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Ferret FAQ [2/5] - Ferret Care
Section - (6.5) Pet stores use wood shavings as bedding. Should I?

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In short, no.  Many pet stores and some breeders use cedar or pine
shavings as bedding/cage lining for their ferrets, but it is not
recommended.  Cedar in particular has been associated with allergies
and respiratory problems in various animals, including, for example,
humans and rabbits, but pine and other woods also produce a fair
amount of dust and such which isn't very good to breathe.  Why take
the chance?

Furthermore, wood shavings are completely unnecessary.  Ferrets are
more like cats than hamsters: they'll be quite happy with a clean
towel or old T-shirt placed in a small "bedroom box" or basket for
sleeping.  Sure, some pet stores and breeders use shavings, but they
don't really have the option of using towels.

Of course, it would be better if pet stores didn't use wood shavings
either.  Corn cob bedding is just as convenient for them and is
dust-free and safe.  If you need some authoritative information to
convince your pet store to stop using wood shavings, here's an article
by Dr. Bruce Williams, DVM:

    (The following short article may be reprinted by anyone desiring
    to disseminate this information in a newsletter or non-commercial
    publication.  This material may not be altered or changed in any
    way.  Under Title 17 of the U.S. Code, Section 105, copyright
    protection is not available for any work of the United States


    For years, cedar shavings have been used as bedding for many
    species of small mammals including ferrets.  Over the last ten
    years, increasing evidence is cropping up that this may not be a
    good choice.

    Cedar shavings, as well as other aromatic soft woods, such as
    white and yellow pines, release volatile hydrocarbons which affect
    those animals living in them.  Plicatic acid, a volatile
    hydrocarbon, results in asthma in humans and rabbits. Other
    hydrocarbons result in changes in the liver, which may impair its
    ability to detoxify certain drugs, including various anesthetic
    agents.  Cedar shavings have also been incriminated in increased
    mortality in rat pups, and various scientists over the years have
    alluded to possible carcinogenicity.  In chicken litter, cedar
    shavings harbored more bacteria than other types of litter.

    On the more practical side, a 1986 article in Lab Animal evaluated
    many of the common bedding materials, also including hardwood
    chips, sawdust, paper chips, newspaper, ground corncob, rabbit
    pellets, straw, and hay (along with several others) for the
    following: absorbency, dust, endogenous effects on the animal,
    cost, use in nesting, and disposability.  In all categories, cedar
    shavings was not recommended.  Interestingly enough, paper
    products and heat-treated softwood chips scored highest overall.

    In my experience, ferrets are happiest in old sweatshirt or
    towels, which rarely cause problems.  Beware, however, the bored
    caged ferret, who may ingest parts of these items for lack of
    other stimulation, and obtain a gastrointestinal foreign body in
    the process.

    1. Weichbrod RH et al.  Selecting bedding material.  Lab Anim.
       Sept 1986, pp.25-29.

    2. Kraft LM.  The manufacture, shipping, receiving, and quality
       control of rodent bedding materials.  Lab Animal Sci.  1980
       pp. 366-372.

    3. Weichbrod RH et. al.  Effects of Cage Beddings on Microsomal
       Oxidative Enzymes in Rat Liver.  Lab Animal Sci.  38(3):
       296-298, 1988.

    4. Hessler, JR.  Design and Management of Animal Facilities.
       In Laboratory Animal Medicine, JG Fox, ed.  Academic Press Inc,
       Orlando.  1984.

    5. Chan H. et al.  A rabbit model of hypersensitivity to plicatic
       acid, the agent responsible for red cedar asthma.  J Allergy Clin
       Immunol 79(5) : 762-767.

== End of Part 2 ==

- Pamela Greene
Ferret Central:
Clan Lord (online game) FAQ:
This sentence would be seven words long if it were six words shorter.

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