Ferret Safety 101

There is no doubt about it, when it comes to getting into trouble, the ferret is a very talented animal. 🙂 Ferret-proofing a house or room is often compared to child-proofing, but worse. The “child” in this case can fit through a hole the size of a quarter.

Ferrets have very flexible skeletal systems. In general, if their head can go through, so can their body. (My son would be very quick to jump in at this point and remind me we have one ferret with an abnormally large . . . uhm, rear. This rule does now apply to her. 🙂 )

If you’re a new ferret owner, it may be easiest to ferret proof only one room at first and restrict the ferret to that room until you can finish the rest of the house. Rooms which are seldom used and which ferrets have no need to be in (laundry rooms, closets, garages, bathrooms) are better kept closed off to keep them out.

Unless sleeping, ferrets seldom sit still. They are naturally inquisitive and enjoy exploring new things. You’ll find it hard to believe such a tiny, innocent-looking animal can get into so many potentially dangerous situations.

Some of the main areas of concern include the following:

Holes or Anything with Access to the Outside

Ferrets won’t last long on their own out in the world. Holes any larger than the diameter of a quarter should be repaired, plugged or taped over. (Duct tape to the rescue!)

Holes in interior walls should also be patched. Ferrets have been known to climb in and become trapped inside the wall.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it may have a clean-out hole which empties to the outside. Make sure this is securely closed.

Windows should be kept closed. Screens are easily scratched through or pushed out.

Ferrets have been known to crawl through the dryer hose and escape outside.

Many a ferret has escaped through the front door – they’re faster than we are. When leaving the house, watch carefully to make sure your pet doesn’t join you.

Some doors have gaps beneath them large enough for a ferret to be able to crawl under. Strips made for weatherproofing can be added beneath the door to close the gap.

Check carefully when removing things from the house such as bags, baskets — even trash. Ferrets often crawl inside and sleep.

Chemicals, Poisons, and Other Toxins

Kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are loaded with household cleaners and chemicals to which a ferret should never have access. Ferrets are quite capable of opening cabinet doors. Make sure they’re securely latched using child-proof locks.

Cabinets often have small holes in them near what is called the kick plate. (You’ll have to get down on the ground on your belly and look up underneath to understand what I’m talking about.) The gap is often large enough for a ferret to squeeze through. Use a thin piece of wood and a few screws to close the gap.

Many different house plants are known to be poisonous to ferrets including African Violet, Azalea, Begonia, Bittersweet, Caladium, Century Plant, Chrysanthemum, Daffodil, Dumb Cane, Elephant’s Ear, Eucalyptus, Four o’clock, Hydrangea, Iris, Ivy (English and Baltic), Jimsom Weed/Thorn Apple, Marigold, Marijuana/Hemp, Mistletoe, Oleander, Peperonia, Petunia, Philodendron, Poinsettia, Poison Hemlock, Poison Ivy/Oak, Potato, Prayer Plant, Primrose, Rhubarb, Sago Palm, Sweet Violets, and Wormwood.

Some human foods are poison to ferrets including chocolate, grapes, raisins, and anything containing xylitol found in many sugar free candies such as TicTacs and gums.

Make sure all bait used for bugs or mice and all garden herbicides and fertilizers are stored safely. They should be either locked away in a secure cabinet or placed on a high shelf.

Electricity

Ferrets love to chew and are especially attracted to rubbery surfaces. All electrical wires should be blocked or covered. Move heavy furniture in front of wires. If you can’t do that, a quick inexpensive fix is to wrap the exposed wire with aluminum foil. The ferret won’t enjoy biting the foil and will leave the wires alone.

Crawling Inside of Things

Recliners and pull-out sofa beds are especially dangerous because of the metal moving parts. A ferret can easily climb inside and become squished.

Box springs on beds are a dangerous trap. Ferrets dig at mattress and box springs and can make a hole and be able to get up inside.

Rocking chairs and rolling chairs. Ferret accidentally get beneath the wheels. It’s better not to use these when ferrets are loose.

Know where you ferret is before starting the washer, dryer, oven, or dishwasher. They love to crawl up inside things. They don’t normally survive being run through a cycle on any of these machines.

Climbing

Look around you and see what might be available to climb. Curtains are fun, and cages located close to the wall make it easy to wedge between the cage and wall, and up they go.

I’ve seen a ferret jump from bench to bed to dresser to shelf on the wall, and on up to next higher level shelf on the wall to get to a favorite item we didn’t want him to have which we had put high on a shelf because we thought it was safe there. Ferrets are exceptionally adept getting what they want.

Find a way to rearrange furniture or tie up drapes to make things inaccessible.