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Ferrets/Litter Training

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Question
I recently adopted two ferrets. They are both male, neutered, and descented. One is 7 months and one is 4 months. I am not sure how litter training went with their last owner but they already had a corner litter pan in their cage when I got them. I am having issues getting them to use the litter pan.

I have already taken the levels away to their multi-level cage. I even took away the hammock and replaced it with a towel because they were using that as a level to go to the bathroom on the bottom and then hang out in the hammock. I have a spray made by Marshall that can be used on them, the cage, or their belongings to use when I clean up their accidents. In one corner I have the litter pan hooked to the cage, another food, the third a second food bowl and water bottle hooked on the cage, and the last corner is a towel. I have even gone so far as to safety pin the towel to the cage so they can't move it and use that corner. It doesn't seem to matter that all corners are for sleep or food. They will go there anyway. They have even gone in the food bowl!! I also tried rubbing vanilla extract on the litter pan as I read that will help and all it did was make a HUGE mess with litter everywhere so that is no longer. They haven't dug in the litter before or after that day.

The older one I think is trying. I will catch him in the litter box occasionally and if he goes I praise him with love, attention, and a treat. When he does use the box though, he backs up and doesn't always make it in the box but at least he is standing in the litter box and knows that is where he goes potty. The younger one is worse and will hardly go at all in the box. If I catch him I will pick him up and place him in the litter box. I love and give him attention when he goes as well but he won't eat any treats. When they play, I immediately take them to the litter box if they start backing up, also try to get them to go after waking up before playing (hardly works).

I need them to figure this out so they can be happy and have their levels and everything back and so I don't have to clean the cage several times a day. Iím not sure what else to try but I am determined and not giving up. I am willing to try anything!!!

Thanks for any and all advice,
Courtney

Answer
The good news is that it seems you are doing everything right!  The only different thing I could recommend is to place extra litter boxes in the places they use - for a while this may mean a ton of them in the cage!  The bad news is that not all ferrets take to a litter box.  You can try different sizes and styles too incase there is a preference.  My ferrets have a small room all of their own and a refrigerator drip pan as a litter box and they still go in corners and by the door!

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Ailigh Vanderbush

Expertise

I am a certified pet behaviorist and own a consultation business. I can answer questions about all aspects of ferret care, especially behavior problems. I am not a vet, but can direct you to exotic vets if needed. Feel free to check out my web site www.animalia.us

Experience

I have had ferrets for a number of years, have raised kits and have spoken at ferret conferences. I am a certified pet behaviorist and own a consultation business, Animalia.

Organizations
IAABC, Circle City Ferret Club

Publications
Ferrets USA

Education/Credentials
CABT

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