The ferrets nails must be trimmed every week or every second week. The nails on the hindfeet grow more slowly than those on the front, so you might only have to trim them every other time. A small pair of scissors for animals can be found at most petstores. Cut the nail parallel to where the ground is when the ferret is standing. Cut a few millimeters longer than the pink line inside the nail, if you cut too close it will hurt and bleed.
When you cut the nails there are several ways to do it. One of the best is probably to do it while the ferret is sleeping deeply. You can also bribe the ferret with some Ferretone that you spread on its stomach while the ferret is laying on its back in your lap. He will be busy licking off the good stuff and you can cut uninterrupted. If you are two people, one can hold the ferret while the other is cutting, but I prefer one of the first two ways. You can try which suits you and your ferret.
The ferrets ears must be cleaned once or twice a month. Ferrets can get very dirty ears and they can also get earmites which can irritate and itch. The wax should be brown, if it's black or has spots of blood in it, he probably has earmites or an infection. Ask a veterinarian for a treatment in both cases.
Use an earcleaning solution for ferrets or possibly for cats, drop in a few drops and rub gently into the ear. The ferret will then be able to shake out most of the wax, any excess you can gently wipe away with a piece of cotton or maybe tops. Many ferret hate it when their ears are poked, so you might have to hold on. Instead of earcleaners you can use baby-oil on tops. Water should not be used since wet ears easily gets infected. One tip is to warm the solution a little before use (keep in a pocket or place the bottle in some slightly warm water), nobody likes to get cold liquid in their ears!
Some people clean their ferrets' teeth once in a while. They use either a small toothbrush for pets and a little baking soda on a piece of gauze. Whether you do this or not it is wise to ask your vet to clean the ferrets teeth every other year, They can get tartar and caries just like us humans.
You can bathe your ferret, but it should not be done more than every second week, preferably less often. Ferrets can easily get dry skin, and many baths increase that risk. You can use a ferret shampoo or a mild babyshampo. Some ferrets absolutely love a bath, most will tolerate it (but will probably look at you pityingly, telling you how cruel you are), a few absolutely hate it. Amazingly enough, these same ferrets who go crazy trying to get out of the sink may want to jump in the tub or shower with you. You may want to try and see what works best for you and your ferret. Use warm water, ferrets have slightly higher body temperature than humans and what you think is luke-warm is probably cold to your ferret.
Have plenty of towels handy. Rub the fur reasonably dry then put your ferret on the floor. Give him a dry towel, and he will finish the job. You should be aware that a wet ferret will use not only the towel but almost everything else to dry itself (the floor, the litterbox, you), often getting very excited in the process. Make sure there are no open windows and plenty of soft cloth for him to tunnel into when he gets tired after a bath. Wet ferrets can easily catch a cold.
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Author Camilla Englund. Last updated March 2000.