There is no other room in the house that will require such careful protection than the kitchen. While they can be quite convenient for humans, a kitchen contains lots of tempting wires, gizmos, and devices that ferrets can chew on, crawl through, and climb over; each enticing adventure has the potential to lead them into disastrous consequences.
Because ferrets have such fast moving and flexible bodies, they can easily find themselves in some of the oddest enclosed spaces, could easily swallow something that is harmful, or chew through wires leading to electric shock, or even creating a fire hazard. To them, the kitchen is an adventure land of wonders, but as their owners, we know better and need to take every precaution to ensure their safety.
Think Before You Act
Ferret-proofing any room in your house requires careful thought, and the kitchen is no exception. Ferrets are not like other house pets you might bring home, so you have to think differently if you hope to prevent accidents and tragedies from happening, taking their natural tendencies into consideration.
Unlike preparing your home for a new dog or cat (who can also be very curious), ferrets are much more adventurous. They will not hesitate to climb up any structure and get into lots of areas that a dog or a cat would never notice.
So, as you create your ferret-proofing plan, you have to think more like a ferret. As you do, you’ll begin to see many more areas in the kitchen that will need to be protected.
This may mean getting down on your belly and looking around the kitchen from their point of view. You may feel silly, crawling around on your floor and peering up at your room in this way, but it just might be the only way you’re going to really get a feel for what your ferret sees and what might tempt her curiosity.
Protect Your Appliances and Ferrets!
Many owners have reported finding their pet ferrets inside their ovens, the open space behind the refrigerators, or even inside. These areas need to be sealed securely to prevent access. For example, the drawer below the oven can be sealed with a bit of duct tape, discouraging them from trying to slip inside. A metal mesh panel can be secured to the back of the refrigerator restricting access.
Keep in mind that even large ferrets have been known to get into the smallest of spaces. Some owners have reported seeing their pets squeezing through holes as small as ¾ of an inch. So, even the smallest gaps underneath or around appliances needs to be sealed.
Duct tape to the rescue, again! It can easily seal over small openings they may be tempted to test out They can easily crawl underneath large appliances and can even get into the cavities of smaller appliances if they are so motivated. To them, it is a veritable playground or a cool place to hide, but if these appliances are turned on while they are inside or near, it could mean serious injury or worse.
Washing Machine Ferret Proof Tips
If you have a washing machine or dryer in your kitchen area, you need to be especially careful. Ferrets love getting into soft piles of laundry and you can easily end up dumping them into the washer or the dryer without knowing it.
If the appliance is turned on, they will likely try to escape through the vent duct, which could give them an easy escape to the outside where an unbelievable list of dangers awaits them.
The problem is that ferrets don’t always go directly to the washing machine. Instead, they may decide that it is time to play in the dirty laundry basket, burrowing through all of your laundry, and then when they get tired, fall asleep in this comfy basket.
So, when you go to do the laundry, you don’t even realize that your ferret is in between all of the dirty clothes, towels etc. while putting them all into the washing machine. And, well, you can imagine what happens next.
If there is one tip all ferret owners should follow, it is this:
Before doing the washing, gather your ferret or ferrets, put them in their cage, playpen or secure room and do a headcount to make sure they are all there. Once you are certain your little furry friends are all counted for, keep them securely locked in, and only then can you start with the washing. This is as close as you can get to being 100 percent sure that they won’t be accidentally be put into the washing machine once you start it.
An effective way to ferret proof your kitchen is to block access entirely. If your kitchen has a simple doorway that can easily be closed, then all you have to do is find a metal or Plexiglass ferret proof gate that can be attached to the bottom of the door to seal the gap between the door and the floor. It is recommended to have no more than a ¼ inch gap, so you can easily close the door when you need to.
If you want to keep the door open, buy a sheet of Plexiglass just a little wider than the doorframe. It is very easy to install by bending it slightly as you nestle each side into the door jam. The tension will hold it firmly in place, but always triple check that it does.
Make sure that the Plexiglass is high enough to keep your ferret from trying to scurry up and jump over it (at least 2 – 2½ ft. high). While this works very well at discouraging the furry critters, it does present its own set of problems. You’ll have to either remove the barrier each time you go in and out of the kitchen or get in the habit of stepping over it every time you have to leave or enter the room.
Another option is to put up a playpen for ferrets. This will also limit your critter from exploring other areas of your home, so it could be an effective way to have more control over your ferret’s adventuring tendencies.
WARNING: No matter what barrier you put, never see it as a 100 percent ferret proofing solution. Some ferrets have been known to scale over these barriers. So, make certain that your ferret isn’t able to, and if they are, to make the barrier higher and more difficult to jump over; for example, always avoid barriers that have horizontal bars, as these bars give them the leverage they need to jump over.
You need to always keep a vigilant eye on any other openings in the kitchen. Any space larger than ½ inch can provide access to dangerous areas for your little friend. If they can get their heads through, you can be sure that the rest of their body will definitely follow.
This is not just limited to access in and out of the kitchen but is also necessary for cupboards, drains and any other small spaces. Protecting your home is only half the battle of ferret-proofing. These steps are also needed to protect them from themselves. Kitchens are notoriously dangerous for the little ones.
Cupboards are often filled with household cleaners and chemicals that contain extremely harmful toxins that can be potentially fatal to their systems.
To seal up cupboards, pick up some magnetic or child proof locks from your local hardware store. Even here you need to be extra careful with choosing the right kind of lock. Most childproof locks will allow for a small opening where a ferret can squeeze through. Only choose those locks that do not even allow for opening even a fraction of an inch.
Protect Your Electrical Cords
Ferrets love to taste new things. Part of their curious nature will have them chewing on all sorts of interesting objects. If at all possible, all electrical cords should be kept out of their reach and any cords that are openly exposed need to be encased in a sturdy plastic tubing that is strong enough to prevent them from gnawing through it. This will protect them from electric shock or creating exposed wiring, which could create a fire hazard.
You can get more in-depth information by clicking ferret proofing wires.
One of the most common health issues for ferrets is digestive problems. This is because they will chew on anything and everything including rubber, plastic, toys, metals, foam, etc. Like any other animal, ferrets are often attracted to plants, which can be very toxic to them.
Whether you have an herb garden in your kitchen or another decorative plant, you need to protect both the plants and your ferret. It is extremely important to have these plants completely out of your pet’s reach.
If at all possible, hang your plants from the ceiling in areas where it would be difficult for your ferret to reach them. Sitting them on a kitchen counter top, even if it is high up, is just a way of tempting your ferret to try it out.
If you are not sure if your plant is toxic or not, or if you just don’t want them chewing on the leaves, coat the leaves with a bitter apple solution. It is a spray that has an unpleasant taste that will quickly discourage them. You can buy bitter apple spray from most larger pet food stores or from online sites like Amazon.com.
As a general rule, never consider your kitchen or any other room completely ferret proof. Even if you are able to block access, restrict exposure, and eliminate the risk, ferrets are determined creatures. In time, they will always find a way around your preventive measures and you will have to start all over again.
They will remove seals, which will have to be replaced, climb on anything blocking their way, and are natural diggers so will tunnel through wherever they can. You will have to be ever vigilant when it comes to keeping them out of harm’s way. Bear in mind that no matter what you do, you will have to do it again and again if you want to keep them safe.
For that reason, the best protection for your ferret is distraction. As long as you keep him busy with other interesting things, they will be less inclined to wander off exploring more dangerous territories. Consider giving them a box to play in. Fill it with sand, rice, beans or other things that they can dig around or tunnel through. Some owners create a maze from old cardboard boxes and reward them with a treat when they succeed in navigating their way through it.
In the end, ferrets are highly sociable, and their favorite pastime is interacting with you. So, if you really want to keep them safe from all the hidden dangers in your kitchen, give them your undivided attention while they are free. These are highly intelligent animals who will thrive in your presence when they have you looking out for them.