If you own ferrets or are considering getting a couple, it is of course important to make sure that you are well informed about their needs, care requirements and temperament, in order to ensure that you can provide the appropriate living environment to keep them safe and happy.
You should spend some time learning about ferret health, wellness and average longevity, as well as finding out what you can about things that may pose a risk to the health of your ferrets, such as common household toxins and poisons.
Because ferrets are lively, inquisitive little animals, they are apt to investigate everything around them, which means that you will need to ferret-proof the rooms of your home that your ferrets will be allows into! In order to do this effectively, you should also gen up on some of the most common household compounds and substances that may well be totally harmless to people, but that can pose a risk to your ferret’s health.
Read on to learn more about some common household items that are toxic or poisonous to ferrets.
First of all, chocolate may be a tasty sweet treat for humans, but it is very dangerous if fed to a ferret, or if your ferret manages to get their paws on some and scarf it down! Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which is more concentrated in dark chocolate than milk or white, but that is present in all types of chocolate nonetheless.
Never feed your ferret chocolate, and don’t leave any lying around where your ferret might come across it! Remember that this rule applies not only to bars of chocolate, but also things like cocoa, cocoa mulch (that may be used in your garden) chocolate cake, and drinking chocolate too.
Antifreeze and summer coolant for cars is highly toxic to all animals, and ferrets are no exception. Unfortunately, antifreeze also smells and tastes sweet, and so your ferret might decide to try it if they run into it whilst exploring. Store things like antifreeze well away from your ferret, and any time that you have been using it, ensure that the lid is replaced securely, and that any drips or spills are cleaned up straight away.
Grapes, raisins, currants, sultanas and other related fruits, whether dried or fresh, are also toxic to ferrets, and it does not matter if they are cooked, raw or in any way treated before ingestion.
Remember that as well as the actual products themselves, grapes and dried fruits are often used in a wide range of other things too, such as grape juice and cordial, fruit cake and scones, and various other things. Many children (and adults!) enjoy snacking on small boxes of raisins, and it is very easy to drop the odd one down the back of the sofa or onto the floor where your ferret might find it and eat it, so take special care to avoid this.
It goes without saying that you should never use any form of human medication for ferrets, but also, ensure that you don’t leave them lying around either. Many medications such as pills have a sugar coating to make them easier to swallow, and this, in combination with ferrets’ propensity to chew on things, can lead to medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol posing a real risk to your ferret’s health.
Rodenticide such as rat poison, and other household pest control agents like slug pellets, ant killer and many others are of course designed to be toxic, and added to this, many such products are deliberately sweetened or flavoured to encourage rodents and other pests to eat them.
Poisoning leads to a slow, painful death, so consider the use of such toxins around your home carefully, and always store them securely well out of your ferret’s way.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can be found in sugar free chewing gum, certain types of candy and sweets (particularly those designed for diabetics) and various other foodstuffs too, and while it is safe for humans, the same cannot be said for ferrets.
Check the ingredients of the sweets and other sugar products in your home, and treat products that contain Xylitol with care, keeping them well out of your ferret’s way.
Nicotine can be found not only in tobacco and cigarettes, but also in electronic cigarette vaping liquids, which are often sweetly scented and flavoured. Ingesting nicotine can lead to acute poisoning in your ferret, so ensure that such products are always kept well out of their reach!
Any product that is designed to be caustic such as oven cleaner, products to unblock drains, or harsh cleaning chemicals can be toxic or dangerous to ferrets, if they ingest them or in some cases, simply through coming into contact with them. Caustic products can deliver a nasty chemical burn to the skin, and if ingested, can lead to acute and severe poisoning.
Always take care with cleaning products, and keep them well away from your pet in a cupboard that can be secured and ferret proofed to keep them out!