What Are the Top 3 Ferret Toys (According to my Ferrets)?

There is, of course, a dizzying multitude of ferret toys on the market. So trying to find great toys for your fuzzies can be both confusing and overwhelming. And because of that, it’s easy to spend a small fortune trying to find just the right toys for your pet ferrets. But maybe this post will make it a little easier and save you both time and money. Following are the toys my fuzzies have chosen as their top 3 favorites.

Ferret Tunnel System – This consists of a long section (or sections) of pliable, bendable clear-plastic tubing. It’s about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and has enough stiffness to retain its shape while your carpet sharks travel through it. They won’t get stuck because, with a little effort, they can turn around in the tunnel.

You can also purchase various attachments to go on the ends of the tunnel. These make the tunnel play even more fun for them and more enjoyable for you to watch. This tunnel system was my best (and fairly inexpensive) ferret-toy investment. My babies absolutely love scampering through, around, and over their tunnel toys.

Just watch them having a ton of fun in this video:

Ball Pit – This is another simple and inexpensive toy that my ferrets love. It’s basically just a box filled with hard-plastic balls. They jump into the box, burrow in among the balls, and wrestle with one another while in the box. My babies love this toy almost as much as they do their tunnels.

Just make sure that if you do get a ball pit, the balls are large enough that your ferret(s) can’t swallow them. Also, the balls should be made of a hard plastic – NOT rubber – so that your fuzzy family members can’t bite or chew off pieces and ingest them.

Peanuts – Another simple and inexpensive toy, the peanuts were, for a long time my ferrets’ favorite. Again, this is another toy that consists of just a box filled with ferret-fancy-tickling objects.

These objects look just packing peanuts – but they are NOT. Never let your ferret(s) play with Styrofoam objects of any kind. They can bite off small pieces of the Styrofoam and ingest them – which could result in a trip to the et and maybe even surgery for your pet.

The peanuts in this toy, though, are made of a starch that is completely harmless to ferrets if ingested. And, boy, do my guys and gal love to dive into the box full of peanuts and get after it. They burrow, they wrestle, they swim, they leap out and back in, they –

Well, just see for yourself in this video:

 

For more tips and ideas on both commercial and homemade ferret toys, take a look at Ferret Toys: Keeping Pet Ferrets Happy.

“The Ferret Squad” to Advocate Legalizing Ferrets in California

A Ferret Movie for Legalizing Ferret Ownership in California

Ferrets are furry, cute pets, but the state of California is one of the few places in the United States that outlaws them as pets. Canadian filmmaker and ferret owner Alison Parker is using the power of movies to present the case for ferrets.

Parker’s first foray into ferret films was Jake And Jasper: A Ferret Tale. Released in 2011, this short film tells the story of a boy being helped by a ferret to overcome an emotionally difficult time.

In 2012, Parker began fundraising in the hope of creating a full-length feature titled TheFerret Movie - The Ferret Squad Ferret Squad. This movie focuses on ferrets being illegal to own in California, and what happens when a boy who owns one moves there and meets up with a group of children who call themselves The Ferret Squad.

Read the full article here.

You might also enjoy our short story titled “Danny and Oliver: A Ferret-Rescue Tale” – a story in the same vein as Jake and Jasper.

Black-Footed Ferret News – What’s Happening with Your Pet Ferret’s Wild Cousin

Owing chiefly to the efforts of the National Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program, this wild relative of your pet ferret is making a healthy come-back, with about 1,000 in the wild now. It seems, though, there is still work to be done in North Dakota . . .

The black-footed ferret, which had been thought twice extinct and has been on the endangered species list since 1967, is making a comeback.

The resurgence of black-footed ferrets is due in large part to the National Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program, a multi-partner project lead by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But plans to bring the ferrets back to North Dakota aren’t concrete.

“We don’t have any firm plans to reintroduce black-footed ferrets,” said Jeff Towner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service North Dakota field supervisor. “Our long-term desires would be to, at some point, reintroduce black-footed ferrets to North Dakota, because it’s part of their historic range.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is interested in starting up as many new colonies as we can.”

Since the recovery program started in 1981, the black-footed ferrets have grown in number from 18 to about 1,000 ferrets in the wild . . .

Read the entire September 13 article titled “Ferrets’ return on hold” by Royal McGregor here.

Ferret Odor Revisited

If you’ve owned a pet ferret for any length of time, then you’re no doubt acquainted with your pet’s distinctive, um, ferret odor. A ferret’s unique scent can sometimes be a problem for new owners of pet ferrets. Fortunately, you have a few options if you dislike having a “stinky Ferret Odor Solutionslinky.”

First, keep in mind that a ferret’s scent is simply a natural part of its existence. Ferrets, being related to skunks, have scent glands located near the anus (although a pet ferret doesn’t use her glands for defense the way a skunk does). Usually, these glands are removed when the ferret is quite young (generally at the same time it is being spayed or neutered). And if you got your ferret from a pet store it has most likely been “de-scented.”

But in some countries removing the scent glands is considered to be abusive and therefore not performed. If you are adopting a pet ferret from outside the US, be sure to find out whether the animal has been de-scented.

If your pet has not been de-scented, he may release a distinctive (and pretty strong) musk-like odor when excited, afraid, or angry. But once your ferret has calmed down, the smell usually dissipates fairly quickly.

Removing the scent glands will eliminate most of the musky ferret odor. It may recur, however, if you don’t take care of your ferret properly. And this happens because ferrets have oil glands that also emit a musky odor.

While it may seem counterintuitive, you should NOT bath your ferret frequently to control this ferret odor. Too much bathing will actually make the problem worse because frequent baths will wash away the natural oils that actually help protect your fuzzy’s health. Bathe your ferret no more than about once a month.

(Also be aware that a persistent, strong ferret smell could signal that its teeth and/or ears could use some cleaning.  If the problem persists after you’ve thoroughly cleaned these areas, you should take your pet ferret see her vet.)

Now, while most ferret owners adjust to their fuzzies’ unique “odor,” other members of the family often do not. Family (and friends) may complain about this smell. But not to worry – this ferret odor can be controlled (though not eliminated entirely) quite easily.

You can control pet ferret odor with a product called GoodBye Odor for Ferrets. I use it because it works – and I wouldn’t be without it.

Another New Ferret Story

Everyone loves a story with children and animals – especially when it has an ending that New Story for Ferret Loversmakes you smile. And that pretty well describes in broad strokes our new short story titled “Danny and Oliver: A Ferret-Rescue Tale.”

Here’s what our blurb says:

Twelve-year-old Danny McGuire loves his pet ferret, Oliver – but Danny’s parents don’t. They also think he should do more of the things “normal boys” do.

Still, Danny manages to remain fairly cheerful and keep his grades up. Oliver consoles him, his mountain-bike rides bring him solace, and his best friend Mike offers some hard-won advice.  It all works out, for the most part, until . . . things go terribly wrong.

But, then, it pays to remember that a rescue ferret can sometimes “rescue” a bad situation.

Strictly speaking “Danny and Oliver: A Ferret-Rescue Tale” is a children’s story. But it is also a story that, we think, will please ferret lovers of all ages.

Essential Ferret Supplies and Some Ferret Resources

There’s a lot going on this week. So today’s post is going to be quickie.

Below you will find a list of the essential ferret supplies and a few links to some goodPet Ferret on Bath Tub resources for information about pet ferrets.

New owners are sometimes surprised by the number and variety of ferret supplies they need. Ferrets are not like goldfish or pet rocks. You will likely need to make a significant outlay to get everything you need to keep your ferret healthy and happy.

The essential ferret supplies you’ll need are:

  • Quality ferret cage. A wire-mesh cage with at least two square feet of floor space per ferret.
  • Pet carrier. Your ferret will need to see a veterinarian at least once a year and probably more often in that critical first year. You’ll need a sturdy pet carrier to transport your fuzzy.
  • Ferret bedding. Because ferrets love to burrow and to snuggle up when they sleep, they need cozy bedding. Whether it’s an old blanket or a swinging hammock or a hanging pirate-ship bed, comfort is the key here.
  • Ferret food. Whether it’s canned, dry, or even whole prey, the food you choose must be specifically intended for ferrets so that it meets their needs for a high-protein, high-fat, low-fiber diet.
  • Food and water containers. These should be heavy and durable to resist tipping. Many ferret owners prefer to use non-drip water bottles.
  • Litter box and non-clumping litter. Remember that ferrets love to dig, so choose a corner-fitting box with high sides (and be sure to secure it to the cage). Non-clumping – and dust-free – litter is essential to protect ferret health as the clumping variety can play havoc with the digestive system.
  • Hygiene items. Shampoo, brushes, combs, nail clippers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, ear washes, vitamins, and supplements are every bit as important for your ferret as they are for your own health.
  • Harness and leash. A ferret needs to be out of the cage for several hours each day. One way to keep your fuzzy busy is to take him for a walk in the great outdoors. Just make sure to use a ferret harness and NOT a collar to avoid any possibility of escape or choking.

One of the best ferret sites I have come across is All About Ferrets. There, you’ll find plenty of articles about ferret care, an active forum, and an interesting blog.

As for ferret books, the two I recommend (so far) are Ferrets for Dummies and Getting Started with Pet Ferrets (of course).

Kim Schilling’s Ferrets for Dummies has most of the basic information new and long-time ferret owners would need to make sure their pet ferrets are healthy and happy. A strength of this book is the wealth of ferret health information. Schilling does a good job detailing ferret health issues, as well as possible prevention and treatments. She also provides a lot of good advice on choosing a vet.

Getting Started with Pet Ferrets is our book on ferret adoption, ferret care, and ferret health. It is designed for fairly new ferret owners and attempts to fill in many of the blanks and weak spots you will find in other ferret books. It also contains a useful ferret-preparedness checklist – to help you make sure you home is ferret ready and ferret safe before you bring you first fuzzy home to live with you.

If you know of other good ferret resources (sites, books, videos), just leave a comment or send an email and let us know.

Training Pet Ferrets

Here is an excerpt from our book on ferret care titled Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.

Playtime is fun, of course, but it can also be educational. You can use playtime to teach your ferret many useful skills. Start by teaching it to come when called. It’s really easy, especially if you make the effort to say the ferret’s name often when you’re playing together: (“Hi Fuzzball!” “You like that, Fuzzball?” “What are you doing there, Fuzzball?”)

Soon, you’ll be able to call its name while offering a treat. (“Hey Fuzzball! Look what IFerret Care and Ferret Training Book have for you!”) Of course, give the treat when it comes promptly. Keep repeating this game until it has learned to associate its name with a treat. Start to withhold the treat if it seems to ignore you. Your ferret will soon get the idea that it’s better to come quickly.

Teaching your ferret to come when called makes it easier to stop bad behavior.  Say its name and a firm “No!” when it nips or bites or starts to dig somewhere it shouldn’t.

Once your pet responds its name, you can start teaching it to walk on a leash.  (See below.)

These are just some of the basic skills ferrets can learn. You’re sure to develop your own games and ferret skills over time so you’ll enjoy your pet even more.

For the more important behaviors (using the litter box, bite prevention, leash training), it’s best to start as soon as possible. Habits (both bad and good ones) start at a young age and are more easily learned or broken early.

No matter what you are trying to train your ferret to do, remember to be patient. You had to learn to crawl before you could walk. Your ferret will likewise have to learn step by step.

You also need to be consistent. Remember Pavlov’s dogs from your high-school psychology class (the ones who eventually learned to salivate at the ringing of a bell)? Your ferrets can also be conditioned to do certain things at specific times of the day. They can also be conditioned away from bad behaviors (for example, associating biting with an inevitable firm slap on the backside and a loud “NO!”), as long as they receive the same consequences EVERY time the bad behavior happens.

Consistency also helps in understanding your ferret’s personality. For instance, litter training works best when you know your ferret’s toileting pattern. Likewise, if your ferret tends to nip when you are playing a certain way, you’ll know to be watchful for it and take steps to prevent it.

Be kind also. In your rush to make your ferret the most talented animal on the block, it’s easy to be impatient. Unfortunately, your ferret will sense that impatience by your harsh tones and behavior, which will make it less willing to learn. As the saying goes, you’ll collect more flies with honey than with vinegar.

It’s also kinder to ease up on training if your ferret seems tired or sick. If it seems to be acting unusually, check to see if it has been injured or is ill. If not, then consider whether there has been any major changes in your ferret’s life lately (new member of the family, new home, missing family member).There’s no sense in putting a ferret through its paces if it is not up to it. Tomorrow is another day, after all.

Make it fun – for both of you. Remember when you were in school? Which teachers did you like best? They were probably the ones who made learning a game. Your ferret is no different. Make the learning process fun for your ferret by offering treats and by taking time out for play time together. You’re likely to find you are having more fun teaching your ferret.

If you are having trouble with any aspect of training, don’t go it alone. Look for expert help wherever you can find it. There are plenty of ferret websites that offer great tips. Your veterinarian will also have many resources, as will ferret organizations, pet stores, and animal-rescue groups. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

We hope it’s obvious that you should never resort to abusing your ferret when you are training it. It’s never right to give more than a firm-but-very-gentle swat on the behind. It’s never right to withhold food, water, or medicines or to confine your ferret to a cage for lengthy periods as punishment.

Leash Training
Taking your ferret for a walk is fun. Your ferret will have fun exploring the great outdoors, and you’ll get a chance to meet new people who are curious about your fuzzy. First, though, you’ll need to get your ferret used to wearing a harness.

To do so, have your ferret come to you and sit on your lap while you get the harness on. Harnesses and leashes are available at most pet-supply stores. You may need to try several styles to find the right one for your ferret, but generally leather collars and H-style harnesses work the best for ferrets. Plastic ones can be chewed through too easily, and stretchy ones can quickly become misshapen and useless.

At first, the ferret may balk at wearing such an ungainly contraption, but if you offer a favorite toy or treat when it’s wearing the harness, it will soon become second nature.

Once the ferret seems accustomed to the harness, you can attach the leash. Hold on to the leash and walk a few steps forward. Offer the treat and let the ferret come to you.  Walk a few more steps and offer another treat. Keep this up, and your ferret will soon be very eager for a daily walk (or run).

Never leave your ferret harnessed, leashed, or tied to a pole untended. It will try to escape and could be an easy mark for predators.

Don’t let the leash get tangled in tall grass, shrubs, or other obstacles.

If your ferret gets away from you, do your best to find it quickly. Ferrets have been domesticated for so long they could not survive long in the wild on their own.

Getting Started with Pet Ferrets is a book designed to aid new ferret owners with the basics of ferret care and ferret training.

More on Black-Footed Ferrets

The other day I was asked again about having a black-footed ferret as a pet and what would happen if that person had a black-footed ferret as a pet.

As I wrote in a previous post, black-footed ferrets are a distant cousin to our domesticated little fuzzies. Black-footed ferrets are native to North America and are on the Endangered Species List.

It is illegal to have a black-footed ferret as a pet here in the United States, as well as in Canada and in Mexico. As with all animals on the Endangered Species List, they are highly protected by the government.

So if you were sold a black-footed ferret or given one as a gift, be aware that it was done illegally.

If you would like to learn more about the black-footed ferret, go to www.blackfootedferret.org.

You will also learn how hard it would be to get a black-footed ferret.

To learn more about legal pet ferrets and their care, you can go here.

Ferret Clothes and Ferret Costumes for the Well Dressed Fuzzy

For some people, the best part of owning a ferret is dressing it up. Manufacturers know this, and they’ve made it easy to find a seemingly endless array of hats, T-shirts, hoodies, and other garb. But what ferret clothes do you really need?

The answer should be obvious: ferret clothes are not needed at all. Mother Nature providedFerret in Bumble Bee Costume your ferret with all the clothing it really needs – a nice warm coat designed to protect it from the elements. The only time your ferret may actually need ferret clothes is if it recovering from surgery or an injury. In that case, ferret clothes can provide a little added protection to help the site heal.

Still, there are many ferret owners who just enjoy dressing up their pet ferrets whenever they go out.  Ferret clothes can make it easier to distinguish their pet when socializing with other ferrets. They can also make it easier to find a ferret if it goes wandering off.

But, face it, most of the time ferrets wear clothes because the owners find them cute. Thus there are ferret clothes for just about any occasion: sweaters, hoodies, and T-shirts are available for just about every interest, including sports, holidays, and so on.

There are also many types of ferret hats on the market, including baseball hats, Santa hats, Cat-in-the-Hat stovepipes, and countless others.

Often, ferret-related organizations, such as rescue groups, will host a ferret fashion show as part of their regular meetings. These are great places to meet other ferret owners while having fun and raising money for an excellent cause.

Naturally, ferret clothes are available from a variety of vendors – and at a variety of prices.Ferret in Lady Bug Costume The largest supplier is, not surprisingly, Marshall, which produces many other ferret products as well. Because the ferret world is a clothing-optional one, only buy the outfits you can afford and will actually use. If possible, check the quality of the items – usually less expensive items will be of lower quality and be more likely to tear or shrink. If you buy online, be sure to carefully read the vendor’s return policy and get a receipt.

If you want to save money, you may be able to find used ferret clothes and other supplies at online classified advertising sites. As with any other purchase, you need to know exactly what you’re buying and that the seller is being honest. Check each clothing item to make sure it is intact. If the item has been worn by another ferret, find out about its health to ensure your ferret won’t “inherit” a skin disease or other health problem.

Surprisingly, while there are a variety of ready-made ferret clothes, there are seemingly few patterns for them. A crafty ferret owner may be able to adjust patterns for dog or doll clothes to fit, but it takes a certain amount of know-how to do it.

If you choose to make ferret clothes, watch out for dangling parts that could get caught between cage bars or on other obstacles. Remember, your ferret loves to chew things and could easily gnaw off and swallow that cute bell or button. Drawstrings can become knotted and easily strangle your pet. Wool clothing can be chewed and swallowed, obstructing the digestive tract. Ferret clothes can be dangerous for your pet.

Also, remember that ferret clothes should not be worn all the time. Your ferret’s skin and fur need to breathe. If clothes are kept on constantly, your pet ferret’s skin will dry out, and his fur will become matted. So take off the clothes and let your fuzzy kids run free. Be sure to wash the clothes regularly to remove any germs or bacteria they may have been picked up along the way.

You may discover that as much as you love that adorable winter coat, your ferret will balk at putting it on. In that case, you have two options. The first is trying to persuade your ferret to sit calmly while you put the item on it. Set the ferret on your lap and feed her a favorite treat or gently stroke her fur while you carefully put the item on.  No matter what you do, your ferret may or may not fight you every step of the way.

The other option is to simply accept your ferret’s answer and try again another day or send the item back to the retailer who sold it to you. (You did keep the receipt, didn’t you?)

Ferret clothes are not for everyone or every ferret, but they can be a fun part of pet ownership. Have fun with your fashionable fuzzy. And find out more about the many aspects of ferret “parenting” here.

A Little Ferret History – Pet Ferrets are No Fuzzies Come Lately

Guest Post by Michael Hearing

Do you know your ferret history? Many people consider owning pet ferrets a fairly new fad. But ferrets have a long history as domesticated pets. You’ll be surprised at the illustrious history of your woozle.

Ferret Varieties

The ferret is, of course, a mammal belonging to the Mustelidae family. The most common is the Mustela putorius furo. Wikipedia notes that the ferret “is a very close relative of thePanda Ferret and Albino Ferret in Ferret Bed polecat, but it is as yet unclear whether it is a domesticated form of the European Polecat (Mustela putorius), the Steppe Polecat (Mustela eversmanii), or some hybrid of the two.” Polecats and ferrets often interbred, and there are even wild colonies of these hybrids that have damaged native plants in New Zealand.

The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) looks a lot like the domesticated ferret, but the black-footed ferret, in addition to the black markings on its feet and tail, also has a black mask. While the black-footed variety is native to the US, it is illegal to own one. It is endangered because settlers have pretty much eliminated prairie dogs, the black-footed ferret’s main food source. (If you come across someone who owns a black-footed ferret, you should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Ferret History

Ferrets have been used since the days of ancient Greece and Rome to control rats and other vermin. They are cited in the biblical book of Leviticus among the “unclean” animals the ancient Hebrews were not to eat. (Some Bible translations specify “weasel” instead of “ferret.”)

In addition to destroying vermin, ferrets have also been used to chase rabbits from their burrows.  Although ferrets were formerly able to survive in the wild, the domesticated variety has become so dependent on us that it cannot survive alone in the wild and would likely die within a short time.

Ferrets once played a vital role in European life. In some areas of England, they were known as fitchets, from the word ficheaux. They were so valuable that settlers brought ferrets with them when they came to the colonies. Farmers and hunters found them effective tools for controlling pests and sniffing out small food animals. Once chemical pesticides became available, the use of ferrets for pest control died out. Today, it is generally illegal in the US to use ferrets for hunting purposes.

Just as humans don’t always have the most impressive pedigrees, so it is with ferrets. There’s a reason that the term “ferret” is synonymous with “thief.” Ferrets are the compulsive thieves of the animal world, so never be surprised if your keys, coins, treats, and other items suddenly turn up missing.

Cultured Ferrets

You can also find many depictions of ferrets and references to ferret history in Western art and literature. No less a personage than Leonardo da Vinci painted La dama Con L’ermellino in the late fifteenth century. While the title describes the animal in the subject’s arms as an ermine, a symbol of purity and incorruptibility, animal experts say it is actually a ferret. (An ermine, a wild animal, would be too difficult to capture and pose for a painting. What’s more, the animal depicted is too large to be an ermine, but is about the right size for a ferret.)

Writer Virginia Woolf once called playwright Noel Coward as “clever as a bag of ferrets and trivial as a perch of canaries.” Speaking of playwrights, William Shakespeare himself has the character Brutus describing Cicero as possessing “looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes as we have seen him in the Capital being crossed in conference by some senators” (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2).

In more modern literature, Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, wrote a series of short novels called the Ferret Chronicles. (They are now available in one volume called Curious Lives.) Each novel treats ferrets involved in human-like adventures. The recently deceased author Brian Jacques referred to ferrets in The Outcast of Redwall in his Redwall series, which recreate medieval times, albeit with animals as the main characters.

Scientific Ferrets

Ferrets have been important in more than vermin-control and art history. For example, ferrets played an important part in the study of human illnesses such as swine flu, influenza, SARS, and cystic fibrosis. They continue to be used in construction projects that require cables to be inserted in pipes too small for humans to enter.  Ferrets were used, for example, to help lay the television cables needed to broadcast Prince Andrew’s and Sarah Ferguson’s wedding in 1986.  In a more recent royal wedding, ferret races were among the festivities in Kate Middleton’s hometown of Bucklebury, England, the day she married Prince William in 2011.

Modern Ferrets

Experts estimate that there are now about four million ferrets in the US, making them the third most popular pet, behind dogs and cats. Several celebrities, including Paris Hilton and Madonna, have had pet ferrets, mainly because the animals are so sociable and easily carried.

While ferrets probably didn’t come over on the Mayflower and Shakespeare didn’t write any sonnets to his favorite fuzzy, it’s rather interesting to know that ferrets are not exactly newcomers in the world of domesticated pets. Without a doubt, pet ferrets have a long and illustrious history with humans. Found out more about our fuzzy friends in Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.