The main reason why ferrets scratch the floor, carpet or even the bottom of their cage is because of a deep instinctive behavior that’s been bred in these creatures for thousands of years. Ferrets are natural diggers and they do this in order to forage for food or to hunt prey.
Also, hunters used ferrets to go down rabbit holes to run them out of their hiding places. In order for ferrets to do this effectively, they would need to sometimes dig as they burrow themselves into these holes.
Another reason why ferrets dig is because they are looking for a place to hide their objects as a way to keep them safe until they retrieve them later on.
It can be annoying for most ferret owners because this type of behavior can lead to a damaged floor, carpet or noisy cage, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep.
However, as annoying as this might be, it’s important to recognize that ferrets do this because it’s part of who they are and it’s not something that they are just going to change. Therefore, you have to get used to it and realize that if you want a ferret, the digging and scratching comes with the package.
Other Reasons Why Ferrets Dig
Ferrets also dig because of boredom. However, it’s not so much that they dig in order to relieve their boredom. Rather, it’s their instinctive nature to do this when they are simply looking for something to do or for a means to escape from what’s limiting them from moving around freely.
So, once again, it comes back to their natural behavior of simply being diggers.
Ferrets are also known to scratch the surface of their cage at night. This happens especially with new ferrets because they are still not sure of their surroundings.
At this point, all they are looking to do is to get out, and the most natural way for them to do it is through digging.
Some people call this cage rage. I personally believe that it is just the way ferrets are, and I think most animals would behave in a similar manner in order to try and escape their cage, especially when they didn’t want to be there in the first place.
Once again, in both of these scenarios, ferrets are not misbehaving, they are simply acting out what is a completely natural behavior on their part.
In this case, the only way to manage the situation is through patience, empathy, and finding positive ways of training them that it is okay to be in the cage for long durations when unsupervised.
What you never want to do, however, is to use negative reinforcement. Scolding a ferret won’t do anything for them except leave them confused and more anxious when they see you acting in an aggressive way towards them.
But what about when they’re scratching outside the cage?
No one loves to have their carpets ruined or to see their beautiful floors with scratch marks everywhere, but I think that this is something all pet owners need to live with, at least to some degree when owning animals such as ferrets, dogs or any other animals that tend to dig now and then.
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
Now, before you decide to give up your pet for adoption or to completely scratch the idea of getting a ferret in the first place, there are ways in which you can manage this type of behavior and still enjoy the companionship this amazing creature will give you.
So, instead of trying to punish ferrets every time they scratch the carpet, use the following methods instead:
Ferret-Proof Unsupervised Areas of the House
You should be ferret proofing your home regardless, because a ferret can get up to a lot more mischief than just scratching all the surfaces in your home.
To remedy the issue of ferrets destroying the living room carpet, simply keep them out of the living room when unsupervised.
This can easily be done by installing some type of barrier such as a ferret gate to block the ferret from entering the living room.
You could also set up a playpen in the house, as this is a great way to keep ferrets confined in a controlled space while still allowing them to run around and play in.
Make your ferret Their Own Special Dig Box
Ferrets need a place to dig, otherwise, you will not be allowing them to be who they really are. A great way to permit them to indulge in their beloved behavior is by creating a dig box.
This can be achieved by buying a large plastic container that will allow a ferret to easily move around in, and then to fill the container with one of the following items:
- Soil (don’t put sand)
- Rice (don’t put instant or minute rice)
- Packing peanuts made for pets
- Dried beans
- Dried pasta
Always be sure that you are using items that are completely safe.
Once this is done, you can place the ferret inside or let your furry friend climb in and dig like crazy.
I highly recommend that you supervise your ferret during dig box playtime to ensure his or her safety.
This can be a very entertaining pastime for both you and your ferret as it’s quite adorable to watch these little creatures play and dig around in their dig box.
By providing ferrets with a dig box, you are allowing them to enact their inner behavior, and this in turn means that there will be less chances of them feeling the need to dig around other areas of the house, especially on your expensive rugs.