One of the best things about having a ferret as a pet is that they are low maintenance.
(This is only true if the little critters are actually litter trained.
A very common mistake that most people make is that they think that ferrets like cats will just naturally begin to use the litter once they are provided with them.
It is a little more complicated than that.
You actually need to slowly and gradually teach your ferret how to do its business in the litter.
So, how do you litter train your Ferret in a nutshell? Litter training your ferret includes confining your ferret to the cage with the litter box, observing the ferret, letting your ferret stay outside the cage in a small space with the litter box, placing your ferret again and again in the litter box especially if it is backing up in a corner, etc.
The video below explains how to litter train your ferret:
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Now Let’s dive into the post…
1. Setting up a Litter Box
When it comes to ferrets, you really need to be choosy as not all litters are safe for ferrets.
Most of the ferrets have very sensitive respiratory systems, so you need a litter that will not cause problems when the ferrets roll around or sniff their litter.
Go for a litter that does not clump up, is unscented and dust free.
Recycled newspaper pellets, denatured wood litter pellets, and alfalfa pellets all make amazing litters for ferrets.
You can also use cat litter if it is unclamping and unscented plus shredded newspaper will also do the trick.
Avoid pine shavings and cedar as litters because they are toxic to the health of ferrets.
Tests conducted on wood chips showed that they can cause respiratory problems and infections among ferrets if used for a long time.
2. Pick a large litter pan
Ferrets do not remain babies forever and they are known to grow up to be about 16 inches long.
It’s better to get a large enough pan in which the ferret can easily fit all its four paws.
You also need to get a litter box that has low sides so that the ferret can get in and out without much hassle.
3. Place the litter pan in the ferret’s cage
Your ferret will most probably have a favorite spot in the cage where it does its business.
Place the litter pan in the exact same spot or in the corner.
Remember to place the litter away from the ferret’s food dish and bedding as the smell will repulse the ferrets. After choosing a spot, fill the litter box with litter.
4. Put urine and feces in the box
You need to show your ferret that the litter box is the place where it needs to do its business.
For that, you need to place some feces and urine into the litter box so the ferret can get an idea regarding what the litter pan is for.
The smell of the litter box will encourage your ferret to go in that region.
5. Training your little buddy
Litter train the ferret first, in the cage
Always leave your unsupervised ferrets in the cage before they are litter trained.
This is actually the easiest way to contain the mess and any impending accidents. This will also give you a safe place to teach your ferret how to use the litter box.
You need to keep your ferret caged until it is regularly using the litter box and not carrying out its business in any other places in the cage. You should not keep your ferret locked up at all times.
It needs to play and get exercise, but you need to keep a close eye on your ferret when it is out of the cage before being potty trained.
6. Move any accidents to the litter box
If unfortunately, your ferret eliminates someplace else, then just pick up the mess and drop it into the litter box to show the ferret that the litter box is the place to go to.
This will also assist in the development of a scent in the litter box which will make it easier for the ferret to get to know what the litter box is really for.
Ferrets are more likely to eliminate in the places that stink of urine and feces.
7. Reward your ferret for using the litter box
Positive reinforcement is a must if you want your ferret to carry on with his good behavior.
If you witness your ferret eliminating in the litter box, then verbally provide them with praise.
You can also offer your little buddy a treat after it has finished eliminating in the litter box.
If your ferret has a specific favorite treat, then giving it that same treat might help enforce the litter training rule more.
8. Clean the litter box every day
Never let feces pile up in the litter.
Clean the litter at least twice a day so that there is no buildup of smell and it prevents the ferret from digging and making a mess.
Use a little scooper to remove the ferret waste and the clumps of urine.
Once a week completely dump all the contents of the litter box and wash the box thoroughly and fill it up with fresh litter.
9. Clean up the accidents
Ferrets are not like cats.
They may learn to use the litter box, but there will be times when they will do their business somewhere else.
If a ferret has eliminated in an area and that area smells, then it is much more likely that the ferret will eliminate there again.
In order to keep this problem at bay, you need to clean up the accidents immediately, right after they occur.
Treat the stain as soon as you can and thoroughly deodorize the area so that there not even a single trace of feces odor left.
This will make sure that the ferret is not drawn to the spot again and does its business in the litter box.
In order to stop the ferret from eliminating neat the spot again, spray apple or lemon bitters at the place in question.
The ferrets do not like these smells and will be repulsed by them ultimately being discouraged to eliminate in these spots again.
10. Attach the litter box to your cage
Ferrets have a habit of digging in their litter box and this might cause the litter box to slide from place to place which will cause the ferret to eliminate elsewhere.
In order to keep the litter box in one place, you need to fasten it to the cage.
To do this, just drill holes in the side of the litter box and then attach it to the side of the cage using a metal wire.
To ensure that the sharp edges of the wire are on the outside of the cage so that the ferret does not end up hurting itself.
Put toys, food, and water in the places where your ferret is eliminating
If your ferret starts to do its business outside the cage, then begin to place its food and toys there.
Ferrets do not eliminate in places where they sleep, eat and play.
So having bedding, food, and toys in those areas will prevent the reoccurrence of ferret accidents.
11. Dealing with diggers
In order to handle persistent diggers, just put a small litter pan inside a larger one. Fill only the smaller one.
Attach both the pans and then attach them to the cage.
This will help you prevent the wastage of litter when the ferret goes into a digging frenzy.
Placing an older ferret with a younger one also helps speech up the litter training process as the older one does not tolerate the younger ferret’s messy behavior and puts him in its place.
12. Do not shout at your ferret
Ferrets like cats do not respond to being scolded. If you scold your ferret for doing its business outside the litter box, you will do much more harm than good. The ferret will get stressed and agitated.
This will only upset the litter creature and will not help in solving the problem in any way.
Some pet owners even go as far as to give their ferret a timeout if it does not use the litter box. You should not punish your fuzzy friend for not using the litter box especially if you did not witness the act.
Scolding it afterward will be useless as ferrets have a very short attention span and it will not be able to link the scolding with the accident.
13. Use more than one tray
Ferrets, unlike a cat, need more than one litter tray.
Cats will just find their litter box and do their business there, but ferrets are not that efficient.
You need to place at least two to three litter box in every room the ferrets roam around in.
The more litter boxes there are fewer chances of accidents.
Ferrets actually have a very high metabolic rate and so they digest food very quickly which means that they produce a lot of waste.
You will notice that your ferret will run towards the litter box just 5 minutes after waking up. Never let your ferret out of the cage until it has used the litter box.
Sometimes you would even have to reach into the cage, pick up the little guy and put it into the litter box with its nose into the litter.
If this technique does not work the try snuggling with it for a few minutes after it wakes up and then put him in the cage directly into the litter pan.
This will help your ferret develop a habit of using the litter box after waking up and before going out to play.
You need to be very careful while handling ferrets.
Those little critters are con artists.
They will fake using the litter box just to get a treat from you or to be allowed to play.
You really need to keep an eye on them. If you have a devious fellow, then try looking at his sides when it is in the litter box. If his sides move, then it really did use the litter box. Just to be double sure, check the box and then let it out to play.
The ferrets that just do not listen and are serious offenders.
Limit their playtime to two hours.
Put them back into the cages and only let them out after they have properly carried out their business in the litter box or after they have slept for a while.
Choose whichever works best for your pet. In order to make the rules much more clear to the ferret, only let it out once it has used the litter box.
One of the many areas that are very popular among ferrets for accidents is the main entrance of the house.
This is just like a wild ferret marking its territory at the entrance of its burrow.
This is really annoying but not much that you can do to stop it. The only thing you could do is prevent a mess.
Just put a litter box, piddle pad with a holder or a litter box and change it regularly.
Train your ferret to roll over
To get this trick started, you need to make sure that your ferret is on its back. The first thing you should do is show the ferret that you have a treat in the palm of your hand and then slowly and gradually move the treat to one side of the ferret’s head. This will actually make your ferret curious and it will move its head in order to get the treat from you.
Bring the treat at the back of their head and if you just keep on moving the treat, there will be a point where the ferret will not be able to move its head to eat that treat. This will mean that your ferret has to roll over in order to get to that treat. Once the ferret rolls over, praise it and give it the treat. Continue to do this and soon the ferret will roll over on command.
Teaching your ferret to sit
Training your ferret to sit is actually a little tricky and takes a very long time to perfect.
Just make sure that you train your ferret at intervals and praise them at every single step. To teach your ferret to sit, you need to start by holding a treat directly above the head of your ferret.
When you have the attention of your ferret, then lower the treat slightly towards the back, but keep it out of their reach. When the ferret lowers its bottom, say “sit” clearly and very slowly.
Keep on repeating the word “sit” until it understands what you want it to do. Keep on practicing; give your ferret a treat and also a cuddle.
Train your ferret to jump through a hoop
This is a trick that will certainly entertain your friends and family. Start by taking a hoop and then placing it down on the ground below. Take a treat and call your ferret.
Once the ferret knows that you have a treat it will come running to you. Hold the treat on the other side of the hoop and when the ferret is close enough say jump.
Once your ferret has jumped through the hope, give it the treat and a lot of praise. This trick will actually take weeks for your ferret to get a hang off.
Once your ferret is a pro at jumping through hoops, you need to step up the game a little bit. Hold the hoop on top of a piece of flat wood with a little height or a pile of books.
Then repeat all the above steps discussed before.
Your ferret will understand that you want it to jump through the hope and hopefully it will do that. Once it jumps, praise it more and give it a treat.
When should I stop praising my ferret? Stop praising your ferret when it used the litter box regularly and there are negligible amount f accidents.
Can ferrets get internal parasites? Ferrets can actually contract internal parasites. You should take great care of their health and make regular appointments with your vet.
My ferret won’t use the bathroom. It has been three days and there is nothing in or out of the litter box. What should I do? Take a wet, warm rag and gently rub on the ferret’s butt area. If this does not give you results take your ferret to the vet.
Is it okay to change the brand of litter? Changing the brand or type of litter may cause problems. The ferret might even need to retrain all over again. To change the litter and also avoid retraining you should slowly and gradually mix the new brand of the litter with the new one. This will make the transition much easier for your ferret to adjust to.