HOME-MADE FERRET TOYS
© Erika Matulich, Ph.D.
Overall, ferrets will play with anything that is new and different, makes fun noises, can be crawled into, moves, or is fun to chew on. Ferrets will find all sorts of things in your household to play with that you did not expect, because ferrets can have lots of fun with just about anything. The key to any ferret toy is to (1) have a lot of them so ferrets have a variety of different things to play with that you can "rotate" through, and (2) make sure they are safe (canít be ingested or somehow trap the ferret).
BALLS: tennis balls, ping-pong balls, golf balls, and whiffle balls are all fun to roll around. Ping-pong balls in particular get a lot of action because of their light weight and rapid movement. They also canít be picked up! Avoid rubber or latex balls. At Easter time, plastic eggs can make great ferret toys. Try putting treats into the eggs, too!
TUNNELS: ferrets love to crawl through all sorts of tunnels. These can be made from large cardboard tubes, long mailing boxes, dryer hose, sewer/drainage pipe, irrigation tubing, legs cut from old pants/jeans, or shoeboxes taped together (with holes cut to travel through). My ferretsí favorite is 20-foot lengths of clear dryer hose which can be purchased at some hardware stores. Be sure to tape up the exposed wire on each end of the tube. Avoid paper towel and toilet paper tubes that can trap a ferret head and suffocate them.
DIGGING BOXES: Many ferrets love to dig, but it can sure make a mess! Purchase a large plastic box with a lid, and cut a hole in the middle of the lid for ferret entry/exit. The rest of the lid will help keep the contents in. You can also attach dryer hose to the hole for even better protection. Fill the box 3/4 way with sand, rice, dried beans/peas, or even shredded newspaper. Avoid minute or precooked rice, which can cause problems if ingested. Some people use styrofoam peanuts, but only let your ferrets play with these under supervision and make sure no styrofoam is eaten. A larger option is a plastic wading pool filled with sand or dirt.
NOISY TOYS: Try filling an empty plastic soda pop bottle with pebbles, jingle-bells, beans, macaroni, or marbles and let the ferrets roll these around on the floor. Empty film canisters can make great rattles, and bells tied in the toe of an old sock makes a great toy. Plastic baby rattles and some rattling baby toys are also fun for ferrets. Crinkly plastic grocery sacks are fun, but supervise your ferrets or cut the corners from the bags so there is no danger of suffocation.
THINGS TO TIP OVER: plastic cups, wastepaper baskets, paper grocery bags, boxes or any container for a ferret to explore is fair game. Make the game even more fun by putting something in the container, such as a treat in one of many paper cups, or wadded up newspaper in a wastepaper basket.
CHASING CHALLENGES: Try tying any ferret toy to a sturdy piece of elastic, and tie the other end of the elastic to a doorknob or heavy piece of furniture. When the ferret tries to steal the toy, it gets harder and harder until the toy returns back to its place! You can also take an old childís fishing rod and tie ferret toys to the end of the line. Cast, and then reel in the ferrets!
EXPLORATION: With some duct tape, cardboard boxes, and imagination, you can create a ferret castle. Cut lots of tunnel holes in old boxes and start taping them together! Adding cardboard tubes can make things even more fun. When the toy becomes boring or starts to wear out, just throw it away and start again!