Ferret Proofing 101

Last Updated on August 9, 2021

Anyone who has ferrets knows how much they get into things and how hard it is to watch them every second. Ferrets are intelligent, curious, and persistent! In order to keep your ferrets safe while they’re roaming around (and also to keep your belongings safe from them), it’s very important to make sure that your home is ferret proofed.

Ferretproofing means looking at your home from the viewpoint of a ferret and taking precautions to establish a safe play area for them. Do you have an open garbage can in the area where they play? Unless it is moved, it will likely be tipped over and strewn about. Do you have fragile knickknacks on a table next to the couch? Move them or lose them! Do you burn candles in your home? Make sure they are high enough that your ferret can’t get to them and singe his whiskers or worse.

Does the task of ferret proofing seem overwhelming? If you’re not sure where to begin, sit down in the room where your ferrets will be playing and make a list of everything that you think could be dangerous for them. Here are some places you will probably want to start.

Furniture

Recliner chairs are very dangerous for ferrets, as they can climb up into them and get crushed. Remove recliners from the ferrets’ play area.

Ferrets love to dig and burrow into sofas; unfortunately, sofas can be very dangerous for them. A ferret could lose an eye on a spring or staple or get a blockage from ingesting the material inside the couch. If the couch sits up off the floor, staple a heavy fabric or nail a piece of plywood across the bottom of it. Use slipcovers to keep your ferrets from going down through the cushions and into the couch. You may want to consider only using futon style couches if your ferrets are especially persistent.

If your ferrets are in your bedroom, make sure that you affix something to the bottom of the box springs to keep the ferrets out of there as well.

Appliances

Ferrets can very easily fit behind or under many major household appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, dishwashers, etc. This is dangerous for multiple reasons. Ferrets could be injured or killed if the appliance is on or if they chew on the electrical wires. It is best to keep them out of the kitchen or laundry room altogether. However, if you are going to let them into these areas, it is very important that you ferret proof these appliances. Use wood, cardboard, or duct tape to block access to the underside and backs, and always verify that there are no ferrets in or around them before using them.

Cabinets & Drawers

There are frequently items in cabinets and drawers that you wouldn’t want ferrets getting into, especially in the cupboards that contain household cleaners. Many child safety devices are ineffective because they leave a small gap that ferrets can squeeze through. It’s best to use magnets, Velcro®, bungee straps, or other things such as these that will hold the door or drawer firmly closed.

Moving Things Out of Reach

When you ferret proof, you have to think like a ferret. It sounds silly, but the best thing you can do is get down on your hands and knees and look around the room. Anything that is at your eye level or lower is something they can easily reach with little effort. Couches, shelves or other things they can climb could provide access to items that are higher up. Make sure that all breakable items, candles, wires and other such things are out of reach or, in the case of wires, outfitted with covers or protective sheaths to keep your ferrets from chewing on them. Ferrets also love to chew on rubber-type items, so be sure to keep remote controls, computer mouses, and other items with rubber buttons in cupboards or away from ferrets.

Preventing Escapees

Ferrets are very adept at getting into small spaces. Why? Because most ferrets can get their bodies into space as long as it is big enough to accommodate their heads. Many ferrets are small enough to fit under doors, behind furniture, through open laundry vents or spaces around plumbing and in other 1″ spaces. If you have spaces like that in their play area, block them off

Ferrets can also tear through window screens, so if you aren’t supervising your ferret during playtime, close all windows that your ferret can reach or open them from the top. If you have to leave them open for ventilation, never leave your ferret alone in a room where he can climb up in the window.

If your ferrets play in a room with a door to the outside, keep a close eye on them. It only takes one person who is not aware of how quick and sneaky ferrets can be to open the door and unwittingly allow them to escape to the outside. The safest things to do are block off the door (a Playpen works well to create a small barrier in front of the door), hold your ferret when people are coming and going, or put your ferret in his cage when there will be lots of people entering and exiting your house. Many people lose their ferrets each year because they underestimated how quickly a ferret could slip around someone’s feet.

Maintaining the Safe Environment

These aren’t even close to all of the ferret proofing tasks that you will need to do, but they are a good start! Every ferret’s personality is different, so you will need to ferret proof of different things for different fuzzies. Some ferrets will be fascinated by trying to dig inside the couch while others will try desperately to dig their way under the door, and still others will spend endless hours pulling your books or movies off the shelves. Tailor your ferret proofing to your individual ferret’s behaviour for the best results.

And finally, a word of caution! Ferretproofing is a never-ending job. Ferrets are very persistent and very intelligent. They will often find a way around your ferret proofing, and you will need to come up with other ways to thwart them. Give the room a good once-over before letting your fuzzies out to play. Review your ferret proofing measures thoroughly at least once a month, and always keep an eye out for new items in the room that may catch your ferret’s eye and need to be ferret proofed.

Ferretproofing FAQ

Q: What Is Ferretproofing?

A: Ferretproofing is the act of keeping your ferrets out of places or away from things that you do not want them to reach. This means taking a definite course of action whether you are making your home safe for your ferrets or making your home safe from your ferrets. Sometimes it will be hard to tell one from the other.

Q: Why Should I Ferretproof?

A: Ferrets are very intelligent animals, unceasingly curious and highly inventive when it comes to exploring their environment. Everything reachable, from the garbage, to the furniture, to your favorite knickknacks, to the top of your bookshelves, will be explored, eaten, knocked over, or taken somewhere else. It may be funny to watch, but you could lose your valuables, or worse, your ferret, to an accident if you haven’t made the room safe for play.

Q: When Should I Ferretproof?

A: Initial ferretproofing should start before your bundle of energy dooks through the door. Decide which room or rooms you will allow your ferrets to enjoy. One room is fine, especially if you are inexperienced with ferrets. As you grow more accustomed to your new pet, you can add rooms if you wish. After your ferret is home he will probably let you know all of the things you missed while ferretproofing. Expect to have to do more ferretproofing. Do not be discouraged because this will happen for as long as you have ferrets. They will always be learning how to get into new things just to keep you on your toes.

Q: Where Should I Ferretproof?

A: Ferretproofing will need to be done everywhere your ferret goes-no exceptions.

Some general tips to remember are:

1. Anywhere the head fits so will the rest of the ferret-that crack underneath the door, behind the dresser, the open vent in the laundry room, between the sofa cushions, the list can be endless so if there is a 1 inch gap expect the ferrets to go through it.

2. Anything lower than your knee is easily reachable to jump on or knock over- if you’d like to keep it in one piece, lock it up, or move it to higher ground.

3. Anything above the knee is still reachable to the more determined ferret, just not as easily. Ferrets can and do open cabinets, drawers, and sometimes even refrigerator doors. Learn how to keep them closed tightly.

4. Ferrets can jump and climb — things that have been put higher up may not always be safe if a chair, small table, or cage can be used as a ladder. This can be especially dangerous for your fuzzy because as inventive as ferrets are going up, they lack the skills to get down and will jump if no other way is available.

5. Ferrets are natural diggers – plants, sofas, and carpeting under doors are the primary targets.

6. Chewables – Most ferrets are not problematic chewers but soft rubbery things are hard to resist for some ferrets.Be wary of TV remotes, keys, covered cables, and shoe soles and inserts. The #1 hazard here is toys. Old worn out toys can start to break apart into small pieces that may be accidentally swallowed, so take away that mangy toy for something new before you have to make a trip to the vet.

7. Remember all ferrets have different personalities. What may be attractive to one may not be to another.

Ferretproofing should be adjusted to the individual actions of your own ferrets regardless of what Aunt Lulu’s misbehaving ferrets know how to do.Unless, of course, they come for a visit, where things may degrade to the point of monkey see-monkey do.7.

Q: How Do I Ferretproof?

A: There are many ways of ferretproofing and other ferret owners are often your best resource. In most cases you will only have to be slightly more inventive than your ferret.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. No soft rubber toys, no torn or damaged stuffed animals – inspect toys periodically for tears and replace any that are worn.

2. Cabinets, doors, and drawers – magnets, Velcro, and bungee straps are cheap and easy to apply. Duct tape will work in a pinch if you do not mind ruining the finish. Child safety locks generally do not work because they still leave a small gap.

3. Appliances – if your ferrets can get under or behind your kitchen/laundry appliances, think twice about letting them in this room. It is safer and easier to block total access than to ferretproof each appliance.

4. Sofas – use slipcovers to keep ferrets from burrowing between cushions. Staple a sheet or nail a thin board to the underside of the sofa. If using a sheet check frequently for gaps that may have been dug. The same strategy can be used if a ferret is burrowing underneath a bed.

5. Chairs – there are two dangers here the first being the chair itself-recliners are the root cause of a number of ferret deaths. If you have one, it is best to keep the ferret out of that room, or get rid of the recliner. If neither is acceptable then disable the reclining mechanism by removing the handle or binding the hardware. The second danger from chairs is their use as step stools. Make sure that whatever is accessible from the chair is safe for ferrets or move the chair during playtime.

6. Small plants/small objects – the safest place is out of reach, put them on a shelf or hang them from the walls. Get a CD/Video stand or bookcase with doors if you do not want the contents rearranged on a regular basis. Consider stand lamps instead of table lamps.
Large plants/large objects – For large plants, a clipped on, tightly woven screen, or large rocks placed across the pot should keep out little paws. It is very important to make large objects sturdy against pushing or tipping. Place a brick in the bottom of the trash can before adding the bag to make it weighty.

7. Carpets under doors – get rid of carpet or secure a plastic runner, plexiglass, or linoleum under the door.

8. Screens – Attempt to keep your ferrets away from any window or door screens. Their claws and teeth can rip through or they may be able to push through and fall or escape. It is best to keep windows closed or open at the top.

Ferretproofing is a task without end as our lovable pets will always find more ways to get into mischief.

✅ Read Our Other Article For An In-depth Studying Ferrets Care:

About Leanne

Leanne is a writer with an intense love for animals. She’s always had this drive to work with them in some way, but unfortunately her passion doesn’t lie in the sciences. So now she spends her days researching and writing about all sorts of animals while playing with her naughty ferret, Rosa. Leanne will hopefully be adding to her family soon – maybe another cat and dog!