Ferrets will always have an odor about them, just like you always have an odor about you and your dog always smells of dog. You can’t do anything about that. You can, however, minimize the odor. Here’s a list of what you can do to minimize your ferret’s odor, in order of importance.
Clean the litter box daily.
Keep the litter box clean. Clean the litter box at least once a day, and if you have more than a couple of ferrets, you might need to clean the litter box more than once a day. A critter’s output smells much more than the actual critter.
Feed your ferret stuff that smells okay.
You are what you eat. I like garlic. Whenever I eat my scalloped potato and garlic dish, I perspire garlic the next day. My body odor changes significantly.
Ferrets also are what they eat. Look at the ingredients in your ferret’s kibble. What do the individual ingredients smell like? I don’t buy my ferrets food that contains fish, because I think fish is the stinkiest of all meats. My ferrets get food made with chicken, turkey, deer, and duck. (They like Totally Ferret.)
Remember to switch slowly if you decide to change food on your pet. Some fuzzies get used to a particular food. Some fuzzies have allergies. I have one young lady that can’t eat chicken without suffering GI woes.
Clean the cage weekly.
Wash all the plastic trays in your ferret cage once a week. I use a vinegar and water solution. Several times a year completely take the cage apart and scrub it. I have a Ferret Nation cage and I wheel it outside, hose it down, spray it with soap, and let it soak. After hosing the soap off, I do a visual inspection for anything that is missed. Sometimes I need to get a scraper and scrape.
Change the bedding weekly.
You have pores all over your skin and you sweat. This gives you a fine, human odor. Ferrets have scent glands all over them and this gives them a fine musky, ferret odor. The scent glands release oil. The oil builds up in their bedding.
So, change their beds once a week. I like to keep at least two sets of bedding so I can have some in the wash while the ferrets use the rest in their cage.
Consider the scent glands.
Most ferrets are descented before they reach the pet store.
What this means is that their anal scent glands are removed. You know how your cat or dog sometimes drags his or her bottom across the floor? The cat or dog is trying to express their anal glands. Most critters express these glands naturally when they do their business, and unless your critter has a problem, you’re best of just leaving well enough alone.
Ferrets also have these anal scent glands, when they’re born. If your ferret still has its scent glands, you can consider removing them. Do a lot of research and talk with a vet or two before you do this. While this surgery is regularly done in the US, in the UK it’s considered cruel and vets only do it when medically necessary.
I live in the US, and every ferret I’ve ever rescued or come across has already been descented. I have been told, however, that while ferrets with their scent glands intact have an overall stronger odor, they « poof » rarely and the « poof » smell dissipates quickly (as opposed to a skunk where you bathe your dog in tomato sauce for days).
Don’t over bathe your ferret.
The bath schedule is important. That is, it is important to not bathe your ferret very often. It might seem counter intuitive, but if you over bathe your ferret, it will stink more. Do not bathe your ferret more than once a month. Less is better.
Bathing removes the ferret’s oil that the body scent glands generated, and the little guy’s body works to fix that problem. If you bathe your ferret too much, your little friend’s body will go into overdrive and product bunch of oil.
Don’t bathe your ferret more than once a month. My ferrets, usually, only get three baths a year, and those baths are generally because they are covered in mud. If your ferret gets extra dirty, messes himself, or the like, rinse your ferret off only in the affected area, or gently wipe him with a baby wipe or damp cloth.
Products are an option.
I don’t think extra products are necessary, but if you really need to reduce your ferret’s odor more, there are a couple of products that can help. A couple products, designed to reduce body odor, are a clear liquid that you put in the ferret’s water. I’ve tried them on my ferrets. They actually do work. I don’t notice it, however, until I take the product away. (It’s kind of like watching a puppy grow. You don’t notice the growth from day to day, but all of a sudden, your pup’s a dog.)
I don’t use that product anymore. I don’t think it’s necessary, and I can’t seem to find an ingredient list. That makes me nervous.
Perfumes are another method, but instead of reducing the odor inside the animal, they cover up the odor by making another odor stronger.
My sister hates the musky ferret odor, so when she comes to visit, I make my weasels stink like baby powder or cucumbers. My ferrets don’t like it and I don’t like it, but it appeases my sister. We don’t do this very often, however.
1. Clean the litter box daily.
2. Change their bedding weekly.
3. Clean the cage weekly.
4. Feed your babies non-stinky food.
5. Don’t over bathe them.