The Truth About Ferret Smell

Let me tell you about the ferret smell…a wet dog smells a whole lot worse than a fuzzy on an average day. Fair enough, if you have an extremely sensitive nose, you might not be able to stand the ferret smell. But generally, it’s really not all that bad as some people make it out to be. I know people who love their musky smell.

What You Can Do

Here’s a little breakdown of what you can, and what you shouldn’t do, to diminish your fuzzy from smelling.

Splish, Splash, Stop Giving Your Fuzzy a Bath

Unless your precious little furball rolled around in his litter box or, let’s say horse manure, you really shouldn’t wash him more than once a month. Heck, I don’t even wash my furballs that often. Washing your ferret too often will dry out his skin. As a result, his skin glands will start to work overtime, secreting more of that musky fuzzy smell.

Laundry Day

Replace your ferret’s bedding every 2 to 3 days. If you live alone and have a chronically stuffed nose like me, you can wait a few days longer if the bedding isn’t too dirty ;-) Clean their toys and tunnels on a regular basis as well.

Every Week is Spring Cleaning

Once a week I thoroughly clean the ferret cage, top to bottom. My fuzzbutts rub against the sides and roll all over the cage floor, so their smell is everywhere. And they’re not the cleanest eaters. I’ve even seen Stitch use one of the cage walls as a plate (he picks up a kibble, moves towards the wall and then places the kibble against the wall…not sure why, maybe to get a better bite?). So clean every nook and cranny.

The Ferret Litter Box Fetish

If you want to take on the ferret smell in your house, the litter box is a great place to start. Personally, I scoop it twice a day. My fuzzies seem to prefer a clean litter box, so I willingly oblige (refusal to do so on my part will be punished by consistent out of the box pooping…).

I’ve noticed a big difference in ferret litter (and cat litter) when it comes to preventing any smell. After trying several brands, I’m still a huge fan of Yesterday’s News. It absorbs really well, and it seems to contain the smell really well.

What Goes In, Must Come Out

Closely related to the litter box, ferret food is another point where a little effort will diminish any ferret smell. Don’t feed your fuzzy any food containing fish. Even I can smell that during one of my worst allergy days. I find that a combination of Totally Ferret food and the Yesterday’s News ferret litter works great for me and my nose. And I haven’t had any complaints from visitors either.

What A Vet Can Do

Actually, let me start by saying what a vet shouldn’t do. At least not unless there’s a medical issue.

Don’t Descent

Descenting won’t make a ferret smell less. As a matter of fact, removing anal glands is illegal in quite a few countries. That’s saying something. Fuzzies only release what I like to call ‘stink bombs’ when they’re super excited or super scared. And the smell of those little stink bombs usually disappears within 10 minutes. The typical fuzzy smell comes from the skin, not the anal glands. So there really is no reason to descent a fuzzball. Unfortunately, most ferret farms descent their fuzzies before they are shipped off to the pet stores. So you might not have much of a say in the matter.

Do Spay And Neuter

Spaying and neutering a pet is something I always like to recommend. There are too many homeless pets as it is. But in fuzzies it’s more than simple birth control. First of all, females should always be spayed if they aren’t used for breeding. Otherwise they will become lethally ill.
And neutering males will make it easier to keep the peace if you have more than one fuzzbutt.

But besides keeping your fuzzies healthy (and single), neutering will also diminish the ferret smell more than anything you can do yourself. Especially unaltered males have an extremely strong smell. Before my fuzzies were neutered, I could smell them after opening the front door. Now I have to rub my nose in their fur to smell them.

So Do Ferrets Smell?

Yes they do. And I’m sure they think we humans smell too ;-)
Once spayed or neutered though, the ferret smell is barely noticeable. So it’s really up to you to figure out for yourself whether you can live with the ferret smell or not. Visit a shelter of pet shop with neutered fuzzies. Ask around if you can visit someone’s fuzzy infested home to have a sniff. Just don’t buy a fuzzbutt before you’re absolutely sure you can live with the smell.