Tanya is the owner of two feisty ferrets and one cat. She has studied animal health and dedicated volunteer time in many shelters.
Do Ferrets Stink?
Ferrets are very clean animals and groom themselves throughout the day, much like a cat. However, there are times when your ferret may need a bath. The frequency of bathing will depend on your situation, but the MAXIMUM should be once a month. This is preferred because ferrets have sensitive skin which can dry out easily. Bathing your ferret has nothing to do with getting rid of their odour and more about getting rid of their itchy skin, cooling them down, or washing them if they have gotten into something they shouldn't have.
Why Your Ferret May Need a Bath
- Your little stinker has gotten into something (garbage, dirt, spilled something on themselves).
- In some dry climates, ferrets' skin dries out and becomes itchy. An oatmeal bath is great for this.
- When it is hot, a cool water bath will help your ferret feel better.
- A flea bath might be needed if your ferret contracts fleas.
Ideally, try to limit your ferret's regular baths to 3 or 4 times a year. Don't worry if you have a little one who likes to get into stuff! Extra baths won't hurt them—just be on the watch for skin irritation!
Gather Your Supplies
The first thing you should do is gather and prepare everything near the bath or sink. You don't want to have to leave your ferret unsupervised while you run and grab something.
Choose a gentle shampoo. There are several ones made specifically for ferrets; however, you can use a cat/kitten shampoo or even baby shampoo. Many people prefer the baby shampoo and find that it helps relieve the dry, itchy skin your ferret can get.
If your ferret isn't dirty, but you are just trying to give him some relief, you can give him an oatmeal bath. Do not use instant oatmeal. You want to get the raw oats, wrap them up in a satchel or cloth, and let them soak in the water.
Other items you will want:
- Face cloth (optional)
- Toys (optional)
- Treats (optional)
- Cup for rinsing (optional)
How to Bathe Your Ferret
Run the Bath
You can choose to bathe your ferret in the tub or in a sink, whatever works best for you. There are two things to keep in mind. A ferret's body temperature is very high and sits around 38C to 39C (101F to 103F). So what feels warm to you actually feels cold to your ferret. Use water that is close to what you would use for a hot bath.
- Start by running the water.
- Fill the tub up only a few inches and make sure they can touch the bottom—especially if you are not sure if your ferret likes water or not.
- Some ferrets love water and may want to swim around. Others will fight and try everything they can to get out.
Put Them Into the Water
Slowly lower your ferret into the water. Talk to them calmly and happily. Keeping a calm tone will help your ferret, especially if they are afraid. Get their body fully wet. You can use a cup to pour water over them, your hands, or a cloth.
Take a small amount of shampoo and lather your little fuzzy up. Be careful to keep the shampoo from getting in their eyes, but if you do, simply rinse it out right away. You want to make sure their tail and belly are cleaned well (as they get a lot of oil buildup here).
Rinse Them Off
After your ferret is all scrubbed up, you need to rinse the fur very well. Leftover soap can cause their skin to dry out quickly. There are a few ways to do this.
If you have a water-loving, patient ferret, you can drain the tub/sink and refill it with fresh water. A quicker way is to keep clean water with you in a bottle or jug and use it to pour over your ferret. Or you can turn the tap on and hold them under the water.
- Rub the fur and rinse it well.
- Use your hand or a cloth to wash around their faces.
- Do not pour water directly on their head.
The Oatmeal Bath
If you are not doing a full shampoo bath and just want to give them an oatmeal soak, the process is only slightly different.
When you run the bath, put your bag of oatmeal into the water and let it soak for a few minutes, letting the water get murky with the oatmeal. Put your ferret in the bath and simply pour and rub the oatmeal water all over him, rubbing it into their coat and skin. Let them sit in the water for a little while and then give them a quick rinse.
Drying Time! Now for the Fun!
Drying a ferret after the bath is extremely entertaining. Ferrets like to dry themselves in a crazy, erratic way.
- Be sure to lay down some towels. You may want to give them an area to dry off in, or just let them run around. Either way, you will have a good laugh.
- Start by giving them a quick drying with a towel to get as much water off as possible. They usually won't tolerate it for long.
- Let them go. They will run and rub themselves all over.
And We Are Clean!
Your ferret is now clean. This adventure might have left you wet, but it is worth it to have a happy and clean ferret!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Elizabeth on June 15, 2019:
How long do you let them soak in the oatmeal bath?
Tanya from Alberta, Canada on October 11, 2018:
Thanks for the comments! I've never tried that brand of Oatmeal shampoo. something I will look into trying!
I personally use the FerretSheen shampoo for their baths.
Isaac Ince from USA on October 10, 2018:
I have a lovely ferret, and I daily bathe her using Oatmeal dog shampoo. I always bought it from Amazon https://www.bestferretcages.com/best-ferret-shampo... It is a relief her to make the fresh and active whole day. Bathing is necessary for everyone for human and also animal both.
Can’t reach this pageHome - RedBrain on October 06, 2018:
100 Jahre Bauhaus - FAZ
Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on October 02, 2018:
Cool article, and oh my gosh the wet ferret picture is absolutely adorable!