Ferrets For Dummies
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Ferret-proofing never ends. It’s an ongoing saga. If you have other humans in the household, it’s a family affair. Take a look at these awesomely creative ferret-proofing hacks that may make your life a little easier. Or not. You be the judge.

a ferret climbing © Yasmins world / Shutterstock.com

Ferrets are master climbers, master jumpers, and master escape-artists.

Pool noodles be gone!

Ferrets get into the smallest of places, and the spot in between your washer and dryer just calls out their names. Although you might be able to squeeze pool noodles into the crack, ferrets find the noodles easy to tear apart and delightfully delicious — but not so easy to pass. My friend Holly Ravenhill reminded me to instead take a blanket or large towel and roll it up tightly, and then shove it into the crack, fitting it snug enough so that the ferret cannot burrow beneath it or pull it out. Voilà!

Up, up, and over—not!

I’ve never met a ferret that hasn’t mastered the art of escaping from a ferret pen. I’m not sure who came up with this idea, but it’s a brilliant solution to an age-old feisty ferret problem. This “climber stopper topper” is made of a simple piece of black flexible corrugated drain pipe that can be found at any larger hardware store.

It takes a bit of talent to construct. You may lose a finger or two if you’re not careful. If you have a neighbor who is great with power tools, particularly saws, you may want to trade him a six pack of Pepsi or beer in turn for his sawing services. Kevin Farlee, president of Washington Ferret Rescue & Shelter offered the following advice when it came to constructing this altered pen:

  • Use a strong, sharp saw — a table saw or even a Japanese handsaw.
Japanese handsaw © Fcikle / Shutterstock.com

Japanese handsaw
  • You’ll be cutting lengthwise, so it’s a good idea to draw a straight line down the tubing where you’ll be cutting. This will keep you on track while sawing.
  • Grab a friend who owes you a huge favor, because he’ll be holding the front end of the tube while you cut away from him.
  • Don’t cut off a finger or foot. Table saws and Japanese saws are sharp, and they don’t discriminate between wood or fingers. If you’re uncomfortable with working with saws, call someone who is savvy around power tools.
  • Just pop the tubing over the top of the pen, placing the edges of the pen into the newly sawed slat. Having two people do this can help the process move along a little faster.
You can use this modified playpen in your home, but what makes this so perfect is that it’s portable. Perfect for ferret shows, playdates, travelling, or any event where your fuzzball will be away from home for a good length of time. And, ladies and gents, it works over baby gates, as well!

Cardboard cut-outs

Yep! The topic of climbing ferrets is a resonating one, and baby gates are frequently a go-to solution. Some are reasonably priced and others can break the bank. But most are no match for a ferret that will find its way around, under, over, or through the baby gate, leaving you begging for help from other ferret owners. Here’s what you need to fix this irritating issue:
  • Purchase the baby gate that best fits the width of your doorway, making sure to choose one that the ferret cannot squeeze beneath or through the sides.
  • Measure the large climbable section(s) on the baby gate that you’ll need to cover.
  • Measure and carefully cut thick pieces of cardboard to fit over each section
  • Fasten the cardboard section(s) to the baby gate using cable/zip ties to hold the cardboard securely.
Ferrets will always scratch at the cardboard, but if it’s constructed well, the ferret shouldn’t be able to conquer the wall to freedom. If you see wear and tear, however, be sure to replace the cardboard barrier.

Yule get hung up on Christmas

What ferret owner doesn’t face the annual Christmas tree dilemma? Christmas trees: They’re fresh. They’re new. They smell good. And most of all, a Christmas tree is mountain of branches that provides ample climbing opportunities for our mischievious furballs. Hang some ornaments from the tree and, well, most will end up in ferret hidey holes throughout the house in no time. Although you could encircle the entire tree with a ferret-proof pen or get a smaller tree and put it on a table, why not do something a little crazy. Hang that sucker upside down from your ceiling. That’s right. I said it. Amaze your friends, and leave your family members rolling their eyes at holiday gatherings. They already think you love your ferrets more than you love them anyway. Suspending your tree is a labor of love, and it’s a blast!

So, how does the average Joe hang a Christmas tree from the ceiling? I had to ask my husband, and what he came up with makes great sense. Safe, secure, and pretty darn easy!

  1. Lay the tree on its side and drill a hole into the very bottom of the Christmas tree trunk.
  2. Carefully screw a 7/16" x 3 7/8" steel screw eye hook into the hole you just drilled in bottom of the tree.
  3. Locate a heavy beam in your ceiling and drill a hole into it.
  4. Carefully screw a 7/16" x 3 7/8" steel screw eye hook into the hole you just drilled in the ceiling beam.
  5. To save time and headache, fasten the hanging hardware to the eye hook in the ceiling before you hoist the tree. This can be a quick link or a heavy-duty carabiner (regular or round).
  6. Grab a friend or family member or two to help with the tree-hoisting project. At least one of you will need a ladder, and all of you will need muscles to lift the tree and maneuver it to attach.

Dual-purpose door blocker

Have you figured out by now that ferrets are diggers? We all know they’ll dig to China if given the opportunity. And ferrets are as flexible as pasta noodles. Closed doors can provide some ferret-proofing challenges for fuzzy owners, from ferrets escaping beneath the narrow openings at the bottom to ruined carpeting from curious diggers. So, how do you combat this common problem?

One solution is to make the opening at the bottom of the door narrower to prevent the ferret from squeezing beneath it. But that alone won’t protect your carpeting from the incessant digging. Purchase an inexpensive carpet runner or plastic carpet runner or even a scrap rug that can be measured and cut. Make sure whatever you get or cut fits width-wise beneath the opening of your door. Length-wise it should be long enough so that your ferret cannot scratch it out and away from the doorway.

No landlord wants to find torn up carpeting in his rental unit. If you’re a renter, this ferret-proofing hack may just mean the difference between losing or recouping your initial deposit when you move out.

The bottom of your door opening may be too wide for one runner to do the trick. No worries. Simply add another runner or more if you need to. This is less ideal with plastic runners that won’t stick to each other, but you may be able to use Velcro in between the plastic layers to stick them together. And what about hardwood floors? Make sure you use rubber-backed carpet runners that grip to the floor.

Couch cures

Everyone has that one ferret or five that will undoubtedly break into your couch, either from the bottom or from the top. It can be dangerous or even deadly for an exploring ferret. At the very least, it can be very annoying or costly for you, as his owner. Experienced ferret humans have worked hard over the years to match wits against their fuzzy counterparts to combat this problem. Take note of the following techniques.

To protect the underside of your couch:

  • Remove the legs from your couch and place the couch directly on the floor so that the ferrets cannot get beneath the couch at all.
  • If you can’t remove the legs or don’t want to, flip the couch over and cover the entire bottom of the couch with plywood (or a similar wood product), thick sheet or vinyl. Fasten the barrier to the underside with nails or staples. Don’t forget to flip the couch back over.
To protect the cushions or topside of your couch:
  • Find a fitted couch cover/slip you can live with and fasten it over your current couch using nails or staples.
  • If your couch sharks are burrowing in the couch cushions, throw up your hands in exasperation and call it quits.

This is one ferret-proofing hack you cannot be lazy about. Do a thorough check to make sure everything fits and you’ve fastened it all in such a way that your ferret cannot squeeze through any openings in the barriers. The barrier itself can become a hazard to your ferret if not done correctly.

Chairs and bed frames also provide similar hazards to your ferrets. Depending on the type of furniture you have, this hack may be adapted to work for chairs and bed frames, as well.

Fixing floors and revamping ramps

Many ferret cages on the market today come equipped with wire floors and ramps, which seasoned ferret owners know can lead to broken toes or nails getting hung up in the wire, or even worse. Some owners use custom bedding to cover up the wire. I suggest you take it a step further and cover the ramps and floors before you add the bedding. You can use Peel-n-Stick vinyl tiles or Peel-n-Stick carpet squares for the floors. For the ramps, Peel-n-Stick carpet squares cut to size work well and prevent sliding. Both of these stick-on products are easily removed and replaced when necessary.

A room with a view

Afraid your ferret might be getting into trouble behind your back? Undoubtedly, he is. If you have a separate room for your ferrets, and many people do, you may want to see clearly into it. Keeping your ferret safe and out of harm’s way is your duty as his human. An easy way to do this is by doing away with the modified baby gates and installing an easy-to-remove see-through Plexiglas guillotine-style door. The following steps tell you how:
  1. Use a router to cut straight “slide guides” into two 26" L x 1" W lengths of oak strips.
  2. Screw the oak strips into the open doorway of the ferret room; slide guides exposed inwards.
  3. Obtain your Plexiglas — ¼" thick x 24" tall — and slide it into the routed oak strip frame.
  4. Top the Plexiglas with a sliced rug core (the thick middle cardboard tube) to keep the jumpers from hurdling themselves over the top.
  5. Duct tape the core to the Plexiglas, so that you can simply lift the “door” by lifting the core when you need to.

Wired for trouble

There’s more to successful ferret-proofing than possessing practical thinking. You need to be a creative, out-of-the-box thinker. At. All. Times. How many times have you been to an event and walked on or over those flat strips that cover exposed electrical cords so that you don’t trip on them? Or maybe the event coordinators don’t want you to squat down and gnaw on them. Who knows? I do know one thing; they’re great for keeping your ferret from doing that, and they wouldn’t even have to squat!

There are loads of different cord hiders, protectors, covers, and organizers available to choose from. Whatever you call them or whatever your needs are, something is out there for you. With a little effort and the right products, you can protect both the cords on the floors and the walls. This is a must for our little cord munchers.

Velcro to the rescue

Whoever invented Velcro is one of my all-time heroes. Like its cousin duct tape, the uses for Velcro are eye-popping. In the ferret world, it can be a lifesaver. Consider all the drawers and cabinets that your ferret can and will open. All you need is a small piece of Velcro secured inside to help keep them closed. In my opinion, this is a better solution than the traditional baby locks that allow partial opening of the cabinets and drawers. Velcro virtually seals drawers shut until you open them with a little extra effort.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Kim Schilling is the founder of Animals for Awareness, a non-profit USDA licensed sanctuary dedicated to the needs of exotic and wild animals. When she discovered domesticated ferrets some 30 years ago, she never looked back. Kim wrote both previous editions of this book and has shared her home with as many as 20 ferrets at once.

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