Saturday, June 6, 2009

How to live with your ferret - 5 tips for successful cohabitation

Because we have been into lists lately, here is a list of 5 'golden rules' that help make life with ferrets a LOT easier!

1) Ferrets are not dogs. They cannot be trained like dogs. The sooner that you accept this, the happier you both will be.

2) Ferrets will NEVER use their litters 100% of the time. Period. End of story.
The very best that you can hope for is 90%. Caging, flicking, yelling at, giving time outs, scruffing and any other type of discipline that you can think of (appropriate or not) will NOT help rectify this. Ferrets just don't care - their litter is the nearest corner or, if they are angry with you, any spot that you will notice (though definitely NOT in the litter box).

*** for tips on methods of discipline, see "Curb your Ferret - Disciplining do's and dont's"

3) Taboo = fun for ferrets. If they know that a room is off limits, for example, a ferret will wait for the door to open and try to race you inside. Once inside they will often run about, bouncing, dooking, and doing the war dance. Disciplining for this is, well, pointless - ferrets won't understand why you hate their game so much, and will continue this game... in fact, by disciplining, you have made it MORE taboo and appealing!

4) Pick your fights. Overdoing discipline will lead to a stressful relationship between you and your ferret, and make discipline ineffective. Something worth disciplining your ferret for may include attempting to bite the family cat because the ferret is in a grumpy mood and that cat is there. This could be an opportunity to use a time out. Disciplining for the following: not using kitty litters, stealing objects, climbing over barriers, onto counters, under door, digging up plants, digging food, etc is NOT a good idea - it is a pointless waste of time that will stress both of you out.

***If your ferret constantly gets into areas that he or she is not allowed, you should be the one being disciplined, not your ferret; it is up to YOU to ferret proof in order to keep the ferret out, not up to your ferret to know to stay out!

5) Ferrets will be ferrets. They do 'ferrety' things such as stealing and hoarding random objects, missing their kitty litters, digging their food and your plants, sleeping in random places, getting into your stuff, knocking things over, getting where they aren't supposed to go and so on... if you don't like it (or feel the need to discipline the animal over such occurrences), they aren't the pet for you. The sooner that you are able to accept that discipline will not stop your ferret from being a ferret, the sooner the both of you can get on living and enjoying each others company. (Yes, I know that this is a bit of a repetition, but the point needs to be stressed!)

Enjoy your little critters for what they are: Ferrets!


  1. This might sound gross, but if my weasels don't use the litter and there's no pee, I leave it there dor a day because when it dries, it's ten times easier to pick up with a vaccuum and doesnt run the risk of getting squished into the carpeting, meriting the need to pull out my steamer! Amazing what ferret parenthood can cause you to do...

  2. Its a much better approach than getting all bent out of shape over them missing their litters and messing up your carpet!