Can a ferret live outside? Ideal outside temperature, cold weather and housing

Ferrets can live outside or inside, it’s really up to you. The upside of living outside is that it’s a natural environment, with natural daylight. However, you should be aware of these risks...

Can you keep ferrets outside? | When can ferrets go outside? | How to keep your ferret warm outside in the winter | What temperature do ferrets like? | Can ferrets be out in the cold? | How long can my ferret play in the snow? | When can baby ferrets go outside? | Outdoor dangers for ferrets | Indoor housing for ferrets

Your cute little ferret has a longer history of domestication than you would imagine. In fact she may well beat your cat or dog!

Ferrets were being kept as pets even in the Egyptian period, where tomb wall art can be seen depicting ferrets on leads.

Ferrets found their way to America around 300 years ago, traveling with the early settlers, where they were used on ships to catch rats and mice. They have fantastic hunting abilities which probably led to them becoming a sought after pet, and their domestication.

Today, ferrets are completely domesticated and rely on us for all their needs.

Did you know that our Ferret insurance can cover £2,000 of vet fees. Cover can be per pet (up to three pets on a policy) or per policy.

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You may like to read this: What do ferrets eat?

Can you keep ferrets outside?

Yes, ferrets can live outside or inside, it’s really up to you. The upside of living outside is that it’s a natural environment, with natural daylight. However, you should be aware of these risks:

  • Extreme weather conditions: Rain, wind, heat and cold can all cause problems for your ferret. You need to ensure that she’s housed in suitable accommodation that will protect her from the elements.
  • Escape or theft: Ferrets love to dig, and can escape out of the smallest of spaces. If the cage wire is bigger than 1 in x 1 in then they can get through it. They can also escape through feed hoppers, if you use them.
  • The risk of Heartworm infection: Heartworm can be fatal to ferrets and is transmitted as larvae from infected Mosquitos. The larvae then grow into adult heartworms in the large blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs.

    The risk of infection is present as long as mosquitos are active. Pets can be treated with a preventive that kills the larvae, or with a drug that can kill the adult heartworms. The latter has a greater risk though, as the Heartworms remain in the ferret’s artery, which could block it.

ferret in a gardenFerrets can go outside anytime of year.

When can ferrets go outside?

Ferrets can go outside at anytime of year, however you should always be aware of the temperature. If it’s too hot, then it could be dangerous for your ferret. Ferrets can suffer with heatstroke even in temperatures that we would consider comfortable.

Ferrets prefer cooler weather, and even enjoy the snow! However, again, if its too cold and snowy, your ferret could get chilled.

You may also like this Looking after and caring for a ferret

Ferret housing – how to keep your ferret warm outside in the winter

You can house your ferret in a shed:

  • If you’ve got the garden space, a garden shed makes a great home for your ferret. Here your furry friend will be protected from the rain, snow, sun and wind, and the extreme winter temperatures.
  • You can house your ferret inside a hutch or cage within the shed, to provide extra warmth and security.
  • If you’re creative you can stack several hutches or cages together, linking them with tunnels. This will provide stimulation as she explores her home.
  • To give her somewhere warm to snuggle, you’ll need to provide lots of bedding, such as blankets, straw, hay, old clothes and shredded paper.
  • It’s always advisable to keep more than one ferret – not only do they keep each other company, but they can also keep each other warm.

    Ferrets love to snuggle together and owners will see a bundle of noses and paws as they all cuddle together.

Or you can house her in a hutch with run:

  • The other option is to house your ferret in an outdoor hutch. Traditionally these are raised off the ground. Usually ferret hutches come with a run attached.
  • Again you can provide lots of warm bedding to keep your ferret warm. However, the downside of a hutch is that it may not protect your ferret as much from the elements.
  • You should ensure that any home is fully ferret proofed. Ferrets can escape through any mesh that measures 1 inch x 1 inch or more.

More about outdoor ferret housing and building a ferret house

If properly secured, you can convert the shed floor into a play area, and allow your ferret to roam freely. You’ll need ensure she can’t escape out of the door though, as you enter and leave. You can overcome this using double doors.

The floor should be made of solid wood or concrete to prevent her from digging out to go off exploring. Ferrets absolutely love to dig!

Remember in the summer sheds can get hot. You’ll need to monitor the temperature and perhaps invest in an air conditioning unit if it gets too hot. You should make sure the draught isn’t directed at your ferret though, as this could chill her.

It’s also best to build the shed in a cooler part of your garden that’s north facing, so that in the summer the shed’s not in the full force of the sun.

You can also build a run next to the shed, and connect the two, so that in the summer she can easily and securely play outside.

As mentioned, if you don’t have room for a shed then a hutch is also a good option. The bigger the better, and you should also attach a run.

You’ll need to ensure that the hutch is located in a sheltered part of your garden, and is protected throughout the winter.

Remember to check your ferrets water every single day, to ensure its not frozen over. You should also provide fresh food daily, and clear away any uneaten food.

Did you know that our Ferret insurance can cover £2,000 of vet fees. Cover can be per pet (up to three pets on a policy) or per policy.

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What temperature do ferrets like?

  • Ferrets like temperatures between 15 – 21 degrees Celsius.
  • Ferrets thrive best in cooler temperatures, so the cooler UK climate is perfect for ferrets.
  • If the temperatures reach 26 degrees Celsius or more, it can be dangerous for your ferret.
  • Temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius can be fatal for ferrets.

When monitoring the temperature, you should also factor in humidity levels. In the UK we often suffer with high humidity during the summer – this can make it feel hotter than it is.

The moisture in the air reduces the amount of sweat that is evaporated form our bodies, making it feel even hotter.

For ferrets it is worse, as they cannot sweat at all. Ferrets lose heat through their mouths, nose, ears and footpads, and high humidity levels reduce this effectiveness.

On hot, humid summer days, keep your ferret in the shade, or indoors, where she can stay cool. Try using a fan, or if possible an air conditioning unit to cool the air.

Can ferrets be out in the cold?

Yes, ferrets can handle the cold weather much more easily than the hot. However if you usually keep your ferrets housed indoors, remember their undercoats will be thinner than those for outdoor ferrets. Therefore they won’t be able to play outside for quite so long.

If your ferrets are housed in a shed, then make sure that they’re not in a draught, as this could chill them. Extra bedding and snuggle sacks are a good idea to keep them warm.

A ferret playing in the snowFerrets like to play in the snow, just make sure they don't get chilled.

Can I take my ferret out in the snow?

Yes you can. Ferrets love playing outside in the snow, and enjoying tunnelling and chasing one another. Playing provides excellent environmental and mental stimulation for them.

You should make sure you keep your ferrets on a leash and harness if they’re playing outside, to prevent them from escaping.

You should also monitor how much time they spend outside. Older ferrets, or those who’ve been poorly, may not do so well in the cold. Also smaller ferrets may feel the cold more.

How long can my ferret play in the snow?

Your ferret can play in the snow for around 15 minutes, however, smaller ferrets may need less time.

You should monitor her closely while she’s playing for signs of shivering.

Some sources suggest that ferrets can play in the snow for longer periods. We would suggest watching your ferret closely, and if she’s enjoying herself, and not showing signs of being cold, then let her stay out for a little longer than 15 minutes.

Be aware though that if she’s rolling around in the snow, wet fur will contribute to her being cold. You don’t want her to get chilled or frostbite.

Signs of frostbite in a ferret:

  • Redness of the extremeties (paws, nose, tail and ears)
  • Whitened skin and discomfort
  • Numbness

If you think your ferret has frostbite warm her slowly and seek veterinary advice straight away.

When can baby ferrets go outside?

Once your baby ferret has had all her injections then she can go outside.

two ferrets going for a walk wearing leads When walking your ferrets make sure they're safe and secure.

Can you walk ferrets outside?

Yes you can, and outside walks can offer them extra stimulation and exercise. You should make sure that they’re wearing a suitable harness though, that they can’t wriggle out of.

An H style harness is probably the best, as its more comfortable for your ferrets, plus they can’t wriggle out of it easily.

Tighten the harness enough on your ferret’s body, so that you can fit the tip of your little finger inside it. This should ensure its not too tight or loose for your pet.

Outdoor dangers for ferrets

There are a number of outdoor dangers when taking your ferrets outside. You should watch out for:

  • Your ferret wriggling out of her harness. Make sure that the harness is tight enough to prevent her from escaping, but not so tight its uncomfortable. Our advice above should help.
  • People treading on your ferret: If you’re in a busy area, people may not see her, and she could get stood on. Always pick your ferret up if you’re in a busy area.
  • Don’t let your ferret eat anything that’s on the ground. You don’t know what this is, and it could upset her little tummy.
  • Avoid areas with other animals, such as cats and dogs. These could try to attack your ferret.
  • If the weather is hot, be aware that some pavement and road surfaces could be too hot for your ferret to walk on.
  • Be aware of long grass, and the threat of ticks and fleas. Check your ferret for both when you get home.
  • Ensure your ferret’s vaccinations are up to date. Canine Distemper is an airborne virus and the prognosis for infected animals is usually poor.

    Ensure your ferret is given the vaccine suitable for ferrets as the version of the vaccine that’s given to dogs, can be dangerous for ferrets.

Indoor housing for ferrets

You’ll need to provide as large a cage or hutch as possible, and also provide a play area. Liberta offer a range of cages suitable for ferrets.

You shouldn’t house your ferrets in a mesh based cage, as they can trap their feet in the mesh. This can lead to a condition called Bumblefoot - sores and infection on your ferrets feet.

Make sure you clean the housing weekly or twice weekly, as warm weather or heating can quickly cause the ferret housing to smell.

Provide a litter tray in the corner of the cage, and your little ferret will happily use it once trained.

Ferrets are loveable creatures and rely on you for their care. With the right kind of love, care and attention, your ferret should lead a long and happy life.

Did you know that our Ferret insurance can cover £2,000 of vet fees. Cover can be per pet (up to three pets on a policy) or per policy.

Get a quote