If your pet ferret lives inside your house, you may think that occasional outside walks would be a good idea. You are right, most of the ferrets like to explore the outside areas and you two can spend some really good time together but you should be aware of few things before you make that step and let your furry ball discover the outside world.
To take your ferret outside you have to think about the following :
- Does the law allow you to take your ferret outside?
- Are the vaccines your pet received accurate?
- How would you control the movement of your furry ball in the outside area?
- Did you train your pet to use leash and harness?
- What are the temperatures your pet tolerates?
- Do ferrets like snow?
- First time outdoors
- What should you bring with you when going for a walk with a ferret?
- What are the risks? Parasites, poisons, other animals ….
- What about baby ferrets, should they go for a walk?
- What do you need to do once you return home with your ferret?
If you want to learn the answers to these questions as well as other useful information related to this topic, keep reading our article.
In case you are thinking not only to go for a walk with your ferret but to let your precious little furry friend to live outside in your back yard,do read our article ‘Should I let my ferret live outdoors’
Does The Law Allow You to Take Your Ferret Outside?
If you are a ferret owner,I am sure you know that keeping ferrets is not legal in some states ( such as California or Hawaii ) but also in some cities and counties ( New York city or Washington D.C among others).
I also assume that if you already have a ferret as a pet then this is a legal in your state/county/city. But this is not the end with the laws.
You should check with your vet or to contact local Fish and games or Wildlife department or even better some Ferret association to get the right information is it legal to take your ferret outside your home.
Even if it is legal, maybe the local law forces you to use leash and harness when going outside with pet ferret, maybe you need to have your pet’s vaccine report with you to show the local authorities if somebody asks you.
Do not forget that even some neighborhoods or apartment complexes may have their own rules when it comes to walking animals, so check that as well in order to avoid any unpleasant situation.
Are the Vaccines Your Pet Ferret Received Accurate?
It is very important to pay close attention to your ferrets health,especially to its annual vaccine boosters for distemper virus or rabies. If booster doze is not accurate then you pet is running a great risk of catching a serious disease while exploring outside world.
How to Control the Movement of Your Furry Ball in the Outside Area?
For most of the ferrets outside world is a place with endless possibilities for adventure and fun.
As being a ferret’s parent you know how ferret are lively and energetic creature, which love to explore,run, jump,dig….
Inside the house, they have some boundaries and it is easy to control them but outside the things become very difficult. That is why it is highly recommended not to go out with your ferret without proper equipment.
Leash and harness are must. Never ever use collar ( as for dogs) on your ferret because they can easily slip out of it and run away.
It is also crucial to train your pet to use leash and harness before you two really go out for a walk. Some experts say that you should start with training early, when the baby ferret is about 10 weeks old.
Train Your Pet to Use Leash and Harness
This lesson is a key of successful walk in which you both will enjoy.
You can buy this basic equipment online or in any pet store. You should buy a harness specially designed for ferrets as those are made to perfectly fit ferret’s slim and long body, providing great support for their neck and rib cage.
Quality harness should be made of nylon and if has clips and buckles make sure they are made of plastic and not metal which can warm up and hurt your furry pal.
’H’ style harness is the best option as it can be adjusted to your pet’s size These ‘H’ harnesses are usually quite ok for ferrets weighing from 6 ounces to 4 -1/2 lbs
Regarding leash, the highest -praised option I found is Lishinu retractable leash for smaller dogs. This leash will allow you to move hands-free and your pet certain space for play and run due to its length.
The training should start way before first walk. It is recommended to start with a harness. Put the harness on your ferret for a couple of minutes. Most probably your ferret will protest or maybe he will try to escape. At the end of this first session, give some small treats to your pet.
Slowly increase the number of minutes during which your pet is having a harness on its body but always reward his/her effort afterward. After a few weeks your pet will most likely get used to wearing a harness. Remember never to leave the harness on your pet when he/she is unsupervised.
Leash Training Steps
First step is to put a leash but not to hold it. Let your ferret walk around the house with a leash but without you pointing direction. Always keep an eye on your furry ball when doing this.
Next move is to hold the leash but let your ferret choose where she/he wants to go. Although you are giving freedom to your pet to decide where he/she wants to go, this is the right moment to teach him/her a lesson about restraint by gently pulling the leash. Not to forget- after every successful session reward your furry pal with some treat.
Final step of the training would be to direct a movement and not to leave your pet doing that completely by him/herself. Bear in mind that ferrets are not dogs, they will never obey like dogs. Even though they will always try to follow their own route make sure you lead the way.
After you have finished with training you and your pet are ready to start discovering the outside world.
What are the temperatures your pet tolerates?
The perfect period for walk outside with your ferret is either spring or fall. The ferrets usually better tolerate lower temperatures then higher ones.
The problem is that ferrets are not sweating so high temperatures are not good for them( 80F or more). It is recommend to bring a water for your pet,as they can easily dehydrate.
Walks during higher temperatures should be shorter, a couple of minutes only. Also if the temperatures are high in your area for most of the year, you can walk with your pet very early in the morning or even in the dusk, but also dawn would be great time for a walk too.
If the weather is too hot, avoid walking on roads and pavements which can be very hot for your pet’s feet, grass is much more suitable.
If the weather is cooler, that is ok, no problem but the temperatures should not be lower then 40F.
Can I let my Ferret in Snow and Do They Like It?
Many ferret-like to play in the snow. You can let your furry ball enjoy but make sure that is on the leash to avoid unpleasant situation( as they like to dig holes in the snow and they can disappear pretty fast).
Keep your furry pal away from any snow melting chemicals. Pay attention to the wind, it can make your ferret freezing which will shorten the play in the snow.
The average time they should spend outside in the snow is about 15-20 minutes. They can be thrilled with the idea and play in the snow for 5min and then to start climbing your pant legs which is a clear sign that the game is over, they are ready go inside.
You should have a blanket so you can wrap your pet at the end of the play. Make sure you dry off your furry friend properly once playtime is over.
First Time Outdoors Tips
Ok, that day has come and you are about to go for a first walk outside with your pet. It is recommended that the duration of that first walk be just a couple of minutes.
Even later on, when your ferret gets used to the outside world and he/she has a great time walking with you, those walks will last approximately 15-20 min.
Before you go, make sure the harness is placed properly as well as leash. This is very important, as ferrets unlike dogs, are not capable to come back home by themselves in case they ran away.If the local law requires attach ID or vaccine report to the harness.
Start with the area around your house, do not go far away. You do not have much time anyway so moving around your home for couple of minutes would be a great first-time walk. It might happen that your pet feels fear and he/she freezes, does not want to move.
Try to encourage him/her but do not be too pushy. If your furry ball persistently refuses to go further, do not force him/her. Maybe you can try another day.
What Should You Bring When Going For a Walk with Ferret?
Basic equipment needed – leash and harness,as well as ID tag or shots report/certificate. We have already mentioned water.
Ferrets easily dehydrate so it is important to have access to the water in any moment. It also advisable to bring something that will help you to transport your ferret such as shoulder sack or carry case if your pet gets tired or you have to move him/her from some potentially dangerous situation.
If the weather is hot and you are going for a walk, do bring with you a bottle of cool water so you can spray down your furry friend cool him off
What are the risks? Parasites, poisons,other animals…
I found a great sentence that describes walks with ferrets great – ‘Do not make a mistake, going for a walk with pet ferret can be a risky business’. It is true. Many dangers are just waiting in ambush…
First of all watch your step.
Ferrets are moving suddenly, they are very fast so they can end up under your feet at any moment. Same as you can step on your ferret, other people can do the same, so if you walk through very busy area, it is safer to hold your ferret.
Always be aware of other animals, especially dogs.
Dogs have natural instinct to grab smaller animals. They can also transmit dangerous diseases such as Canine distemper. If you see that dog is coming, take your ferret and hold it until the dog is gone.
Pay attention to cars, bicycles, skateboards even people who are jogging.
All of them are moving pretty fast and ferrets are small animals, not easily notable. Regarding cars, fluids such as oil or antifreeze or front glass washer fluid can be very dangerous. These fluids often leak out from the car so if your ferret licks any of these, do seek medical attention immediately. This can be fatal.
It is advisable to go out for a walk with your ferret, after he/she had a meal.
Why? Ferrets like to explore surroundings. They also like to chew on things. It may happen to chew but also swallow some poisonous berry, leaf or plant in general. Of course that can happen even if your pet’s stomach is full but if he/she is hungry there are more chances to grab something that should not.
Always supervise every ferret’s movement and do not let him/her eat anything from outside. If you notice that is chewing something, act immediately and get it out of its mouth. You should keep away your pet not only from natural poisons but also from man-made ones.
For example different garden fertilizers or weed killers are also dangerous, especially granular fertilizers( the area treated with spray fertilizer is safe after 24h, both for animals and humans).
Watch out for holes
Because as we mentioned they like to investigate so they will want to crawl in and potentially get injured.
Be aware when it comes to other people that want to pet your furball.
If you run into some of your friends or even people you do not know but they would like to cuddle your pet, do not let them do that. Ferrets may feel insecure and they might nip someone or even bite.
Parasites can be a big problem.
Ferrets like to explore other animal’s poop. While doing that they can easily catch some parasite. Other hazards are mosquito, ticks, fleas…. Watch out for long grass, ticks can be hidden there, waiting for your furry pal. You can consult your vet about prevention and what you can do but ‘accidents’ always can happen.
What about baby ferrets, should they go for a walk?
As mentioned earlier, you should start with leash and harness training when you furry baby is about 10 weeks old. After you have done a proper leash and harness training and you took care of all necessary shots for your baby ferret you can go out for a short walk within your home area.
What do you need to do once you return home with your ferret?
First of all take leash and harness off your ferret. If necessary wash this basic walking equipment. Give your ferret some food, even better some treat or its favorite food and examine him/her detailed.
Use flea comb and tick remover to check its fur and to remove fleas, ticks… check your pet’s feet, maybe he/she has some broken toenail or pebbles which needs to be removed or some sore spot that needs to be treated. At the end use the damp cloth to wipe down your ferret’s fur.
Ferrets are usually very tired after walk so let your furry pal get some rest.