Ferrets - Housing

What type of cage does my ferret require?

Due to their well-deserved reputation as escape artists, ferrets should be housed in a cage that can be securely closed and/or locked. The cage should be as large as you can afford; a suggested minimum size might be 24" x 24" x 18" high (60 cm x 60 cm x 45 cm). The cage should be well ventilated. Cage flooring can be solid or wire. Wooden flooring should be avoided as it will soak up urine and feces and emit a foul odor that will be difficult to eliminate. Multi-tiered cages are preferred.

Should my ferret spend time out of his cage?

Ferrets should not be continuously confined to their cage. They should be let out for at least two to three hours a day, though the more the better. They are intelligent, curious, and socially interactive animals. They need a safe, "ferret-proofed" play area or room where they can explore and investigate while supervised. This area should contain various objects to occupy them, such as boxes, paper bags, blankets, and plastic tubes or PVC piping, as well as things to climb into, over, on top of, and under. Be careful with heavy furniture that your ferret could get trapped behind and couches that he could tunnel into through the lining or padding.

What is meant by ferret-proofed?

All holes, no matter how small, leading to inaccessible areas MUST be blocked off to prevent escape or injury. If your ferret can put his head through it, his body will fit, too. Ferrets will burrow into the foam of couches, chairs, and mattresses, and climb into the back of stereo speakers, closets, and drawers. These areas should be blocked or sealed off with thin plywood or hardware cloth. Ferrets love to chew, so ALL FOAM, PLASTIC, and RUBBER objects MUST be kept away from your ferret, including objects such as shoe inserts, earplugs, children or pet toys, rubber bands, balloons, foam from audio speakers and headphones, etc. If your ferret swallows one of these materials or objects, it can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage) that requires an expensive surgery or may even cause death.

"If your ferret can put his head through it, his body will fit, too."

Does my ferret need bedding in his cage?

Towels, blankets, or t-shirts can be used for bedding. Woodchips can prove to be very messy and, for this reason, are not recommended.

What else does my ferret need in his cage?

Food and water bowls are often kept in a ferret's cage. Since ferrets are naturally playful, they often will tip over or spill their food and water dishes. You might try a heavy ceramic crock (safe for eating and drinking) to prevent this, or use a holder for the food and water bowls that can easily attach and latch to the cage. Sipper bottles can also be useful but are difficult to properly disinfect.

Most owners have a multi-level cage for their ferret(s). Hammocks can be set up on the second or third level to allow for a space for eating, drinking, and toileting on the first level and sleeping on the upper level(s). Ferrets play hard and sleep hard. They will sleep 12-18 hours a day. A dark, enclosed sleep area is critical. They will sleep in a t-shirt, towel, blanket, cloth bag, or a commercial product like a ferret hammock or ferret tent. Some ferrets will eat this cloth bedding so if you observe your ferret chewing on its bedding, it MUST be removed.

Toys that are safe for ferrets include cloth pet or baby toys, hard plastic or metal toys, ping-pong balls, golf balls, cardboard boxes, and paper bags. They love to crawl through things like large PVC pipes and cardboard tubes.

"Toys that are safe for ferrets include cloth pet or baby toys, hard plastic or metal toys, ping-pong balls, golf balls, cardboard boxes, and paper bags."

Ferrets can be trained to use a litter box with a pelleted litter. They like to back into a corner to relieve themselves, so the litter box should have reasonably high sides and be placed in a corner of the cage. Ferrets defecate frequently, so an additional litter box should be available in your ferret’s play area. Litter boxes should be cleaned and disinfected daily to prevent odor and bacteria buildup. Cat litter is a ‘no-no’, as ferrets may ingest this type of litter and suffer from serious and, in some cases, life-threatening intestinal upset or ulceration.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Ferrets are very sensitive to heatstroke. It is critical to keep their environmental temperature at or below 80oF (27oC) and kept well ventilated.