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Litter For Playful Ferrets

Is there an option when ferrets seem to want to play in the litter box rather than use it for a bathroom?

L. Vanessa Gruden
Posted: January 27, 2014 9:20 p.m. EST

ferret standing
Ferret Luna/© Courtesy Alyssa Hornback
Ferrets sometimes have their own ideas about whether or not to use a litter box.

Q: I have two ferrets. They were to be two females but one is a small female the other is a big white male. It is extra hard to change the litter box. We have to tie it in or the male turns it over and they play in it. Or sleep. What litter do you recommend?

A: Try thinking outside the (litter) box! Cats want to dig/hide their scat. A ferret wants to get their business over with and move on to more interesting things. So litter boxes aren’t natural for ferrets and have some disadvantages. Many pet stores cover display floors with shavings, so kits (baby ferrets) may not learn good litter habits. Tying the box in may help, but it does not allow easy changing and sanitizing. It can also be difficult if the cage door is not large enough to take the box in and out easily. If your ferret trains to a box and it works for you, great! But if not, there’s an option.

In our shelter, ferrets live in a room with vinyl flooring. We use newspapers in each corner – two opened sheets folded up against the wall, two overlapping the other direction – and we change them daily. Cover hardwood floors first with clear, sticky shelf-lining, or use a boot tray beneath to protect carpeting. You can use paper in the cage, also. It is easy, cheap and ferrets train to it in a snap. Some folks use puppy piddle pads, which have plastic bottoms to avoid soak-through.

Ferrets prefer to back into a corner and/or hide under something when they eliminate – as a small animal, that’s a vulnerable moment. If they are eliminating someplace inappropriate, block it off or place bedding there to discourage use. Be aware that ferrets nearly always go in front of a closed door. I think it’s a form of protest!

So try some flat paper, folded up a couple inches, on the cage bottom. It might work great for you and your fuzzies.

For more questions and answers about ferrets, click here>>
For questions and answers about ferret health, click here>>

Posted: January 27, 2014 9:20 p.m. EST

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Reader Comments
Good advise. Ferrets can be trained with patience, perseverance, encouragement and rewards immediately after a job completed. Praise goes a long way. When they first wake up, they will need to use the litter box within at least 10 minutes. We have a play pen they go into with piddle pads and two litter boxes. This gives them a choice. Then they are allowed into the house for play time. Piddle pads are kept in corners and our ferrets use them with practically no training.
The best thing we found for cages is to drill two holes in the back side by side, get bulk wiring cut at Home Depot and run the covered wire through the holes and twist onto the bars of cage. They can't move it or dump it. As long as the litter box has a low entry front your ferrets should use it. Cleaning it daily is key since they don't like it on their feet.
Bridgett, Vancouver, WA
Posted: 1/29/2014 9:32:12 PM
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