An Ounce of Prevention… (is worth a two pound ferret)

by Gary Schooley
(Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA)


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A free roaming ferret is a dead ferret. The vast majority of the things listed here could easily be avoided by just not letting the ferrets run loose in the house! Pick one ferret safe room, keep them in their cage and let them out in that room only, once or twice a day for playtime. Just that simple.

As I read all this, I realize that it’s like a doctor treating the symptoms, but totally ignoring the root cause. My ferrets and I don’t have to risk obvious hazards like these, because they do not roam freely, not to mention the stress I don’t have to endure. And, I have yet to hear one valid reason for letting ferrets roam the house – not one.

I don’t know, maybe I just love my ferrets more than some, but I simply can’t expose mine to so many needles hazards.

That being said, here are a few more hazards I’ve read about, that can also take a ferret’s life:

“Playmate Coolers”: The kind that have a top that pivots left or right, with a single push-button latch. Ferrets have been known to get into these, tip them over, causing the top to close and latch shut.

“Lysol” (not “Pine-Sol”): NOT good for ferrets at all; poisonous. When I had the flu, I used a rag with Lysol sprayed on it to cough into when it was playtime, but I kept it far away from the ferrets. I would wash my hands before taking them out and before putting them back, and there were no kisses or other contact (ferrets can get human flu).

“Garbage Disposers”: This one should be obvious (I cringe to even think about it).

“Fridges”: Though refrigerators were already mentioned, there is also a fan under most refrigerators.

These are the few that come to mind right now; I’m sure there are others.

Finally, there are certain advantages to keeping ferrets caged and having a specific playtime, vs. free roaming:

They actually have a playtime! Free roaming ferrets don’t play that much because they can play whenever they want. Ironically, they don’t really play that much; not near as much as ferrets who must wait to come out to play. They tend to make the most of it and have a much more vigorous playtime when they are out.

My first two ferrets were free roaming when I got them, but they almost didn’t even know how to play, let alone socialize with people and each other. They would go their own ways, each sleeping in a different place, only meeting at the food and water place.

Some may attempt to use the excuse that caging them is somehow “cruel”, but I don’t buy that at all. They took to the cage like they were born in it. Ferrets sleep about 20 hours a day; with two one hour play times a day, they only have about two hours awake time in the cage, which they use for grooming, eating, drinking and potty. They are often content to lay there and just gaze out at the world (between naps).

Well, I didn’t mean to write another article, but, like a splinter, I just had to get that out.

Gary Schooley

P.S. The bit about fire ants was most interesting, since I came from Texas (but didn’t get ferrets till I was here in Wyoming).


Comments for An Ounce of Prevention… (is worth a two pound ferret)

Jan 19, 2011 Thanks
by: Anonymous

We have a ferret, she has a whole bathroom for herself (that is pretty much her cage) and then we let her out in our room twice a day so she has up to 5 hours play time each day. She absolutely loves her play time, she goes absolutely nuts and is such a happy girl. We don’t let her free range the whole house as we find it would be too dangerous but on occasion let her through the house with direct supervision the whole time. However she often gets herself into mischief and tries to hurt herself so find the room as her play area much better for her. We have plenty of toys in there and things for her to do so she doesn’t get bored.Anyway thanks for your article. I think the safety of the ferret is very important and it’s really only suitable for a ferret to free range if the house is FULLY ferret proofed. Ferret owners who let their ferrets free range should be prepared to do that and if they are then that’s great. 🙂

Nov 20, 2009 Not a fair point
by: Tracy

Anonymous I don’t think your comment is entirely fair. My ferrets have their own room but for a treat we will let them into our area for a real run around every couple of days. Our house cannot be ferret proofed because of its layout; during the time they are out in the big area we are watching them all the time. Gary was making a valid point.

Nov 18, 2009 No Ferret Expert
by: Anonymous

Two whole hours a day, huh? Glad I’m not your ferret. I agree that not letting them out 24/7 is probably wise, but have you ever heard of ferret proofing? All those hazards are present during the whole 2 hours you let your ferret out for exercise, as well. Or didn’t you think about it?Please, you’re selling stuff, not advocating for ferrets. Don’t give out advice like you know what you’re doing. You don’t. I am so sick of people who come across like ferret experts just to sell stuff.

1 thought on “An Ounce of Prevention… (is worth a two pound ferret)”

  1. Ridiculous article from a ferret sancti-mommy type. Your ferrets sound miserable. I certainly hope you don’t have children (think of all the possible harm out there). Although I don’t have time to supervise mine while they roam all day, I manage to let them out for 6-7 hours a day. They play, sleep, explore. No need to insinuate those of us who allow our ferrets to roam more than a measly two hours daily don’t love them enough. I certainly won’t. I certainly won’t be buying anything from you.

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