How to Clip Ferret Nails
By Jazmin "Sunny" Murphy
So, you got scratched by your ferret again, eh? Looks like it’s time to trim those claws. If you’ve been wondering how to cut ferret nails, see the tips below for easy guidance.
Are You Really Supposed to Cut Ferret Nails?
As a new ferret owner, it won’t be long before you notice that your ferret’s nails are getting a bit lengthy. When this happens (and you get a couple of accidental scratches during playtime… ouch!), you’ll likely start to wonder, “Can I clip my ferret’s nails?”
Fortunately, the answer is yes. Not only are you able to clip your ferret’s nails, but this practice is essential to their physical health.
Neglecting to cut your ferret’s nails can increase their risk of developing foot problems. If your ferret’s nails get too long, they’ll start to curl downward. This will prevent the ferret from comfortably resting its feet on the ground and related mobility problems caused by long ferret nails.
Plus, a ferret with excessively long nails is a risk to adults and children. Even if your ferret is not acting aggressively, rough play with length claws can lead to accidental injury.
Scratches and punctures can easily get infected. This is part of why Animal Welfare Victoria and the MacArthur Veterinary Group emphasize close supervision and proper handling during child-ferret playtime.
Overall, cutting your ferret’s nails is critical to ensuring its health and safety. Plus, it’ll prevent accidental injuries when these little critters get excitable.
How Often Should Nail Trimming Be Done?
How often you need to cut your ferret’s nails depends on the individual ferret. Just like humans, their nails grow at different rates and directly depend on their diet.
Usually, the better you feed your ferret, the faster their nails will grow. Age is another factor that may change how often you do this (older ferrets’ nails tend to grow more slowly).
In these cases, you’ll have to take over the full responsibility of maintaining their nail length, so it might seem that you have to cut them more often.
In general, though, most ferrets require a nail trim about once every one or two weeks.
How to Cut Ferret Nails
You’ll need to be careful about how you go about cutting your ferret’s nails, so you don’t accidentally create a traumatizing experience by scaring or injuring your little buddy.
By following these steps (the treat method) on how to trim ferrets’ nails, you can ensure a safe, positive experience for the both of you:
- Get your tools and supplies ready. You’ll need:
- Cat nail trimmers (these are the best since they’re not as big as dog nail clippers)
- Styptic powder (also called KwikStop)
- Note: If you can’t get a hold of some styptic powder, you can use flour, corn starch, or soap.
- Cradle your ferret in your less dominant arm. Make sure your ferret lays on its back.
- Drip a bit of Ferretone on your ferret’s belly. Don’t pour too much but just enough to keep its attention for as long as you think the nail trimming will take.
- As soon as your ferret takes an interest in the Ferretone, grab the nail clippers.
- Look carefully at your ferret’s claws. You’ll notice that there is a long white part extending forward, away from the pink base. This is called the “quick” (most people are familiar with the quick from learning about dogs’ nails, but ferrets have this, too). Be careful to avoid trimming the quick since it contains blood vessels and will bleed when cut.
- Trim back the white section of the nails (little by little, if you have to).
- Note: The back nails are shorter than the front, so please take your time when trimming. It’s much better to snip only small bits at a time.
And that’s it! You’ve done it! Feel free to reload on the Ferretone every few minutes if your ferret runs out of the yummy snack and gets a little too fussy.
Additional Techniques for Trimming Ferret Nails
If you don’t have any Ferretone to distract your ferret while you’re cutting its nails, here are two other techniques you can use to get those nails down to a suitable length:
- Clip your ferret’s nails while it’s sleeping. It’s much easier to clip your ferret’s nails if it’s snoozing away in someone’s arms instead of in its cage. Ask a friend to cuddle your ferret or rock it to sleep, so it doesn’t wriggle, and you don’t have to contort yourself to reach into the cage.
- Scruff your ferret during the nail trim. Scruffing is a highly effective way to keep your ferret’s behavior under control while you trim. Don’t hold your ferret too tightly, but just securely enough that it doesn’t injure itself by moving around too much while you clip.
How Long Should Ferrets’ Nails Be?
Be careful not to trim your ferret’s nails too short. The best way to determine that you’ve cut them too short is if you see any bleeding – this means you cut the quick.
However, you don’t want to give the nail too much lee-way. If you do, they’ll just grow too long again too quickly, and you’ll have to cut them more often.
The American Ferret Association suggests that ferret owners trim their pets’ nails down to approximately ⅛” before the quick. This is the safest length for grooming and will give you the best results.
Cutting your ferret’s nails is an essential part of their health and safety. This will prevent foot and mobility issues and reduce your chances of being injured during play. Luckily, there are three easy methods you can use to keep those nails at a safe length with minimal stress on you and your ferret.
For further guidance on how to cut ferret nails, get a Ferret-World membership for courses on how to improve your grooming practices today.