Ferrets have extremely short attention spans — much like a two-year-old toddler. It’s not possible to give your ferret a toy and have it entertain them for the entire afternoon. It just won’t happen. Variety is the spice of ferret life, so variety in their toys is always more fun.
However, it won’t be very fun for you if their toys end up breaking your bank. Fortunately for you, you can take either the fancy route or the penny-pincher path. Your ferret will have no idea what you chose.
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Store-Bought Ferret Toys
It’s very easy to just go to the store, purchase a few toys, then throw them to your ferrets and let them go wild. If you’re not particularly creative or don’t want to put in the effort, your ferret will still be very happy with this!
It’s also possible to liven up these store-bought ferret toys and take their enjoyment factor to a whole new level. Let’s explore some of the most common methods for that.
Ferret Tubes & Tunnels
On the shelves of every pet store, you’ll find ferret balls and other structures, each with multiple openings for easy entrances and exists. Your ferret will have a ball investigating all of the ins and outs of those molded plastic toys. After they’re done with their playing, they’ll enjoy camping out in their own ferret tent if they haven’t already crashed out in the ball.
If you want to liven up the tent life, layer the base of it with a plastic bag and a couple of ping-pong balls. Or, dangle a ferret chew stick on a string in front of the tent opening. Your ferret will become entranced and bat and swing at it for ages as they try and grab it.
There are also fabric ferret tunnels. A couple of these allow ferrets to do what comes naturally to them — tunnel in and out with power naps in-between. You can also roll your ferret around in one.
To really liven things up, look for a tube that comes equipped with sound effects. Some tubes are made of a crinkly material, and others have different methods of sound production. This will really up the entertainment value!
A cat wand with feathers or a stuffed animal on the end can entertain a ferret for at least a couple of minutes. In my experience, it usually ends up being a lot longer!
Switching the wand back and forth in front of your ferret will result in them jumping up trying to grab it. You can also whip it to and fro on the floor and have your ferret run after it!
Just note that you shouldn’t let your ferret actually grab it and tear into it for an extended period of time. While your ferret would love this, it would make very short work of the enticing end piece to the wand.
Like toddlers, ferrets are usually very fond of stuffed animals. Either they get a rush out of chasing them around, or they prefer the dash-and-stash technique of grabbing the stuffed animal and hiding him away in their stash spot of choice. The best stuffed animals for this include those that have arms, legs, necks, and hair made from a braided cotton string.
Whether you’re purchasing a stuffed animal or borrowing one from a child’s bedroom, you need to make sure that it’s totally ferret-safe. There can’t be any button noses, any wiggly eyes, bows, pompoms, or easily-edible plastic bits. Simply put, nothing that can be torn off and swallowed!
A Word Of Warning For Store-Bought Toys
Please note that just because a toy in the pet shop is labeled as “for ferrets”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s entirely safe for them to have. As an example, there are quite a few toys on the market that are made of rubber and made for ferrets. Sure, ferrets may go crazy for these, but they can easily chew off chunks of the toy and ingest it.
Don’t take a chance with these toys when there are so many good, high-quality ones out there! You wouldn’t buy a low-quality ferret cage, so why skimp on their toys?
Homemade Ferret Toys
Does your budget not allow for store-bought ferret toys? Not to worry! With just a little bit of imagination and craftiness, you can easily turn everyday items into ferret toys that are sure to be a hit.
Below I’ve listed out some of my absolute favorite DIY ferret toys. Not only are they easy to make, but they’re very durable and will see plenty of use from your ferrets!
- DIY Ferret Tunnel – Rummage through some of your closets and find a pair of old sweatpants or baggy jeans that you never wear. Cut off the legs of the pants and give them to your ferret! They’ll have tons of fun running through those homemade tunnels.
- Cardboard Wagon – Wagon rides are always a thrill for ferrets. It’s very easy to make one from a large shoe box or a similarly-sized cardboard box. Pierce one end of the box and thread a shoelace through the hole. That’s it! Your ferret will sit back and do a little war dance as you drag them around the room. Just be careful with sharp turns to keep them from flying out.
- Holey Box – Here’s another box idea. Take a box that’s about 3 or 4 inches tall and cut half a dozen holes about 2 inches in diameter at random all over the box. Then, place the box on top of your ferret and gently poke and play with your ferret through the holes. Keep your fingers moving — the fun is in not knowing where your hand is going to come from next! Most ferrets love this, but be sure not to play it with a biter. This could encourage bad behavior for them.
- DIY Ferret Balls – Here’s a cheap alternative to the popular ferret balls/structures. Buy a gallon milk jug or very large water jug. Clean it thoroughly, then cut a few holes about 4 inches in diameter and smooth the edges with fine sandpaper. Then just let your ferrets loose to investigate! They’ll likely fight over who gets to sleep in it first.
- Plastic Bags (For Real) – Did you know that every time that you come home from the grocery store, you’re bringing home ferret toys? Plastic shopping bags are a huge hit with most ferrets! To make them safe, cut off the handles so that your ferret can’t get stuck in anything. Throw one or a few bags on the floor and let them have at it!They’ll dive into them, roll around, and dook like crazy. You could even drag them around in the bag on the floor! Note that the occasional ferret is prone to eating plastic. If you have a ferret like this, don’t let them play with plastic bags! Paper bags are a totally suitable alternative.
- Pipe Slide – Slides take entertainment to a new level! In a hardware store, find a smooth PVC pipe that’s around 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Purchase a section that’s about 5 feet long — any shorter and the slide will be too steep. Position the pipe so that one end is leaning against a couch cushion and the other reaches the floor. You may have to put one in head-first so that they know what’s up, but when they catch on it’ll be a crowd favorite.
- Sandbox – Digging in dirt is a ferret’s ultimate idea of fun. With a well-built sandbox, they’ll be able to dig to their heart’s content. Sandboxes come in all different shapes and sizes, but a large dishpan or storage box will do. You could even use a large plastic garbage can if you’re so inclined. Cut a couple 4 inch diameter holes in the sides of the container, about 6 inches from the bottom. Then just fill it with about 3 inches of sand and potting soil. It’s a good idea to plan this one before a bath day!
More On Ferret Tunnels
Any owner will agree that no ferret playground is complete without a tunnel setup. It’s possible to go the store-bought route or the homemade route with this — it’s up to you.
At the pet store, look for ferret-specific flexible vinyl or hard plastic tunnels. Join several lengths together with elbows, Ts, and end caps. The possibilities are only limited by your wallet! These tunnels can be clear or colorful, but they all tend to be see-through to allow you to observe the action inside.
Ferret tested and approved, they’re a great investment because they have long-lasting appeal for both young and old ferrets alike.
For DIYers, the hardware store sells ferret tubes for a fraction of the price, AKA plastic corrugated drainage pipe. Make sure that you go for a 4 inch diameter pipe, as larger ferrets can get stuck in the 3 inch ones.
Draw up a plan; it’s up to you to figure out a layout that best works for your ferret’s room. The pipe can either be left long or it can be cut into shorter sections. If you’re not very handy with a saw, you can have the store cut it for you and smooth down the rough edges with sandpaper.
You could also buy very long sections of the tubing and drape it up and over footstools, wind it around chairs, and lead up up/down stairs. It’s corrugated, so it’s very easy for your ferret to keep their footing.
Ferret tubes are great because you can always start small and add more sections as your budget allows. They can also easily be washed with hot and soapy water to get rid of the familiar ferret scent.