Friday, 23 March 2012

Bringing your ferrets outside.

Regardless if you house your ferrets inside or out, they will need time out from their cage to exercise. This can be done within the home but during nice weather why not let your ferrets outside? But before you grab your fuzzies and rush on outside, read on to make sure that you are prepared for introducing them to the big wide world.
Unless you have properly ferret proofed your garden (I will discuss this in a minute) then you will definitely need a harness and lead set. I would get one anyway as they are useful for going on walks near home and at shows. With a lead you can safely let your ferret get some fresh air and exercise without having to worry about them running off. I find that my boys do not walk on the lead as a dog would, as in they don't follow you and it's better to pick them up to move them rather than try to lead them. For more information on harnesses please try my post by following this link
If you have indoor ferrets and you want to take them outside in colder weather then you will need to gradually acclimatise them to it. One way you could do this would be to take them to a colder room for a few minutes at a time, then let them sniff the air outside and spend a couple of minutes out there, and gradually increase the amount of time they spend outside. It's a good idea not to let your ferrets outside in extreme temperatures at all, and if you do then only for a short amount of time as ferrets can suffer from heatstroke and hypothermia.  
You will need to ferret proof your garden before you let them play outside. A basic ferret proof check-list could contain the following:

  • Properly enclosed garden, with no gaps that the ferret can escape through.
  • Ponds, pools and water features are fenced off.
  • Garden chemicals and tools are put away.
  • Dangerous/broken objects are removed (such as broken glass or nails)
  • Natural dangers are removed or fenced off (such as rose thorns, nettles and poisonous plants)
  • Gardens with vertical drops (normally as a feature) have fencing/barrier to prevent ferrets falling.
  • Non ferret areas (such as veg plot/ornamental garden) are sectioned off, ferrets love to dig.
  • Pets kept in the garden (such as chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs) are secure and out of the way of the ferrets
  •  Climbable objects are out of reach.
  • There are no gaps under or behind objects such as sheds/compost bins where ferrets can hide.
The list of possible hazards will vary from garden to garden, so take a look around yours and try to think like a ferret and look for dangers!
Don't forget to bring your ferrets in when they have had enough, you can either set a specific length for the play time or you can sometimes tell when they are ready to come inside as they may go to the gate/door, try and climb your leg or look up at you or simply stop playing and stand around.
So now you can safely take your ferret outside with you, he'll love you for it!

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