Why Do Ferrets Smell5 min read

The first thing you need to know about keeping ferrets as pets is that yes, they smell. Ferrets are not particularly smelly creatures, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a scent. Like any small animal, they produce an odor that is a natural musky scent. A ferret smells because they have scent glands that are located close to their anus, and that is where the odor mainly comes from.

Regular ferret owners know that having a ferret can lead to some, erm, interesting smells in the house.

When people think of ferrets, they think of cute and cuddly pets, but they rarely think of the smell.  

The smell that ferrets produce is not so much a stink as an odor that can be rather unpleasant.  The smell is naturally not particularly strong, and it is almost odorless when the ferret is spayed or neutered.  

Ferret Scent Glands

Furthermore, ferrets have scent glands that also release a scent. This is a defense mechanism.

smelly ferrets_1

Ferret Diet or why Certain Foods increase your Ferrets Odor

The odor is also closely related to the ferret’s food and can vary quite a bit depending on the amount of fat in the food.  The smell is produced by oils in the skin.

Ferrets are strict carnivores. And if you feed your ferret wrong, the chances are that it will smell more.

Avoid foods with ingredients such as

  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains

Choose quality ferret food or as the alternative kitten food. Make sure to stick to foods with a high percentage of protein, moderate in fats, and low carbohydrates (read.. how to care of your ferret).

According to the American Ferret Organization, it should contain at least 36% protein and approximately 20% fats.

How Often Should You Bath Your Ferret

Bathing your ferret sounds like a pretty good idea, right? After all, it’s one of the best ways to clean and deodorize your pet.

Bad Idea!

Yes, it is true that right after the bath, your ferret will smell less. But for one, is the skin of your little furry friend sensitive, and secondly, the skin glands will try to replace the lost oils and produce even more of it!

In fact, you should bathe your ferret as seldomly as possible. Probably not more than once a month.

Keeping The Litter Box Clean Will Reduces Ferret Odors

wooden-pellets for ferret cage

Seems obvious. Ferrets have a fast metabolism. They eat … and not long after have to poop. Instinct tells Ferrets to choose corners to relieve themselves. You can use this to your advantage and take extra care of those corners.

Ferrets are smart and will quickly remember the best place to potty.

Make sure to use litter boxes filled with wood-based pellets (or paper-based) – never use pine shavings as those have proved to be dangerous for ferrets. The vapors cause serious health problems and must be avoided at all times!

The cage should be placed in a well-ventilated area near a window. Ferret bedding should be changed regularly, and the cage cleaned thoroughly once a week.

The key to reducing ferret smell is to remove the urine and feces from the cage every day and clean the entire cage thoroughly once a week. A healthy diet and clean bedding can minimize their odor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Ferrets Smell bad because they are Related to Skunks?

No, instead, the culprit is a little-known chemical compound called musk. Ferret musk is used to mark territory, and like skunks, ferrets release it from a pair of glands near their genitals.

But unlike skunks, ferrets don’t spray their musk. Instead, they release it via their anal glands, located at the base of their tails. (These glands are similar to the ones that give skunks their distinctive smell.)

Why do Ferrets Smell of Musk

The reason for a ferret’s musky odor is actually quite simple. Their unique scent is a natural musk that they produce in their anal glands.

Although the smell can be pretty strong, it’s not an indication that your ferret is dirty or unclean.

In fact, ferret musk is used to mark territory. When your ferret rubs its musk-producing glands against your skin, it not only marks you as their territory, it also leaves a scent to let other ferrets know that you’re part of their pack.

How Often Should you Bath your Ferret

Not more than once a month. Bathing your ferret will stimulate its skin to produce even more oil – meaning an increase in smell.

Do Ferrets smell worse than Rats?

For ferret lovers, the smell of ferrets isn’t an issue. But for people who aren’t used to living with those awesome creatures, the smell can often be a deal-breaker. So do ferrets smell worse than rats?

If you ask me: no! But you will have to decide for yourself!

Do Ferrets stink up your House

Keep the litter bow clean, look after your ferrets’ diet, change beddings often, and have your ferret spayed or neutered. All this will help reduce the smell – But to be honest, it won´t completely go away.

So before adopting a ferret, see if you can visit a ferret owner at their home and find out if the smell is “too much” for you or not.

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