Like cats, ferrets can be housebroken — more or less. While they aren’t necessarily quite as consistent as felines, you can train your furry little pal to relieve him or herself in litter boxes both inside and outside their cages. But before you potty-train your ferret, you do need to bear a few important things in mind.
Litter pan size matters
Ferrets can be picky about where they go to the bathroom. A pan that’s too small or too difficult to get into will likely not interest your furry pal. You’ll have much better luck if you invest in a large pan that he or she can easily walk into and that has room for all four of his or her feet.
Also be sure the pan has a low entry, a high back and high sides. Ferrets tend to back up before going to the bathroom and if the pan sides are not high enough, you could end up with an unintentional accident on your floor…which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.
Choose litter with care
The type of litter you choose is also important. Many ferrets like to “snorkel” their litter. Because ferrets have delicate respiratory systems, you will have to use a product that is (1) unscented and (2) as dust-free as possible.
Ferrets also sometimes like to wipe themselves before they get out of the pan. This means that you should also avoid litter that clumps after use. Other litter types will expand when they get wet and get stuck inside your pals rectum or nose. If this happens, the resulting hardened plug will require surgery to remove.
Litters to use (or not)
Following is a list, ranked from best to worst, of the types of litter you should (or absolutely should not) use to accommodate your ferret:
- denatured wood litter pellets, kiln dried to remove harmful phenols
- recycled newspaper pellets
- wood stove pellets
- alfalfa pellets (rabbit food)
- Shredded newspaper
- Shredded paper towels
- Clumping clay litters
- Silica litters: these suck up moisture and can damage mucous membranes
- Cedar shavings
- Corncob litters: these are too dusty and, if eaten, can cause blockages
- Wood chips: besides the obvious splinters, they can also contain harmful phenols that can hurt ferret lungs
The last thing to remember is that your cuddly little friend also needs yearly check-ups as much as traditional pets like cats and dogs. At Austin Pet and Bird our DVMs are trained to also serve the needs of exotic pets. So make an appointment for your ferret pal today!