I own two ferrets with a surprisingly smell-free cage. I enjoy sharing tips with other owners.
Why Does My Ferret's Poop Smell So Bad?
Ferrets can be smelly animals! But you are in luck—it is possible to alleviate that smell! I have two ferrets of my own and two litter boxes in a four-story cage. People come over all the time and comment, "Don't ferrets stink?"
To their surprise, my cage has almost no smell! The only way you can smell anything is to literally stick your head in the cage and sniff. How do I do this? It's easier than you think.
How to Control Odor in Your Ferret's Cage
Follow these tips and make holding your nose a thing of the past!
- Use Wood Stove Pellets Instead of Cat Litter
- Feed Them the Right Food
- Spray the Cage With Nature's Miracle
- Bathe Them Infrequently
- Change and Wash Their Bedding Weekly
1. Use Wood Stove Pellets Instead of Cat Litter
Wood stove pellets are a must. You will be amazed at the dramatic results. These pellets are simply sawdust that has been compacted into a pellet shape. You can buy them at your local Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot, hardware store, tack shop, or many other locations.
Sometimes they can be hard to find during the summer months, so I recommend stocking up in fall and winter when stores are more likely to sell this product. Wood stove pellets are cheap and come in 40–50 lb bags.
How Do You Use Them?
Simple! Use it just as you would cat litter and fill the litter box up with wood stove pellets. The only difference is that there is no scooping required! When the pellets come in contact with moisture, they break apart into sawdust. When 1/2 to 2/3 of the pellets have become sawdust, empty the whole litter box and refill it.
When I first began using this, I was amazed at the difference and how much less frequently I had to change the litter box. I had tried every cat litter, from the expensive brands to the cheap brands, and nothing seemed to get rid of the smell. Wood stove pellets work the best (for cats, too)!
2. Feed Them the Right Food
As a rule of thumb, if it goes in smelling bad, it’s going to come out smelling bad. Stinky food equals stinky poop. If you feed your ferret a higher quality food (like Evo or Wysong, for example), they will eat much less than if you feed them a lower quality food.
Less poop = less stink.
Don't skimp on the food. It will actually save you money if you buy it in bulk online.
3. Spray the Cage With Nature's Miracle
This is a great product sold both online and at many pet stores. Nature's Miracle is a spray that works using enzymes and is harmless to animals. It is marketed as a stain and odor remover. You can buy Nature's Miracle specifically designed for ferrets or the regular Nature's Miracle. They are basically the same.
If used along with wood stove pellets, this just tops everything off. Your wood stove pellets alleviate most of the smell, but what if there's still a faint odor? This is where Nature's Miracle comes in!
How to Use It
Simply take the ferrets out of the cage, give it a few sprays of Nature's Miracle, and let dry. Voilà! No smell! I usually spray my cage with Nature's Miracle once a day just to make sure there is no odor.
This only works well with wood stove pellets. If you’re using another litter that doesn't work as well and your cage smells awful, Nature's Miracle won't actually pull off any miracles.
4. Bathe Them Infrequently
Ferrets don't need to bathe very often. A bath every month or two is plenty. Only bathe the ferret if it is dirty, if it has defecated on itself, or if it seriously just smells.
You may need to bathe your new ferret shortly after bringing it home because it might smell excessively. But overall, the fewer the baths, the better. Every time you bathe your ferret, you are stripping the skin of its oils, and the oils will come back stronger because of this to replenish themselves.
So, even though your ferret smells good after a bath, it won't be long before the stench is even worse than before. Only bathe your ferret when necessary.
5. Change and Wash Bedding Weekly
Ferrets are oily animals. It's part of what makes the ferret smell like a ferret. As you can imagine, all those blankets you have in the cage will smell a lot like ferret as well if you don't wash them!
Blankets or anything cuddly is the best bedding to use. Carefresh and wood shavings will make the cage smell more, and ferrets don't really seem to enjoy these types of bedding. Plus, they are extremely messy!
Cut up some old sheets or clothing, and put that in your cage. Just remember to change the bedding out weekly, and wash used bedding.
But What About the Ferret?
The ferret itself is going to smell like a ferret, no matter what. Just like a dog smells like a dog, a horse smells like a horse, and a cat smells like a cat—a ferret is going to smell like a ferret!
If it really bothers you, though, look into buying a ferret grooming or refreshing spray. Spray some on the ferret whenever you are handling it to make the ferret smell more pleasant. This is better than bathing because it will not strip the skin of its oils.
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.
Kirsty Ramone on February 02, 2020:
I cannot believe you would recommend pine or wood litter. PLEASE DO NOT USE LITTER THAT IS OR TURNS INTO DUST!!! This is suppose to be an article about how to make the cage smell less? How about cleaning the box a few times a week instead of using litter that will get up into their nostrils and clog them. Many ferrets sniff around their litter and box. Never ever use cat litter or wood littler. How shameful that you would recommend that.
Ray on June 01, 2019:
I have one ferret named Kreature from the Harry Potter books. I have since we got him begging my bf to allow me to get him a friend bc he is lonely. But he refused bc I couldn't keep the smell under control. Switched to your method about two months ago and am now looking for a rescue to join our family thank you so much.
Todd Wundy on January 14, 2018:
Hello all! I own 2 ferrets. This article is missing 2 of the most important things I think you can do:
1. Marshall Ferret Bi-Odor
Liquid put in their water their de-odorizes their body and poop odors. Works wonders and is essential for every ferret owner. Buy on Amazon.
2. Moso air purifying bag
Lay this on top of your ferrets cage. It does an incredible job of absorbing odors. Absolutely no smell! Buy on Amazon
I agree with the other points, such as wood pellets for litter that absorb the smell well and washing their bedding frequently. Thanks for the post and hope I helped!
Donna on September 02, 2017:
Stove pellets do contain chemicals, however, equine bedding pellets do not. They are also readily available at farm stores. There is no dust when wet and they work for any small animal ie: guinea pigs and rabbits.
Peter on August 27, 2017:
Hi I have a ferret to and it smells a lot but for the pellets can I use regular saw dust instead you see I'm a wood chop teacher and when ever the students do there projects they leave a lot of saw dust so would it still work.
Delaney on August 14, 2017:
thank you so much for this! i may be buying a ferret at some point, and this is very helpful, i once hat a rabbit and two rats, there cages both always smelt really bad, even when i hat just cleaned them out, but all of your tips are very handy to know, but i would try to find something other than wood pellets, according to the other comments.
Kim on October 26, 2016:
I woukdnt use pellets that turn into saw dust . Simoky because saw dust is bad for ferrers reapitory system. Also since these are fir a wood stoce etc you have to be careful about the chemicals used becuse this isnt going ti be pet safe.
Jack on August 27, 2016:
I stopped reading as soon as I saw you used wood pellets. This is very bad for ferrets and can cause respiratory infections.
m on June 30, 2016:
only problem is that wood pellets are toxic for animals when combined with urine.. and since you're using it in the litterbox...
Vicky on September 30, 2015:
Thanks a lot! I m in macao and really less people here feed ferrets. So it is really useful for me
Savannah on May 26, 2015:
I have two ferrets of my own and I am very thankful for the tips ,ps: have you tried giving your ferrets an egg once in a while because it is good for their diet and thanks again x
Krissy on January 22, 2015:
What happens if your ferret eats the wood stove pellets?
Addison V. on November 09, 2014:
Thanks for this. I really want to keep my ferrets. but my dog is getting older and we can't have 2 dogs and 2 ferrets its a little too over whelming. But if this works i might not have to reconsider.
destiney yates on September 10, 2014:
i line my cage with fleese. i have a ferret nation cage and the bottom is these plastic trays. i just tuck a square of elt under the edges and swap them out every week. i have four ferrets so maybe less if you have two. plus bonus! my ferrets wont poo on the felt. no scraping hard poo off the corners n cage!
Random on November 06, 2013:
I can not wait to try this! I've already tried a couple different litters to no avail, I may have to change his food as well
dezi on March 18, 2012:
i hope this helps bc im planning on getting two soon :PP
Dezi on January 22, 2012:
Thanks very much this really helped out. As soon as I get paid I'm going to buy these items.
random on May 27, 2011:
thanx this article is really useful!!!! :)
More Dooks on May 24, 2011:
Great article, this is one of the best worded, properly explained, and easy to understand that I've seen on the topic.