You are at your wits end with your ferret spreading his stool all over the place, but don’t lose your heart and never consider it a perennial problem. Your pet ferret can be litter box trained. With patience and consistency, you can get your ferret to use a litter box and reduce messes during play time. It’s easier than you think.
Steps to Litter Train Your Ferret
Step 1 – Choosing the Right Size
Ferrets naturally like to back in into a corner, lift their tail, squat a little and do their business. If you are expecting a ferret to go into a litter box. You have to make sure that they can plant all four of their paws in and comfortably back up into the corner if a ferret is not comfortable in their litter box and they are not able to get all their paws in than they are most likely not to use the litter box at all.
The litter box is his safe space, an ideal litter box would be a square box, with high edges so that he can easily go into the box and squat in the corner plus it is not a hassle for you clean up afterward.
Step 2 – Picking the Right Litter
Ferrets are naturally clean animals, even at a young age their mother makes sure that no excrement or whatever else is gone, as the mother does not want the nest to be dirty so this means, it is ingrained in their biology to make sure that their nest is clean, daily.
Choose an unscented litter; biologically, mother ferrets train their children where they can poop and urinate; it is not inside the nest. They have a special area. Remember, you are now the mother, you must show them or else they will not learn.
In order for this to be effective, you must use its natural instinct against it, smell. This is why we pick an unscented litter, and we place their fresh poops and urine inside the litter box. This helps them associate the smell with the litter box.
Step 3 – Positive Reinforcement
A young ferret needs guidance on what is okay and what is not okay, you always yelling and getting angry for something that he did not know is not going to help. Your ferret loves you, he does not want to disappoint you, he wants to please you, make you happy, he is not working against you. He just needs time to learn.
By using positive reinforcement more than negative reinforcement; you not only boost your ferret’s confidence in you but its trust in you. Please be kind, they are looking to you for guidance. Whenever it does good, provide treats and whenever it does something bad, use a little negative reinforcement.
Socialize with him, play with him, spend time with him, love him. Invest in his happiness and he will invest in yours. Do this multiple times; he will get used to you, to your family and to your home thus reducing unfamiliarity.
Do everything with love and understanding, not fear, not intimidation.
Proper Litter Training Tips
- To begin with, try to put litter boxes in just about every corner of the house. This especially is required when your pet has just moved into your house. Chances are, over a period of time, your ferret will ultimately pick out a few favorites. Place a heavy water proof mat under and around each litter box to protect your carpet from accidents. Again, if your ferret is going to the bathroom right in front of the litter box, then this warrants placement of a lower front ledge. Here you must not forget the point that male ferrets due to their bigger size need larger litter boxes than their female counterparts.
- If your ferret is avoiding the use of a litter box in the cage, try using a litter box with a lower front ledge. Many ferrets don’t like to “hop” over the ledge of a litter box, they just want to back up. Other accessories of the cage like bedding, toys and their food bowl should be placed in the corners, so that they are not used as a litter box.
- Ferrets will not use their litter box if the box represents to him either of the two extremes: too clean or too dirty. You should also be careful in changing the brand of litter as it can also cause litter box accidents. If you do change litter, try blending the old with the new one for a while. Scoop out the litter box on a daily basis, and wash all litter boxes on a weekly basis.
- If you have more than one ferret, avoid competition between them for a litter box. This could upset the toilet habit of a ferret. Each one must have his/her own litter box and they should be tutored in a way that they identify their own respective boxes.
- Finally, your ferret could be having stool problems because of some sickness. Ferrets normally have litter box accidents when they are not well. Insulinomas, adrenal disease, gastrointestinal upset, and many other conditions can all cause litter box accidents. Ferrets tend to experience hind leg weakness when they are sick. They may not have the energy to jump in the litter box or make it to the litter box. If your ferret has started having such problems, take your ferret in for an immediate check up.
What to Use in the Litter Box and What Never to Use
It is an established fact that one of the biggest problems you face with your ferrets is in teaching them to defecate at the right place, the litter box. Perhaps nowhere else is your patience with a ferret required more than in teaching this to your pet. This pertinent issue definitely requires meticulous planning, including the creation of the right kind of environment so that ferret can learn it quickly. Simply put, you have to ensure that the litter box is laden with accessories that will help the ferret understand that goodies are meant to be disbursed in the litter box. Following are some tips:
- You must use a dust-free litter like Scamp 99% dust-free clay, Feline Pine pellets, Pine Fresh pellets, Cat Works, recycled newspaper pellets, etc. Sand and scented litters should be avoided since they provide the opportunity for ferrets to dig in, making a mess of the place. The scent can also harm sensitive nasal passages or cause allergic reactions in your pets.
- You are also advised to place a little bit of soiled litter back into the clean pan to discourage kits from using the litter box as sand or play box. Avoid using cedar or wood shavings in the cage, as they can cause respiratory problems in the long run.
- The litter box in the cage needs to cover at least two corners and be positioned in a place so that it can’t be rearranged by your pet. The litter box should also be large enough to accommodate the entire body of the ferret. The front of the litter box should be low enough to allow easy access for young ferrets.
- The litter boxes should be cleaned with simple dishwashing detergents. Any washing solution stronger than this is hardly required. You can also save a little old litter to put back in a clean box if the ferret is still in the digging stage.
Ferret is not using the litter box, it might be:
- Is afraid of you, your family and your home; your ferret wants to feel safe and comfortable. By him pooping and urinating randomly, the natural odor makes him feel comfortable.
- Still has not learned what a litter box is for, the process usually takes anywhere from five to twelve weeks.
- If your ferret seems to be pooping and urinating randomly, it might be a sign that your ferret has a tumor or some kind of kidney issue. Please visit a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Sharing your home with a beloved pet will bring companionship and love into your life. Pet ownership may be the best prescription any doctor can give you. You and your best friend will be together for years and years so please make the best of them. Invest time into getting to know, like and love your friend; it isn’t perfect but neither are you, grow together. Keep your promise, and enjoy the time you have with your friend.
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- Ferret Care. (2019). Retrieved 9 May 2021, from https://healthtopics.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/exotics/ferret-care
- FISHER, P. (2006). FERRET BEHAVIOR. Exotic Pet Behavior, 163-205. doi: 10.1016/b978-1-4160-0009-9.50011-6,from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7158301/
Last Updated on January 10, 2023