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Ferret FAQ [3/5] - Training and Behavior
Section - (8.1) What games do ferrets like to play?

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [3/5] - Training and Behavior
Previous Document: (7.5) Any advice on baths, ears, and nail-clipping?
Next Document: (8.2) Can I teach my ferret tricks? How?
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Most ferrets enjoy mock combat, chase, tug-o'-war, hide-and-seek, and
so forth, with each other or with you.  Ours love to bounce around on
our fluffy comforter, swat at us from behind the bookcases, and attack
each other through the throw rugs.  They like to explore new things
and places, sniff new smells, dig and roll in the dirt.  Most of them
love human interaction and will gladly include you in their play if
you make the time for them.  It may take you a little while to learn
what each ferret's favorite games are, but soon you'll be one of their
best playmates.  Ferrets also love to swipe things and drag them into
the most inaccessible location possible.  Protect your keys and
wallet.

If your ferret jumps back and forth in front of you or tugs on your
pants leg, he wants to play.  An appropriate response would be to get
down on your hands and knees and chase him around, or to dangle a
washcloth in front of him and start a tugging game, for instance.  If
he dances around, chuckling and dooking and bouncing off the walls,
he's having fun.

Here are a few more specific game suggestions, from the fertile
imagination of "Mo' Bob" Church.  Note that many of these games need
you to supervise (or join in!), to make sure the ferrets don't get
hurt or stuck or swallow anything they shouldn't.

   Bowl Me Over Game: Buy one of those $2 plastic bouncing balls
     (like at K-mart) and cut a couple of ferret-sized holes in
     it. [Use more than one hole, so there's no chance the ball could
     roll onto its hole and trap a ferret inside to suffocate.]  Fill
     the ball with plastic bags or gift-wrapping cellophane, and watch
     the fun. Watch for chewing the materials, otherwise quite safe.

   Suction-cup Chase: Use two large suction cups (about $1 each), and
     stick one to each side of a room.  Thread a washer or ring on a
     string, then tie the string from one suction cup to the other.
     Tie a string to the washer and the other end to a toy or
     waffle-type practice golf ball.  They will go nuts trying to get
     the ball in a hidey-hole.

   Maze: Use a large cardboard box.  Fold scrap cardboard into
     triangular shapes, tape, and fill the box with as many as
     possible.  Put one treat in each triangular tube.  Cut several
     holes in the side, and allow the ferts access.  Hours-0-fun!

   Slip Sliding Away: Cut a 1 ft wide by 3-4 ft long piece of Masonite
     ($5), and prop it smooth-side up on a bench or sofa.  Place a
     drop of Ferretone [6.2] in the middle.  A drop of ice cream is also
     good.

   Smokey the Bear: This is Bear's favorite game.  Fill a file-
     storage box about 1/3 with sand mixed with potting soil about 4
     to 1.  Pour in 1/4 bottle of liquid smoke, and mix well.  They
     might be dirty afterwards, but they actually smile!  I have
     watched Bear roll in the dirt for hours, snorting and snorkeling,
     and anything else you can imagine.  It's one of the few things he
     will run across the floor for.  I place it in the kitchen for
     ease of cleanup later.  Keeps them from digging in the litter
     box.

   The Weasel Wonder Tube: Cut a piece of 2inch PVC pipe ($2) about 8
     inches long.  Place into the hole treats so they have to figure
     out how to get the treat out.  Make sure the ferret's heads don't
     get stuck.

   Carpet Fishing: Use a ice-fishing pole with 20 lb test line.  Tie
     3-4 red/white bobbers and cast across the room.  Reel the babies
     in at about the speed a mouse would run if it was stupid enough
     to be in the room at the time.  If you don't have the pole, use
     the string only; the pole makes it much easier, but is not
     necessary.

   Crinkle: Fold an old sheet in half and lay slightly crinkled
     newspaper or cellophane in the middle.  Makes cool sounds.  Mine
     love to wardance on the pile.

   Chase the old man: I chase them on my hands and knees, then let them
     chase me back.  You will tire before they do.  Watch for
     carpet-mines [those things which should have gone into the litter
     box...].

   Snake!: Old pant legs are cut from the old pants and just thrown on
     the floor.  They will know what to do.  Sometimes I stick one end
     of a dryer tube into the pant leg.

   Box-O-Balls: I fill a cardboard box about 1/3 up with plastic whiffle
     balls (golf-size) or crumpled paper balls.

   Fingers: Cut mucho finger-sized holes in a cardboard sheet.  Dip
     your fingers in Ferretone or liquid smoke.  Stick you finger
     through the hole, and as they try to sniff, move it to another
     hole.  Stay fast or risk nips.  All of mine love this game.

   Webmaster: Take your hanging plant off the hook, and hang a basket so
     it is about 2 feet from the floor.  Staple cheesecloth or other
     open weave fabric to the edges of the basket so the free end
     drags on the floor.  Watching them climb up and swing back and
     forth is a hoot.  [A basket hanging a bit lower down, without the
     fabric, can also be great fun.]

   Submarine: Fill the bathtub with 3 or 4 inches of water.  Float a
     dozen or so ping-pong balls; each lightly wiped with Ferretone [6.2].
     (Those tiny plastic footballs work well also.)  I put a homemade
     pine and Masonite ladder over the tub so the beasts can easily
     climb in and out.

   Pickle Race: Dampen crushed chow, mix in a little peanut butter
     (or some other treat), and mold tiny pickles about 1 inch long.
     After oven drying, I spray on some Ferretone for that wonderful
     odor.  I call the beasties, let them sniff the "pickles" until
     they are frothing at the mouth, then toss the treats one at a
     time across the room At first they will wonder where it
     evaporated to, but time and odor will teach them to do what my
     fuzzballs do--run, en masse, after the pickle.  Clue: Always use
     the same sound to call them, and as soon as they get across the
     floor, use the sound and all but the one with the pickle will
     return.  Throw another pickle.  I do this until everyone has a
     pickle; usually Bear gets the first one, and then crawls all over
     me until I throw him a second one.

   Turtle: I cut up cardboard boxes and assemble new boxes that are
     about 6in by 8 in, no tops, and a U-shaped cut-out at one end.  I
     put one over each fuzzy, and they run around like turtles.

   Sliders: Buy a 5 ft section of while PVC pipe, 4-5 inches in
     diameter ($2-3). Prop one end up on the sofa, and watch them
     slide down the tube.

   Freak-Out: Fill a paper bag with all the crumpled paper balls it
     will hold, and then dump them on a playful ferret.

Melissa Litwicki adds these suggestions:

   The towel game: Ferrets love towels.  Take one corner of a towel,
     sit on the floor, and swirl it around and over your ferret - they
     usually go nuts.  This can be low-impact or raucous tumbling fun
     for ferrets of all sensibilities.  [Try dragging the towel around
     on the floor, too, and letting your ferrets take rides on it.]

   Dryer hose under a bean bag: one of our all-time favorites. Better
     than just dryer hose - stretch the hose out so both ends are
     sticking out either side of the bag.  Keeps up to five ferrets
     busy at once!  They go over, under, to either side of the hose
     under the bag, around, and through.  Killer amusement to watch,
     too.  :)

   The ping-pong ball: take strong thread and fasten a ping-pong ball
     to the end.  Tie the thread to the ceiling, leaving the ball
     about two inches above the floor.  For most amusing results, if
     you can spare the room, hang it in a doorway - it bounces off the
     door to hilarious effect.

   The ping-pong ball in a stewpot: Fill pot halfway with water, drop
     the ball in.  Hint: put a towel under the pot.  Ferrets get
     frustrated fast trying to get the ball out, but have fun getting
     wet.  [Various other toys also work well, and ice cubes in a pot
     or shallow dish are very popular, too.]

Other ideas, from various sources:

   Tunneling to Alaska: Fill the bathtub or a big bowl or pot full
     of snow, put it somewhere that can get wet, and let your ferrets
     dig in it.  Warmer than standing outside watching them tunnel in
     the drifts there.  Try burying a few toys or raisins as you fill
     the bowl.

   Making the bed: Put the ferrets on the bed and watch them dance
     and tunnel as you shake out the sheets, toss on a few blankets,
     and fluff the pillows.  A good game for busy mornings.

   Unpacking game: Whenever coming back from a trip, put your
     luggage on the bed and the fuzzies next it it as you unpack.
     They monsters will be of great assistance in helping open up all
     the zippers, pockets, etc.  and dragging out the neat stuff.

   Hidden in the Pillow: Pick up fuzzie and stick him/her in the
     bottom of your pillowcase and watch them explore, turn the pillow
     over or around in circles periodically to confuse them.

   Bag O' Ferrets: Put several ferrets in a large bag: a trash
     bag, canvas tote bag, duffel bag, whatever.  Play peek-a-boo,
     opening and closing the top.  Rattle the plastic, gently poke the
     outsides, drag the bag around on the floor... just watch out for
     nips through the bag from overexcited woozles.

   Semi-truck: With ferret's back on carpet, drive him around like
     a toy truck, making truck noises if you are not too proud.  Note:
     some ferrets love this, some don't like it a bit.  On hardwood
     floors, you can slide ferrets on their backs, or spin them around
     with a finger on the chest.  Some like this more than others.

   Knit a Sweater: Take a ball of yarn.  Keeping one end near you,
     toss it toward a group of ferrets.  Many of them will have a
     great time rolling in it and trying to unwind it all.  When
     finished, simply roll it back up; don't worry about the knots.

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [3/5] - Training and Behavior
Previous Document: (7.5) Any advice on baths, ears, and nail-clipping?
Next Document: (8.2) Can I teach my ferret tricks? How?

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM