Ferrets are definitely trainable, and if you keep a few basic points in mind, there is a big chance your ferret will be trained to use the litter box every time they have to go.
Very important, though, is to not make the mistake of thinking that ferrets are like cats. While cats are known to naturally use their litter box, your little critter simply won’t. The reason is because they were separated from their mothers at a very early age when they were bred in ferret farms.
What does this mean?
It means that your ferret probably never learned from its mother all the natural things other domesticated animals learned, such as going to the bathroom at designated areas.
Another very important thing to keep in mind is that when ferrets have to go, all activities will be abruptly stopped and they will head straight to the nearest corner to do their “number one” or “number two”. So you’ve got to be ready when this happens.
First Things First
Before you begin litter box training your ferret, there are a few items you need to have in hand:
A litter box that’s big enough for your ferret and doesn’t have high sides (make sure you buy quite a few of these litter boxes because you will need to place them in all the rooms or areas where your ferret plays).
Litter that is appropriate and safe for ferrets.
Once again, make sure that the litter boxes are big enough for your ferret so that he’s able to place all four of he’s paws inside the box as well as being able to move in and out of the box without any problem.
Do Ferrets Really Need A Litter Box?
Yes, ferrets really need litter boxes, especially knowing now that they can be trained to use them. This will also ensure that you keep your home and your ferret’s cage safe from any harmful bacteria (provided that you are regularly cleaning those litter boxes as well, of course).
General Ferret Potty Habits
In order to effectively train your ferret to use a litter box, it is a good idea to get an idea what they naturally do when they need to poop or pee.
Ferrets generally go to the toilet straight after a nap or after their really long sleep. This is usually within 10 to 15 minutes from the time they wake up.
The diet you feed your ferret also dictates the frequency of their bathroom routines. If they live on a kibble diet, you can expect them to go every 4 to 6 hours. On the other hand, if they are on a raw diet, then their bathroom routines will be less frequent.
Normally, when a ferret needs to go, they stop everything they’re doing, find the closest corner and do their thing. For them, there’s no such thing as holding it in.
The reason for this is because they have such fast metabolisms.
Once they find their designated area, they will then turn their bodies around and backup into the corner in order to do their business.
If there tail or any part of their body touches something while they’re backing up, they will then stop and peep or poop where they stopped.
Ferrets don’t like stepping in their own pee or poop, so if they think they’re at risk of doing this, they will try to find a free space within that area in order to go potty.
If you have a baby ferret, you’re in luck because they are the easiest to train. However, don’t fret if your ferret is already an adult. While it might be more difficult, it’s definitely not impossible to train them to use the litter box.
You just have to be more patient.
Lastly, keep in mind that while the information above is for the average ferret, there is always the exception. You also have to factor in individual personalities. In the first few days, pay attention to your ferret’s individual habits.
Also, keep in mind what type of lifestyle you will be setting up for your little critter.
In other words, which rooms are designated for your ferret to run around and play in, what size cage will you buy and how much supervised versus unsupervised time will your furry friend have.
Steps To Train Your Ferret
The best place to start training your ferret to use a litter box is in the cage. This allows you to have more control over the whole process, and as you notice positive results, you can then increase the area range in your home.
Here are the steps:
- Place one of the litter boxes in your ferret’s cage and fill it with the appropriate litter.
- Be very careful not to put any of this litter anywhere else in the cage as you’re trying to communicate to your ferret that this is the only place where they can urinate or poop.
- Put some feces and urine from your ferret into the litter box as this will help to get that message across to your critter what this area has been designated for (your ferret will get a clear message through the scent).
- Make sure that the cage has clear designated areas for the litter box, play and sleep area. The litter box should never be in direct contact with any other area in the cage.
- Remember, the litter box should be big enough, and the sides where your ferret will be entering must be low. This will ensure that when your ferret backs up, nothing will be stopping them and incorrectly telling them to do their business before being completely in the designated area.
- There will be times when accidents happen, so don’t fret. When this happens, move the poop into the litter box. This process will teach them that they have to use that designated area when they feel they need to go to the bathroom.
- Leave your ferret unsupervised in the cage until they have finally learned to use the litter box consistently. When you reach this stage, you are now ready to move on to the next phase.
- Place litter boxes with appropriate litter in every corner of the rooms that your ferret will be playing in (add some of your ferret’s poop and urine in each of the boxes to create a sent that lets your ferret know where the designated bathroom areas are).
- Keep a close eye on your ferret, so make sure that these sessions are completely supervised.
- When your ferret feels the need to go, watch carefully from behind where they decide to do it. If you’re lucky, they will find the closest corner where you have placed one of the litter boxes and use it without any problem.
- It is possible that they might find another area. If you feel that the area they chose is appropriate, you can then move one of the closer boxes to that spot. Normally, when a ferret chooses a particular area to go potty, it is very difficult for them to find another spot, so it might be in your best interest to work with them and not against them.
Tips for Both Phase 1 and Phase 2
Whenever your ferret uses the litter boxes correctly, give them lots of praise, and maybe even a treat. This positive reinforcement will encourage them to continue using these designated areas.
Never yell at them when accidents happen as they won’t understand why you’re acting in an aggressive manner. In the beginning, patience will be your best friend, and it will help you and your ferret to become great buddies as well.
Remember, in the beginning they’re not going to get it right straightaway. In fact, even once your ferrets are potty trained, they will be times when they do their business in undesignated spots. They could be many reasons why this is happening. They could be stressed, ill, or maybe just didn’t have enough time to find the closest box.
When this happens, deal with each situation as it comes in the most proactive manner possible. If you think your ferret is ill, take them to the vet straightaway so that you can get the appropriate help.
By being consistent in your endeavor to potty train your ferret, you will ultimately achieve the end goal. Just remember to be patient.