Playpen

While some people allow their ferrets to free-roam in their house, this isn’t something I’m at all comfortable doing. The amount of dust to be found under the furniture is enough to aggravate their highly sensitive respiratory tract, and there are cables and other sensitive items that are dangerous if chewed upon. Even if we invested enormous time and effort into “ferret proofing” the house, there’s really no such thing as ferret proof. Plus, the girls aren’t fully litter trained yet, and I don’t savor the idea of finding poop and pee all over the house. (Or, not finding it, until the smell reeks from several feet away.)

But my husband and I are adamant that the girls should have plenty of mental and physical exercise. We also want the girls to share the spaces we live in. So, we’ve set up a two-space system. The first space is a multi-level, roomy cage in our bedroom. I’ll detail that in a later post. The second space is a child’s play-pen set up in our office. I’ve linked to all the components below, in case anyone is interested. Those marked with a star were actually purchased from Amazon; those without a star were purchased locally, but I linked to similar (or same) products. Now that I look, everything we’ve been buying locally is far less expensive from Amazon ($5-10 on every product).

Our first attempt used shower curtain liners instead of the heavy duty tarp. We used clear packing tape first to tape the seams together, and lined the play pen with that. The tape doesn’t cling well to the shower curtain liners though, and Onyx was quickly able to open up the seams and climb between the plastic and the outer mesh of the play-pen. So then we tried duct tape, but that doesn’t adhere well to the liners either. So I bought the heaviest-duty tarp I could find on Amazon, in a size that gave us plenty of room to go around the whole play pen. Good luck getting through THAT, Onyx!

In case it’s not obvious, we had to line the pen with something. The walls of the pen are mesh, which Onyx can easily climb. (Opal seems totally uninterested in escaping, but could certainly have climbed it too, if so inclined.) Or, if Onyx decided she didn’t want to climb out, she could have also chewed through the mesh. Finally, the tarp helps keep the bedding securely in the play pen.

Generally speaking, when one of us goes to bed, the girls come to the bedroom and go in their cage. We keep odd hours though, so that could be any time of day or night. Then when one of us gets up, or more often, when the girls get feisty at sunrise, one of us (usually me) brings them into the office and puts them in their play pen. Our central air conditioner has also been non-functional for a couple of weeks, and ferrets can overheat very easily. The office has a window unit in it, so it’s the only room we can reliably keep cool during the day. We have a ceiling fan in both the bedroom and the office, and we have two smaller fans pointing right at their cage in the bedroom, to try to keep them cool overnight.

This is why I never even considered keeping the girls outside. A ferret can overheat at 86 degrees, and here in the Tampa area, the daily highs surpass that for more than half the year. It’s been getting up to 89 in the house without AC, so I make a point to move the girls into the office by mid-morning, even if they’re not amped up yet. We will be replacing the house’s AC unit soon, but in the meantime we’re careful to keep the girls cool and comfy.

The water bottle is simply duct-taped to the tarp at an appropriate height. We try to keep the lip of the litter box mostly buried, so the girls don’t have to step over much to do their business. Tubing extends from either side of the ball pit, and wanders around the play pen under the bedding. Though, the girls often burrow under the bedding, and under the tube, pushing the tube above the bedding. I just keep re-burying it. A lot of toys and balls end up in the tube over time, but Onyx usually (eventually) pushes them back into the ball pit. The tube I linked above stretches to 15 feet. We also purchased a ~7 foot tube locally, and we duct-taped the two of them together to make a longer tube.

The girls love burrowing in the bedding, burying toys, racing through the tube, and jumping all over the place. We initially had a second ball pit in the play pen, this one filled with ping pong balls, to give them more ways to burrow. But we eventually decided it was better to give the girls more room to play, so we tried to make the space as large as possible for them. We also tried using a smaller litter box (we have two in the cage that are about half the size), but found the girls prefer the larger litter box here.

And that’s really it. The girls seem to really enjoy their play pen, and they get plenty of attention and petting throughout the day.