Here at Purbeck Ferret Rescue we house all of our ferrets in large outdoor enclosures. This allows the groups plenty of room to play, stash food and toys and provide a wide variety of beds to sleep in. These enclosures include custom built aviary style pens as well as modified children’s playhouses for smaller groups and boarders.
Space: Ferrets which are kept in small cages, without sufficient exercise space, often display physical ailments later in life such as fractured teeth from biting cage bars and excessively curved spines from insufficient space. This is why we will not rehome to a standard one or two storey rabbit hutch. Rabbit hutches do however make nice sleeping areas within a larger aviary style enclosure or in a dedicated ferret room. Another reason for ample space is that ferrets should be kept with other ferrets.
Ferret proof: Ensuring that their home is safe is often an ongoing project that may test your ingenuity as much as theirs. Our ferret proofing page will give you more information. Mesh and any other gaps you do not want ferrets to get through should be no larger than 1″ square. As some small jills, kits and micros can get stuck in 1″ mesh, we recommend 1/2″ by 1/2″.
Outdoors: Other than for short term quarantine situations, we do not believe a standard single or double rabbit hutch is a suitable home for even a single ferret. They are incredibly active animals when awake and need access to a large play area where they can run, bounce and war dance exhibiting natural behaviours. Therefore, a large run area that they can access is a must, such as our aviary and converted shed style enclosures. It also means that you can sit in with your ferrets and enjoy play time with them, as well as cleaning out without having to get wet or crawl around on the floor! Keeping your ferrets outdoors usually means that they have more space and are not subjected to extended light hours, which can lead to adrenal disease.
Indoors: The other option is to keep your ferrets indoors. Some owners allocate a single room as their ‘ferret room’ and allow them to explore it all day whilst others decide to ‘ferret proof’ larger areas of their home. Bear in mind if you go for this option that you will need some sort of cage for them to sleep in overnight and potentially other times you are out of the house whilst at the same time they will need at least 4 hours play time in a large ferret proof area each day. Recommended cages include the Savic Royale 95, Savic Royale XL and the Ferret Nation.
Bedding: All of our ferret enclosures are kitted out with a range of fleece blankets, hammocks and beds. These soft and cozy beds are a real hit with the ferrets and with us as they can be washed and dried easily, keeping bedding areas clean and reducing any smell. They are also particularly warm, dry quickly and do not carry the risk of ticks and other parasites that can come from the use of straw and hay. As well as hammocks, hanging baskets are popular. Be careful with towels and similar items that a ferret may catch their claws in. Any bed or toy which a ferret can get into must be regularly checked to ensure that a ferret cannot get stuck in them.
Flooring: The flooring of our enclosures is a hemp based animal bedding that is designed to stay dry on the surface and is soft on ferret feet. Sawdust and wood shavings, particularly pine based or scented, are dusty and not safe to use around ferrets as they can harm their delicate respiratory system. Avoid bare wire flooring too. Vinyl flooring is popular option as it is wipe clean and can be quickly and easily sanitised.
Toileting: Ferrets generally go to toilet in corners, although they may just go anywhere. When they have chosen which area they want to use you can place a litter tray there. Our litter trays are filled with a wood based litter that is non dusty. We recommend wood or paper based cat litters for ferrets. Traditional clay and clumping litters are not suitable. Puppy pads are also popular, particularly for indoor ferrets. Be prepared though incase they rip them up.
Safe toys: We always provide tubing; ideally look for 4″ or bigger to fit your large hobs. Drainage pipes allow grip but even empty carpet tubes will do providing they are 3” or wider in diameter. Dig boxes are popular. Fill with ball pit balls, dry pasta or dried leaves.
Dangerous toys: Ferrets are extremely clever and incredibly skilled at getting themselves into trouble. All toys must be regularly checked to ensure that they are not unsafe. Avoid toilets rolls and similar small tubes as ferrets have been known to get stuck in them and die. Run around balls and wheels are not suitable for ferrets. Soft plastic is often chewed and can lead to potentially fatal blockages.
Example pens: Below are photos of some of our finished enclosures (past and present) as well as some construction shots of enclosures and toys. We hope these can provide inspiration for your own ferret house.