Ferrets are among some of the most playful pets you can bring home—so much so that investing in a good selection of quality ferret supplies is considered an integral part of proper ferret care.
“Ferrets are not rodents,” says L. Vanessa Gruden, executive director of the Ferret Association of Connecticut, Inc. “They are intelligent predator carnivores. As such, toys are vital.”
Being so intelligent, it’s no surprise that ferrets are born explorers and will love new, exciting things. The only way to know what your ferret likes is by experimenting. While some ferrets may gravitate toward one general type of toy, Gruden says that others may enjoy a select few and some will literally love any toy that you put in front of them.
Below are five types of ferret toys Gruden, who has been the manager of a ferret shelter in Hartford, Connecticut, for 27 years, recommends to keep your pet physically and mentally stimulated.
A Ball Pit
A ball pit, not so unlike the ones little kids love, tops on a list of ferret supplies? Yes!
Ferrets naturally like to hide, climb, and frolic, and a ball pit is a great place to do all three, Gruden says.
Far from a frivolous pick, “it will, with clear plastic tubes made for ferrets attached, enchant most ferrets,” she says.
To make your ferret’s playtime dream come true, you can try the Marshall Pop-N-Play ferret ball pit toy and attach the Marshall Super Thru-Way small animal tunnel toy to give your ferret 15 feet of tunnel fun.
No matter how much you adore your ferret, they will, of course, need to spend considerable time in their cage on a regular basis. And given how important stimulating play is for these little smarties, they probably won’t be happy just chilling with no toys in their cage while you’re at work.
“A ferret without toys is a really miserable ferret,” Gruden says. “They are related to otters, actually, so when you think about how playful those are, you can see how it would be the same for ferrets.”
To prevent in-cage boredom, look for ferret toys that are designed for in-cage play, like the Marshall Bungee ferret toy, which attaches with a simple hook and comes with a little plush duck at the end of an adjustable strap.
While ferrets have been domesticated for a long time, it is believed that they were originally bred to hunt rabbits that lived in dens and tunnels. So, it only makes sense that pet ferrets find tunnels irresistible, explains Gruden. (It’s also the reason they are known to climb up into your pant leg).
Tunnel toys can pretty much delight any ferret. Options range from in-cage tunnels, like the Kaytee Simple Sleeper small animal play tunnel, to a more extreme option, like the Marshall Octo-Play ferret hideout toy, which has eight arms to crawl through and 11 ways to get in and out.
Being predator carnivores, ferrets, unsurprisingly, love to gnaw. But not all chew toys are the same. The ones you choose should be made for ferrets, and contain no glue, plastic, metal, latex or rubber.
“Be careful with this, as they will seem to love it, but small bits of rubber can cause a dangerous intestinal blockage,” cautions Gruden.
Consider Niteangel’s small animal fun balls activity toy, which is made from all-natural material–seagrass, water hyacinth and ratta.
Ferret Toy Tips
As with any category of ferret supplies, there are general guidelines that are wise to follow when giving your ferret toys. Here are some general tips from Gruden:
- Ferret toys should be easily washable. Veteran ferret parents often put ferrets down to play on newspapers or puppy pads, because they know that they poop, then roll around with their toys, explains Gruden, which is not an ideal combination.
- Beware of anything with an opening that is not meant for a ferret. If your ferret sees an opportunity, he may try to get his body through an object that has an opening, like a paper towel tube, and could get stuck. And when ferrets feel stuck, Gruden stresses that they tend to panic and can injure themselves.
- Don’t encourage them to play with your shoes or other personal belongings. Many ferrets like to hide in slippers, but you don’t want to teach your ferret that shoes are toys. It won’t seem so cute when he runs off with a brand-new shoe and nibbles on a it. Remember, they can haul rabbits with their jaws, so a shoe can be stolen without much trouble, explains Gruden.
After you figure out what kind of toys your ferret likes to play with, you should be sure to have a few on hand to keep things exciting.
“The same toys left out week after week will bore your ferret,” Gruden says.
But this doesn’t mean you need to buy new ferret toys every week.
“What will pay off is investing in a group of high-quality toys and rotating them in and out,” she says.
And be sure to wash them regularly to make them feel like new for your ferret.
“Toys should be washed about once a week,” Gruden says. “Once washed, the smell will be gone, and thus they will seem new to your ferret.”
Christina Vercelletto is a pet, travel and lifestyle content specialist and a former editor of Parenting, Scholastic Parent & Child, and Woman’s Day. She lives on Long Island with her Chiweenie, Pickles, and 20-pound Calico, Chub-Chub.