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About Ferrets

Ferret Care | Food | Ferret Proofing | Treats | History | Antics | Approximating Age | Adding a Ferret | Cats and Ferrets | Bathing | Cleaning Ears | Biting | Ferrets and Children | Ferrets using trays/shelves as a potty? | Litter Training | Illnesses (Will open in new page)

Ferret Care
Ferrets make wonderful pets. Theyíre friendly, playful and their antics will make you laugh. Theyíre also one of the most difficult pets to own-because of the amount of cleaning and expense involved.

Average life span is about six to seven years in the U.S. Expect to spend an average of $500 or more on the ferret per year. If youíre lucky, it will be less than that. If you're not, it will be a lot more. The ferret can seem fine one night. The next morning it can be sick and need $350 in treatment. You must be able to afford the expense or this is not the pet for you!

A ferret has the brain capacity of a two year old child and must get a lot of stimulation and play time, mental and physical. If itís kept in a cage, it should be allowed 4-5 hours out of the cage every day, preferably two different times a day. This is not an option. Why have the pet if itís going to be confined most of the time? The younger the ferret, the more time it needs out of the cage.

Stimulation includes: playing with other ferrets, humans & other animals outside of the cage or room; having different things to play in (plastic/ paper grocery bags, boxes, pillowcases, pillows in pillowcases, tote bags, shoes, etc.), toys to play with and hide, you rearranging things, mats and sheets to burrow under, etc. They get bored with the same thing, so keep things changed. If you have several plastic bags out for them to play with, change it to paper bags for a few days. Throw a pillow from the bed on the floor and let them explore it. My ferrets check out every bag of groceries and stuff that I bring home from the store (first I remove anything they can hurt or that can hurt them). They love rooting through everything to see what they can find. Just moving things around in the cage or room is good stimulation for them.

Ferrets can be litter box / newspaper trained to about 80%, sometimes more. You've got to figure at least 20% of the time they are going to use the floor somewhere. You have to love ferrets enough to be willing to deal with that. If youíre expecting the ferret to run around and find a spot where there's a litter box or newspaper, it's not going to happen. This is a down side to having them. Some ferrets will not use a litter box or newspaper if another ferret has used it or itís been used too much. So, the litter box must be kept scooped and newspaper changed. Use only dust free litter and do NOT use shavings of any kind.

Ferrets have a very fast metabolism with a high energy level. They need to be able to run & play to burn off energy. They will sleep some while they are loose; it is still stimulation to be sleeping somewhere different and to be able to wake up and go play. A young ferret needs about EIGHT hours of run and play time. As they get older four to five hours of run and play time is good.

Because of the fast metabolism, they MUST have food and water available at all times and they should have a very high protein / high fat food. They canít be fed on a schedule. A protein level as close to 50% is best. Of course, the better the food, the more expensive it is. The cost of good food is one of the other bigger expenses.

Ferrets are natural hunters and will kill birds and other small animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, chinchillas and sugar gliders. It is their instinct to do everything in their power to get to these animals to kill them.

Ferrets do not tolerate heat well because they cannot sweat. They can have heat stroke and heat causes a lot of stress, which can bring on ulcers or irritable bowel disorder. The temperature should be 78 or below. Veterinarians recommend temps from 68 to 76 degrees.

When sleeping, they prefer to sleep in a dark area. They are naturally a burrowing animal, so they prefer the dark. They will burrow under or through anything they can, including throw rugs, newspaper on the floor, tubes, long boxes, etc. So, they should be provided with things to burrow through and under. The burrowing is one of the cute and fun things about them. They prefer to sleep in sleepsacks or closed in areas, or in a hanging hammock. There should be at least two sleepsacks or hammocks per ferret in the cage.

Nearly all ferrets available have been descented and spayed or neutered. In the U.S. this is done when the ferrets are very young and, unfortunately, this affects the overall health of the ferret over its lifetime.

Descenting is removing the musk glands from around the tail. This gets rid of most of the musky smell. They have other musk glands & will still have a slight smell to them. Some ferrets have a stronger odor than others. I had one that got a small odor within a week of having a bath and another that could go four months without any odor. If there is a ferret smell in the home, itís usually because the bedding, cage, or litter boxes isn't clean. The sleep bedding should be changed every week.

Ferrets should be bathed very little, preferably no more than every three to four months. Bathing removes the natural oils from the skin and fur, which can cause skin and coat problems, as well as excessive itching. Too much bathing actually makes the smell stronger because the musk glands give off oil for the dry skin and coat, which gives off the musky smell.

Nails grow very fast & must be trimmed every 10-14 days. Itís important nails are kept trimmed, as they get caught in bedding or carpeting, which can rip out a toenail or even break a toe or a foot. Grown out nails also cause an abnormal walk for the ferret, which can hurt the feet and legs.

Ferrets are very smart and very fast. If they can find a way to get out of the house, they will. Any open door is a chance for it to get out. Everyone thinks theyíll see a ferret escape or it can't make it out the door fast enough. There are a lot of ferret owners who can tell you differently and have dead ferret experiences because of it. A child does not shut doors well or quickly and cannot look for a ferret trying to escape. You must make sure children cannot let the ferrets out accidentally. Every hole an inch or larger has to be covered or blocked or the ferret can squeeze through. Anything that can be scratched through must be blocked, especially dryer hoses and screen.

Ferrets can catch bacterial infections and the flu from humans. They cannot catch colds. Most humans donít know if they have a cold, the flu or an infection. If you or anyone in your household has the symptoms of a cold or the flu, it can be life or death to the ferret, so keep the ferret away from the germs. If a person with cold symptoms has to go around the ferrets, hands should be thoroughly washed and the ferret kept completely away from the face. Even better is to wear a face mask. Do not cough or sneeze around the ferrets if you have cold symptoms.

If you have any questions about ferrets, feel free to contact me at kmferretrescue@comcast.net.

Ferret Food
Because of the fast metabolism, ferrets MUST HAVE FOOD AND WATER AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES. They canít be fed on a schedule.
They should have a very high protein / high fat food. A protein level as close to 50% and a fat content of 18% is best. Of course, the better the food, the more expensive it is. Do not feed anything under 35% protein; it will cause more medical problems and/or early death. Any ferret food from Wal-Mart or the grocery store is NOT okay to feed to a ferret.
Ferrets should be fed ferret food and not cat food. Below is a link to a site that explains the difference in the nutritional needs and digestive systems of ferrets and cats:
http://www.totallyferret.de/46_42_2_Isnt-the-ferret-just-a-smaller-cat.html
Essentially, ferrets: process their food twice as fast; require four times more amino acids like taurine; require minimum 36% protein, compared to 26% for cats; can accept only 20% carbohydrates, compared to 70%; require 33% more fatty acids; need higher vitamins; do not utilize roughage and different kinds of sugar and cats do; and are more sensitive to high salt.
The ingredients of the food are as important as the protein level. The first two ingredients should be a meat or meat product. If one of the first two ingredients is not meat based, then don't feed that food! A meat meal actually has more protein than whole meat, so try to feed something with a first ingredient of a meat meal.
There is a lot of discussion about grain free diets for ferrets. Because they are carnivores, people assume they do not absorb carbohydrates from grains and, therefore, try to feed a grain free diet. Most of the grain free diets substitute vegetables for rice. Ferrets actually do not digest vegetables well. They pass quickly through the system. So, a diet with vegetables in it is not as a good as a diet with rice in it. Ferrets do at least absorb some protein and nutrition from rice and other carbohydrates, although not as much as from meat.
There is considerable information available now that shows ferrets, especially males, are prone to crystals in the urinary tract when fed a diet with peas in it.
Ferrets can be very picky about what they will eat. Do not assume it will eat a new food you buy. If possible, buy a food that can be returned if the ferret doesnít eat it or see if there are other ferret owners that will give you a sample of the food they feed. I have samples of 13 kinds of ferret food I can send out for .25 per bag plus shipping.

Search out ferret foods from reputable sites such as ferret.com with meats listed first in the nutrition charts. Google "more dooks food chart" for a food comparison. Many ferrets coming into the shelter prefer Marshalls Premium or Marshalls Chicken. This is because ferrets imprint on foods at a young age, and many ferrets are from Marshall Farms. (This is indicated by the 2 dots tattood on their ear.) Ferrets can be switched over to better quality foods with time, patience, and mixing into their soupies, but don't just do a 100% switch over night! They are very picky eaters and might not recognize the new food as food at all. In fact, many ferrets who are lost outdoors can often starve because they only recognize their current kibble as food. For this reason, it's important to incorporate a mix of 3 or 4 different foods into their diet (all available at the same time) should 1 food type become temporarily unavailable or discontinued alltogether.


Ferret-Proofing your Home
Note Ė just because your home is ferret proofed for a ferret you already have or had, does not mean it is ferret proofed for good or for another ferret. Ferrets learn to try different things over time and every ferret is different about what it will try and do.
* Block off the kitchen when the ferret is out. Ferrets can climb under appliances and get electrocuted, stuck or even escape. A ferret can climb a baby gate or claw through it.
* Check under all cabinets to make sure there aren't any holes in the corners. If there are, they must be blocked. There are almost always holes in the corner of kitchen cabinets. While the holes may not lead anywhere, there can be things under there that can hurt the ferret. The ferret can get under there and not want to come out or it can go to the bathroom under there and you canít get it cleaned up.
* Block any space of 1" or more if you don't want the ferret in that area, including under doors, through pet gates, etc.
* Be sure the ferret can't get to the laundry area. This is the way most ferrets get out of the house. They claw or chew through the dryer hose. They can also crawl into the back of the washer and get hurt or stuck.
* Block any way to get under or behind the stove, refrigerator or dishwasher in case the ferret gets into the kitchen.
* Ferrets will scratch through screen. Don't allow them to get near it.
* If you have hardwood or linoleum floors, put down throw rugs, sheets, towels, etc. to keep the ferret from slipping and spraining a foot or leg.
* Remove any bug or mouse traps or spray. Only use bug sprays that are safe for ferrets and allow to dry before letting the ferrets be around it. Never use flea bombs with ferrets in the house.
* Consider getting magnets on cabinet doors. They will eventually learn how to open them.
* Keep toilets closed. Ferrets can pull themselves up and get in the toilet, then drown.
* Ferrets will dig in dirt. So keep house plants out of reach.
* If you find there's something the ferret likes to chew on, remove it and everything like it. Some ferrets will chew on vinyl or latex toys, others on socks, and so on. If they do, these things must be taken away.

Treats for Ferrets
Everyone wants to feed a treat to their ferret. The question is, what is a good treat? Best would be if you could get the ferret to eat meat and offer meat (any kind, except processed), cooked or raw, as a treat. There are also treats on the market of dehydrated chicken strips, liver, etc. Unfortunately, most ferrets don't go for these right off the bat, but they may learn to like them over time. If you must use a pre-packaged treat that is not meat, read the labels and avoid anything with a high sugar content, which includes glycerin and glycol. Bandits treats are one of the biggest treats on the market. They recently changed their ingredients to have less sugar in them. Any non-meat treat should be given in moderation, preferrably no more than one per day. People food, other than meat, is not an appropriate treat under any circumstances. Often ferrets will like the smell of people food, raisins, bananas, Cheerios, etc. Fruits are high in sugar and can spike the blood glucose level. Cereals are high in carbohydrates that can lead to insulinoma. The bottom line is, ferrets can only digest meat protein and a few other things. Any treat you give that is not meat is not being digested and used by the ferret, it is passing right through the system and possibly causing damage along the way.


History of Ferrets
Ferrets as pets are not a new phenomenon!
It is believed their domestication began over 2,500 years ago. While used as a working animal in some places, they are primarily a pet in the United States.
In 425 BC the Greek word "ictis" occurs in Aristophanes' play: The Acharnians. This could have referenced a ferret, polecat or mongoose and the Romans probably used ferrets for hunting, a practice known as ferreting.
The name "ferret" is derived from the Latin furittus, meaning "little thief". Very appropriate considering the joy they take in stashing their treasures away.
In 1389, a book entitled "The Hunt" by Gaston Phoebus includes instructions on using ferrets to hunt rabbits using muzzles and netting placed over holes.
1489Ė1490, Leonardo da Vinci's painting "Lady with an Ermine" is likely a ferret. Its white color meant to represent chastity.
"The Ferreter's Tapestry" is a 15th-century tapestry from Burgundy, France, showing a group of peasants hunting rabbits with nets and white ferrets.
Conrad Gesner's "Historiae Animalium" of 1551 shows a ferret with a collar and leash.
In the United states, they were rare as pets in the 1980's, but estimates in 1996 placed their domestic population around 800,000.


Ferret Antics
Anyone with a ferret knows that if something is missing, they need to check the hidey-hole! Ferrets are known to stash a variety of objects that they find interesting. This could be anything from car keys to their approved toys. Many like the rubber protective casing for smart phones, so those are fair game as well to be hidden.
Is your ferret jumping around and making a chucking/dooking noise? It isn't angry, but just dancing for you to play with it! This is also called the weasel war dance.

How to Approximate a Ferret's Age
It's kind of hard to tell someone how to tell the age of a ferret.Once you've done it long enough, you have a good idea.What most of us use to tell the age is:
* Teeth and gums- a young ferret will have white teeth and pink gums. At about two years old, it starts getting a little plaque on the teeth and possibly some redness in the gums.It progresses from there.If the teeth are really yellow, have a lot of plaque and/or the gums are really red, then we figure the ferret is at least five years old. (Bad teeth can also be from prior poor care or malnutrition.)
* Fur - a young ferret's coat is usually very full, soft and silky. It also has a strong color base.As a ferret ages, the ferret's coat can get more coarse and thinner.The color starts getting lighter and grey in some ferrets. (A coarse and thin coat can also be from stress or malnutrition.)
* Toenails - as a ferret ages, some of the toenails begin to flatten from top to bottom.(Flat toenails can also be from poor care or malnutrition.)
*Activity - a young ferret usually has a lot of energy and is extremely active.The older a ferret gets, the less active it is or the more rest it needs between activity.
* Eyes - a young ferret's eyes are clear and bright. As the ferret ages, the ferret can get cataracts.Cataracts usually come on after four years of age, though they can come sooner.
* Medical issues - most ferrets don't get insulinoma until at least four years and often later. Adrenal disease normally shows up after four years as well, though itís not uncommon to see it at three years.

Adding a New (hopefully rescued!) Ferret to your Existing Ferrets
The ferret you already have is going to be nervous about the new ferret and vice versa. They have to learn to trust each other. The house is the territory of your ferret. It will now have to deal with another animal bringing in all sorts of new scents. The new ferret will have to deal with entering a home with already established scents.
Suggestions: Wash and clean anything and everything that belongs to your ferret, so that less of its scent is all over the house. Give them separate food and water dishes / bottles in different places, so they don't have to compete or aggravate each other when eating or drinking. Praise both ferrets often, so don't feel like the other is getting more attention. Consider letting them have separate time out in the house for a little while. The less threatened they each feel, the shorter time it will take for them to accept each other.
If one ferret snaps or starts a fight with another ferret, pick it up and take it to a different area. If it happens again, pick it up, telling it no and take it to a different area. If it happens again, put it in the cage with the door open. Next try putting it in the cage with the door shut for just a minute. They get the picture pretty fast that there will be repercussions for fighting. However, sometimes that just doesn't make a difference.

Adding a Ferret to a Home with Cats
There may be issues with adding a ferret to a home with an adult cat. A cat can be added to a home with a ferret, usually without any problem, because a ferret is not territorial.
Cats are territorial. Adding a ferret to an adult cat's territory can sometimes be a problem. Sometimes the cat will attack the ferret. More often, the cat will stop using the litter box and start going around the house rather than in the litter box. This is to show the humans it's not happy and to show the ferret the house is the cat's territory. This is what happens most of the time and it's very, very hard to make the cat stop. Again, this doesn't occur every time, but you never know if it's going to happen the one time you try it.
Adding the ferret to a home with kittens is not usually a problem.

Bathing a Ferret
Your ferret should be bathed as little as possible, and no more than every few months. I have a friend whom hasn't bathed her ferrets in a year and you cannot tell it. If you bathe too often, it makes the glands in the skin give off more oil, which makes the ferret actually smell worse.
When you do bathe the ferret, use a shampoo made for ferrets or kittens. Baby shampoo will do in a pinch. Just a small amount, like the size of a dime is enough.
Try hard not to get water in the ears or eyes. I hold my hand over the ears to wet the back of the head and rest of the body. I use a damp cloth to clean the face, so I don't have to actually wet the face.
If you're bathing in the sink or tub, be sure to have something the ferret can stand on to keep it from slipping. If the ferret's feet and slipping on the sink or tub, it will get scared and is going to fight a lot.
Rinse the ferret well when done and dry with a towel. The ferret will try to get out of the towel very fast. Try to get the ferret as dry as you can before letting it go. Be sure to have a sheet or something on the floor that the ferret can burrow under. This is its way of drying off.
Once the ferret is done running around and drying off, use a Johnson & Johnson Q-tip to carefully dry out the ears of any water that may have got in them.

Cleaning Ferret Ears
Ferrets ears should be cleaned every couple of months, more often if you notice they are dirty. As ferrets play, they get dirt in their ears.

You will need: mineral oil, cotton swabs or balls, ear wash

Dip a cotton swab or ball in mineral oil, just a small amount. Scruff the ferret. Use the cotton swab or ball to wipe the inside of the ferret's ear, including any wax you can easily see. Do not use a cotton swab to dig into the ferret's ear.

Make sure the ear wash is warm. Cold liquid going in the ferret's ears is irritating and will cause them to jump. Put four or five drops of the warm ear wash in one ear. Rub the solution into the ear for about 30 seconds. Then let the ferret go.The ferret will shake out any loose ear wax. It will also rub its head into the ground, which will help clean it out.

Once the ferret is no longer rubbing its head into the ground or shaking its head, then do the same thing for the other ear. It's a good idea to offer some Ferretone or something the ferret likes after cleaning each ear. This helps make it less of a bad thing for the ferret.


Ferret Biting

A lot of ferrets bite just out of playfulness or not knowing any better. When they play with another ferret, they can bite and do it pretty hard. They have to be taught that this is not appropriate to do with humans. This is, of course, a little more difficult to do with a deaf ferret.

First thing is to be aware when you are around the ferret for actions that lead up to biting. For example, I had a ferret that would always lick twice before biting (as do a lot of ferrets). I had another that would come up and sniff first before biting. If you can recognize some of the actions, you can take pre-emptive measures to keep the biting from occurring.

Be sure the ferret is not hungry. A ferret should have food down at all times. Ferrets can be very picky about the food they eat, so make sure the ferret is eating nearly a bowlful of food a day. If it isn't, it's probably not eating enough because it doesn't like the food.

If you see that the ferret is acting like it is going to bite, move the ferret away from you or move yourself slowly away from the ferret. If you move away quickly, the ferret will think it is a game and want to bite even more.

Until the ferret no longer bites, do not roughhouse, play chase or anything else that will make the ferret more likely to bite. The ferret must first learn to play nicely.

When the ferret does bite, take the ferret by the scruff of the neck, say no (but not yelling) and place it away from you. A mother ferret will scruff a baby ferret when it is misbehaving, so that's what you're doing. Don't yell at, shake or hit the ferret, because this can cause more biting and even aggressiveness. If the ferret tries to bite again within a short time (like a few minutes), scruff it and put it in a different area. If it happens again, scruff it and put it in the cage, but only for a minute or two. They usually get the picture very quickly when they get confined to the cage. If the biting persists, confine to the cage for five minutes. (Any longer than five minutes and the ferret has no idea why it's in the cage.)


Ferrets and (Human) Children
Most rescues do not recommend having a ferret with young children (under 10). There are several reasons as noted below. I have adopted to families with children. I just want everyone aware of any potential issues.

First, any animal will bite if something happens that it doesn't like. So, if the ferret is pressed too hard, held too long, not allowed to go where it wants to go, etc., it may bite the child. Children do not always recognize when they are pressing too hard, holding too long or not allowing the ferret to go where it wants to go.

Most ferrets do bite some when they are playing. Children usually can't tell what's a bad bite and a play bite and sometimes the ferret bites hard when playing. I have bite marks on my hands and arms from where the ferrets get playing too rough.

Ferrets get ulcers easily from stress. Stress can be from being handled too much, being handled the wrong way, too much noise, too much activity around it and so on. Ulcers are very hard to treat and most ferrets end up dying from them. If the ferret is around children, especially young ones, noise needs to be kept to a minimum with no screaming and no loud music or TV. The ferret should not be handled much by the children and only with adult supervision. The ferret needs to have at least 16 hours of quiet time where there aren't children playing around it. Two times I have taken in ferrets that have had to be euthanized because they were in such bad condition from being around young children.

Ferrets can catch viruses and bacterial infections from humans, which is deadly to them. Children are bad about taking precautions.

It is very easy for a child to injure a ferret and not mean to. Rescues get a lot of injured ferrets in and nearly all of those injuries were caused by children and usually by accident. Ferrets are so fast and wiry, they get out of hands fast and fall to the floor or run through a door as it is being shut. Another rescue did a ferret education day at a school. The teacher was holding the ferret. It wiggled out of her hands, fell to the floor and died shortly after. If this can happen to an adult teacher, it can happen much more to a child.

Ferrets are very fast and very, very good at escaping. There's just no way a child can move fast enough to keep a ferret from getting through an open doorway.

Children are very bad about closing doors behind them or closing them tightly. A ferret will always investigate a door that has been opened and will escape if it can.

Ferrets can get intestinal blockages very easily from anything small dropped on the floor. Children cannot be trusted to catch when they drop something or the ferret can chew on the childrenís toys, shoes, etc. An intestinal blockage means death or expensive surgery. I took in a six month old rescue that had chewed doll clothes. He died within a week because he was too weak to have surgery. The surgery would have cost upwards of $400 or more.

Children tend to respond to peer pressure. While your child may be good around the ferret, the childís friend may not be and can hurt the ferret or pressure your child into doing something that shouldnít be done.

Please consider all these things when making a decision.


Ferrets using trays/shelves as a potty?

If a ferret is aggravated at being in the cage too much, it will sometimes do its business on the shelves of the cage to show its displeasure. Be sure the ferret gets several hours out of the cage at least twice a day. Even better is to let the ferret have free roam in a room, like a bedroom, and leave the cage open and available.

Next, be sure it is easy for the ferret to get up and down to the bottom of the cage to use the litter box. If the ramps are too steep or the openings are too wide and the ferret is fearful of falling, it will use the tray. Consider covering wire ramps with a towel to make it easier.

There should be some light in the room at night so the ferret can see easily enough to get to the bottom of the cage. Otherwise, it may not going to risk going up and down ramps.

Consider setting up one tray of the cage with a litter box and newspaper, so the ferret isn't forced to go all the way to the bottom. Sometimes they just have to go faster than they can get to the bottom and once the smell is there, they keep going there.


Litter Training

Ferrets can be very good about using the litter box or newspaper. Some can be very bad about it. It's the luck of the draw when you get them. Even with the good ones, expect accidents at least 10% or more of the time.

First, please know that not all ferrets will use a litter box. Some prefer to use newspaper or pads.

Ferrets can be picky about the type of litter box they use. Try different sizes or types. Having several, and not just one or two, is important. Do not expect the ferret to go back to its cage to use the litter box or newspaper. It is rare for this to happen. If the ferret won't use the litter box, try putting pee pads or newspapers down.

Ferrets do everything by smell. So, try to use an unscented litter or a litter with a smell that doesn't bother the ferret. Also, use an excellent carpet cleaner to get out any smell after accidents. (I use Zep carpet cleaner sold in Lowes and Home Depot. It's $10 for a gallon and concentrated. Use about 1/8 cup to 32 oz. of water. A friend uses Odoban.)

Ferrets have a tendency toward lung problems, so it's important to use a litter with very little dust. When you pour litter into the pan, make sure the ferret isn't around. It is better not to use a clumping cat litter. I use recycled paper litter or horse pine pellets.

Cleanliness is extremely important. Ferrets generally wonít use a litter box, pad or newspaper if there is a smell. Keeping the areas clean will make the ferret use it more. The litter box must be scooped at least twice a day and newspaper changed twice a day or fresh newspaper laid on top of the soiled paper.

Ferrets nearly always back into a corner to do their business. You should have every possible corner either set up with a litter box, pad or newspaper or blocked so the ferret canít or doesnít want to use the corner. I have newspaper or pads in nearly every corner of my home where the ferrets have access. The areas that donít have newspaper or pads have something blocking the areas, like a blanket thrown in the corner.

Any time you see the ferret actually doing its business away from the litter box, pad or newspaper, pick up the ferret and put it in the litter box or on the pad or newspaper.

If you don't see the ferret having an accident outside the litter box, just clean it up. Don't bother scolding, because it will not comprehend what it is being scolded for and may make it more likely to misbehave.

When the ferret does use the litter box, pad or newspaper, praise and pet it. Do this every time the ferret uses the litter box (or every time you can). It will eventually come to realize using the litter box is a good thing and results in good attention. Working it from the positive and good for the ferret standpoint is much more effective.

As you're home and the ferret is up, occasionally take the ferret over to the litter box, pads or newspaper to constantly reinforce this is the place to go.

Since ferrets usually need to go soon after awakening, if you see the ferret awaken, take it to the litter box as more reinforcement of where to go. You can actually stay with the ferret and keep putting it in the litter box until it goes, which really reinforces this is the place to go. Occasionally the ferret doesnít need to go right after awakening. So, if the ferret hasnít gone within a couple of minutes, just keep an eye on it and donít keep trying to put it in a litter box or on newspaper.

If the litter pan is on slick flooring, consider putting a towel, newspaper, pee pad, etc. under it. Sometimes slick flooring makes a ferret feel like itís going to slip and it may avoid a litter box where it feels unsafe. Also, the ferret nearly always has a couple of drops of urine that will get on the floor, and having a towel there keeps things cleaner.

Again, you must have newspaper and/or litter boxes in many corners in the areas where the ferret is running loose. It will seldom go back to the cage or another room to do its business.