Imagine you’re a ferret during the holiday season, what would your favorite toy be? Without a doubt, the Christmas Tree! This big, smelly green thing is suddenly in the middle of your play space, it’s covered with fun dangly things to pull off, glittery tinsel, and bright, twinkling lights. It’s calling out to you to climb in it, to explore…is there anything more fabulous in the whole room?
This is what you can expect when you put up your tree – the tree, everything on it, and everything underneath is going to be completely irresistible to your ferrets! There are some basic things you can do to prevent mishaps:
- Get a small tree, and put it on a table the ferrets can’t climb up on
- Put the tree in a room where the ferrets don’t go
- Put a ferret playpen up around the tree
But if you want a live tree on the floor, complete with ornaments, light and all the holiday trimmings, there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do.
DON’T let ferrets drink the tree water! The tree preservative water additives can be fatal to them! Even plain water isn’t good, as not only is it a place for bacteria and germs to flourish, but it also contains the tannic acid that is leaching from the tree, and that can cause anemia and heart problems in ferrets.
DO put a screen cover over the water or over the dirt if it is a potted tree. This will give you access to it to water the tree, but will keep inquisitive little fuzzies who want to go snorkeling or tunneling out!
DON’T use flocking, tinsel, garland, or blinking lights. The flocking is toxic if eaten, and the gas it uses is bad for ferrets’ sensitive lungs. Tinsel and garland are very tempting for ferrets to snack on, which can cause blockages. Blinking or flashing lights can drive some ferrets crazy, so stick to the plain lights.
DO vacuum around the tree frequently. The dried up needles lying around the tree can hurt a ferret’s nose, eyes, paws or skin because they will pierce through rather than bend like fresh needles will.
DON’T put lights or dangerous ornaments within your ferrets’ reach. If you’re going to put lights on the tree, don’t put them near the bottom where the ferrets could get at the bulbs or use the wires to climb. If lights are near the bottom, make sure the ferrets are always supervised around the tree. Any ornaments near the floor should be hard plastic or metal – no edible, breakable or chewable decorations. This means no candy canes, and no popcorn & cranberry garland. If your ferrets can reach it, they will probably steal it, and edible ornaments and garland can lead to blockages.
DO make sure the tree is securely weighted. If the tree falls over with the ferret in or on it, the ferret could be injured. They don’t have the ability to land on their feet like cats do. You can stabilize the tree by weighing down the stand with cinder blocks so the ferrets can’t unbalance it. You can also attach the tree stand to a piece of wood and weigh down the piece of wood. This method works very well, and is equally effective for households that also have dogs.
DON’T use wire hooks to hang ornaments. Your ferrets will probably get up into the tree at some point, and wire hooks can damage their mouths and eyes. Use yarn instead of wire hooks.
DO spray the cords for the lights with a bite deterrent spray like Fooey or Bitter Apple. Many ferrets won’t even bother with the cords, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the possibility of electric shocks!
DON’T put any decorations beneath the tree that you don’t want broken or stolen. The ferrets will consider everything under the tree fair game, so if you have nativity scenes, model train sets, or model villages that are of any value, put them on a table or countertop where the ferrets can’t reach. If you have a tree skirt, fasten it down with safety pins or Velcro, and even then expect them to view it as a fun tunneling toy!
DO put gifts up on a table or don’t put them out until Christmas Eve or morning when the ferrets are safely in their cages or under strict supervision. This isn’t just because they’ll unwrap presents and make a mess – ferrets can actually ingest pieces of the bows and paper, which can cause blockages.
Of course this list can’t possibly cover all the scenarios – every ferret household is different! But keeping your ferrets safe during the holiday season is generally a matter of common sense. If you think they can do something, they probably can, so plan accordingly! Just exercise some caution, and you and your fuzzies will have a very happy holiday season!
Dooks to all, and to all a good night!