Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Dig boxes.

We all know that ferrets love to dig, dig, dig! But what can we provide our beloved furballs with that will enable them to use their digging skills and stimulate them while being safe at the same time? The answer: Dig boxes.
There are numerous materials that you can use for a dig box. To start with you will need a suitable container for the filling being used. You can use things such as strong cardboard boxes, deep trays (like the sort used as children's sand pits) and storage boxes, which come on a wide range of shapes and sizes. The disadvantage of using a very deep box is that your ferret will likely not be able to climb out once it is inside. In this situation you would have to look out for signs that your ferret has had enough of the dig box, such as scrabbling at the sides and a lack of interest. Depending on the material used a shallow box will allow your ferret to kick the filling everywhere, so if you hate the thought of cleaning up after them then I would have the dig box outside in a secure area such as a run.
I personally use sand at the moment for my ferrets, they have theirs in a shallow tray outside (see pics below). If you want to use sand then please make sure that it is children's play sand, the type used in play pits that you can find at garden centres and similar home living stores. This sand is safe for your ferrets to use, it's clean and very fine.
You can use peat, which like sand is a more natural digging material. Please buy just peat that has no chemicals or any other nasties added, which would obviously not be safe for your ferrets.
Some people use rice and pasta in dig boxes. We did try this with our boys but they tried to eat the pasta which of course was worrying! I have heard that some ferrets get along brilliantly with rice and pasta and some just try to eat it. Obviously do not let your ferrets eat this, if you see them trying it is probably best to remove the pasta/rice and try something else. Only use raw uncooked pasta and rice, don't try and use any sort of pre cooked stuff! Dried beans are another alternative that most ferrets don't try to eat.
Some ferret owners have a lot of luck with the large plastic balls that are used for children's play pits, ping pong balls and scrunched up balls of paper. The balls of paper idea is great at Christmas when there is an abundance of paper around the house! These probably work best if used with a deep box so that they can really get a sense of burrowing. You can also use packing peanuts, just make sure that they are starch and not the styrofoam ones, as these can cause choking and/or blockages if ingested.
Shredded paper is another idea, and is a great way to make use of that nasty junk mail!
You can use the seasons to your advantage too, during autumn you can collect the dry fallen leaves and let your ferrets go wild in them!
With the 'clean' materials, such as the play balls and shredded paper you can hide toys and treats inside which will give your ferrets an added dose of excitement as they scurry to stash them!
It would be an idea to change the material that you are using from time to time, to give them a bit of variety, though some ferrets will have a favourite material. Even if you don't change between materials it is still important to replace the contents of the dig box regularly along with frequent checks to prevent a build up of germs and foreign bodies.
I hope you now have some fun ideas that you can put into practice and provide your guys with hours of fun! I hope you like the pictures of my boys in their sand pit.

An example of a rice dig box

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