Ferrets are known to love burrowing and scratching, which can cause a bit of a problem for owners that own lots of nice things. But with grooming and a bit of training, you can easily turn that behavior around and the ferret will find other ways to entertain itself. Part of the reality of owning a ferret, is that you’re going to need to keep it in good shape, and cutting a ferret’s nails is something you should be expecting. Is declawing an option (short answer: it isn’t)? We talk about both options in the following article.
You need to keep in mind that ferrets are very intelligent, which means that the only thing standing between your ferret and a good-behaved ferret is a lot of your time and patience. In this article, we’ll also talk about ferret nails and what you can do to get rid of their obsession with scratching.
Cutting a Ferret’s Nails – How To
Cutting a ferret’s nails is easily the best and simplest way to protect your home. They are very similar to dogs, which means that just playing around the house doesn’t help them wear down the nails as much as they need to. But they’re also not like cats to instinctively use a scratching post to wear them down on their own. This means that it all falls on you.
The first thing you need to do is gather all the supplies you need. It’s highly recommended to either invest in a nail clipping set, or to put together one. A good set should include a vet-grade nail clip, a few treats, a bottle of salmon oil, and styptic powder (or cornstarch).
A vet-grade nail clipper is specifically designed to cut the nails of animals, which are very differently shaped than ours. Using a regular nail clipper can actually cause the nail to split in two and cause some serious problems until it grows again.
Ferrets go crazy over salmon oil, which is very often used as the golden treat in ferret training. But this should only be offered a few drops a week. The bottle also needs to be small and you have to make sure it has everything it needs to last a bit longer. You can use Ferretone as well.
And the styptic powder needs to be stored in a small container and keep it right next to you for the entire process. You can find it at a pharmacy or you can simply use cornstarch. The purpose of this powder is to stop the bleeding as soon as possible in case nail clipping goes wrong.
Ferrets are very active and they almost never stay still long enough for you to clip their nails, maybe if they are in their deep sleep or extremely tired after hours of intense playtime. But instead of waiting to get the right moment all the time, you can place a drop of salmon oil on the ferret’s belly and it will remain occupied for a few good minutes. Replace the salmon oil each time it finishes.
By using the vet-grate nail clipper, you need to inspect the nail you plan on cutting very closely under a bright light. Only the white part of the nail should be removed. The pink part is where the blood is and it will create a very messy situation.
After the nail-clipping process is done, you should take some extra treats, cuddle, and spoil your little ferret as much as possible. This will help it see nail clipping as a good thing.
Declawing Ferrets, Why You Shouldn’t Do It
Declawing an animal is sadly quite popular among some cruel owners, but this is only done by lazy owners who would rather take the easy way out instead of training their animals. Ferrets don’t have retractable claws, like cats. This means that declawing a ferret means amputating each toe at the first knuckle.
Besides being extremely painful and inhuman, this barbaric procedure also leaves the ferrets scarred for life. They won’t even be able to walk, run, or climb the same ever again. Their balance will be thrown off and it will take years for them to get used to walking normally again.
Ferrets are natural diggers and getting rid of their claws won’t fix that behavior. It requires a lot of training and patience with each ferret to get them to give up this habit. No self-respecting bet will ever agree to declaw an animal unless it’s a matter of saving their lives.
How To Solve Burrowing and Scratching in Ferrets
Getting rid of their constant scratching and burrowing means finding other alternatives than your carpet. One of the most popular ways is to simply create a big box or container and fill it with non-instant rice. You can also use rice, dried beans, dirt, or hay. And if your ferret loves water, you can provide one with water as well. Or you can let the ferret have some fun in the bathtub.
You will also have to keep a constant eye on the ferret and train it regularly to help it understand that scratching a specific couch is a very bad thing to do. Use a bottle of water with a spraying cap to make the ferret leave the area. Use a stern “No” as well but don’t raise your voice.
Spraying the area with vinegar, bitter apple, or alcohol can also help as the ferrets hate those smells. But if you have lots of ferrets and they are out of control, use some kind of floor protector in the room they are allowed to play. This includes a plastic carpet runner, plastic floor protector, and linoleum.
If you only have a ferret or two, you can minimize their roaming space as well. You can do this by investing in a playpen and installing it in the ferret’s room. There are models specifically designed for animals, but you can also settle for a playpen designed for babies until you can afford a more durable model.
One thing ferrets definitely have in common with cats is their hatred for your beautiful flowers. If you hand them up or put them somewhere out of reach, the ferret will give up and move on to do other mischievous things.