L. Vanessa Gruden
Posted: September 12, 2014, 9:30 p.m. EDT
© Courtesy L. Vanessa Gruden
Water bottles and water bowls should be rinsed daily and cleaned weekly to ensure clean, fresh water for your ferrets.
Q: I just noticed mold on the inside of my ferret’s water bottle and went to the store to get a baby bottle scrub. It is too big. I am hesitant to put any chemicals in the bottle to clean it. What is safe to use?
A: That’s algae. While most common algae are not directly harmful, they can cause diarrhea or eventually lead to liver failure, especially given the concentration in a small container. And there’s a pretty high "yuck” factor in the idea of drinking green water.
What’s the cause? Sunlight combined with bacteria. Water itself contains bacteria, so any container in sunlight will begin to grow algae. When combined with germs seeping back into the bottle from your ferret licking the metal ball, algae grows faster.
What’s the solution? Rinse and refill the water bottle every single day. Sure, it’s tempting to see water inside, and think, "Oh, it’s fine.” But it isn’t. The nozzle may have clogged and your pet is going thirsty. An inexpensive model may not be BPA-free and carcinogens are slowly leaching in. If you aren’t disassembling the bottle and washing each part every week, you are really hurting your little friend. He can’t do it himself; it’s part of your job as a responsible caretaker.
Dish soap and hot water work fine. You can also disinfect with a safe solution of ½ vinegar, ½ water and a good interior scrubbing. Rinse well and allow to dry in the sun. A good kitchen store will have smaller brushes, or you can find them on Amazon for under $10. Two slender models available are OXO Good Grips Set and Munchkin Brush Set.
I really dislike the "basic” water bottles with small openings because they are so hard to clean. There are much better wide-mouth models available. Another option is to do what we do at the ferret shelter: switch to a heavy ceramic or stainless steel bowl. They must be cleaned daily, too, but it’s so much easier!
The golden rule is: if you wouldn’t eat or drink from it, neither should the ferrets.
Like this article? Please share it, and check out:
Fresh Water For A Healthy Ferret
One Ferret Health Issue You Can't Ignore Is Hair Loss
All About GI Obstruction In Ferrets
See all ferret behavior Q&As
See all ferret health Q&As