Posted: July 8, 2012, 4 a.m. EDT
Q: I have a ferret named Nipr. I have a problem litter training her and a tiny problem with her nipping. I have read many guides on how to get a ferret to stop biting and though she doesn’t do it as often anymore, when she does, she’s out for blood. I’ve tried bitter apple on the hand and also showing her it hurts me, which, let’s face it, it does. I don’t sneak up on her and she doesn’t do it often, just if I leave my hand close to her for more then maybe 10 seconds. Now for the big problem, she refuses to use a litter box. It’s a nice, big, square one with high sides. She’ll crawl in there and sleep but will not use it. I have put small deposits in there, but she’d rather use everywhere around it. I have limited her access to the rest of the cage so she can learn to use it, but the litter box makes a better bed apparently. I had a hammock in there, but she also used that as the litter, she even used a full food dish as her litter box. The only place she won’t go is in the litter box. She’s about a year old. I got her from a pet store, and she’s been with us for about eight months. I have tried everything on the Internet guides, from picking her up when she backs into a corner and placing her in the box, to rewarding her if she does. She’d rather bite me when I pick her up. In my opinion eight months is quite a bit of patience, but I’m running out of it. Please, any advice would be helpful.
A: That is certainly a long time to be patient with your ferret. In my experience, ferrets learn bathroom behavior from a parent, and pet store ferrets don’t usually get a lot of time with their mom before they are sold.
It seems like you are trying the right things, so there isn’t too much I can add except to try adding multiple litter boxes throughout the cage. She may not like the type of litter you use, so you can try newspaper, paper-based litter or puppy pads. You can also out the puppy pads or newspaper in the cage floor around the litter box to at least catch the outside deposits. I would keep other bedding to a minimum for a little while so she can’t “practice” pooping on the bedding.
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