New ferret owners often have many questions about ferret toys. It’s easy to think that just 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.