure youFerret Toys have plenty of ferret toys. Of course, that doesn’t always completely solve the problem of them getting into your things, but it does help. Rikki and Possum may have more toys than my kids did.

First, ferrets love tunnels! I got my ferrets a tunnel system that hooks to a sphere in the middle. They love it. Possum used to get lost in it when he was baby, and I had to send Rikki in after him.

Another of their favorite toys is the Octo-Play, an octopus-like toy. The arms are fabric tunnels, and there are a total of 11 climbing holes.

I also bought Rikki and Possum some cat toys. They especially like the dangle toys – the ones that have a toy hanging at the end of an elastic string attached to a plastic stick. My ferrets have several of these.

And they have balls to play with – all kinds and sizes of balls. Their favorites, though, are the ones with something inside that makes interesting sounds.

And stuffed animals with squeakers – lots of these.

But don’t worry if you can’t afford some of the more expensive ferret toys. You can’t go wrong with boxes. For example, I took some boxes, taped the tops shut, and cut round holes in one or both ends. Rikki and Possum love to run in and out and play in them. A big hit for sure!

Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t buy your pet ferrets soft-rubber dog or cat toys. Ferrets love to chew the soft rubber, and this can easily become a ferret health hazard. Small pieces of the rubber toys may get lodged in your ferret’s intestines, and this can cause illness and even death.

Whether you provide your fuzzies store-bought or homemade ferret toys, always make sure they are ferret safe.

Ferret Toys – Commercially Produced Ferret Fun

I’ve spent a good bit of money on toys for Rikki and Possum. Some they loved, and some they didn’t play with at all. So before you shell out your hard-earned dollars for the latest and greatest ferret gizmo, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does this ferret toy do exactly? If it’s just another ball that makes noise, is it really worth the price (especially if the sound is irritating to you)?
  2. Is it designed with ferrets in mind? That cute chew toy may not be built to withstand a ferret’s strong teeth and claws. That stuffed animal may have fibers that could become lodged in your ferret’s digestive tract.
  3. Is this the best price I can find for this item? It really does pay to shop around. That internet bargain is not such a great deal when you add shipping, handling, and sales tax. That discount store may have exactly the same ferret toy you found in the pet store for a much lower price (or it may have a knock-off version by another manufacturer).
  4.  Is there a good return policy? What if your fuzzy just doesn’t like the toy? What if the toy doesn’t do what it promises to do? A reputable dealer will offer you a refund if you return the toy (along with a receipt and the packaging) within a reasonable amount of time.

With that being said, here are a few of my top ferret-toy picks:

  1. Another ferret. Ferrets are social animals. They need plenty of company for their well-being. If you’re going to own a ferret, you may as well consider adopting one or two or more. Yes, it will cost more money, but a ferret with company is a happy ferret.
  2. A deluxe cage. Some people scoff at buying a ferret cage with all the “bells and whistles” on it. They think a cage is just a cage. But keep in mind that the cage is your ferret’s home. So a cage with tunnels, ramps, and multiple levels will keep your ferrets entertained during the hours you can’t be with them.
  3. Tube systems. Tube systems for ferrets and similar pets are great because they areFerret Toys - Ferret Tube specifically built for small animals. You know the tubes will withstand a lot of wear and tear. Many of them can be configured in a variety of ways and even twisted into corkscrew turns so you can entertain your ferret (and yourself) for hours. And most of them are ferret safe – but always make sure before you buy.

Choose ferret toys wisely, and both you and your ferrets will be happy.