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.

A Richard Simmons Ferret?

I’ve been seeing several searches lately for “exercising ferrets” and “ferret exercise.” I haveFerrets Playing and Exercising to admit I laugh when I see these.

I’m not laughing at the search itself. What I am laughing at is the picture that pops into my head every time I see the search terms.

What pops into my head is an image of Possum (my panda ferret) in tiny red shorts, a yellow tank top, tennis shoes, and a bandana tied around his head. If you only knew Possum, then you’d understand why that picture is so hilarious. Actually, it should be Rikki (my VERY active albino ferret) in the red shorts, yellow tank top, and bandana. But, somehow, Possum is the one who comes to mind.

Possum is my laid-back, cuddly ferret who is a little on the chubby side. The way I try to make sure he gets his ferret exercise is to let him and Rikki out of their cage to play at least 2 to 4 hours every day. Ferrets are very playful critters and do not like being caged up.

In fact, my bedroom is actually my pet ferrets’ room. I just sleep there. Rikki and Possum have complete run of my room. I have made it completely ferret proof and escape proof.

Sometimes, for variety in their exercise, I let them run around in the TV room. But I do that only if I can be in there with them to supervise.

I also take them walking outside occasionally. I do have to admit that I don’t take themAerobics Man outside as much as I should. I am, however, trying to get better at this because ferrets need sunlight.

When it comes to ferret exercise, the main thing is just to get them out of the cage and letthem play to their hearts’ content. Or you can put little tank tops and shorts and tiny tennis shoes on your pet ferrets, tie bandanas around their fuzzy heads, and let them get to exercising to some music – just like we used to do back in the ’80s.

Trucking Ferrets

Have you ever heard of a fuzzy going trucking? I have to admit I never had . . . till the otherTrucking Ferrets night when I was talking on the phone with my brother, who is a long-haul truck driver.

Like me, my brother is a big animal lover. He has a 10-year-old Basset hound named Petey. This dog is his buddy, and if he weren’t so old, my brother would take Petey on the road with him.

Anyhow, while we were talking on the phone, I was trying to clean Rikki’s and Possum’s cage and litter boxes. And, as usual, I was getting a lot more “help” from them than I needed. My brother kept hearing all this noise and asked what in the world I was doing. So I told him what I was doing and how Rikki and Possum were trying to dig the clean litter out of their boxes and getting it on the floor.

That started the conversation about him seeing truck drivers with their various pets on the road. My brother then told me about the time he was at a truck stop filling up his truck with diesel when another truck pulled up beside him to refuel.

He said a big burly guy got out of the truck and was talking to someone or something. My brother didn’t see anyone else in that truck and he saw the driver lifting something out, so he figured he was talking to a pet, most likely a dog. Then he saw the driver walking something around the truck with him while it was filling.

My brother told me that at this point he couldn’t keep from laughing. Around the truck came a big guy holding the end of a leash. And at the other end of the leash – my brother was expecting to see a great big dog – was a ferret!Albino Ferret in Purse

Yep, you read it right, a ferret. Up to that point, my brother thought he had seen just about everything on the road. But he had to admit that wasn’t the case until he saw this great big tough-looking guy walking his pet ferret at the truck stop.

Now, we know that fuzzies like to go trucking too!

For more information on how to travel with ferrets, take a look at Getting Started with Pet Ferrets, a comprehensive guide for new ferret owners.

Theft – Is it a Ferret Problem in Your House?

Do you have a problem of thievery in your house? Well, I do! And the little thieves are named Rikki Tikki Tavi and Awesome Possum.

Actually, Rikki is my biggest thief. Possum is my little clown. I actually should say PossumFerret Stealing is my “big” clown. He is at least twice as big as Rikki, both lengthwise and weight-wise.

I’m a barefoot person when I’m in the house. I kick my shoes off in my bedroom and then go do whatever I need to do. When I decide to go outside, I go into my bedroom, and – behold! – my shoes are not where I put them. So the shoe hunt is on! Most of the time, they are under my bed – but not all the time. Then it can take me almost an hour to find them.

Not only do I have to worry about my shoes (and this is embarrassing to tell, but I also haveFerret Looking for Something to Steal to hunt up my bras. Yep. My bras! The little fuzzies get into my dirty-clothes hamper and dig them out, cart them to my closet or stash them under my bed, and then sleep in them. (I told you it was embarrassing. But, I have to admit, it’s also funny.)

I think ferrets must be kin to pack rats. They really aren’t, but they should be because they hide about everything! They even hide their favorite toys.

Rikki has a plastic frog that used to be my grandchildren’s bath toy. (As you can tell, it’s not now though.) Rikki hides that frog so we can’t get it.

Possum’s favorite toy is a cat toy that was given to him and Rikki by a very close friend. Well, Rikki never gets to play with it because Possum hides it from her. And when Rikki finally does find it . . . Possum hides it again in a new hiding spot.

If you don’t want anything of value taken, don’t put it where little thieves can get it. If you ever watched The Beastmaster, then you remember that the little thieves who stole clothes were Podo and Kodo, two ferrets. And in case you didn’t know, the name “ferret” comes from the Latin word “furonem,” which means “thief.”

So, a warning to all ferret owners: we are doomed to suffer thievery!

Bath Time for Your Ferret

Ferret at Bath TimeFerret bath time? That’s a terrifying thought – for both me and my little fuzzy kids!

Actually, you really shouldn’t bathe your ferrets very often. My vet and all the books I have read (Ferrets for Dummies is a great one) suggested bathing a ferret only a few times a year.

Bathing your fuzzy kid too often is actually not good. Bathing takes the natural oil out of the skin and the hair. And frequent bathing causes dry, flaky skin and coarse fur.

When you do bathe your fuzzy kid, use a shampoo that is gentle on your ferret. There are shampoosPanda Ferret Ready for Bath out there for ferrets, but I use baby shampoo on Rikki and Possum. In fact, my vet said that baby shampoo is the safest for ferrets, and it doesn’t dry out their skin. In my opinion, it makes them smell better, and it’s easier on the pocket book!

Since I don’t bathe my ferrets very often, I just make sure I don’t run out of GoodBye Odor. It doesn’t take the ferret smell completely away, but it sure as heck makes it tolerable.

Ferrets as Pets – Be Prepared for the Commitment

I took my fuzzy babies to the vet yesterday for a check-up and vaccinations. Boy, was it ever an ordeal for them! I think they’re still mad at me.

At one point, I was explaining to the doc how I found Rikki. And it got me reflecting later on finding this poor little creature out in the wet and cold. At the time, I was sure someone was frantic about losing their baby – until no one claimed this beautiful little animal. I checked everywhere I could think of to find her owner: pet store, vets, SPCA, ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation), and so on.

What I found out in the process was quite a shock to me.

I was informed that a lot of people buy ferrets on impulse because they are cute and Ferret Playingentertaining little animals. But then these people realize how much money and time is involved in taking care of them properly. So they just toss their ferrets outside to fend for themselves.

I can’t stress strongly enough that ferrets have been domesticated for so long, they hardly ever make it on their own.

In fact, I was shocked to find out that there are rescue foundations for ferrets just as for dogs and cats. I have a hard time thinking there are people in this world who would abandon any animal – let alone a small defenseless animal like a ferret.

What it amounts to is this. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in these sweet, adorable, funny, and loveable pets, then don’t get one.

Also, if you have young children who just have to have a pet ferret, keep in mind that, more than likely, a large share of the ferret-care burden will fall on your shoulders. Ferrets as pets take a real commitment that many children just aren’t prepared for.

So . . . make sure you are prepared for the commitment it takes to be a responsible ferret owner. For there may not someone around to take home your burdensome Mitzi or Rudy or Bella.

My Little Escape Artist

One of the things you will learn when you become a proud parent of a ferret is that ferrets are great escapees. My female albino ferret, Rikki, should have been named Houdini.

I have to make sure that the cage doors are securely locked when Rikki and Possum are in it. If I don’t, they (and especially Rikki) will soon be out of it.

I keep my ferrets in my bedroom because I thought that would be the safest room for them – andFerret Escaping one they couldn’t get out of. But, boy, was I wrong!

I was coming home from a friend’s one day when I got a call from my husband. He called to tell me that he had just got home and found Rikki in the kitchen eating out of the dog’s food bowl. I just about panicked. No one had been home but the dog. And we never leave them in the same room together.

When I got home I checked Rikki to make sure she was okay. I then tried to figure out how she got out of my bedroom – but I couldn’t.

So I got her out of the cage and turned her loose in my room again.  I closed the door as usual and then took a seat on the couch across from my bedroom door . . . and waited.

And guess whose head was sticking out from under the door within a few minutes. Yep, it was Rikki’s. Then her body followed her head. And she was soon exploring the T.V. room.

Now, I have to stuff notebooks under the door to keep her in my room. And my husband has toFerret Escape Artist figure out a more effective way to block under the door, one that doesn’t look as tacky as the notebooks.

I have had Rikki for one year and eight months. And this was the first time she had ever done this. So never underestimate your ferret.

By the way, if you’re looking for a ferret name, you just might try Houdini. No matter your ferret’s color or personality, Houdini will always fit.

Happy Birthday, Possum!

Without my knowledge, one year ago today, a beautiful baby boy was born.Panda Ferret

I didn’t even know my baby existed . . . until one day last November. That’s when my husband and Rikki Tikki Tavi and I went to the pet store to pick out a baby brother for Rikki.

Now, I have a beautiful, ornery, spoiled-rotten, and much loved one-year-old panda ferret.

Happy first birthday, Possum!

I love ya!

Homemade Ferret Toys – Cheap and Easy Fun for Your Pet Ferrets

Last time, we talked about commercially produced ferret toys. Some of them are great, andDangling Ferret Toy some aren’t so good. And you can easily sink a small fortune in toys for your fuzzy friends – sometimes almost as much as you can for your children’s toys. But are there any alternatives?

Of course there are. Just as small children can play for hours with a cardboard box, your ferret will be content with a few small items you may already have lying around the house. There are plenty of items you can get for free (or nearly free) that will give your ferret hours of fun:

  1. Squeaky toys. Most dollar stores have a pet section where you can find a large assortment. As long as the toy is made of sturdy plastic, your fuzzy will have a great time using it to make noise and play fetch or hide and seek.
  2. Balls. Whether they are large or small, soft or hard, all ferrets love to have balls to batFerret Toy Ball around and chase.
  3. Dangling toys. Ferrets love to bat at something dangling in front of them. Plus, you can use such ferret toys to teach them to walk on a leash. All you need to do is to put the leash and harness on your ferret and then dangle the toy in to coax it to walk. Before you know it, you’ll be going for a daily stroll together.
  4. Old clothing, blankets, and/or towels. There is hardly a ferret around who doesn’t love to burrow under an old comforter or T-shirt. With a little effort, you can convert these items into a sleep sack or hammock, which is not just a bed – it is a favorite ferret toy.
  5. Cardboard boxes. I took a medium-sized cardboard box, closed up both ends, and cut a ferret-sized hole in one end near the bottom. And this has been one of Rikki’s and Possum’s favorite toys for many months. (Just make sure the box is free of any toxic materials, and test to make certain your ferrets can’t chew off small bits and ingest them. Ferret safety first, always!)

If you don’t have these ferret toys lying around the house, you can probably find many of them at rummage sales or thrift stores for very low prices. Before you buy, make sure to inspect them to ensure they will withstand your ferret. When you get them home, wash them thoroughly before handing them over to your ferret to avoid passing along any germs or bacteria.

But don’t forget your ferret’s favorite toy – you!