Do Ferrets Stink Up Your House? How To Control It

Do ferrets stink up your house? It’s the question most ferret-owners-to-be have. And it’s normal if you are second-guessing your decision because of it.

While ferrets are known as lovable and intelligent animals, their stinky reputation often outweighs this. That’s only natural when you’re considering bringing something new into your space. After all, you don’t want your house to smell disgusting, even though ferrets are cute.

Brown & White Ferret In A Blue Hammock | Do Ferrets Stink Up Your House? How To Control It

But the truth is, ferrets don’t smell as much as their reputation suggests. In this article, we will explain whether ferrets stink up your house, and how bad an impact this might have.

For those who already own a ferret or multiple ferrets, we will also go into steps you can take to reduce the smell over time. From cleaning their environment regularly to making sure they have a high-quality diet, there is a lot you can do to make your house pleasant for you and your ferret.

Do Ferrets Stink Up Your House?

Ferrets have their own unique smell, often described as being sweet and musky. Most owners get used to this quickly, and it doesn’t take long before you stop noticing the smell at all.

This ferret smell people refer to comes from a build-up of oils from their skin glands. If they transfer onto their bedding or toys, it can cause an unpleasant smell that stinks up your house.

Ferrets can also gain smells from their environment due to their fluffy body, so cleaning is incredibly important. This includes the ferret themselves, and their surrounding environment to break down smells. Methods discussed later in this article may also help to control the smell.

How Bad Do Ferrets Really Stink?

Ferrets shouldn’t smell too bad, but to the untrained nose, it can be quite unpleasant. As aforementioned, there are factors that may affect how much they smell at certain times.

Often, people say male ferrets smell more than female ferrets. This is because of a build-up of hormones when they are in season, though it should not persist outside of these times.

The ferret stink will also be worse if you have multiple ferrets, especially in a contained area. You may want to avoid keeping your ferret in your room, especially at the beginning of your ferret-ownership journey.

Ferrets stink more when they are scared. They belong to the Mustelidae family, a group of animals who are known for producing a strong odor when scared or alarmed.

This odor is released in the form of secretion from glands near the anus and is supposed to be pungent to scare off potential enemies. You should aim to make your ferret comfortable so this release of odor occurs as little as possible.

Can You Remove Ferret Scent Glands?

Scent gland removal surgery for ferrets, or de-scenting surgery, is extremely controversial. Most vets and pet owners agree it is completely unnecessary, especially as most of their smell comes from their skin and not their anal glands.

If you, like most ferret owners in the US, purchase your ferret from a pet store, this surgery may have already been performed. This is because most pet stores utilize commercial breeders who make their ferrets undergo de-scenting surgery by eight weeks old.

Eight weeks old is far too young to put your ferret through such a significant surgery for little reward. If there is a legitimate reason to do it in the future, your vet will advise you when and how to do so.

Should this surgery become an option for legitimate reasons, it isn’t very expensive. You can expect to pay less than $200 in total in most states.

Can I Bathe My Ferret To Reduce Ferret Stink?

You should never bathe your ferret to reduce their stink. Doing so can actually worsen their stink as it washes away the protective oils in their coat. This causes overstimulation of their oil glands to help protect their coat and skin but makes their stink worse.

There are rare occasions your ferret will need bathing for medical reasons. This includes when they get dirty from outside play or if they develop blackheads. The latter occurs mostly on their tails and results in hair loss.

Should you bathe your ferret, it should only be done once a month with lukewarm water, and only where necessary.

For lots of small animals, sand baths are recommended, but these can cause respiratory issues in ferrets so it’s best to avoid them.

How To Reduce The Ferret Stink

Although baths aren’t recommended if ferrets stink, there are things you can do to reduce the smell.

Some things can be controlled by general household cleaning, but there are some ferret-specific tips that may help you get your house smelling lovely again.

Have Your Ferret “Fixed”

As aforementioned, ferrets smell considerably worse when they are in season due to a build-up of hormones. This is especially true in male ferrets.

As a long-term solution, I recommend getting your ferret spayed or neutered. You will notice lots of benefits immediately from this, including behavioral as well as odor-wise.

Wash Ferret Beeding And Blankets Weekly

A build-up of oils on bedding and blankets massively contributes to the ferret stink visitors are exposed to when visiting your home. Ferrets spend a lot of time sleeping, and thus a lot of time in their beds, so build-up happens fast.

You should aim to change and wash blankets on a weekly basis to avoid the odor becoming overpowering. I recommend having some spares and switching them out every week to provide your ferret with some variety and reduce the smell from setting into the fabric.

If you have a skittish ferret who is prone to emitting odor from their anal glands, changing bedding regularly will also help with that.

Clean Their Litter Trays Once Or Twice a Day

Uncleaned ferret litter boxes smell awful. Any owner would tell you the same thing.

An unclean litter tray will also encourage your ferret to do their business elsewhere in their cage, making the smell of ferret poo throughout your house a lot more potent. This is because ferrets are clean animals, so they tend to avoid dirty little boxes.

By cleaning litter trays once a day, or twice in summer, you are limiting the smell and the chance of your ferret going elsewhere.

As a caveat, litter training your ferret as soon as possible can help stop them stinking out your home.

Deep Clean Your Ferrets Cage Monthly

The oils from ferret skin glands will stick to their cage when they rub against it. This could lead to a build-up of the musky ferret smell and, if not cleaned off regularly, could cause it to stink out your home.

Though regular cleanings should take place at least weekly, I recommend doing a deep clean of the ferret cage once a month to reduce build-up. You can combine this with a ferret’s time outside their cage and use a strong pet-safe disinfectant to get into difficult areas.

Feed Your Ferret A High-Quality Diet

Surprisingly, your ferret might stink because of the kibble they are consuming. You should be looking for kibble that has a high meat content to do your best to support their overall diet.

This is because ferrets should get 70% of their nutrition from meat sources. Though some of this can come from fish, this may worsen the smell, so you should limit it if possible.

Keep An Eye On Your Ferrets Health

If none of the above advice has worked, your ferret may have become unwell. Especially if their smell worsens, or you notice it where you didn’t before.

It isn’t always easy to tell whether your ferret is unwell, so you could be picking up on an early sign. If you are concerned, you should visit a vet to rule out this being a possibility.

Even if it isn’t serious, your vet may be able to suggest additional things that could prevent the smell going forwards.

Final Thoughts

Although ferrets have a musky, sweet smell, they should never be stinking up your home. Male ferrets will smell more than female ferrets, but even then, there are ways to minimize the impact.

This includes ordinary household things, like keeping on top of vacuuming and cleaning so oils don’t build up. It also includes changing a ferret’s bedding regularly, and deep cleaning their cage at least once a month.

On the more extreme end, it’s also recommended to neuter or spay your ferret. Not only will this help with the smell, but it also makes it easier to tame ferrets in the long run.

Under no circumstances should you deal with smelly ferrets by bathing them. This can be harmful to them and may make them smell worse in the long run.

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