Nails should be trimmed every 10-14 days. This is very important. If their nails grow too long, they can’t walk properly. More important, the nails can catch on hammocks, carpet, throw rugs or anything else.
I had a ferret come in once that was nearly starved to death. She had food, but her nail was caught in her hammock and she couldn’t get to the food. Attached is a picture of a ferret’s toe. The nails got too long and the toenail got caught in something. The ferret pulled the toenail out trying to get free.
Use a scissor type nail trimmer. Get something liquid (Ferretone, salmon oil, coconut oil) or a paste (Nutrical, FerretVite, etc.) that you know the ferret likes. This way of cutting nails only works if the ferret actually likes what you’re offering to it. Put a towel on your lap, then put the ferret on your lap with the belly up. Put a little Ferretone or whatever you’re using on the belly. Show the ferret the Ferretone and it will begin lapping it up. Sometimes you have to show the ferret the Ferretone several times to make it understand.
As it laps up the Ferretone or paste, you trim the nails. If the ferret finishes the Ferretone and gets antsy, put a little more on the belly. When my ferrets hear me trimming the nails of another ferret, they all come running in for their turn so they can get the Ferretone on the belly.
If your ferret doesn’t like anything you can put on the belly, you need to scruff the ferret to trim the nails. Use your hand and clench the fur at the back of the neck, like a mother cat does with a kitten. This causes a sort of temporary paralysis of the ferret so you can trim the nails. Be sure the back legs are resting on your lap and not dangling, so the ferret isn’t as scared.
Always start with the back feet. It is harder to do the back feet and the ferret is calmer at the beginning. You can see the red blood line in the toe nail. The nerve grows out past that about 1/8”, so trim at least 1/4″ past the blood line.
Be sure to have on hand paper towels and something to stop bleeding just in case of an accident. It will eventually happen and happens to us all. If you ready it for it, it’s less traumatic for you and the ferret. You can use blood stop type powders. In a pinch, you can use corn starch or flour or stick the cut toenail into a bar of soap. I also keep spray bandage on hand to spray on cut toenails.
EARSFerrets ears should be cleaned every couple of months, more often if you notice they are dirty. As ferrets play, they get dirt in their ears. The rescue sells ear wash.
When cleaning the ears, if you notice a lot of dirt, redness or swelling, the ferret probably has ear mites and could have an ear infection. If there is redness or swelling, it should be seen by a vet.
You will need: mineral oil, cotton balls or pads, ear wash
Do NOT use a cotton swab / Q-tip. You can actually push wax or debris into the ferret’s ear, which can cause problems.
- Dip a cotton ball or cotton pad in a small amount of mineral oil.
- Scruff the ferret (hold the ferret by the back of the neck like a mother cat does with a kitten).
- Wipe the inside of the ferret’s ear with the cotton ball or pad.
- Wipe out any wax you can easily see.
- Put some water in a small bowl and heat it in the microwave until hot. Pour the water out. Put a small amount (like a teaspoon) of ear wash in the warm bowl. This warms the ear wash, so it’s not cold going into the ferret’s ear. Cold liquid going in the ferret’s ears is irritating and will cause it to jump.
- Use a syringe or eye dropper and put four or five drops of the warm ear wash into one ear. Rub it into the ear for about ten seconds. Let the ferret go. The ferret will shake out any loose ear wax. It will also rub its head into the ground, which will help clean it out. Be sure there are towels or something on the floor for the ferret to rub its ear into.
- Once the ferret is no longer rubbing its head into the ground or shaking its head, then do the same thing for the other ear. It’s a good idea to offer some Ferretone or something the ferret likes after cleaning each ear. This helps make it less of a bad thing for the ferret.