This article was written by Debi Christy of the Ferrets
First Foster Home, and reproduced with permission.
Even the most “child care clueless” of us wouldn’t
think of leaving the house with an infant without taking along
a bottle and an extra diaper. That seems like a no-brainer.
So, the first thing we attempt with ferrets is something similar;
food and water bowls and a litter box. By the time you’ve
gone 30 miles, you’ve got wet carpet (or upholstery), wet
food, litter in the carpet (or upholstery), wet ferret bedding,
and extremely offended ferrets (not to mention the annoyed person
who’s going to have to clean it up).
Now, let’s back up to the real first step.
How’s the weather? How reliable is your vehicle’s air
conditioning? Even if your car is brand new, your vehicle’s
air conditioner is NOT reliable enough. It’s time to play “What
- What if you get stuck in rush hour or construction
traffic that crawls at 5 mph for 12 miles and your motor overheats
and you can barely get to the side of the road, much less to
an exit ramp?
- What if your teenager left the headlights on at the
roadside rest area and now the battery’s dead and your
car won’t start?
- What if your cell phone battery is dead
and you can’t
call for immediate help?
- What if it’s going to take
the help you can call 30 minutes to get to you?
- What if
one of the ferrets you have with you has insulinoma, is prone
to seizures, and should have been home for medicine 30
- What if it’s any/all of the above AND it’s 80 degrees
in the shade?
Is this an emergency? Not if you did your homework.
You get your ferret “diaper
bag” out of the trunk & retrieve a couple of tube socks.
From the cooler, also in the trunk (but sometimes in the back seat)
you take a couple of frozen bottles of water and drop them into the
socks. You put the bottles in ferret’s
carrier where they gratefully snuggle up next to them. Then you get
the medicine and a syringe out of the cooler to administer the necessary
medication. While you’re waiting for the tow truck, you can knock
back a soft drink or two (that were also in the cooler unless the aforementioned
teenager beat you to them) and pour some fresh water into the bottom
of the deep water bowl attached to the ferret’s carrier door.
If there’s no breeze blowing,
you might also consider lightly misting your fuzzies with the plant
mister bottle of water, and setting up the small battery powered fan
that was also in the diaper bag.
WOW! You put all that stuff together and loaded it into the
car just to make a 1-hour long round trip?
Sure! Take the credit for being a Super Traveling Ferret Parent;
have to admit you did it the easy way:
Becoming a Super Traveling Ferret Parent is actually just a
simple one-time task of putting together a set of 3 traveling
kits that will cover most any on-the-road ferret need.
If you have ferrets with medical
problems especially, the very first kit you’ll need to assemble is the medical bag. Place a spare
bottle of medicine in the bag. You only need a small amount for several
doses. Other “meds” to keep in this bag are Benedryl,
Emetrol, honey, and turkey or chicken baby food. Keep the whole bag,
contents and all in your refrigerator. Keep “blue ice” type
packets in your freezer.
The most convenient medical bag I’ve found to date is a simple soft-sided “lunch
bag” type cooler. You’ll want one with room
or a compartment for a freezer pack (Blue Ice, etc.)
Unless you have ferrets with medical conditions, this
component of your ferret “travel
kit” is often overlooked. But, if you travel frequently or for long distances
(especially over-night trips) I strongly recommend assembling a med bag with
a few basic ferret emergency meds. It’s not necessary to keep whole, new
bottles/tubes. You can just put a bottle/tube that’s
got a little left in your med bag. I do recommend that
you write the date on the container with a waterproof marker
so that you can more easily keep track of the freshness
of your meds.
Recommended Contents and
Reason for Inclusion
- Liquid Children’s Benedryl - Reaction to vaccinations on the
way home from the vet’s, colds,
- Emetrol - To curb nausea caused by
reaction to vaccine so that Benedryl
will stay down!
- Honey / Karo syrup - First aid for
insulinoma episodes. Condiment packs
from restaurants work great.
- Chicken or Turkey baby food - High
protein food to follow honey/karo treatment
or as supplement food
- Container of ferret’s regular
kibble - A good place to keep a secondary
- Laxatone or other Hair Ball Remedy
- In case your ferret chews on something
- Ferretone - In case you need to trim
nails (or someone suffers a Ferretone
- Oral syringe - To measure & administer
- Minimum of double the daily dosage
of prescription medicines for each
day of the scheduled trip - Compensate
for spilled medicines, or unexpected
days added to trip
- Kaopectate - For diarrhea, or as First
Aid for internal bleeding
- Vet wrap (self adhesive Ace Bandage) & Popsicle
sticks/tongue depressors - To bandage/immobilize
- Instruction sheet/ferret photos - List
uses & dosages of all meds for each
Allergic Reactions & bad colds:
Hopefully, you’ll remain at the vet’s office for at least
45 minutes after a vaccination, and hopefully you will have pre-treated
your ferret for two or three days before vaccination day to prevent
reactions. But you & I both know that we don’t always do
what we should… like when that dental appointment we’ve
had scheduled for 6 weeks is right after the vet trip & we’re
running late. Liquid Children’s Benedryl may buy you the time
to get back to the vet’s. Benedryl can also be used for the
stuffy noses of mild ferret flu. Your ferret can also have an unexpected
allergic reaction to foods or molds away from home. Check with your
vet for correct dosages for your ferret’s weight for both emergency
reaction dosages and for stuffy noses.
Even if your ferret does NOT have insulinoma,
you should be prepared to treat it, at home as well as on the road! Any ferret
over the age of 3 is susceptible. The early symptoms are easily overlooked,
especially when you’re packing for a trip. Many ferret owners
don’t know their ferret has insulinoma until a seizure occurs.
If you’re out on the interstate, an hour from a vet, the cure
for a terrifying seizure could easily be a pack of honey from McDonalds
and a jar of baby food. Emetrol also contains a lot of sugar & can
be used for honey or Karo in a
pinch. (Emetrol should not be used
to treat the general mild nausea
of insulinoma ferrets because of
its high sugar content. It is preferable
to control insulinoma symptoms
by adjusting the medicine dosage
and with high animal protein diet
supplements. Sugar is commonly
used in advanced stages of the
illness, but not generally in the
You should always have more than one container
of your ferret’s
food in the event someone spills Coke on the ferret’s carrier,
soaking their food, or some unnamed fuzzy digs all the food out and
poops on it. The med bag is usually closer at hand than the “Ferret
Care Kit” (diaper bag).
Your vehicle’s interior is a lot like your living room… its
contents change hourly. Plastic hair barrettes, pencils with erasers,
your leather cell phone case, your checkbook, your lost set of keys
with its rubbery key ring, peanuts you thought you’d put in
your Coke… Hopefully, you’ll inspect under the seats
before letting your ferret out of the carrier during rest stops.
Otherwise, you’ll want to give your fuzzy generous amounts
(two 1” ribbons) of hairball remedy every 2 or 3 hours after
you’ve found parts of chewed rubbery items missing. You should
continue the hairball remedy until you see the rubbery particles
have passed in the poop, or it is obvious that there is no blockage
problem. If nausea with narrow ("spagetti string")
or runny poop develops
within a few days after
a chewing incident, you
should immediately seek
A bottle of Ferretone can be handy on trips.
Not only do you have your fuzzies’ favorite “comfort treat” on hand,
it can also come in handy at the vet’s to distract your ferret
during various treatments. (Many vets use it to keep ferrets still
during ultrasound testing rather than anesthesia. It reduces treatment
time & medication
expense.) You should
keep the bottle in
a Ziploc- type bag
to avoid leaks.
If your ferret has any prescription medication,
you should include twice the amount you should need for your usual trip.
tell yourself that you’ll remember to get the bottle you use
at home to carry with you, or that you’ll
be back in time
to give meds at
home. There will come
a time that you’ll
forget, or be late. You are only human! Keep a second bottle of meds
in the med bag. When your “home bottle” gets down to “med
bag bottle” level,
swap bottles to
keep your med bag
Severe ferret injury is something we don’t generally think
to plan ahead for. But, for some reason, when we get ready to travel
with ferrets we think, “What if I have a car wreck and my ferret
gets hurt?” By the numbers, you’re more likely to need
first aid supplies at home because that’s where your ferret
is most of the time, but it’s
a good idea
to equip your
med bag for
The only bandage
that’s going to have a chance of staying on a ferret is
the self-adhesive Ace bandage type. It can be cut into narrow strips to bandage
a leg or foot. Popsicle sticks make ideal splints to immobilize a broken leg
before transporting to the vet. WATCH THE TEETH! It’s very likely that
even the sweetest tempered ferret will bite you when it’s
When traumatized, ferrets
often do a REAL “panic poop”. This poop
will be bloody. Traumatized ferrets will actually “shed” intestinal
lining, causing the bloody
poop. This does NOT mean
there is internal bleeding.
If there is internal bleeding
seeping from the rectum,
the blood will usually
be a bright red and will
be more continuous than
just a one or two time
poop. A severe vaccine
reaction can cause the
real panic poop, or getting
stuck and unable to get
free. A ferret that has
had a bloody poop should
see a vet immediately for
For internal bleeding,
the best first aid is large
doses of Kaopectate; 5ml
every 15 minutes until
you reach the vet’s office. You can’t
overdose Kaopectate it
is a mechanical thickener,
not a drug as is Immodium
AD (which can also be administered
to ferrets to treat diarrhea
- check with your vet for
Label everything. Label the med
bag “Ferret Medicines/
First Aid. Store at 35-70 degrees Fahrenheit.” You may know
what all this stuff is for… but if you’re in an ambulance...
you can’t talk to whoever takes temporary custody of your pets.
Include an instruction sheet enclosed in a Ziploc-type bag. Include
a photo of all ferrets that may be traveling with you. List any prescription
meds & dosages on the backs of the photos of ferrets requiring
medications. List your vet’s contact information! List the
names and contact information of friends or neighbors who will take
temporary care of your pets. Many
The Critical Cooler (kit #2):
If the weather is warm you’ll need an
easily assembled cooler. Again, the soft-sided coolers work great. You can
keep a 12 pack size cooler folded somewhere close to the refrigerator. Keep
a 6 pack of frozen bottles of water in the freezer. When you open the
freezer to get the freezer pack for the med bag, you can grab the 6 pack
and drop it in the cooler.
cooler and med bag prep time
from fridge to back door: less
than a minute. The Ferret Care Kit (also known as: “diaper bag”)
stays in your vehicle.
Don’t kid yourself that “it’s not all that hot outside”. Don’t
take chances. The “what ifs” are infinite. Take the cooler and the
med bag… if at any point on your trip, you would have to walk for more
than 20 minutes to get into air-conditioning, you’re risking your ferret’s
An option to carrying two coolers is to place
the med supplies in a watertight container and dropping that container into
your larger cooler. This works well for short trips. The most common difficulty
is keeping the med supplies dry. If you use only “contained” ice
(Blue Ice, frozen bottles, etc.) this is much easier (and cheaper
since you don’t
have to buy ice).
Long trip cool solutions:
But on trips longer than 24 hours, your freezer
packs and water bottles will have thawed to the point that you’ll have to replace them
with bagged ice somewhere along the road. As bagged ice melts, however,
get an accumulation
of water in the
cooler, your watertight
med kit will begin
to float, tip over,
bump around, and
possibly get opened
and wet. And now,
your cooling bottles
For your cooling bottles, use a wide mouth type bottle, such as Nestea or
Power-Aid bottles. These bottles can be filled with chunks of ice from
the bagged ice if necessary. A large heavy-weight trash bag (or compactor
bag) will help contain water from melting bagged ice and will allow the
ice chunks to spread out around the cooler contents without getting things
Care Kit or the “Ferret Diaper Bag” (kit #3):
This bag can be any kind of bag that will contain the amount of supplies
needed for the number of ferrets that travel with you. I strongly
recommend including a three-day supply of food and bottled water
for each ferret. Allow 4 ounces of water per day per ferret. For
longer trips you can just add a bag of food and a case of bottled
water to your luggage.
you’ll keep ferret care necessities such as paper towels,
Ziploc bags, baby wipes, clean bedding, and heavyweight trash bags for the cooler.
More importantly for ferret safety, it’s
where you will store
a spray bottle, a small
battery powered fan,
a flashlight, and spare
Ferrets can’t sweat. A ferret that is panting is ALREADY in
heat distress. Blowing air must be COOLED air. It’s the air
moving across the moisture of sweat that cools humans… not
just the moving air. Since ferrets can’t
comfort. Ferrets with insulinoma are especially sensitive to heat. If you wouldn’t
want to be wearing long-sleeved clothing, it’s warm enough to be cautious
of your ferret’s
are other heat
hazards to watch
for while traveling.
through a window
directly on your
ferret’s carrier can heat up the carrier interior
more than it affects the temperature outside of the carrier. A “baby shade” that
attaches to the
car window is another
to your Ferret
the exhaust system
is close enough
to the vehicle’s
floor pans to cause
the carpeted floor
inside the vehicle
to be too warm
for ferret comfort.
a carrier sitting
directly on the
floor will be hotter
than outside. Place
another piece of
luggage, or some
other item (books,
or quilt) under
the carrier to
from floor pan
be kept in the
Ferret Care Kit.
be covered. The cloth absorbs condensation and makes the
bottle more comfortable
for the ferret.
Even if you already have a flashlight in the glove box,
keep a second one in the Ferret Care Kit. That flashlight
in the glove box always seems to have a dead battery after
you get 20 miles from home.
Your Ferret Care Kit should include health and rabies certificates
for all ferrets that travel with you. If you are traveling across
state lines you should obtain a current health certificate from your
vet the week prior to your trip.
Another critical document to include
is a copy of “Ferret Emergency Care
Instructions.” A sample sheet is included at the end of this article. This
gives a temporary caregiver the basic knowledge needed to adequately care for
your pets. You should also tape a copy of “Ferret Emergency Care Instructions” in
a Ziploc bag on your ferret’s
tag “Ferret Medical Care and Certificates” and attach it to the Ferret
Care Kit in addition to a large label “Ferret Care Kit”. Make sure
that the “Ferret Care Kit” label is clearly visible at first glance
among your luggage. It is highly probable that whoever takes custody of your
Create your own care sheet from this
Emergency Ferret Care Instructions
Heat Sensitivity: Prolonged
exposure to temperatures above 78° can
be fatal to ferrets. Panting is not normal. Panting is a symptom
of heat distress. Keep ferrets in refrigerated or water cooled air
flow or place cloth wrapped ice (like frozen bottles) in cage. Ferrets
can not sweat: air flow must be cooled.
Food/Water: Keep food and water available at all times. Preferred
food is Totally Ferret or Iams Kitten (Dry) Formula. Their basic food
should be high protein (35%+) and high animal fat (26%+). Ferrets cannot
sufficiently metabolize vegetable protein or fat to derive ANY nutrition.
Cat food is inadequate.
Medicines: Ferrets may be given Pedialyte for dehydration,
Emetrol, or Pepcid AC for upset stomach, children’s Triaminic
for colds/flu, and children’s Benadryl when an antihistamine
is necessary, Nutrical in case of serious illness or nutritional deficiency.
Emergency Kit: If ferrets are outside their home-town of Hometown,
USA, there will be a clearly labeled Ferret Care Kit and a cooler with
ice located near the carrier or in the owner’s vehicle. The kit
contains first aid supplies, food, and water. A small cooler labeled “Medicines” may
also be present. A vehicle description with door keys is located inside
the carrier’s luggage tag (or taped to carrier roof).
Primary Vet #1:
Roger E. Kendrick, D.V. M., P. C.
2250 Matlock Rd., Mansfield, TX
(817) 477-4143 or (817) 477-3209 (emergency)
Primary Vet #2:
Kimbrough Animal Hospital
1613 Judson Rd, Longview, TX
(903) 757-5543 or (903) 663-6383 (emergency)
Vaccinations: Rabies & Canine
Distemper vaccinations on these ferrets are kept current. Copies of
current certificates are in the Ferret Care Kit.
David & Debi Christy
516 Van Sandt, Carthage, Texas, 75633
Home: (903) 555-1234
Cellular 1: (903) 555-1234 Cellular 2: (903) 555-1234
1. Mr. & Mrs. Great Neighbor #1
Their City, State
Home: phone number
Work: work number
2. Mr. & Mrs. Great Neighbor #2
Their City, State
Home: phone number
Work: work number
Their City, State
Home: phone number
Work: work number.
Important Care Notes:
NO, FERRETS DON’T BITE!!!
(unless injured or frightened, like all other pets!)
Ferrets cannot be disciplined by hitting or spanking! It is translated
as aggression. 15 to 30 minute confinement is the most effective means
of discipline for ferrets. Ferrets require social interaction with
care-givers. They should have 2 play periods outside their cage daily,
with attention from humans.
Ferrets can catch a cold or flu from humans. Normal temperature is
around 102°, rectal. If their ears can fit in a hole or crack,
they can get their entire body through it! Although they love to chew
on rubber & foam, the chewed particles can cause intestinal blockages.
Take away any items that can be ingested. They can run faster than
you. Keep leashed outside. Ferrets cannot survive in the wild! Do not
use clumping type litter. It can be fatal to ferrets. Do not use pine
litter or bedding. Ferrets have short digestive cycles, 3 to 4 hours.
They will use the bathroom within 15 minutes after waking. They prefer
to back up into a corner for this. Then they will eat, or play then
eat, and return to sleep. They should eat each waking period! They
will sleep approximately 16 hours a day
Ferret proofing your vehicle:
Remember crawling around on the floor of your ferret’s
play area in the house looking for hazards? Now you get to
do that in your vehicle. Even if you don’t plan to allow
your ferret to ever run free in the car… you STILL need
to ferret proof your vehicle. You MUST be aware and forewarned
of the ferret hazards in your vehicle!
You’re going to be looking for many of the same ferret
dangers. Number one on the list is foam rubber.
Under the seats:
Stand on your head and look up at the underside of your car
seats. Is the foam rubber padding of the seat visible anywhere?
If so, it needs to be made inaccessible. The most drastic
(but most effective) method is to take the seat out of the
car (usually four bolts with nuts on the underside of the
car) and cover the foam with a sheet or other cloth or aluminum
screen wire (plastic screen wire is easily shredded by ferrets).
Many times you can pull material between the spring wires
and the foam to effectively cover the foam. If you don’t
mind standing on your head as much as you dislike the idea
of removing the car seats, you can do this with the seats
in the car.
While you’re looking under the seats, look for overlapping
sections of carpeting. Most car carpeting is in two sections
that overlap under the front seat. You’ll need to tape
down this overlap (clear packaging tape works very well) to
prevent your ferret from tunneling under to play in the carpet
padding. Auto carpet padding is usually not foam, but it makes
a terrible mess when shredded.
Look for removable soft plastic bolt covers. You’ll
have to remove them. If you don’t, your ferret will.
Look for sharp edges, fraying cloth (trim dangling strings),
wire points. Duct tape over anything that could “grab” a
fuzzy on the run (or a human hand trying to grab a fuzzy on
An alternative to under-the-seat ferret proofing is to block
off that area so that the ferrets can’t get to it. Aluminum
screen wire can be used to form barriers on all four sides
of the seat, yet still allow the seat to move on its runners.
TEST your barrier in the driveway… not on a trip!
You’ll want to completely prevent access to the area
under the rear seat. It’s a real hassle to have to take
out the rear seat to retrieve a fuzzy on a trip. And, additionally,
many rear seats have access holes to the trunk compartment
in the seat back.
Under the dash:
While you’re standing on your head, look under the dash.
There’s all sort of neat, ferrety exploring places there!
Aluminum screen wire works great here, too. It can be tucked
in so that it’s not visible from above, yet it prevents
your ferret from doing any impromptu creative re-wiring.
Now, for the really tough part: You’re going to have
to clean up your act. Popcorn & peanuts under the seat
is a no-no. Keep ink pens with rubber grips and pencils in
the glove compartment. Get out of the habit of laying your
cell phone in the seat. Those antennas and leather cases are
tasty & it only takes a second for the fuzzy to snatch
it and disappear under the seat. Keep ashtrays containing
ashes and cigarette butts closed. Most ferrets have a fetish
for tobacco that should NOT be humored.
Keep purses and other bags closed. You’re almost always
going to have something in a bag that your ferret shouldn’t
have. And, once they’ve been totally explored, they make
a great nap spot. You may suddenly discover that your ferret
is NOT peacefully napping in your idling auto just the other
side of the restaurant window. Most diners don’t CARE
that a ferret is not a rodent, nor does it matter that your
ferret might be cleaner and more up to date on its vaccinations
than their human children… … they STILL don’t
want it in the restaurant. (And there are laws concerning restaurant
health codes as well).
The Third Step
The first thing to consider with pet carriers is how to tie
them down. No matter how carefully you drive, there WILL
be a time that you’ll need to brake suddenly enough
to send your ferret’s “car seat” flying.
For most small carriers, a seat belt can be passed through
the carrier handle and buckled. For larger carriers you will
need a small “ratchet strap”. Hook ratchet strap
hooks to something secure; seat brackets, seat frame, etc.
For long trips, you might even consider a carrier large enough
for a small litter box or a small cage. (Pet carriers provide
little or no protection in a vehicle accident.) Ferrets are
creatures of habit. Having familiar items with them on a trip
reduces stress considerably. You should use the pet carrier
or small cage at home for various periods of time before the
first trip to familiarize your ferret with his “home
away from home”.
Hang a hammock in the carrier. Hammocks can be hung with shower
curtain hooks or plastic rings. The hammock provides shock
absorption for all those starts, stops, and cornering. It also
provides a dry bed in the event water gets spilled or someone “misses” the
Don’t use litter in the litter box. Three or four paper
towels are sufficient to absorb moisture. The soiled paper
towels are easy to gather up to be placed in a Ziploc bag for
sanitary disposal. Wiping the litter box with a baby wipe will
prevent ammonia from forming on the litter box surface. A small
amount of floral putty (available at craft stores or your florist)
will secure the litter box to the carrier floor. If you’re
using a cage, binder clips (in the paper clip/stationary department
at Wal-Mart) or plastic clothes hanger clips (also at Wal-Mart)
will secure the box to the cage. Use two clips per litter box.
Allow one litter box per three ferrets. More than three ferrets
in one carrier is an overload on the litter box, hammock, and
stretching room, not to mention weight of the occupied carrier.
Maintenance is considerably harder to manage if you’re
trying to keep more than three ferrets from slipping out of
the carrier while you change soiled paper towels.
A large birdcage type bowl is best for a water bowl. They
attach firmly to the carrier door and they are usually deeper
than the bowls that come with the carrier. Fill the bowl only
1/3 full to avoid splashed spills. Water bottles cannot be
used because each bump makes the bottle drip, eventually overfilling
the water cup below it. The food bowl should also have a fixed
attachment so that your annoyed or bored ferret can’t “remodel” his “hotel
The Fourth Step
Extra planning for long trips:
If your trip is long enough to require an overnight stay you’ll
need to make some additional travel arrangements.
Call ahead to find hotels that allow pets.
Most hotel beds cannot be ferret proofed. Most of them have
box springs that rest on 4”-6” tall base boxes
constructed of wood to prevent you from losing items under
the bed. This would be an excellent ferret barrier IF the base
box was at the solid outside edges of the box spring BUT… they
usually are not. They are recessed toward the center of the
bed enough that a ferret can slip over the top of the box and
get INSIDE the base box. In some cases the box springs are
even screwed or otherwise attached to the base box, requiring
hotel management assistance to retrieve your fuzzy.
Some hotel rooms have built-in tables and chests that cannot
be moved to retrieve a ferret that has discovered a way to
get behind or under it. Again, hotel management will frown
at you, or you’ll spend a variable period of time trying
to bribe your ferret out of each new hidey-hole.
Many hotel rooms have the bathroom area adjoining the bedroom
area with an open doorway. A ferret gate (also known
as a baby gate that has been modified to work with ferrets)
can be used to block off the bathroom area as a play area for
your ferret. It’s something of a hassle to drag around
with you on a trip, but your ferrets will greatly appreciate
the freedom of unfettered romping and you won’t feel
guilty for depriving them of playtime.
If you’re traveling more than an 8-hour drive from your
vet, it’s a good idea to know where to find a ferret
knowledgeable vet along the way. Internet ferret message boards
can be a great source for locating ferret-experienced vets.
If you can’t find a ferret vet, at least locate a vet
or emergency clinic. If necessary, you can have them call your
regular vet to consult. Keep the phone numbers of the clinic(s)
you’ve located with the ferret’s carrier/cage,
NOT in the glove box of the car (that may be somewhere else
while you and the ferrets are at Grandma’s house).
Step Five: On the road
Now that you’ve got it all together and you’ve
tested your ferret proofing in the driveway, you’re ready
for a trial run. Place the open travel carrier or cage in your
ferret’s play area for several days, completely stocked
with paper towels, food, water, hammock, & a toy or two.
You might even find your fuzzy curled up in his new space at
the end of the playtime.
Take your ferret on several short trips before setting out
cross-country. Put the carrier in the vehicle and strap it
down before putting your ferret inside. The ferret and yourself
should be the last things to load in the vehicle for the first
few trips. Knowing that he hasn’t been “left” somewhere
alone is a big comfort to your ferret.
The first couple of trips needn’t be anything more exciting
than a trip to the ATM or the McDonald’s drive thru.
The purpose is simply to assure your ferret that after being
in the car for a while, he’ll go back home to “his” territory.
The next trips should be 30 to 45 minutes; long enough for
your fuzzy to get bored and go to sleep. These trips are confidence
builders. Your ferret is learning that “the car thing” is
just a temporary variation from his usual routine… ferrets
are creatures of habit… make changes to his routine
slowly to avoid stress.
By now, your car’s interior is just an addition to “his” territory.
Long trips should have stops every 3 or 4 hours. Plan 15 minutes
breaks into your travel schedule. Your ferret will want to
get out of his carrier during stops. You have two choices.
Let him out inside the car, or outside the car.
Develop the habit of staring at the bottom of the door opening
whenever you open and/or close the door. You can look around
before the door is opened and after it’s closed. NEVER
open more than one door at a time if ferrets are loose inside
No, you’re not normally expecting to be driving with
a ferret somewhere on the floor, but when (not if) your ferret
escapes while his carrier is opened for box cleaning or treats
or whatever… PULL OVER TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND STOP.
Don’t try to help track down a loose ferret while you’re
driving. ANY squeak or squeal can WAIT until the car is stopped!
If you’re going to let your ferret exercise out of the
car, invest the $15 or so in an H-style, plastic snap closure
harness. This is the only type harness that is effective for
ferrets. This is something else your ferret should become familiar
with at home in the play area. Adjust the neck strap so that
it will barely slip over the ferret’s ears. Adjust the
chest strap so that your index finger will just barely slip
under it. Keep the other end of the leash attached to a human
hand. They CAN and WILL slip out of the harness. Remove the
leash while they are in their carrier/cage.
Don’t let your ferret walk in or drink standing water.
It could contain parasites that will infect your ferret. Don’t
let your ferret sniff other animal droppings for the same reason.
Don’t allow your ferret to enter culverts or holes… you
don’t know what might be living there.
Check asphalt or concrete surfaces for heat before letting
your ferret down. Avoid oil, antifreeze, gasoline, or any unidentifiable
puddle. Immediately clean any such chemicals from your ferret’s
feet or fur.
Be VERY cautious in allowing strangers to touch your ferret.
In many states it is not necessary to have a visible wound
to file a rabies complaint. You should always keep ferret rabies
vaccinations current for this reason alone. Animal control
officials have been known to destroy ferrets even though the
owner had proof of vaccination! Many county and city ordinances
leave this decision to the discretion of the animal control
officer. Don’t take chances!
Be even MORE cautious of people who say, “I’ve
got ferrets, too”. The ECE virus can be transmitted from
their clothing to infect your ferret. ADV (Aleutians
Disease Virus) can also be transmitted through indirect contact,
but not as easily as ECE. It is more commonly transmitted by
Drive thru fast food is the simplest traveling diet. If you
must stop at a restaurant to eat, park where you can watch
and hear your vehicle, preferably in the shade. Leave the
motor running… If you have even the slightest doubt,
place covered ice packs (bottles) in your ferret’s
carrier. BE SURE to take door keys inside with you! I VERY
strongly recommend that you use a Hide-A-Key device to conceal
a door key under a bumper or fender well.
The temperature in a car parked in the sun without air conditioning
running can rocket to 100+ degrees in minutes, even though
the outside temperature feels cool. Even though you can see
the vehicle through the window, go out to the vehicle every
15 minutes to verify that the motor is not overheating or that
the fuzzies haven’t escaped the carrier and are trying
to reach the gearshift. You should never leave any animal in
a parked car without the motor running and the a/c on unless
an adult human is with them. A slightly opened window may serve
only as an escape route. Remember, a ferret can easily jump
two feet to catch hold of the window’s top edge. The
distance from the top of the front seat’s back to the
top of a window is considerably less than that.
With some serious travel planning, you can call ahead to a
restaurant and place a take out order. Then you can stop at
a park and have a picnic with “real” food.
Hotels & Grandma’s House:
Any new play area, whether it’s a hotel room or a bedroom
at Grandma’s House MUST be carefully checked for ferret
hazards. Unlike at home, you can’t install anti-ferret
protection. You should never leave your ferret unattended out
of his carrier away from home. Period. Again, the “what
ifs” are infinite. You know to be aware of the possibilities
of escape and injury. The other people at Grandma’s house,
or staff at the hotel, do not.
Ferret proofing Hotel Rooms:
- As mentioned earlier in this article, hotel beds
usually cannot be ferret proofed. Look under the bed to determine
the bed’s base construction before letting your ferret
out of his carrier… that’s the first place they
go to explore.
- Look under and behind the room’s furniture
to determine if you’ll be able to retrieve a ferret.
Look for holes in the wall behind furniture!
- Check the
room’s heat/air unit. Are there holes
or vents large enough for a ferret to squeeze into? If
you have any doubt… the largest hole should be no larger than the
size of your ferret’s cage wire.
- Does the heat/air
unit have areas that are too hot for a ferret to touch?
(Most don’t for toddler’s
safety, but check, anyway.)
- Check for rubber tipped doorstops
on doors and walls. You can cover them with clear packaging
tape or duct tape if necessary.
- Keep the TV remote out
of ferret reach.
- If your ferret is an electrical cord chewer,
unplug and secure cords while your ferret is out.
- If there’s
a rubber mat in the bathtub, hang it over the shower curtain
- Keep the toilet lid closed. If there is no lid, place
a large piece of luggage over the toilet while your
ferret is out.
- CLOSE your luggage!
- Put the trashcan on a counter the
- Don’t stack luggage where a ferret
can use it as a ladder to reach the trashcan or
makeup bag on the counter.
- Don’t leave Styrofoam
cups or food containers sitting around! The smell
of soft drinks will attract your very persistent
ferret to attempt remarkable feats of mountaineering.
Empty cups can be blown onto the floor when the
door is opened or closed.
Don’t allow your ferret to dig at the carpeting. DON’T
punish him for doing it! It is an instinct that cannot be disciplined
or trained out of a ferret. Clean up ferret poop accidents
If possible, confine your ferret to the bathroom area with
a pet gate for hotel room play. If this is not possible, take
your ferret outside for play times.
Ferret proofing Grandma’s House:
Ferret proofing at a friend or relative’s house will
be similar to ferret proofing at home. Since you are only visiting,
you will not be correcting hazards. You MUST know where and
what they are in the home you are visiting. Being aware of
the potential hazards is a matter of your ferret’s life
or death. You should carefully scrutinize ALL rooms… even
though your ferret will only be allowed out in one room… just
as you should do at home.
Each hazard on the following list has been included because
someone’s ferret escaped or was injured or killed. Only
time and experience will tell you which hazards apply to each
In ALL rooms check for:
- Windows close to the floor or that can otherwise
be reached must always be closed
- Screens - Plastic screens
can easily be ripped open by a ferret
- Weather stripping
around exterior doors
- Holes in the wall
- Space under closed doors should be less
- Cabinets and drawers – most ferrets
can open a cabinet door or drawer. Check for openings to
interior walls inside cabinets.
- Air conditioning/heating
vents and return air vents
- Rubber doorstops
- Spaces beside refrigerator and other
appliances allowing access into mechanism or electrical
- Dryer vent/plastic dryer vent hose… the #2
most common ferret escape route. (#1 is slipping
past the person going out the front/back door)
- Any and all furniture cushions.
Check for rips that expose foam.
- Rubber feet or soft buttons
- TV Remote controls with soft buttons
- Pagers, cell phones,
electronic games with soft buttons
- Pencils, rubber gripped
pens, & eraser
- House plants - most are toxic
- Plant stands- check for V-shaped
intersections of metal tubing that could “hang” a
with rubber backing
- Lamps and dangling cords allowing ferrets
to pull them down
- Figurines, pictures, ashtrays, and all
small items on end/coffee tables- If it
can be reached, it will be moved
- Aquariums – Ferrets don’t usually bother
fish… but they
will play in the water,
snorkeling in it or drinking
it. Ferrets should NOT
be allowed to drink aquarium
water. Ferrets ARE NOT
FISH EATERS AND CANNOT
- Electric extension
cords, power strips,
surge protectors – tape
over any unused outlets
that a ferret might walk across or step on to prevent toenails from slipping
- Fireplaces – wire mesh fire screens CAN be climbed
- Assisted walking items such as crutches/walkers (foam
or rubber parts, bases)
- Pet doors – escape
route for ferrets
- Baby gates – plastic meshing is
almost always large/small enough
for a ferret to get stuck
- Toys – soft rubber toys, rubber dog/cat toys,
chewable baby toys
- Recliners/rockers/hide-a-beds - all dangers due to movement
mechanisms. RECLINERS ARE THE #1 KILLER OF FERRETS IN THE
- Keep toilet lid CLOSED. Ferrets cannot climb out once
they’ve fallen in. FERRETS CANNOT SWIM WELL BECAUSE
THEY TIRE VERY QUICKLY.
- Access to the counter top. Can
the toilet or other fixture be climbed to reach within
a 2 foot jump to the counter?
- Sponges, even makeup applicators
- Toilet paper – makes
a great “bomb”… “explodes” well… but
the cardboard tube is deadly. Keep the toilet paper
on the dispenser, not on a counter or on top of the toilet
tank. Ferrets have died from getting their head stuck in
the tube, breaking their neck in panic trying to escape.
- Rubber tub mat
- Rubber backed rugs
- Dressers, Chests, nightstands – if the ferret
can gain access to the drawers from the bottom, contents
of ALL the drawers must be ferret safe.
- Bed box springs – if
the bottom of the box springs is uncovered, ferrets can
get into the springs and be crushed when someone sits or
lies down on the bed.
- Accessible waterbed vinyl.
- V-shaped intersections
of metal of headboards and footboards for that could “hang” a
falling or bouncing ferret
- Closet – sneakers, thongs,
and rubber insoles are an intestinal blockage hazard.
- Baby bottle nipples
- Stuffed animals (rubber nose/eyes/feet)
or exposed foam or bead stuffing
- Mouse pads
- Directional balls, scroll wheel on mouse
- Foam wrist pad
- Rubber bands
- Rubber stamps
- A desk chair left too close to the desk
makes a great ladder for a ferret!
- Other visitors, biting – a baby’s
skin has the same texture of the rubber ferrets love to chew.
NEVER leave a ferret in the room with a baby!
- Small children
with candy on their fingers or faces are also a potential
bite problem. It’s instinct… NOT
malice or aggression!
- Unfamiliar fingers stuck through
the cage wire can be mistaken as a threat. Many ferrets
have been needlessly killed due to the negligence and/or
misunderstanding of parents.
- Doors – YOU may be used
to watching for ferrets as you go in and out of doors,
but the residents of the home you’re visiting are
- Unauthorized handling – It is very strongly
recommended that you place a small LOCK on the cage/carrier
door(s) when you will be away from your ferrets, especially
when there are small children in the home.
Definition of “out of reach”:
Ferrets are very smart and very, very, very persistent creatures.
Ferrets will climb up one thing to another thing to another
thing and jump up to two feet to reach their goal. They seem
to have no fear of going up and no concept of falling in
the process. Out of reach means not only physically farther
than they can stretch, it also means that there’s no “ladder” they
can use to get to it. In most households, things get moved
around daily. A backpack dropped beside a table, a coat slung
over a chair back, a laundry basket set down beside a bookcase
are all ladders to potential death.
The last word and the bottom line:
Your ferret’s safety is your responsibility. Don’t
expect the family you are visiting to baby-sit your ferret,
not even “for just a minute.” Don’t
expect them to take even repeated warnings seriously. They
won’t. Even with the best intentions, they won’t.
Even with many years of experience with other animals, they
Plan ahead, keep it simple, enjoy your trip.