Posted: April 1, 2012, 10 a.m. EDT
Q: I'm having a difficult time litter training my ferret Ryo. He usually won't back up into a corner to go potty; he often goes as he is walking around the house or his cage. I have heard that this is because he may have been taken away from his mother too soon, which prevented her from teaching him potty habits. Usually I keep him in one room until he uses the litter box or newspapers, but sometimes he still misses by a large distance. I tried restricting him to just a couple of rooms, which made a small difference, but it still didn't help much. I tried putting bedding or food in some of the spots where he is not supposed to go, but the rest of the house is still fair game. Occasionally he does try to find the papers or at least a corner, but usually he just drops a load wherever he is. He used to be much better in his cage until recently. Now he poops in his blankets and hammocks and near his food. Worse yet, he doesn't mind sleeping in his mess, but it isn't good for our other ferret, who prefers to sleep in a clean bed. I have done everything I could to train him, and I am about to lose hope. How can I help Ryo become better at hitting the litter box?
A: Ferrets that stop using a litter box might be suffering from a medical issue, so please make sure Ryo gets checked out by your veterinarian to make sure there isn't anything wrong.
Litter training a ferret can be a struggle at the best of times. Usually we make sure the ferret uses the box before he or she is allowed out of the cage and then check on them every so often and redirect them back to the litter box when needed.
It is also important to make sure that ferrets do not have too much freedom until they are consistently using the litter box. Not all ferrets are ever 100 percent litter-box trained.
In this instance, Ryo is also "messing" in his cage and on the bedding, which is not normal.
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