One of the most important things you can do to safeguard your ferret is to ensure there is absolutely no way for them to escape to the outer world or into openings in your home.
Unlike cats and dogs, ferrets are unable to survive on their own and generally die within a few days without human intervention.
If your ferret should happen to escape, you should be prepared to bring their favorite squeaky toy, treats and possibly another ferret in your search for him. The odds are not with you, but it is possible, see a recent news report of two lost ferrets recovered in the forest after four day search.
In addition, you should always have a recent photo of your ferret(s) which you could use to produce fliers to help identify him as a house pet, many people do not realize ferrets are domesticated!
Don’t underestimate the abilities of a ferret, they are more than capable of getting into or under the smallest of openings and able to move heavy things outs of their way. Ferret proofing is not a one time job, it is a constant endeavour that our monsters prove time and again.
Equally important is to ensure there is nothing dangerous or poisonous (especially house plants, ashtrays and potpourri) within their reach as ferrets are more than capable of jumping and climbing to get to items that catch their attention. As a side note ferrets love to dig through the dirt of your favourite houseplant, so for the sake of keeping your place clean and the plant safe, these are better left out of reach.
Common household items that are usually over looked in protecting your carpet shark are; the buttons on your remote control which they can swallow, parts of a toy they can chew off and swallow and the infamous styrofoam packing peanuts. All of these items can cause serious life threatening health problems (blockage requiring surgery) to a ferret which can easily be avoided.
Due to the size and endless curiosity of the ferret, they will always find new ways and new territories to explore. Prior to bringing home your baby it is vital to their safety and well-being that there be no openings they can get into or under.
The best way to accomplish this is to lay on the floor in every room and search out spaces, openings, etc. they can get into and close them up. This applies to cabinets which they can open, you certainly don’t want your ferret to come into contact with any dangerous chemicals, so child proofing is strongly recommended.
As previously mentioned, ferret proofing is not a one shot deal, you will always need to keep an eye on your ferret as they show you new territory they can get in to. The following list is a good starting point for ferret proofing, but is not totally comprehensive. You will need to watch your ferret carefully in your own home to truly identify all the ways you need to ferret-proof your home!
Restrict access to laundry and kitchen if possible. If not, block off around appliances (fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer, dryer, freezers) so that ferrets can’t get under them or into the workings (e.g. where the motor or wires are located). My girl Bandit used to somehow get into the drawer under my stove and stash toys there. Also double check for hiding ferrets before turning appliances on or shutting their doors.
2. Laundry baskets
Double check the laundry before putting in washer or dryer.
3. Dryer vents
Secure the dryer duct, watch for chewing into the duct or your ferret may use it to get outdoors or into the dryer.
4. Air ducts
Ensure your ferrets cannot get into the heating/air ducts or they might get stuck, injured, or end up outdoors.
5. Boxspring mattresses
Securely cover bottom with heavy fabric or wood to prevent ferrets from climbing into the boxspring.
6. Recliners & Rocking chairs
Always make sure your ferrets are no where near the mechanisms when using recliners or rocking chairs, best bet is not to use them when your ferrets are out.
7. Couches & Chairs
Secure the bottoms to prevent ferrets from getting under and up into the furniture. Also check under the cushions before sitting, to make sure a ferret isn’t napping under them. Bandit essentially created her own city inside my first couch, as I lived alone it was easier to monitor where she was before sitting down, but always be aware.
Using slipcovers will prevent ferrets from burrowing into the cushions. Periodically check couch cushions, furniture, and pillows for signs of chewing.
8. Small spaces
Make sure there are no small spaces through which your ferret could get out of the house or into the walls. Remember, if they can get their heads into a crack, their bodies can usually follow. Especially check around cupboards, plumbing, ducts, doors, etc.
9. Under doors
Watch for large spaces that ferrets can get through. To prevent ferrets from trying to dig out through the carpet under doors, you can place a plastic chairmat (can be trimmed to fit), thin plexiglass, or linoleum under the door.
Make sure any accessible windows are closed when ferrets are out. Ferrets can easily bite through window screens.
Drowning danger!! Keeping ferrets out of the bathroom is safest overall, but again you never really know, it is best to keep toilet seats down at all times.
12. Standing water
Similar to toilets, a sink, tub, or even bucket of water poses a drowning risk.
13. Cleaning supplies
Most cleaning chemicals are toxic or dangerous to curious ferrets. Keep strictly out of reach.
Ferrets actually enjoy the smell and sometimes taste of soap! Make sure to keep soap and soapy water out of reach of your monsters.
Most ferrets will easily get into your cupboards, you can invest in the magnetic type of child proofing locks for cupboards (most of the plastic locks allow the cupboards to open a bit, which is enough for most ferrets to get in).
15. Electrical cords
Just be aware of all cords in your home, some ferrets enjoy chewing. None of my ferrets have given me a problem with this but there are some out there, so always monitor accessible cords and remove any damaged cables.
As mentioned above house plants can be annoying to continue cleaning up after, as well as dangerous for your ferret if they try to eat. Do not keep poisonous plants (ferrets will dig in the soil and might chew the plants) and always research when getting a new plant if they are poisonous to ferrets.
Make sure breakable or delicate items are out of reach, and there are no heavy items that might fall or be pulled over onto your ferret. Ferrets are basically children, they like mess, noise and getting into what they shouldn’t.
Things like foam, soft rubber or plastic, styrofoam, sponges, rubber bands, pen caps, cotton swabs, fabrics, and so on should be kept out of reach or in separate areas than ferrets play. Remote control buttons are also a favorite target.
18. Bookcases & High Tables
Ferrets like to climb up anything and everything, but often can’t climb down due to their poor eyesight. However often ferrets then try to jump down, even from heights, make sure there is no high furniture to get stuck on.
19. Open railings
Around stairs, balconies, etc. Their poor eyesight might lead them to believe they’re not that high up.
Securely cover or keep out of reach, this is one of their favourite things to ‘dig’ in.
21. Fans, Space Heaters, Candles, Fireplaces
Keep ferrets away from these to the best of your abilities.
Check periodically to make sure they are not being dismantled and eaten.
Ferret-proofing is an ongoing task, rather than a one-time chore. No matter how thoroughly you ferret-proof, you should still carefully supervise your monsters as you never know what they might try to get into next!
Keep an eye on what your ferrets want to get into, and make adjustments as necessary.