Ferrets are funny little creatures that can keep you entertained for hours on end. Some of their behavior can be odd at times and really difficult to understand. They may behave perfectly normal for a while, but then suddenly do something out of the ordinary, even for a ferret. One such case is when your furry friend suddenly decides to sleep in his litter box.
Ferrets instinctively know that they shouldn’t sleep where they poop. This is one trait that they share with us humans, so when this starts to happen it should raise all sorts of red flags. There could be many reasons why your ferret would go against his natural instincts in this way; some of them can be easily rectified, and others may take a little more effort on your part. Below are some of the most common reasons why your ferret is sleeping in the litter box.
It’s a New Ferret
Normally, when you bring a new ferret home, he may not be entirely sure what the litter box is for. He sees the litter and if it looks a lot like the dig boxes he’s used to, he’ll see it as a place to play or rest rather than a place to go potty. If he is a kit and has not yet learned the purpose of the litter box, you can be pretty sure that he’s leaving his deposits some other place nearby, so watch your step.
It’s the Litter
If you have an adult ferret that has already been potty trained, it could be that you have changed the litter. Some litters are very similar in texture to the kind of material they like to play in. If that is the case, then chances are he’s going to see the litter box as another place to play and sleep. Change the litter, and chances are the behavior will cease.
There are many different kinds of litter, and all of them have their own pros and cons. Ideally, it is best to choose a litter that is more commonly used for small kittens; avoid any kind that clumps up or has a silica base. These have been known to lead to major health problems for ferrets when they eat them or breathe in the dust.
Some owners have used alfalfa pellets, which are commonly used as rabbit food, but most ferrets will happily dive into them either eating them or using the box as a place to dig, so it isn’t likely they will see it for its intended purpose and you’ll have another problem on your hand. If you have the slightest idea that your ferret will start to nibble on the litter, get rid of it right away. You will save yourself a whole lot of headaches in the future.
It’s the Temperature
It may be that the temperature that is too warm. The ideal temperature for a ferret should be between 50 and 80 degrees. These are not tropical animals, so while they can tolerate temperatures up to 85 degrees, their preference will be more on the cooler side. If the place where they usually sleep is getting too warm, they’ll look for a cooler place to sleep. Ferrets have been known to pull their blankets from their hammocks and take them down to the litter box and make their own bed there. If it is summer time and you’re still lining his bed with fleece blankets, he just may feel that the litter is a cooler option for a good night’s rest.
Humidity may also be a factor. If your ferret is not in a climate-controlled environment, you may start to see other odd behavior patterns develop. If you live in a warm and humid climate, keep your ferrets in an area where the climate can be maintained at a temperature he is comfortable with.
It’s the Color
Ferrets have limited eyesight. In the wild, they are nocturnal and need to be able to see in the dark. For that reason, they are only able to distinguish the colors, gray, red, and blue. Some ferret owners have noticed that their ferrets are attracted to the colors of their litter boxes. If it is either one of these colors, they will be naturally drawn to them and you may have a difficult time pulling them away.
It’s the Shape
If it is not the color of the litter box, it could also be the shape that’s throwing the little guy off. For some ferrets, the corner boxes do not seem to ring out as a real litter box and they figure it must be something to rest in. Rectangular or square ones seem to be the most effective when it comes to getting the ferret to use it properly. They are large enough to get their entire body inside, turn around and take care of business.
Your Ferret is Depressed
Ferrets are naturally clean animals. If your ferret is sleeping in a litter box where he goes potty, it should be a cause for concern. While these animals are known for sleeping 15 or more hours a day, the time that they spend awake should always be highly active. Ferrets need a minimum of 4 hours a day out of their cage for play time. If they are not getting this, your ferret may be falling into depression.
These are highly social animals and they thrive on interaction. If you’re not able to give this much time to your pet, then consider getting a second ferret to keep him company. While it won’t replace the time he wants to spend with you, it can keep him occupied so he won’t miss you so much.
Whatever you do to address this problem, your primary concern should be your ferret’s health. Sleeping in a litter box can cause serious health problems. Clumping litters can be ingested causing both intestinal blockages and can create a lot of dust, which can affect their respiratory system. This means you must take extra care in analyzing every aspect of your litter box.
Any one of the above possibilities could be the reason your ferret has gravitated to using the litter box as a place to sleep or it could be something else. Observe your ferret to determine what is happening before he falls asleep in the litter box. Often, his behavior, interactions, and habits will reveal the secret to his unusual behavior and provide a clue on how to resolve the problem.