(c) Ferret Info UK

Words of Wisdom

The following is provided to help you understand your ferret so that you can all live happily together for many years to come.

No matter how well you ferret proof your home or garden, unfortunately ferrets may get out (your house could be broken into or your outside housing tampered with, it does happen) so we would always recommend microchipping your ferrets.
 
If your ferret does stray then there is plenty of good advice of what to do in our Lost ferret checklist.

Ferret proofing your home ...

Ferrets are lively, intelligent, fun-loving animals with a highly developed sense of curiosity, which can get them and you into trouble...

  • The best way to ferret proof your home is to get down on your hands and knees and see everything from the ferrets perpective.

    •  
      • Being intelligent, agile and fast little creatures they can squeeze into the smallest of places, so make sure you block up small

        •   gaps under doors, fires, radiators, boilers, back of kitchen units, fridges and freezers, have fixed fire guards infront of fireplaces
            even when not in use - they are curious and may get stuck, hurt or worse.
          • Don't think because a door/drawer is shut on a cabinet that its contents are safe! A determined ferret will try its hardest to open anything that it sees can be, so door/drawer child locks or magnetic catches are recommended to keep fridges and sink cupboard (with toxic checmicals) secure from all.

            •  
              • Wires and cables are fair game for a curious ferret, not only can they bite through an electric cable and die of an electric shock or

                •   cause a fire; extension cables on floors seem to be viewed by ferrets as ideal toilet areas, which if urine seeps into a plug point
                    can start a fire long after the culprit has left the scene. Bitter apple spray or fresh chilli rubbed on wiring can help deter ferrets, but
                    all wiring is best kept out of reach even if it means covering the cable with conduit, and extension cables secure onto walls.
                  • Washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers may appear to a ferret the ideal place to explore and go to sleep in when your

                    •   back is turned, check your ferret is not inside before turning them on.
                      • If you have got, and like your carpets then buy a length of carpet protector or off cut of vinyl and cut a section by the door and if needs be, stick it down securely with carpet tape or screw it down. Not necessarily pretty but practical in the extreme as it will prevent holes appearing where your fuzzies try to dig their way out. Dont forget ferrets may poo and wee when out, so carpets can

                        •   become very smelly and stained over time as the urine seeps through to the underlay and bleaches the carpet. Regular carpet
                            cleaning with a carpet cleaning machine will help, sprays like Simple Solution can work between cleans but do build up on
                            carpets too so in rooms where ferrets free roam or come out to play a lot, vinyl flooring is a lot wiser.
                           
                          • To contain your ferrets in one room safely, whilst still allowing yourself access you can put in barriers which are high enough for the ferrets not to be able to jump, but still low enough for you to step over. View examples >

                              • Toilets, best to keep lid down as they may fall in and drown.

                                •  
                                  • Rubber gloves, buttons on remote controls, little rubber grips on bottom of food dishes, kong dog chews are all appealing to

                                    •   ferrets, which for some reason like to chew rubber which is BAD NEWS as digestion of rubber can cause bowel blockage which
                                        WILL KILL YOUR FERRET if not spotted soon enough, and will certainly mean a trip to your vets if you do realise in time what
                                        happened. The same goes for foam including headphone covers.
                                      • Ferrets are great climbers and can jump upto 3 feet in height, so what you might think is safely out of reach will not deter your ferret from trying to find a way up, especially if it smells something appealing. Tables, chairs, sofas, drawers are all climable, and

                                        •   ferrets have been known to move boxes and similar objects around rooms to gain access to higher areas. Once up, a ferret may
                                            struggle to get safely down, and this can lead to injury if the ferret falls from a height. So try to make high areas inaccessible and
                                            dont leave your ferret on its own in rooms where it can climb.
                                          • They can also get into sofas and chairs, which could result in your ferret being squashed if someone sits on the cushion it has got

                                            •   down the side off or under AND if you own a recliner or sofa bed DO NOT USE it when your ferret is out, ferrets have been killed
                                              or permanently maimed through accidents involving recliners.
                                               
                                              • If you have an open fire place or use a wood/fuel burner/stove make sure you have a safety fireguard (one that encloses all sides and the top) secured in front of it at all times. This will help prevent your fuzzies getting burnt when in use, but also exploring the chimney etc when not in use. NOTE - these guards will get hot themselves so ferrets should be supervised when playing near the fire, and make sure the ferrets cant slip through the guard and that if its a mesh guard that they dont get their claws caught in it.

                                                  • House plants - ferrets are keen gardeners and will love to dig them out for you, we find if you really want house plants large cobbles firmly pushed around them can help, but make sure the plant you choose isnt poisonous for your ferret (or any other

                                                    •   pets you may have). Common household plants to avoid include, Aloe Vera, Castor Oil Plants, Lillies, Crocus, English Ivy,
                                                        Pointsettia, Rhubarb & Cocoa Shell Mulch.

Aloe Vera
African Violet
Amaryllis
Apple (seeds)
Apple Leaf Croton
Apricot (pit)
Asparagus Fern
Autumn Crocus
Azalea
Baby's Breath
Begonia Rex
Bird of Paradise
Bittersweet
Branching Ivy
Buckeye
Buddhist Pine
Caladium
Calla Lily
Castor Bean
Century Plant
Ceriman
Charming Dieffenbachia
Cherry (seeds and wilting leaves)
Chinese Evergreen
Chrysanthemum
Cineraria
Clematis
Cordatum
Corn Plant
Cornstalk Plant
Croton
Cuban Laurel
Cutleaf Philodendron
Cycads
Cyclamen
Daffodil
Devil's Ivy
Dieffenbachia
Dracaena Palm
Dragon Tree
Dumb Cane
Easter Lily
Elaine
Elephant Ears
Emerald Feather
English Ivy
Eucalyptus
Fiddle-leaf Fig
Florida Beauty
Four O' Clock
Foxglove
Fruit Salad Plant
Geranium
German Ivy
Giant Dumb Cane
Glacier Ivy
Gold Dust Dracaena
Golden Pathos
Hahn's Self- Branching Ivy
Heartland Philodendron
Hurricane Plant
Hydrangea
Indian Rubber Plant
Iris
Ivy (English and Baltic)
Janet Craig Dracaena
Japanese Show Lily
Jerusalem Cherry
Jimsom Weed
Kalanchoe
Lacy Tree Philodendron
Lily of the Valley
Madagascar Dragon Tree
Marble Queen
Marigold
Marijuana
Mexican Breadfruit
Miniature Croton
Mistletoe
Morning Glory
Mother-in Law's Tongue
Narcissus
Needlepoint Ivy
Nephytis
Nightshade
Oleander
Onion
Oriental Lily
Peace Lily
Peach (wilting leaves and pits)
Pencil Cactus
Peperonia
Petunia
Philodendron
Plumosa Fern
Poinsettia (low toxicity)
Poison Ivy
Poison Hemlock
Poison Oak
Potato (sprouts)
Pothos
Prayer Plant
Precatory Bean
Primrose
Red Emerald
Red Princess
Red-Margined Dracaena
Rhododendron
Rhubarb leaf blades
Ribbon Plant
Rubber Plant
Saddle Leaf Philodendron
Sago Palm
Satin Pothos
Schefflera
Silver Pothos
Spotted Dumb Cane
String of Pearls
Striped Dracaena
Sweet violets
Sweetheart Ivy
Swiss Cheese Plant
Taro Vine
Thorn Apple
Tiger Lily
Tomato Plant (green fruit stem and leaves)
Tree Philodendron
Tropic Snow
Dieffenbachia
Tulips
Weeping Fig
Wormwood
Yew

There does not appear to be a definitive list of poisonous plants for ferrets, the following list was produced by
Dr. Jill A Richardson, DVM, Veterinary Poison Information Specialist, ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center, www.napcc.aspca.org, in 1997

  • Other common household hazzards, that could kill or make your ferret very ill include
    •   Ant baits, Silica gel packets (found in bags, delivery packaging and even in some furniture), Potpurri & other 'essential' oils,
        Chocolate, Raisins & Sultanas, Nuts, Cigarettes, Bread Dough, Mothballs, Rat/Mice Poisons, Antifreeze

        Human medicines, including Asprin, Nurofen, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Warfarin
       
        Cleaning products, Bleach, Detergents, Household Cleaning Sprays, Polish (all the things commonly kept under the sink!).

        It only takes a few licks of a spray nossle, lap of a pool of spilt antifreeze or detergent, and your ferret's fate could be sealed just
        like that. Ferrets can even pry caps from child-resistant bottles or chew through heavy plastic containers. So make sure all of
        these are safely locked away and not left lying around or used while your ferret is roaming.

        NEVER give your ferret any over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs without checking with the veterinary surgeon first.
        Like dogs and cats, ferrets can be easily poisoned or killed with common human medications.

      • Your food - whats good for you may be very appealing to your ferret, but may not be good for it! Keep it out of your ferret's reach.

          • Always wash your hands after handling food before handling a new or young ferret, a hungry ferret will grab what smells like food and only realise after its teeth have sunk in that it is you, not food.

            •  
              • If your ferret disappears while in the house

                •   1) listen very carefully for scratching or rustling noises,
                    2) search all warm dark snuggly places, i.e. washing baskets, bottom of wardrobes, drawers etc, that it could go to sleep in.
                    3) use your call signal noise (e.g. rattle a treat packet, squeek a toy) which the ferret will respond to,
                    and make sure to reward when he comes running for his treat!
                  • Finally, as explained in the Ferret property laws that follows whats yours is mine, so be prepared to lose socks, slippers, underwear, car keys, house keys, wallets, purses etc, in fact anything which is yours your ferret will consider theirs and will stash it away in its secret hiding place. So if you dont want to loose it, lock it away somewhere safe.

Ferret proofing your garden...

Ferrets can climb, jump and dig, and will due to their inquisitive nature try to squeeze through any gap they find, especially under fences and gates. So ferret proofing your garden can be a challenge, and wont always go right first time.

Climbing - Ensure any fencing material used is smooth, so the ferrets cannot climb it and escape into neighbours gardens or fall and hurt themselves. Walls can also be climbed by persistent ferrets if they have lots of cracks and ridges or are covered in pebble dash, so unless its absolutely smooth you need to cover with something that will prevent them climbing.

Some ideas include galvanised sheet metal, stiff plastic sheets (even corrugated plastic roofing sheet will do), plywood, recycled glass windows/doors, or fibro-cement fencing sheets. If you have wooden fences, which the ferrets cannot get between the gaps, you will only need to ferret-proof below ground. Dig a narrow trench below the fenceline and use any of the above sheet ideas, treated wooden sleepers, concrete paving slabs, or simply fill with cement. Some ferrets have been known to climb brick walls, so a length of plastic or sheet metal about 30cm high, secured along the length of the wall at about 1m up may (or may not) be necessary to stop them ascending any brickwork or fence panels. Creating an overhang at the top of fences and walls will also help prevent your ferret nipping over to visit the neighbours.

Ensure the fencing material goes down about 2-3 feet, and about 4 feet up from ground level. A good example of how to put all this advice into action can be seen at FerretLove.

If the whole garden isn't possible, use an area adjacent to the house (along the side of most houses is great), so the ferrets can come and go as they please through an open door, window or catflap.

Ferret-proof a human outdoor area, instead of creating a separate ferret outdoor area, as the humans and ferrets will enjoy the space a lot more if they can interact within it!

Shrubs and ground covers are great, but keep ivy, vines, shrubs and trees away from the edges. If you already have trees in the garden, clear plastic can be wrapped around the trunk and screwed in to act as a barrier against climbing.

Water hazzards - if your ferret is able to roam your garden make sure they cant fall into any ponds (is always a good idea to have a plank of wood sloping down into a pond at the pond edge so that any animals/wildlife that falls in can climb out).
If you have any water butts make sure they are securely covered and that your ferret cannot access the downpipe to the butt from the guttering (a downpipe guard can help prevent this) ALSO make sure any drainage holes are securely covered with fine grids so that your ferrets cannot fall or wander off down them.

You can still include a pond for the warmer months if you design them carefully! Keep the edges low, so if your ferret decides to go for a swim, he/she can climb out easily. Plastic baby pools are another alternative. Place several bricks in the water to use as a step out.

Above all ENJOY YOUR FERRETS

Ferret property law...

1. If I like it, it's mine.

2. If it's in my mouth, it's mine.

3. If it's in my paw, it's mine.

4. If I saw it first, it's mine.

5. If I can take it from you, it's mine.

6. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

7. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

8. If you are playing with something and put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

9. If I'm breaking or hiding something, all the pieces are mine.

10. If it's broken, it's yours, when it's fixed, it's mine.

11. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.

12. If I think it's mine, it's mine.

13. If I let you play with it, it's mine.

14. If I can drag it under the couch, it's mine.

15. If it's out of your reach, it's mine.

16. If it's food, it's mine.

17. If I lose interest in it...it's STILL mine!