Posted: June 13, 2012, 4 a.m. EDT
Q: I recently had a baby, and I need to get my ferret to respect his space. For the most part I'm right there to keep my ferret off the baby. I've supervised a few interactions, letting my ferret sniff the baby and such. I know my ferret doesn't mean to hurt my baby, but when we're lying on the bed he will try digging the mattress to get under the baby or jump on top of him. Today, my ferret jumped in to the bassinet with the baby and scratched the top of his head. I think he was trying to play, but I really need my ferret to respect any space the baby is in. My ferret runs free-roam, because he's really good at escaping his cage and can even undo a lock on the cage door to escape. So far I've been knocking him away from the baby when he gets too close and scruffing him when he touches the baby without my OK, but it doesn't seem to be working. I have no idea what else to do.
A: Babies and ferrets are like oil and water — they do not mix. The best solution is separation. I do not recommend ferrets in households with children less than 4 years of age. This is for the protection of both the ferret and the child. Ferrets sometimes play using their teeth, which can injure a small child; and young children do not have a good concept of how to play gently with a small animal.
Because you already have both a baby and a ferret, you must keep them separated. One option is to place a barrier across the door to the baby’s room to keep the ferret out. Make sure that the barrier is at least 26 inches high, or your ferret may be able to jump up and get over it. Another option is to give your ferret his own room with a barrier across the door so you can move around with your baby, yet still look over the barrier at your ferret to check in on him.
You mentioned that your ferret is good at escaping, however, so it might be able to break through a barrier, which could put your baby at risk. Please give serious thought about whether having a ferret free-roaming in your household is truly safe for your baby or the ferret.
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