How to house your ferrets

Ferrets are extremely inquisitive and have short bursts of energy in which they love to run, climb and explore their environment. They also sleep for an average of 16-20 hours a day. By creating a suitable home that is cosy and comfortable you can make sure your ferrets are happy, stimulated and fulfilled.

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Creating the right environment for your ferrets

The ideal ferret enclosure is a converted garden shed with an aviary attached or a large wooden walk-in dog kennel and run. The area will need to be well built with welded mesh and a solid floor. This can be either concrete or wood with a carpet or vinyl covering.

Make sure your enclosure has a double-door system, stable door or a 2 feet high barrier in front of the door. This will prevent sneaky ferrets rushing out and escaping when you open the door.

An outdoor enclosure like this offers your ferrets access to lots of space and activities 24/7, which suits their random pattern of sleeping and being awake. It also maintains a natural temperature year-round – this is important as ferrets can be very sensitive to extreme heat and cold.

Whether you’re planning to buy an enclosure or build your own, carry out regular inspections on your ferrets’ accommodation to check for damage from poor weather conditions.

What size should an outdoor ferret enclosure be?

The ideal outdoor enclosure size for a pair of ferrets is 2.4 metres long by 2 metres wide by 2 metres high (8 ft long by 6 ft wide by 6 ft high).

Building your own: what you need to know

If you’re considering building your own ferret accommodation, it’s vital you use the right materials. Remember, this housing needs to last up to 10 years. It needs to be strong and secure to protect your ferrets from unnecessary accidents and escape attempts. Here are a few things to bear in mind before you start building:

  • Chicken wire is not suitable for animal housing. It is too weak and easy for your ferrets to damage and escape from
  • Use small gauge, strong welded mesh. The mesh should be nailed or heavy-duty stapled on to prevent the ferrets from forcing the mesh from the framework
  • Sheds and runs will need secure bolts placed on the doors, not swivel latches. Predators and young children can easily open swivel latches or flimsy bolts
  • Run lids will need to be strong enough to withhold a predator or windblown items landing on them. Ideally, make the roof in three sections with a supporting beam to aid the strength and prevent dipping in the middle
  • Cable ties are not suitable for tying run panels together. The housing must be secured with suitable wood screws
  • Plastic children’s play houses are not suitable for ferret housing
  • Tunnels or pop holes fitted between the shed and run will need to be secure and durable. Poorly made tunnels can lead to escaped ferrets!
  • Consider a waterproof roof with corrugated plastic so your ferrets' area remains dry.

Can I keep ferrets indoors?

Ferrets can enjoy living indoors with their family. They need either a permanent, secure room that they live in or daily, supervised free-range time out of their cage. It’s very important that your ferrets have plenty of time out of the cage to avoid health issues such as obesity or joint mobility problems.

Housing ferrets indoors isn’t for everyone. Once they have been neutered, their odour reduces. However, you and your visitors will still notice it. You will also need to make sure the cage is kept in a ferret-friendly room that is free from risks such as electric cables and plug sockets, gaps out of windows or into walls, and aerosols or plug-in diffusers.

How much space do indoor ferrets need?

Choose an extra-large explorer cage for a maximum of two ferrets, and give them access to a ferret-safe room for daily free-range exercise.