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How to control ferret odor?

Do ferrets smell? How can I make them smell better?

by ferretpapa

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Do ferrets smell? Yes, ferrets have a scent and each ferret's scent is different! I've had some that smelled like sweet molasses, others like corn chips, and some very musky like a skunk! I love all of their scents.

Typically when a ferret (or more accurately, a ferret owner's home) smells bad, it's not the ferrets themselves though.

The actual culprits are usually:

  1. Dirty bedding. Bedding traps their scent and amplifies it. We've had people surrender their ferrets to us at the shelter and give us bedding that clearly hasn't been washed in years, and the smell is horrible.
  2. Dirty litter boxes.
  3. Dirty floors. When urine dries on floor cages or room floors (carpet, vinyl, or hardwood - it will either get in the carpet padding or in the cracks between the hard floors), this is possibly the worst smell of all.
  4. Ferrets that are washed too often or with shampoos.
  5. Ferrets that are eating a low quality diet.

So what can you do to combat these smells?

  • First of all, use the right bedding. Paper bedding is for hamsters, not ferrets. They should have cloth beds, hammocks, etc.
  • Wash bedding often. At least every 2-3 weeks. Always use "free & clear" detergents (no scents or colors). Use either vinegar, bleach, or borax to naturally remove the odor from the bedding. I take my ferret bedding to a laundromat because they offer oxidizing with their cold water washes.
  • Change litter daily. Spray the back sides of litter boxes so that poop doesn't build up.
  • Wash their cage floors if they peed on them.
  • Use a high quality air purifier. I have air purifiers in all of my rooms. Also air out your rooms with fresh air when possible (make sure open windows can't be reached by ferrets though, they can easily break through screens).
  • Use oxidizing cleaners when cleaning floors, especially carpets. I highly recommend Purrfect Potion for rugs and carpets. For hard floors I use Nature's Miracle No More Marking spray cleaner.

What NOT to do

  • Do NOT use any air fresheners or scents (especially with essential oils) - these will irritate ferrets and damage their livers.
  • Never use scented detergents or shampoos on your ferrets either.
  • Don't keep bathing your ferret. They are not the source of the bad smell. Washing them too often actually strips them of their natural oils which makes them smell worse! If you're bathing your ferrets more than 3-4 times a year, that's too often.
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