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Ferrets, Litter Boxes And Squeaky Toys

Why would a ferret not use the litter box and go crazy at the sound of a squeaky toy?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: August 1, 2012, 8 a.m. EDT

Q: I have two ferret problems. My ferret won’t use its litter box outside of the cage. I keep placing her feces into the box, but she keeps going around her box or in different places. Next, my ferret was out among my friends. She was sniffing around, chilling. No one was bugging her too much as she carried around her toy, but my friend, let’s call him Steve, ended up grabbing her squeaky toy, and started to squeak it. My ferret flipped out and attacked one of my friend’s on the arm, and she drew blood for the first time ever. She never bites unless you play rough with her, and she’s a rather calm ferret. After the friend who was bitten got her to let go of him, she randomly attacked his boxers from behind, and he had to pull her off of him, and then she grabbed at his sock and refused to let go. I had to pry her off of him. Why would she attack like that?

A: I will start with the second issue, although you seem to have answered your own question. Ferrets are predators and meat eaters, and the sound of a squeaky toy can bring out their predatory instincts — in this case, your ferret felt the natural need to attack and “kill” the things that made the noise. Your friends arm was probably just too close once she got worked up, and it took a while to relax again. It probably seemed similar to when you play rough with her. Make sure your friends realize what squeaking the toy can do and to play appropriately when people are around.

On to the litter box issue. Often ferrets will not come back to a litter box when they have a lot of space available. So, place extra litter boxes in the room in which she is playing and keep an eye on her. Every so often, place her in a litter box to see if she has to go and if you “catch” her about to go, quickly get her into a litter box.

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