Safety when walking your ferret outdoors
By Stephanie Warzecha
Taking your ferret for a walk is a great way to enrich its life and keep it stimulated; all animals love to have dirt and grass under their feet every now and then. However, before taking your ferret outside, you should make sure that your ferret will be safe and have a good time.
Up to date vaccinations
Before taking your ferret outdoors, make sure that they are vaccinated for canine distemper and rabies. Both diseases are most likely to be caught outside, where your ferret may come in contact with canine feces or rabid animals. Obviously, you’ll want to try to decrease this contact even with a vaccinated ferret.
Make sure it’s safe
Before setting your ferret down, make sure the coast is clear and the surrounding area is free of anything that could hurt your ferret. If you’re in a part of the world with birds of prey, watch out for them and don’t take your ferret out in areas where they tend to congregate.
Watch out for dogs
Watch out for dogs. One of my biggest fears when walking Yuki is a dog rushing toward us and mauling her. I am always on the lookout; I have heard too many horror stories of ferrets being injured by dogs while on a walk to be anything but cautious.
Watch out for children
Be cautious when walking your ferret in an area with children or other curious humans. Children frequently want to run right over and engage with your ferret. If a group of children sees your ferret, you’ll likely be swarmed, so I usually try to avoid crowded parks and other areas with lots of people. Too many people can make your ferret stressed and increase the likelihood that she will startle or bite someone. If your ferret bites someone, there’s always a chance they will report your ferret to the authorities, which may result in a fine or even euthanization.
Be cautious of certain plants
Make sure your ferret does not come in contact with plants that can harm her.
According to ferret trainer Seth Pywell, ferrets, like their polecat ancestors, prefer to walk among shrubs and tall grass so they feel safe and secure from potential predators. If your ferret is startled or frightened, they may run to cover and you should allow them to do this. Picking up your ferret will not necessarily make her feel safe, but hiding under or among something until the “threat” passes usually will.
Watch for signs of stress
Always watch your ferret for signs of distress, anxiety, or illness when she’s outside. When you make sure that your ferret is safe and enjoying herself, regular walks are a wonderful way to stimulate her and bond with her!
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