Litter Training

One of the things many current and prior ferret owners will tell you is that it’s possible to litter-train ferrets. I’m not sure this is entirely accurate. We’ve had our ferrets for almost two weeks now, and it seems more like you just keep rearranging items in the cage, and modifying the litter box, until the ferrets’ preferred location to poop just happens to be in the litter box.

As any ferret owner knows, ferrets like to poop in corners. While ferrets are predators, they’re also prey, so they back up into a corner where they feel safe.

The main problem is that most ferret cages are rectangular. That means there are corners of every level of the cage, giving the ferrets lots of potential places to poop. This makes me wonder why no one has designed an oval or tear-drop shaped cage yet, to reduce the number of available corners.

So anyway, we put corner-shaped litter boxes in the cage, and all this did was create two additional corners for the ferrets to poop in. The front of the litter box has a fairly good sized lip, over a inch anyway, which means the front lip of the litter box forms another “wall” and creates two additional “corners” with the edge of the cage. So there were constantly piles of poop outside the litter box. I mean, if you’re not a ferret owner this may be hard to imagine, but ferrets are POOP FACTORIES. They poop at least every two hours. It’s a lot of poop.

So eventually my husband and I cut the front lip off both of the litter boxes in the cage. You see, we noticed that when the ferrets were in the play-pen that we set up for them, they immediately used the litter box with no problem. The play-pen is hexagonal, and we had buried the litter box in the bedding so that the front lip was no longer an issue. So we decided to replicate this in the cage too.

We used shears to cut off the front edge, and then a glass nail file to smooth down the rough edges. We poked holes in the litter box in four places so we could secure it to the cage’s bars with zip ties. This prevents the ferrets from burrowing under or behind the litter box, so they can’t push it out of the corner.

It seems to mostly be working so far (at least in Onyx’s case), although Opal sometimes backs her butt into the litter box, and then turns around 180 degrees and poops well outside of it. Or she poops on the entirely other side of the play-pen. Not sure why she randomly decides to do her business elsewhere, but we’ll keep working on it.