Keeping your ferret's nails nice and trim is essential to maintain the best health possible for your pet. Neglecting a ferret's nails can lead to problems such as foot arthritis in future, make walking difficult, and create situations in which the ferret will get its nail stuck and be forced to tear it off.
So, here's the basic idea: you take one set of nail clippers. Personally, I prefer to use cat nail scissors to trim nails, but others prefer human nail clippers to do the deed.
You want to do your best to trim the nail parallel with the ground, and avoid cutting the quick as this will hurt your ferret and likely cause bleeding. Here is a diagram to show how to properly trim the nails:
If you do accidentally wind up clipping the quick, stop cutting immediately and stop the bleeding with septic powder. If you do not have septic powder, run the nail over a bar of white soap or use a bit of white flour to stop the bleeding. Lavish your ferret with treats and kisses, and try clipping again in a couple of days.
Now that you know the theory behind nail clipping, here are some tips to help you actually get the ferret to stay still WHILE you clip their nails!
1) Oil on the tummy: This is my favourite method. Apply a puddle of your ferret's favourite treat oil (salmon oil, cod liver oil, emu oil, ferretone... you get the idea) to your ferret's tummy. I suggest wearing an apron if you've never used this method before as some ferrets will jump up and spill oil on you before figuring out that you are giving them a treat. While he or she is preocupied with cleaning the treat off of their tummy, you can sneak up and clip their nails.
2) Scruff you ferret and have another person clip their nails while they are being scruffed. Be careful doing this though as scruffed ferrets can sometimes jerk their feet out of protest when you begin trimming, increasing the likelihood of them being injured by the clippers.
3) Sneak up on them while they are asleep and trim as many nails as possible before they wake up and move. Of all the ferrets that I have owned or taken care of, this technique has only worked on one.