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Ferrets USA: Clean Living With Ferrets

A little work goes a long way in keeping your home sweet-smelling.

By Mary Van Dahm

Being a pet owner incurs a certain amount of grunt work to keep your pet and its surroundings clean and fresh. Having a ferret is no exception. While ferrets are relatively clean animals, their natural musk odor (usually faint in neutered ferrets, but present nonetheless) and occasional litter box accidents are things that need to be addressed by every ferret parent. Let’s start with the ferret itself and work our way out to the cage and surroundings.

Only Skin Deep
A ferret produces musk-scented oil that exudes from glands in its skin. A ferret uses musk to attract a mate and to mark territory. De-scenting a ferret does not affect these glands. De-scenting refers only to the removal of the anal glands under the ferret’s tail. Neutering your ferret is what helps control the skin glands since it is your ferret’s hormones that activate the glands. Neutering your ferret will not remove all of the musk, though, so your ferret will retain some of its musky odor.

Since the musk is produced in your ferret’s skin, your first thought may be “Let’s give it lots of baths!” Unfortunately, a ferret’s skin doesn’t work that way. Occasional baths with a mild ferret shampoo is fine, but limit your pet’s baths to only once or twice a month at most. Over-bathing dries out your ferret’s coat, which can make its fur brittle and thin. It also triggers your ferret’s skin to produce more oil so it makes more musk, and an endless cycle begins.

**For the full article, pick up the 2008 issue of Ferrets USA or click here to buy the issue.**


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