Ferrets can live outside, although you’ll need to ensure your pet is protected from the elements.
Article checked by vet expert Dr Sophie Bell.
Can you keep ferrets outside? | When can ferrets go outside? | Keeping ferrets cool in hot weather | How to keep your ferret warm outside in the winter | What temperature do ferrets like? | Can ferrets be out in the cold? | How long can my ferret play in the snow? | When can baby ferrets go outside? | Outdoor dangers for ferrets | Indoor housing for ferrets
Ferrets can live outside or inside, it’s really up to you. The upside of living outside is that it’s a natural environment, with access to fresh air and daylight. However, you should be aware of these risks:
- Extreme weather conditions: Hot weather, rain, wind and the cold can all cause problems for your ferret. You need to ensure that she’s housed in suitable accommodation that will protect her from the elements.
- Escape or theft: Ferrets love to dig, and can escape out of the smallest of spaces. If the cage wire is bigger than 1 in x 1 in then they can get through it. They can also escape through feed hoppers, if you use them.
According to vet expert Dr. Sophie Bell ferrets can also sometimes suffer with distemper. Although she emphasises this is rare. They can also be vaccinated against it using a dog distemper vaccine.
When can ferrets go outside?
Ferrets can go outside at anytime of year, however you should always be aware of the temperature. If it’s too hot, then it could be dangerous for your ferret. They can suffer with heatstroke even in temperatures that we would consider comfortable.
Ferrets prefer cooler weather, and even enjoy the snow! However, again, if its too cold and snowy, your ferret could get chilled.
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What temperatures do ferrets like?
- Ferrets like temperatures between 15 – 21 degrees Celsius.
- Ferrets thrive best in cooler temperatures, so the cooler UK climate is perfect for them.
- If the temperatures reach 26 degrees Celsius or more, it can be dangerous for your ferret.
- Temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius can be fatal for ferrets.
When monitoring the temperature, you should also factor in humidity levels. In the UK we often suffer with high humidity during the summer – this can make it feel hotter than it is.
The moisture in the air reduces the amount of sweat that is evaporated form our bodies, making it feel even hotter.
For ferrets it is worse, as they cannot sweat at all. They lose heat through their mouths, nose, ears and foot-pads, and high humidity levels reduce this effectiveness.
On hot, humid summer days, keep your ferret in the shade, or indoors, where she can stay cool. Try using a fan, or if possible an air conditioning unit to cool the air.
Learn more about keeping your ferret cool in hot weather.
Can ferrets be out in the cold?
Yes, ferrets can handle the cold weather much more easily than the hot. However if you usually keep your ferrets housed indoors, remember their undercoats will be thinner than those for outdoor ferrets. Therefore they won’t be able to play outside for quite so long.
If your ferrets are housed in a shed, then make sure that they’re not in a draught, as this could chill them. Extra bedding and snuggle sacks are a good idea to keep them warm.
Ferrets like to play in the snow, just make sure they don’t get chilled.
Can I take my ferret out in the snow?
Yes you can. Ferrets love playing outside in the snow, and enjoying tunneling and chasing one another. Playing provides excellent environmental and mental stimulation for them.
You should make sure you keep your ferrets on a leash and harness if they’re playing outside, to prevent them from escaping.
You should also monitor how much time they spend outside. Older ferrets, or those who’ve been poorly, may not do so well in the cold. Also smaller pets may feel the cold more.
How long can my ferret play in the snow?
Your ferret can play in the snow for around 15 minutes, however, smaller ferrets may need less time.
You should monitor her closely while she’s playing for signs of shivering.
Some sources suggest that ferrets can play in the snow for longer periods. We would suggest watching your pet closely, and if she’s enjoying herself, and not showing signs of being cold, then let her stay out for a little longer.
Be aware though that if she’s rolling around in the snow, wet fur will contribute to her being cold. You don’t want her to get chilled or frostbite.
Signs of frostbite in a ferret:
- Redness of the extremities (paws, nose, tail and ears)
- Whitened skin and discomfort
If you think your ferret has frostbite warm her slowly and seek veterinary advice straight away.
How to keep your ferret warm outside in the winter – housing
You can house your ferret in a shed:
- If you’ve got the garden space, a garden shed makes a great home for your ferret. Here your furry friend will be protected from the rain, snow, sun and wind, and the extreme winter temperatures.
- You can house your ferret inside a hutch or cage within the shed, to provide extra warmth and security.
- If you’re creative you can stack several hutches or cages together, linking them with tunnels. This will provide stimulation as she explores her home.
- To give her somewhere warm to snuggle, you’ll need to provide lots of bedding, such as blankets, straw, hay, old clothes and shredded paper.
- It’s always advisable to keep more than one ferret – not only do they keep each other company, but they can also keep each other warm.
Ferrets love to snuggle together and owners will see a bundle of noses and paws as they all cuddle together.
Or you can house her in a hutch with run:
- The other option is to house your ferret in an outdoor hutch. Traditionally these are raised off the ground. Usually ferret hutches come with a run attached.
- Again you can provide lots of warm bedding to keep your ferret warm. However, the downside of a hutch is that it may not protect your ferret as much from the elements.
- You’ll need to ensure that the hutch is located in a sheltered part of your garden.
- You should ensure that any home is fully ferret proofed. Ferrets can escape through any mesh that measures 1 inch x 1 inch or more.
More about outdoor ferret housing and building a ferret house
If you choose to house your ferret in a shed, you can convert the floor into a play area, and allow your pet to roam freely. You’ll need ensure she can’t escape out of the door though, as you enter and leave. You can overcome this using double doors.
The floor should be made of solid wood or concrete to prevent her from digging out to go off exploring. Ferrets love to dig!
Remember in the summer sheds can get hot. You’ll need to monitor the temperature and perhaps invest in an air conditioning unit if it gets too hot. You should make sure the draught isn’t directed at your ferret though, to prevent chills.
It’s also best to build the shed in a cooler part of your garden that’s north facing, so that in the summer it’s not in the full force of the sun.
Check out our list below on keeping your ferret cool in the summer
You can also build a run next to the shed, and connect the two, so that in the summer she can easily and securely play outside.
Keeping ferrets cool in hot weather
Temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius can be dangerous for your ferret. Temperatures above 32 degrees can lead to heatstroke.
Vet expert Dr. Sophie Bell advises that its important you don’t walk your ferret in hot weather, especially on hot pavements.
These can get extremely hot, and burn your ferrets paws.
Signs of heat stroke can include: panting, red extremities and lethargy.
To keep your ferret cool, you can:
- Fill a plastic bottle with water and freeze it. Wrap it in a towel and place it in your pet’s cage. This will help cool her down
- Spray your ferret with a little water, as long as she enjoys it!
- Let her play with ice-cubes
- If your ferret is kept in a shed, you could consider installing a mobile air conditioning unit in there. However, ensure the draught is directed away from her.
- Make sure she’s got plenty of cool, fresh water – ice-cubes will help to keep it cool.
In addition, Dr Sophie Bell suggests installing a shallow paddling pool in your ferret’s run. This can really help to cool them down.
Dr Sophie Bell also suggests providing a hammock in the shade so that they can stretch out, and a dig box filled with soil for them to lie in, as these are cool.
Find out the best temperatures for your ferret
When can baby ferrets go outside?
When walking your ferrets make sure they’re safe and secure.
Can you walk ferrets outside?
Yes you can, and outside walks offer them extra stimulation and exercise.
You should make sure they’re wearing a harness that they can’t wriggle out of, such as a H style version, which is also more comfortable.
Tighten the harness enough on your ferret’s body, so that you can fit the tip of your little finger inside it. This should ensure it fits perfectly.
Outdoor dangers for ferrets
There are a number of outdoor dangers when taking your ferrets outside. You should watch out for:
- Your ferret wriggling out of her harness: Make sure that the harness is tight enough to prevent her from escaping, but not so tight its uncomfortable. Our advice above should help.
- People treading on your ferret: If you’re in a busy area, people may not see her, and she could get stood on. Always pick your ferret up if you’re in a busy area.
- Don’t let your ferret eat anything that’s on the ground: You don’t know what this is, and it could upset her little tummy.
- Avoid areas with other animals, such as cats and dogs: These could try to attack your ferret.
- If the weather is hot, be aware that some pavement and road surfaces could be too hot for your ferret to walk on.
- Be aware of long grass, and the threat of ticks and fleas. Check your ferret for both when you get home.
- Ensure your ferret’s vaccinations are up to date. Canine Distemper is an airborne virus and the prognosis for infected animals is usually poor.
Ensure your ferret is given the vaccine suitable for ferrets as the version of the vaccine that’s given to dogs, can be dangerous for ferrets.
Indoor housing for ferrets
You’ll need to provide as large a cage or hutch as possible, and also provide a play area.
You shouldn’t house your ferrets in a mesh based cage, as they can trap their feet in the mesh. This can lead to a condition called Bumblefoot – sores and infection on your ferrets feet.
Make sure you clean the housing weekly or twice weekly, as warm weather or heating can quickly cause the ferret housing to smell.
Provide a litter tray in the corner of the cage, and your little ferret will happily use it once trained.
Ferrets are lovable creatures and rely on you for their care. With the right kind of love, care and attention, your ferret should lead a long and happy life.