Many people choose to Free Roam their ferrets, which means letting them roam the house instead of keeping them in a cage. This requires careful ferret proofing of the house, as well as requiring that everyone in the house should be aware of how to behave around the ferrets and to watch VERY carefully when opening doors to outside in case of an escape-attempt. Even if you free roam, it is advised that you always have a cage you can lock your ferret in if you need to for health, monitoring, or safety reasons.
Be aware that anywhere a ferret can access is free game. Ferrets have used drawers as a ladder to climb onto kitchen countertops, chairs to climb onto tables, and my little wild child wedged herself between a dresser and the wall to “wall walk” to the top. Some ferrets are so smart that they’ll push other items over to a forbidden place to use them as a step stool. Our own Heather Downie had two albino boys, the B&E Twins, who learned how to open the fridge and were caught dragging a whole turkey down the hallway!
When free roaming, barriers are your best friend. Check out our barriers page for some ideas on how to keep your ferrets contained.
Some people have a set room that is set up for their ferrets to live in, rather than a cage. This allows a lot of space, while still keeping the ferrets out of potentially dangerous areas of the house. Again, it is advised that you always have a cage you can lock your ferret in if you need to for health, monitoring, or safety reasons.
Outdoor enclosures are a fantastic option if you live in a climate that has safe temperatures. Ferrets adapt very well to living outdoors and are commonly kept outside in Europe and Australia. Some people keep their ferrets outside all of the time, and others have outdoor play areas that the ferrets have access to only some of the time.
Outdoor enclosures MUST have ways for your ferrets to get out of the weather and direct sun. Ferrets adapt to cold very well, but should have insulated, dry sleeping spaces available. Unfortunately, ferrets to NOT deal with heat very well and even a cool, insulated sleep space may not be enough if you live somewhere that gets temps above 80 F. See Helping Ferrets Deal with Heat and Nest Box.
Additionally, you must ensure that any outdoor enclosure is not accessible to local/wild animals in your area, and that the ferrets are not able to dig out underneath the enclosure – remember, they are burrowers in the wild! It is also wise to have a secure lock on your enclosure as pet theft is not unheard of.
Hutches are more common in Europe than the U.S. As with larger outdor enclosures, it is vital that you be aware of cage placement (do not place in direct sunlight with no access to shade), and temperatures. If the hutch has a section with an open bottom, you must take steps to prevent tunnelling.