Enrichment Activities

Ideas adapted from a post from Stephanie Hoffman (Poncesmom)

“Koda” 2011
Photo Credit: Katt

Ferrets in a new place are all about exploring. So, you can do Border Patrol with him. Follow him around and when he looks up at something, lift him up and show it to him. Put him on the sink and let the water run. Open a cabinet or drawer (ferret proof first) and let him look around in it. Pull open your dresser drawer and let him climb into it. Talk to him the whole time.

Then put some blankets on the floor and sit with him. You can tickle him under the blankets or tease him from up top. Pull the blanket and give him a ride. If you remember the parachute games from elementary school, you can play similar games with your ferrets and a bed sheet.

Gather up some boxes and laundry baskets, throw a blanket over them and wiggle them, while he explores them. Take a small bag, an empty purse or canvas bag (even a good plastic bag will work) and when he climbs in it, pick it up and swing it gently. Then put it down and watch him go crazy. If he climbs back in it, then pick it back up.

It usually takes some time for them to decide they will give you snuggles. But you can lay on the couch, mess up the cushions and they will run it and out of them. When he pops his head out, use a teaser toy or a sock and waggle it at him.

I found that new ones in the beginning can play a little rough and bite hard. If he bites hard, he just has to learn that’s not fun for you. Get up and walk away for two minutes. Then come back and try again. That’s what other ferrets would do.

You’re going to have so much fun. Ferret play is hilarious.

Ball Pit!
Photo Credit: Yvonne Eichenberger

Dig boxes are a great enrichment toy. We have a lot of pictures and ideas for those.

And Tunnels, tunnels, tunnels. I bought 4 ten foot sections of black drainage pipe from Ace (any hardware store carries them) and they provide a lot of fun. I just wish that I could fit in them, also.

Try putting a blanket over your lap and see if the girls want to go under it and sit with you.

Another fun thing is to lay on the floor with pillows and blankets all around you. Let them roam under and over you. It’s great for building a bond and they get so excited to see Mom on the floor with them.

Photo Credit: Katt; Ferrets: Juuzou and Zero from Misty Mountain Ferrets

If you consider adding second ferret, it is easier. You don’t have to worry about leaving them alone. They can sleep together. They also can play ferret games, that we would like to play, but just are too big to chase them under a couch or chair. We also never seem to do the wild weasel war dance correctly.

Do they fight? Sometimes they do. Ferrets play rough with each other. An Only Ferret seems to accept a new friend much easier than an already established business. My Roamy is aggressive towards new ferrets. I think he has to protect his business. We have always been able to take some time and get him to accept the newest one.

You’ll find all kinds of ways to play. Even when you don’t want to…housecleaning takes longer, but is more fun. Mops, brooms, and vacuums are all fair game. Scrubbing a tub becomes a wet and wild experience. Dusting involves a lot of interest and sneezing.

Just think of a two year old toddler and you’ll come up with all sorts of entertaining ideas.

Heather Downie (breeder, rescuer, and rehabilitator of bitey ferrets) recommends putting a thawed mouse in a cardboard egg carton. The process of figuring out how to get to the mouse is great enrichment.