Many people would love to have pets in their homes, but the disposal of their poop is one of the biggest issues that people take into consideration when adopting a pet. Sometimes, it can be a dealbreaker if a pet cannot be potty trained.
Because of this, many pet enthusiasts tend to discard ferrets as potential pets because they believe they poop themselves where they please. But that’s far from the truth. Therefore, a question arises: Can ferrets be potty trained?
Ferrets are highly intelligent creatures and can learn new tricks and habits if properly trained. Although you must use different methods to litter train your ferret, it is possible. You just need to be patient and dedicated when you begin your potty training sessions. Let’s show you how to litter train a ferret.
Litter Training a Ferret
Before you begin to litter train your ferret, you must understand that it is not a cat and therefore, it is unable to utilize a litter box by nature. Normally, baby ferrets (kits) only stay with their mothers for about three weeks before they are separated in most ferret farms. Thus, they were never taught to go to the bathroom in the same place.
It is best to litter train your ferret while it is still a kit since they learn quicker at this early age, but all ferrets can be potty trained regardless of age or gender. You just need to have patience and determination.
Treat their Cage as Level One of Training
Although you can potty train your ferret while it is left to roam free inside your home, it is recommended to begin their litter training inside its cage. This is because ferrets are already accustomed to this living space, making it easier to observe their toilet habits and to prevent accidents.
Additionally, ferrets spend most of the day inside their cages without supervision since they sleep approximately 14 to 20 hours a day.
Ferrets are rather clean and hygienic creatures who tend to defecate in corners. Initially, you should watch your ferret so you can determine its favorite “pooping spot” and place the litter box in the same location. It must be secured in its place since ferrets are known to rearrange their surroundings. Now, the training truly commences!
There are many methods to potty train your ferret, and the “Morning Routine” technique is a good approach to start. Basically, you physically move your ferret to the litter box when he wakes up. When he successfully uses the litter box, flatter him with a treat.
This will encourage your ferret to use the box by instinct every time he gets up. Carry out these steps multiple times a day for about two weeks so it can become part of your ferret’s daily habit to relieve itself when he wakes up.
Stage Two: Home Training
Once your ferret has grown accustomed to using the little box for a couple of weeks, you can let him out of his cage more often and start potty training outside. Keep in mind that accidents are bound to happen at the beginning, and you must not scold your ferret with loud words or any form of physical punishment. Have as many litter boxes as you can in all the rooms he roams free so he can faster access to them.
Remember that ferrets have a quick metabolism, and they might not reach the box on time if there is only one box available. You can also place newspapers in locations where it is not possible to place a litter box, such as furniture, carpets, or couches.
You must supervise your ferret at all times and observe any behavior that hints that he wants to go to the bathroom. For example, if your ferret backs up to a corner, swiftly pick him up and place him in a litter box. When he uses the box, applaud his actions with a treat. Rewards help him understand that he is doing a good job and promote recurrent behavior.
If an accident happens outside, pick it up and place it on the litter box. You must also situate your ferret as well to show him that this is the place where he must defecate. Afterward, you must thoroughly clean the area where the accident happened to prevent your ferret from using it as a pooping spot. Utilize diluted bleach or lemon bitters to deodorize the area and to refrain your ferret from using that spot again.
If your ferret continuously uses inappropriate spots to relieve himself, you can apply the “Don´t Poop where you Sleep” approach. As said previously, ferrets are very clean animals and do not tend to go to the bathroom in areas where they play or sleep.
Therefore, if he uses a certain location, such as behind a couch, like a bathroom, properly sanitize it and place his bedding. He will identify as a resting location and avoid defecating in that area. You can then remove the towels or sheets once it is no longer a habit.
Additionally, you must cleanse the litter box on a regular basis to avoid feces and urine buildup. Some ferrets are more comfortable using a cleaner litter box. Thus, It is advised to clean the box once or twice a day and to completely replace the litter every week.
Use of Scents
Applying scents to your ferret’s litter boxes is another effective technique to reinforce potty training. Ferrets are enchanted by unique smells and love to hunt down a certain aroma until they find out where it comes from.
You can use this to your advantage to teach your ferret to use the litter box. You can apply some drops of vanilla extract in the litter boxes and use a scented towel to create a trail to them. Apparently, ferrets are fond of this smell, and it encourages them to employ a litter box as a bathroom more frequently.
Other owners also transfer some used litter from their ferret’s cage to the ones placed outside, so he understands that these boxes are also used as pooping spots. In the end, potty training is about creating habits to allow more freedom to your ferret when it plays around.
Ideal Litter Boxes for Ferrets
Unfortunately, some litter boxes are dangerous for ferrets because they have a delicate respiratory system. Additionally, some ferrets are inclined to sniff their litters and rummage in it. Thus, you must choose litters that are ferret-friendly.
An adequate litter box must be unscented, dust-free, and with reduced chance of clumping up. It should also have enough space to fit your ferret’s entire body in it and easy to climb inside.
Paper pellet litter is the safest option for your ferret. It has no scent, and some are large enough that your ferret will not be able to trash it around it. Most importantly, it will cause any harm if your beloved furry ball of mischief decides to chew or swallow it.
Oak pellets are another great choice as litter because they can mask odors without affecting your ferret’s senses. These are chemical-free and inexpensive. You can dispose of it easily since it curls up when it is used. Horse stall, feline pine, and wood stove pellets are different varieties available in certain stores of this kind of litter.
In recent times, vegetable-based litter has become prominent in certain countries. These are eco-friendly alternatives since they are created with biodegradable elements, like ground corn, wheat, and walnut shells. They are also dust-free and easy to clean but are a tad more expensive than conventional litters.
Can You Use Cat Litter for Ferrets?
If there is no ferret-based litter available in your local pet store, there are some certain cat litter that is safe for your ferret. They must be dust-free, scent-free, and without a cementing effect. Never use clay or clumping cat litters because it could be inhaled or nipped by your ferret. Additionally, these accumulate a lot of dust and cause breathing issues to your delicate pet.
You should also avoid corncob and wood-shaving litter since they contain oils that are dangerous for your ferret and lead to health problems after. Shredded newspapers are another alternative if you have no litter whatsoever.
It might take some time and patience to properly litter train your ferret, but it is worth it in the end. Soon enough, he will be doing his war dance and sprinting around for your enjoyment and peace without worrying about his toilet habits.