It is a well known fact that ferrets have one of those odors that you can’t place. One wonders “How can I help my ferret look and smell their best?”
In this how to guide, we will explore the ways we can keep your ferret looking and smelling their best from head to claw.
First, You have to know the anatomy of a ferrets
Ferrets belong to the Mustelidae family, which also includes weasels, badgers, minks, and our personal favorite-skunks. This group of animals is known for producing a pungent odor when scared or alarmed. Most ferrets that are bought through commercial means (i.e.-Pet stores) usually have their scent glands removed before they are shipped from the farm to the store. The scent glands are near the business end of the ferret. Ferrets also have oil glands in their skin but do not produce the concentrated smell that the scent sacs do.
Now that we know why ferrets have that musky smell, we can now look at what can keep these ominous odors to a minimum.
Ferrets are a low maintenance animal when it comes to bathing. They only need to be bathed once a month at maximum (Unless they get something on them that can’t be brushed off. Ferrets do a very good job of keeping their coats very clean on their own, but if there ever comes a time that you do need to bathe your ferret, there are important steps to remember:
1. Ferret’s normal body temperature ranges from 100 F-104 F. When adjusting the temperature of the Ferrets water, make sure it never reaches below 100 F otherwise you could inadvertently cause your ferret to go into hypothermia. The ideal temperature is 103F (a little warmer than your bath water) . If you can put your hand in the water and it feels lukewarm, the water is too cold for your ferret.
2. Some ferrets love to swim while bathing. Be sure to fill the container you are bathing your ferret in to allow your ferret to swim around, The family bathtub makes an ideal “swimming pool” for ferrets. Be sure to also have a platform for the ferret to step on if they decide to take a rest. while swimming.
3. Try to only use shampoos meant for ferrets. Mild baby shampoo works ok too, but shouldn’t be the first choice. (8 in 1 ferret shampoo is wonderfully inexpensive, plus it comes in super scents like cucumber-melon.)
4. Provide toys designed for your ferrets for them to play with while you bathe your ferret. Ferrets love to be playful, even when they are getting clean.
5. NEVER leave your ferret unsupervised in any amount of water. Remember, Ferrets (Even adult ferrets) are like curious two year old children. You would never leave your two old child unsupervised, and you shouldn’t you leave your ferret unsupervised.
6. After bathing, ferrets can put on quite a show. Remove your ferret and wrap them in a towel (THIS IS THE FUN PART) dry them off as best as you can, but be forewarned, ferrets don’t stay in the towels long. Place a few towels on the floor in the center of a room and let your ferret free. They give a great show once they are let go by running and drying off on anything they can get their fur on.
NOTE* Over bathing can over stimulate the oils glands and make the ferret smell worse in a few hours., not to mention that too much bathing will cause a ferrets skin to dry out very fast.
Clipping ferrets claws can be a stressful and arduous chore for both your ferret and you. Claws should be clipped every other week, or when the claw becomes too sharp and long. Clipping nails is best done with 2 people available. If that is not possible don’t fret. A good way to stop a squirming ferret to stop in their tracks is Ferretone , a sweet, vitamin based liquid that most ferrets go crazy over. Add a few drops to their belly and as they are in a licking frenzy, clip the claws just above the quick. The quick is the red colored part of the claw, which is the blood supply of the ferret’s claw. If you do happen to clip a nail too close and cut the quick, have some styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Always have Styptic powder on hand and use as directed.
Yes, although they wear no clothes, ferrets STILL have laundry for us to do. Bedding, hammocks and blankets galore. Be sure to launder these items at least once a week. (every other day is optimal for the best odor reduction possible.)
FERRET LITTER PAN
Litter pans should be scooped out every day (more often if you have more than one ferret) I personally use pine pellets in my ferrets litter. I find that these pellets are way cheaper than ferret litter, and the smell is drastically reduced because pine pellets absorb virtually all the odor from ferret waste. Another nice benefit of pine pellets is that you can scoop out what is used, and leave the rest and refill only what has been used.
Completely dump the litter and wash the litter pan in hot soapy once a week. Dry completely and refill.
Ferrets are very prone to tooth decay if they eat mainly soft foods or meat. I personally feed my ferrets only crunchy ferret food, therefore reducing the plaque build up. Swab their teeth on a weekly basis with a cotton swab or gauze with warm water or buy a commercial gel can be bought that are specially designed as pet enzymatic toothpastes.
*IMPORTANT* NEVER use human toothpaste or toothbrushes on your ferret. The toothpaste is poisonous to them, and human toothbrushes, even the softest ones are still too hard for your ferret’s gums.
You should clean your ferrets ears at least once a month to remove waxy build up that can really throw off a ferrets balance if not taken care of properly. Normal color of ear wax is yellowish-brown to a red color.
Ferrets are also very prone to ear mites. Signs of ear mites are black deposits and a foul smelling odor in their ears. You will never be able to see the mites because they are virtually microscopic. If you suspect ear mites, see your vet. They can give you ear drops with miticide. For normal ear care you can use ear wax remover specially made for ferrets or diluted peroxide . Take the swab and gently clean the contours of the outside ear and also clean the inside flaps. Never enter the canal of the ear.
Following this guide will ensure that you are doing everything possible to keep that frisky ferret healthy and happy .
Ferrets are a lot of work when it comes to keeping their surrounding hygienic, but they are worth it.