Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Smelly Weasels!

How to deal with the musky ferret smell...

Ferrets smell. It is true. All of our beloved companion animals have a distinctive odor - dogs, rats, cats. These odors cannot be washed away and are created by scent glands located throughout the animal's body. De scenting, contrary to popular belief, does not change the ferret's day to day odor. De scenting does nothing more than remove the rarely used scent glands which enable a ferret to release a poof of strong, oily musk when frightened. The simple reality is that if you cannot tolerate the smell of the animal, don't get the animal. Having said that, there are ways to minimize the odors associated with your pet...Here are some tips to reduce the musky odor that follows your pet ferret.
1) Change blankets regularly. Provide new fuzzy blankets and hammocks at least once a week; ferret bedding gathers oils and ferret smells quite quickly and can contribute to the overall smell of the animal.
2) Wash all bedding wish laundry soap AND baking soda. The baking soda helps neutralize ferrety odor.
3) Bathe them less frequently. Yes, this sounds counter-intuitive, but keep in mind that when you wash the ferret, you strip their skin of natural oils. The skin must work overtime to replenish the oils and so your newly bathed ferret smells more rather than less ferrety.
4) Wash the cage thoroughly once a week with soap and water. This helps wash the ferret's natural oils off of the cage. Washing the walls just behind the cage can help decrease odor as well.
5) If your ferrets have a room, wash the floor when you wash the cage. Ferrets are oily little animals and most likely have spread their oil all over the floor as well.
6) Scoop litters nightly and wash pans weekly with soap and water.
7) Adding a small amount of baking soda to the bottom of the pan (under the litter) can help absorb unpleasant litter box odors.
8) Keep food containers properly closed. Kibble does smell... ok, its not a ferrety smell, but it is not a pleasant one! This one has an added benefit as most ferrets prefer fresh food anyways!

One more thing to keep in mind: ferrets, when in a new location, do tend to turn up the smell, so if you have just gotten your first ferret and are wondering about the smell that did not some quite so potent in the pet store or at the shelter or foster home don't worry, once they have relaxed a bit, they will not smell as strongly.