Play And Occupation Opportunities In Ferrets

It is not without reason that ferrets are considered to be particularly agile, cunning and ready for any nonsense. Her natural curiosity combined with the strong urge to move leaves the little Mader always go on adventures. If they are not offered sufficient and, above all, varied play and employment opportunities – well, then they just look for some. However, in order to direct these activities in humans in a pleasant way, i.e. without leaving broken shards, rags and other unpleasant traces, ferrets should be entertained with exciting games. And not just her. The ferret games are also a lot of fun for the owners.

Why ferrets want to play

The “Mustela putorius furo”, as they are called in Latin, originally descended from the polecat and therefore belong to the maggot genus. Your demeanor is strong though
domesticated, but they have retained basic instincts, social habits and a few peculiarities. It is part of the nature of ferrets to go on an adventure every day.

They learn from and with each other in a playful way, improve their skills and become stronger and more enduring. This is how they maintain their own health, both physically and mentally. Last but not least, playing helps to reduce stress, strengthens social bonds and keeps you fit in every respect.

Of course, each animal has certain preferences and will develop depending on individual care
himself special skills. Ferrets, thanks to their high level of intelligence and openness, are easy to get along with
even train wonderfully. However, since they are mainly suitable for keeping in pairs, the conspecifics tend to infect each other with new ideas. If one ferret is basically rather hesitant, it will still follow the bright one and join in with any nonsense. Doing something funny together is just more fun. For the ferret owner, this means a high degree of dedication and attention.

Ideally, an outdoor enclosure is available, with plenty of space, natural materials and a species-appropriate design. However, safe conditions must also be ensured in housing. So that the little four-legged friends can live out their urge to play unhindered, a few precautions are necessary.

Making the apartment ferret-proof

In particular, power cords, important documents, collectibles, and other valuable (possibly fragile and chewable) objects should be kept safe from falling prey to the ferret’s rampant energy. Once the animals are in the room, windows and doors must be closed to prevent them from escaping. Food and drink should also be kept away from the bipeds. Above all, sugary stimulants would be extremely harmful to the animals. Apart from the fact that they are already active enough.
At the same time, the premises should be suitably tempered. Drafts can lead to colds, heating air that is too warm dries out the mucous membranes and irritates the skin and eyes. In addition, ferrets like a wide range of hiding places and retreats. Even while playing, you should always have the option to withdraw from the situation if necessary. Be it because they are frightened, the game is getting too wild for them or to use the hiding place for a surprise effect.

What happens to under-challenged ferrets?

Anyone who finds too little time for their ferrets and does not give them the attention
brings, which is so important to them, will soon experience some undesirable consequences
have to:
the animals become increasingly ruthless if they are not shown boundaries
some specimens develop downright aggressive behavior and intentionally destroy the facility
others withdraw more and more, become shy and anything but trusting
man is not respected as an authority, but simply bypassed
Ferrets sometimes react to under-exertion by marking with urine, biting and scratching
health consequences cannot be ruled out, such as stress symptoms, behavioral disorders, etc.
if the animals are locked in a small space for too long, i.e. in a small cage, they may attack each other

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear of ferrets being kept alone. With the intention of making them even more trusting and tame, the social behavior of the animals is instead enormously disturbed. Ferrets need at least one companion. These can also be siblings of the same sex, a castrated pair or parent pairs for breeding. The main thing is not alone.

Man can never replace playing with a fellow animal. It doesn’t work
just about romping around per se. Coat care, the feeling of security and in particular the species-specific communication are subject to togetherness.

This is how ferrets play with their own kind and with humans

Watching the ferrets play, it quickly becomes clear: this is where real ferret life takes place. As a keeper, all you have to do is offer a few suggestions, the wild ones Channeling energy in a controlled manner and, of course, ensuring safety.

Nevertheless, people can actively participate in the games and thus earn the trust of their darlings. Gradually they become more and more tame, more open-minded and approach “their” bipeds of their own accord. This trust should not be forced, nor should it be betrayed. So if you decide to have ferrets as pets, you should be clear from the start what role you want to play with your new flatmates or what position you want to take in this constellation.

Only on occasion and when it just suits play a round with the animals, the not be able to hold the bond in the long term. Only regularity creates a basis of trust. The change the interest. This is the only way that play can be meaningfully implemented as an element of species-appropriate ferret husbandry.

Many of the games suitable for ferrets are similar to those used for cats, dogs, rodents and other small animals. However, maggots are generally less sensitive than, for example, a rabbit and also move faster. Last but not least, ferrets play in their own unique way, which shouldn’t even seem that strange to humans.

The 5 best play and activity opportunities for ferrets

By taking natural behavior into account, wonderful games can be developed that delight humans and ferrets alike. After all, the domesticated maggots were not used as hunting animals by chance – their play instinct and their hunting instinct are ideal for such uses. This resulted in the so-called “Fretting”. A form of hunting that was mostly combined with falconry: the falcon spotted the prey from the air and startled it, the ferret chased after it, if necessary also in caves and nests.

In relation to keeping pets, such patterns can be transferred excellently. Hunting becomes a game, people learn, train, challenge and encourage it. With each round of the game, the social bond between the animals and humans is strengthened. Ideally, an inseparable team is created that knows how to pull off all sorts of practical jokes.

Ferret game: hide, seek and find

In principle, everything can be hidden so well – if it is even remotely interesting enough for the ferrets, they will find it. Of course, good-smelling treats are particularly popular. But also the familiar toy or something completely new, which is made palatable to them shortly before, arouses the curiosity of the alert animals.

Searching also trains the senses. The sense of smell has the highest priority. In addition, the hiding places can be specifically prepared in such a way that motor skills are also required to reach the object of desire.

First, this is briefly held before the ferrets. In this way they can perceive its smell, memorize the look and learn through repetition what of them now
is expected. Actively looking.

Of course, the ferrets should not be able to see where the object is hidden. An adjoining room is therefore ideal, or you can wait until the little ones are asleep and secretly prepare a few hiding places.

Then it’s time for the big sniffing. As intelligent as the animals are, they usually grasp the game quite quickly. Some categorically check already known hiding places or sniff first where they have already been able to find something. A few pointers may be required. Although ferrets do not understand every word we say, some terms certainly trigger associations. At the same time, movements such as pointing the hand in one direction can serve as an aid. Most of the time this is not necessary, but it may be desirable for training commands.

Once the ferrets have found the hiding place, they should definitely be praised for the
Link experience with a positive effect. In this way, they learn to concentrate even better and to consciously wait for the hours of play instead of sniffing around everywhere without being asked.

At the same time, certain objects let you focus, for example the bunch of keys or the slippers. With a little patience and practice, the ferrets can be extremely helpful in everyday life and find everything that is often misplaced…

Ferret Game: The Obstacle Course

Of course, the basic equipment in every ferret enclosure includes different levels, natural materials and structural challenges. But it won’t be long before the ferrets have explored every nook and cranny and are starting to look for new paths. Constantly varying obstacle courses are the ideal activity for ferrets in order to satisfy their species’ curiosity while at the same time strengthening their trust and, above all, to promote dexterity and cognitive perception.

Large rolls of cardboard, clean pipes, baskets, ropes, linen cloths and other supposedly disused household items can be used. It is important that none of the materials contain harmful substances or small parts that can be swallowed. Hardly anything is safe from a ferret’s teeth and ingested toxins, paints, varnishes and the like could damage the digestive system and organs.

Commercially available cat utensils are also very suitable. For example the scratching post, cat caves or climbing ladders. A multi-layered course can be built from all of this. The animals are supposed to consciously overcome various obstacles, sometimes up, sometimes down. Tunnel systems can be combined with seesaws, hammocks with ladders, bridges with aisles and so on.

The sequence can be practiced again with patience and practice. At first, two or three obstacles are enough to illustrate the principle. Gradually, more elements can be added and so the course is constantly being expanded. In the end, it is no longer necessary to reward with treats after each successfully overcome obstacle. Verbal praise is enough and only at the very end the longed-for reward. Very important: All animals that complete the course should be rewarded, not just the first to finish.

Ferret game: digging like crazy

Claw care begins as soon as you run through the obstacle course. With every step over wood, gravel and the like, the claws are naturally worn down. When the claws can’t get any further, they just gnaw and bite through.

At the same time, the tendency to dig and scratch can be used in a playful way to support claw care. This is much easier to achieve in the outdoor enclosure than in the home. While only a few piles have to be heaped up outdoors, i.e. in the garden or in the yard, the apartment should ultimately be largely spared such rubble.

Sand and water shells have proven their worth here. These are actually intended for toddlers, but ultimately ferrets behave very childishly. Such a bowl filled with sand or mulch gives the animals pure joy – a great change in the apartment. Alternatives are, for example, large boxes filled with scraps of paper, environmentally friendly packaging materials or stuffed with towels.

Of course, in order to turn it into a real game, a few things have to be buried, which the ferrets then have to dig up. Treats, favorite toys, and interesting objects are perfect. However, one or the other particle is guaranteed to be thrown out of the shell when digging – this can hardly be avoided completely.

Ferret Game: Skittle, Ball, Kong

The Kong is actually known as a dog toy. But it is also available for ferrets, i.e. in the appropriate size. It is a toy made of natural rubber, the inside of which can be filled with treats. In part, there is not just a simple cave in the interior, but a spiral. Only by turning and rolling the Kong does the treat get outside and can be nibbled with relish.

In other words: The ferrets have to try out which measures they can use to get their reward and use their heads a little to do so. The Kongs are considered relatively firm to the bite and are also not hazardous to health because of the natural rubber.

The same applies to small animal toys such as special balls, skittles, balls, play toys and cushions – wherever there is something exciting to hide and find inside.

Ferret Game: Think along

Adequate to other small animals, ferrets are just as good at mind games and brain teasers. In the rarest of cases, such toys are explicitly labeled for ferrets. However, there is always a range of suitable products in the pet shop, both in the cat and dog sectors and in “other small animals”. Anyone looking at rabbits and rodents should also find what they are looking for.

These can be sliding puzzles, trick roles, snack cubes and boxes as well as various intelligence games and simple roles with bells that are just supposed to be fun. The brain games are mainly about moving certain flaps, pulling ropes or opening drawers to get to the hidden reward.

With a little manual skill, such games can also be specially recreated. However, this option is not for everyone or too complicated. However, the commercially available puzzles can also be individually adapted and expanded. For example, by hanging the trick reel just above the ground. This is achievable but harder to grasp. Then the ferrets have to make a lot more effort to get to their destination.

With every success, the joy of humans and animals grows. When playing, however, two special features of the animals must be taken into account: Ferrets often need sleep, even if not for many hours at a time. And they have a shortened digestive tract, which means they have to eat frequently but can’t travel long distances for relief. In short: Whoever plays with the animals should always keep an eye on their other needs. Be it mental or physical challenges. Only a well-exerted ferret, neither under nor overworked, is also a happy ferret.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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