I think we have all been in this situation, and the first time it happens can be very stressful. You need to go away for the weekend, but there’s one problem: can you leave your ferret alone? After all, it’s only for a weekend, right? But then there is the matter of the cage versus the rest of the house. Do you keep your ferret contained for the weekend or allow your little critter to be free….all alone…with wires and other hazardous objects lying around the house?
…maybe you should just cancel that trip!
Don’t fret; it’s not as bad as you think. You can leave your ferret alone for a few days, but it really depends on certain factors.
You need to take stock of what type of environment you have actually set up for your ferret, such as:
- How big is the cage?
- Does your ferret spend a lot of time out of the cage?
- Does your ferret possess any type of behavior that forces you to keep a really, really close eye on them?
- Do you have more than one ferret?
- Is your home really well ferret proofed?
The answers to these questions can give you a better idea of how to prepare your ferret to be alone for a weekend.
How Long Can You Leave A Ferret In Its Cage?
A ferret normally needs around 4 hours of playtime outside their cage. However, if you follow this guideline very strictly, then the thought of leaving your ferret in a cage for a few days consecutively starts looking very daunting.
Again, don’t fret. It is ok to leave your ferret in a cage for a few days every now and then. Just do your best to create the right environment for them.
One way to do this is by getting them a large cage, preferably with three stories. But really, this is something you should already have invested in the day you welcomed your ferret into your family. We have an article that talks about choosing the best cage for ferrets, which you can find here.
A large cage gives them a great environment to climb and move around, especially if you have more than one ferret…which brings me to the next point.
If you only have one ferret, you should really consider getting another one so that they can be companions to each other, especially if you are planning to do more of these weekend trips.
Ok, so what happens if you don’t have a large cage, or you do but still don’t feel comfortable leaving them caged up for a whole weekend?
Create a Comfortable and Secure Environment Outside Your Ferrets Cage
A really good playpen is a great option to achieve this. Be careful, though, as ferrets have this unstoppable burning need to find ways to escape playpens, so you have to set things up very carefully, with a lot of thought. Your ferret proofing skills will really be tested here.
If you would like more information on choosing the best playpen and what to consider when setting it up, we have an article on it as well, which you can find here.
The good thing about playpens is that you can dictate how much space to allow your ferret to play around in – it all depends on how many playpen panels you have at your disposal.
The other option is to set up a room that will be your ferret’s sole living area; a place to eat, drink, sleep, use the litter box and play. One thing about this type of set up, if done properly, is that it can be very secure. Most rooms only have one entrance point, so as long as you keep it locked, there is no way your ferret can escape; unless you leave the windows open or your ferret finds a way to open the window latch. I personally like this setup because it really allows ferrets the space they need to do what they do…be ferrets.
Of course, not everyone has a free empty room available, so this option really depends on your home’s current setup.
How To Set Up Your Ferret’s Environment For The Time You’ll Be Away
Regardless of whether you keep your ferret in a cage, well secured playpen or room, there are always the essentials that you will need to make them as comfortable as possible:
- Enough food and water (depending on how long you will be gone for)
- Lots of toys
- Litter box
- Sleeping essentials (hammock, ferret bed, etc)
- A way to tie down the food and water bowl
If you recall earlier, I mentioned that you need to have a good idea on your ferret’s typical behavior. There are some ferrets that love to mess around with their food and water. This can be a big problem if you are not around to refill the bowls, especially the water.
In fact, even if your ferret isn’t one to move the bowls around, you should still tie them down in case of unintentional accidents while your ferret is playing with the toys you provided. The last thing you want is to see your ferret without water for a few days because of an accident that could have been prevented in the first place.
Toys are a great way to keep your ferret happy. And it is definitely a bonus if they have a companion to play with. One thing that we have in our favor is the amount of time that ferrets spend their time sleeping; anywhere between 16 to 20 hours! So really, when you count the amount of hours that a ferret is awake during a weekend, it’s not that much. They might not even notice that you left them alone…ok, so maybe I am pushing it a bit here.
If you think that you will be gone for longer than a couple of days, the same planning is needed, but just with more food and water. However, it would be a good idea if you have someone that you trust check in on them once a day or every two days. In fact, even if you plan to be gone for a weekend only, still have someone come by – it never hurts. Just make sure it is a person that you trust and you are completely certain that they are fully capable at dealing with ferrets.
To sum it up, do whatever you can to make your ferret as comfortable as possible. Create a place where they can snuggle up during their sleeping hours, and provide them with lots of interesting toys and tunnels to keep their curiosity and spirit of adventure stimulated. More importantly, do all of this while keeping their environment safe and escape proof.