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Ferret FAQ [3/5] - Training and Behavior
Section - (7.5) Any advice on baths, ears, and nail-clipping?

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [3/5] - Training and Behavior
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
First of all, unless your ferret goes snorkeling in butterscotch
pudding or has a bad case of fleas, you really don't need to bathe her
very often at all.  It doesn't affect the odor much; in fact, many
ferrets smell worse for a few days following a bath.  The best
thing you can do to control your ferret's scent is to change her
bedding every few days and keep the litter pans clean.

The problem with frequent bathing is that it can cause dry skin,
especially in winter.  There's nothing wrong with bathing your ferret
only once a year.  Once a month should be okay, but switch to less
often if you have problems with dry skin.  Most ferrets don't seem to
mind baths much.  Some ferrets enjoy a bath quite a bit, swimming
around in the tub and diving for the drain plug.

The first step in bathing a ferret (well, after catching her) is to
check her nails and trim them if necessary.

Jim Lapeyre describes the recommended procedure like this:

    Thus saith the Wise:
    "When Haz-Abuminal saw that clipping the claws of the domestic
    ferret was grievous, he pondered day and night for a year and a
    day.  After the year and the day had passed, he rose, and, taking
    the ferret in his lap, dropped three drops of Linatone [6.2] upon
    the belly [of the ferret], which, perceiving that its navel had
    Linatone, turned to lick.  Thus distracted, the ferret heeded not
    that the claws were being trimmed, and there was much rejoicing.
    And when the claws were all neatly trimmed, the people were amazed
    and astonished, saying, Who is this who, alone among mankind, has
    tricked a ferret?"

If you have trouble even with this method, and you have a helper, have
the helper hold the ferret by the scruff of the neck and put Ferretone
on one of his fingers.  Scruffing a ferret will generally make her
calm down and possibly even go limp, and if not, the Ferretone should
keep her distracted.

Cut the nail just longer than the pink line inside it.  Place the cut
parallel to where the floor will be when the ferret stands, to prevent
the tip from breaking later.  (A drawing is available at
<http://www.alfaskop.net/~griffon/ferrets/images/kloklipp.gif>.)  Be
careful not to nick the line or the toe, since in either case it'll
bleed a lot and your ferret will decide nail clipping is not a good
thing.  Kwik-Stop or some other styptic powder is good to have around
in case this happens, to stop the bleeding quickly, or you can hold a
piece of tissue or paper towel over the nail and elevate the foot for
a few minutes until it stops.

Next you should check your pet's ears.  They shouldn't need cleaning
more than once a month at most, but if they seem unduly dirty, dampen
a cotton swab with sweet oil (made for cleaning babies' ears) or an
alcohol-based ear cleaner (only if dry skin is not a problem) and
gently clean them.  Peroxide, water, and ointments are not
recommended, because wet ears are much more prone to infections.
Hold the swab along the animal's head rather than poking it into the ear,
to avoid injuring the ear.  Yellowish or brownish-red ear wax is
normal, but if you see any black substance your pet probably has
ear mites, which should be taken care of [10.10].

There are also several excellent products made for cleaning cats'
ears, which you just squirt in and they shake out.  They're just fine
for ferrets, and your vet should be able to tell you about them.

Now fill a tub or kitchen sink partway with warm water.  Many people
have found that ferrets prefer their baths warmer than you'd expect,
probably because their body temperatures are pretty high [12.9].  You
don't want to scald your ferret, but if you can put your hand or foot into
the water and feel comfortable right away, it should be okay.
If you want to let your pet play in the water, fill a tub just deeper
than the ferret is tall, and provide some sort of support (a box in
the tub) in case she gets tired of swimming.  You can also take her
into the shower with you; many ferrets who don't like baths are
perfectly happy being held in a shower.

Finally, bathe the ferret.  Ferret shampoos are available, or no-tears
baby shampoo works fine too.  Some people like Pert for Kids if the
ferret has dry skin.  Wet the ferret completely, either in one half of
a double sink or in a tub.  Lather her from head to tail.  Our ferrets
both start to struggle at this point, so we let them put their hind
legs on the side of the tub while they're being washed.  Rinse the
ferret thoroughly in clear, warm running water.  For dry skin, some
people then dip the ferret in a dilute solution of moisturizer in
water, being careful to keep her head out.

Older, sick, or weak ferrets can be gently cleaned using baby oil,
which can also help get gooey things out of fur.

Drying a wiggly, dripping ferret can be a lot of fun.  Some people put
a couple of towels and the ferrets together in a cardboard box or
small, clean garbage can and let them dry themselves.  I find it's
easiest to keep the ferret in a towel at chest-level, holding her head
and torso in one hand while drying her with the other.  Wearing a
terry bathrobe is helpful here too.  You could also put your ferret on
the floor in a towel and rub her dry, but she'll probably think you're
playing a rowdy game of tousle and try to run away.  Once you've got
her mostly dry, put her somewhere warm with a dry towel to roll in and
she'll finish the job, although it's been mentioned that a damp ferret
seems to lose all sense of judgment, suddenly thinking that walls,
cage floors, milk cartons, and everything except the towel must be
remarkably water-absorbent.  You can also try using a hair dryer on
its coolest setting, but many ferrets won't stand for that.

Immediately after a bath, many ferrets pretty much go nuts, thrashing
and bouncing from side to side and rolling against everything in
sight.  Mainly they're trying to dry themselves, with a good bit of
general excitement from the bath and drying process too.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. *** Things ferrets say and do ***

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [3/5] - Training and Behavior
Previous Document: (7.4) How can I stop my ferret from digging in his food or water?
Next Document: (8.1) What games do ferrets like to play?

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