Written by Mahri, EverythingFerret.com
Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent causes of premature ferret death is gastrointestinal blockage. You can protect your ferrets by keeping a close eye on what they like to chew on. Basically, ferrets like any type of foam rubber, soft rubber, couch stuffing, sponge and Styrofoam. Additionally, many ferrets also enjoy chewing on paper, plastic bags, cardboard and fabric. These will all cause gastrointestinal blockages if ingested.
Look for signs such as furniture stuffing on the floor, under beds or under other furniture. Make sure your ferrets are not digging holes under the couch and crawling inside. Keep all shoes with inserts out of the reach of your ferret. If your ferret is chewing his or her bedding, try a stronger fabric that won’t tear. Generally, keep an eye on your ferrets and be familiar with their favorite places to hide and which items in the house they are fixated on. This will help you come up with a ferret proofing plan that is right for your ferrets.
Ferrets actually enjoy the smell of bleach, bar soap and some other household cleaners. Be careful when you are cleaning the bathroom or kitchen. Always rinse bathtubs very well after cleaning them. Some ferrets (like mine) are able to climb into the tub by themselves. They enjoy licking the water droplets off the sides of the tub. A small amount of disinfecting cleaner or bleach could make your ferret ill.
Keep toilet lids down to keep your ferret from drinking out of the toilet (yes, I have a ferret that does this) . Again, toilet cleaners are toxic to ferrets. Ferrets could also drown in the toilet water. Store all cleaning supplies, medicine and bar soap in a ferret proof area.
Finally, to keep your ferret out of potentially unsafe rooms such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room you must construct a ferret barrier. Traditional pet and child proof gates will not work. Most ferrets can easily climb over these gates and can get strangled or stuck by trying to squeeze through the openings. Ferrets will try to get under the refrigerator (they can be seriously injured by the fan), under cabinets, in drawers, under the washer and dryer (they can get in the dryer if you leave the door open) and in any other small opening at ground level.
PLEASE CHECK THE DISHWASHER AND CLOTHES DRYER FOR YOUR FERRET(S) BEFORE STARTING IT. My veterinarian has told me horror stories about ferrets being killed in these appliances. Ferrets can also climb into high places such as the top shelf of a closet. Unfortunately, ferrets can get themselves into situations they can’t get out of and end up getting injured. Make sure you know where your ferret is at all times!
The best way to keep your ferret out of dangerous rooms is to make your own barrier or purchase a gate made especially for ferrets (these are constructed out of a solid sheet of plastic or Plexiglas). You can make your own barrier by measuring your doorway and purchasing a flat sheet of wood or Plexiglas that is at least three feet tall. Stiff cardboard may work as well. Just wedge the board in your doorway to keep the room blocked off.
Climbing over the barriers may seem like a pain, but it’s nothing compared to trying to find a ferret who has gotten trapped inside a wall, under the fridge or behind a cabinet! Keep your ferrets out of your furniture by nailing or tacking heavy material, card board, wood sheets or particle board on the bottom of the furniture. This keeps them from being able to dig through the soft fabric located under your furniture.
Keeping a close eye on your little buddies and setting limits for them will create a comfortable, safe home environment for you and your ferrets.