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Oh What A Ferret Mess!

Has your ferret ever made a mess like these ferret messes?

By Rebecca Stout
Posted: April 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT

Page 1 of 2

The Next Buzz On Ferrets
In August's The Buzz On Ferrets column, Rebecca Stout explores the question, “Where was the most surprising place that your ferret ever hid or hung out?” Want to send an answer for her to possibly use? Click Here>> 
The deadline is June 15, 2011

Most ferret owners would say that a highlight of owning ferrets is the unexpected surprises they bring. And boy do ferrets ever bring a variety of surprises — some funny and some not-so-funny. Ferret people love to trade “disaster” stories about the occasional catastrophic messes ferrets make. Hearing these, you might believe that ferret people are seeking the mother-of-all-messes story!

My own worst ferret mess story involves the lovely subject of fecal matter. Our fuzzy friends may not be tidy, but ferrets are actually clean animals. A typical ferret doesn’t want to get anywhere near poop, and some ferrets won’t relieve themselves in a dirty litter box. But one day an anomaly entered my life, Blacky the ferret; we later renamed him, Blacky The Poop. Blacky didn’t mind touching poop. In fact, he relished the feeling of it squishing between his toes and loved to paw paint with it. One day he decided to use the entire ferret room floor as a canvas. He carefully adorned it with perfect, tiny, poopy footprints from one end to the other. “No, no, no, nooo!” I said when I saw his creation. I then collapsed to the floor in frustration and held my head.

damaged carpet and padding
© Courtesy Anne Kaelber
Anne Kaelber's ferret River dug through the carpet and padding to get into the closet.

Unsupervised or escaped ferrets can be destructive sometimes. No one knows this better than Anne Kaelber of Arizona. An all-too-common and troublesome ferret behavior is that of carpet digging in front of closed doors. Some ferrets can’t resist the amazing, curious smells and sounds from the other side that drift beneath doorways. For a ferret, a crack means there is hope to get to a forbidden zone. Curiosity drove Kaelber’s tiny, female ferret, River, to begin a campaign to get to the other side of a closet door. After digging through the carpet and padding, she reached the slab foundation and wiggled through. She then enlarged the hole, which allowed Kaelber’s other ferrets to squeeze through.  “Imagine our unhappy surprise when we went to look for something in the closet — and found a ferret’s ‘litter box,’ plus the chaos any ferret wreaks on any unsupervised area! As for laughing about it? No. Not yet. It’s been two years, and we still cringe every time we think of what that cost us.”

Ferrets Finlie (top) and Cabbie raid the cupboard
© Courtesy of Susie Riddle.
Susie Riddle's ferrets enjoyed taking Tupperware out of her cupboards and creating a mess daily, until Riddle ferret-proofed the cupboards.
Penny the ferret
© Courtesy of Mandy Marks
Mandy Marks' ferret Penny managed to make a mess by diving into a bag of potting soil.

Another home-wrecking activity that some ferrets enjoy involves going into other forbidden zones, such as cabinets. Susie Riddle of Texas is the director and owner of WeezleWings Ferret Sanctuary. She used to sell Tupperware to put herself through nursing school and has amassed quite a collection. Her ferrets’ fascination with getting into her kitchen cabinets resulted in a colossal plastic amusement park in her kitchen. “I had to pay to have those doors ferret-proofed,” Riddle said, “because my back and seven ruptured discs couldn’t take picking up 4,000 pieces of Tupperware every day.”

Although digging is a natural behavior of ferrets, many are well-behaved in a home. But even the best-behaved ferret will roll in fresh, lovely dirt if given the opportunity. Lorisa Zatz of Florida tells a story about one of her little pet ferrets, Rascal, that got into a potted plant in her parent’s house, “My dad found her, but it was too late. Most of the dirt was on the ground and she was completely dirty,” Zatz said. “It all got cleaned up, and Rascal was banned from the porch. Now we all look back on it and laugh.”

Mandy Marks of Louisiana has a ferret that once found something even better than a potted plant. She discovered the ultimate, earthy wonderland. “My little Penny decided that it would be a great idea to go head-first into a bag of potting soil,” Marks said. “I still dread cleaning up that mess.”

Eric Kunz discovered that a ferret doesn’t always have to be out of its cage to find trouble. This resident of Washington State tells about his eye-rolling experience when his ferret, Jynx, decided to redecorate his cage. “One morning the bottom tray of the cage was covered in food and litter with the pan upside down in the middle,” Kunz said. “Needless to say since the litter was everywhere and the box was overturned, it was quite a mess to clean up before heading off to work.” This is a common and classic ferret mess.

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Reader Comments
I keep most of my plants in the kitchen, some on a rack beside the stove and others on the counters. The garbage can sits beside the stove as well. One day my husband set an empty box beside the garbage. Miss Violet our 15 ounce silver found that she could climb from the box, to the top of the garbage can, onto the rack, therefore gaining access to all counters. I had about 20 plants in teh kitchen, keyword being "had". MV had dug up every plant and thrown the dirt everywhere. My kitchen looked like a dirt bomb went off. We had to move appliances and everything to clean it all up. We bought a higher garbage can, and hubby has been trained to take boxes straight outside.
Teresa, Prince George
Posted: 4/20/2011 12:10:39 PM
Had to read it again. The article is THAT goooood. Such a joy to come home after a long and bad day to find out the ferrets had as much of a working day as I did. (We are not talking about useable productivity, we are on MISSIONS!) Still trying to understand why we laugh at things ferrets do when we would never tolerate the same from any other being?
Donna Weiss, Henderson, KY
Posted: 4/1/2011 5:29:03 PM
Afew years ago I had several ferrets,three of which were in a funnel home by Super Pets.It was a tall multilevel cage with bubble wave tubes across the top.One evening late in the fall the 10 pm news said we were to get a frost overnight.I brought in all my plants from our front porch (several of various sizes)I put them in random spots around the living room thinking I would later put them in more apropriate places.I had to be at work early in the a.m. so the morning routine was a rush.When I returned home from work that evening and opened my front door my mouth dropped in shock.There was potting soil wall to wall hardly a spot of carpet to be seen,on end tables and couches...everywhere!After standing there in shock for a moment one of my fuzzies,still happily digging looked up with dirt on her nose and an innocent expression as if to say "who me?" I had to laugh.I picked her up and gave her a big fur baby smooch.I found they had popped thier bubble tubes and escaped.After a long hard day at work I had a major mess to clean as for the 3 bandits they happily snuggled in thier hammocks to snooze after all it was alot of fun and hard work to manage to dig to the bottom of all those pots!
Lori Coffman Hauser, Foristell, MO
Posted: 4/1/2011 4:51:04 PM
It's safe to reply now that I've picked myself off the floor, cleaned the spit off the monitor, and changed my Depends.
This is waaaay too much fun!
Got too many of those same stories to tell...much more enjoyable to READ them. Thanks Wolfy.
Donna, Henderson, KY
Posted: 4/1/2011 4:36:02 PM
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