Tips for Ferrents with a Busy Lifestyle
This has come up multiple times so I felt it deserved its own section. This was a reply I posted in an earlier forum thread with some tips on what I have found to work.
Many (I’d almost venture to say most) ferret owners work full time or more. It is very doable. When I got my boys my SO and I were both going to school full time and I was also working to support myself and pay for school. Many times I was working almost full time in addition to my school schedule. Following graduation I was working full time. First a standard 5 days 8 hours job, and then working four 10’s (which often turned into 12 hour shifts). Now my SO and I are both in medical school, which is a full time job and then some just in itself. Our days in the hospital run average 12 hours (5 days a week), and we occasionally have to do night-shifts and 24-hour shifts. When we get home, we still have to catch up on studying. While it isn’t always easy we have always been able to make time for the ferrets. Yes, some days they just don’t get out – not many, but there are some. It happens, they get over it, and we make up for it with extra loves later.
Ferrets are very adept at adjusting their schedules to fit ours.
Another thing to remember as well is that though our ferrets love us, and need interaction, you don’t have to be interacting with them constantly while they are out. They will find plenty to do by themselves – exploring, stashing things, wrestling, playing tag with each other, getting into stuff… We try to let the boys out as much as possible when we are home. The bedroom is ferret proofed and we let them run around while we read or study. We take breaks during studying to play games of chase, and they have no problem interrupting us when they want attention either by climbing on the bed and stomping across our papers or attacking our feet. We take them on short walks when it is nice enough out, whenever one of us has to go to the bathroom we take them with us for a short change of scenery (and when I wash my hands I flick the water at them and chase them around – Koda loves that game). We hand wrestle with one hand while holding flash cards with the other, we scoop them up whenever they come close and give them snuggles or play peek-a-boo with the blankets…. We have always been able to make time for them and give them plenty of attention and “lovin’s” and play time.
To help alleviate the days when we are super busy or have a huge test to cram for I purchased the big Marshall’s 11-panel playpen (get the PEN from Ferret.com or Amazon.com) and cover (COVER from Ferret.com or Amazon.com). This way we can use the cover as a mat. Then when we don’t want to worry about Koda eating everything within reach or Kenai forgetting where the litter box is every 10 minutes, we can put them in the pen. Then they still get some play time out of the cage. Even if it’s not as good as free roaming the bedroom or playing chase with mom, it will be better than nothing on those days when life is just too hectic. Even then though they always get love every day. Even the few days that are too crazy to let them out, we give them snuggles and loves. Hopefully the pen will reduce those days, as few as they are.
When we are gone during the day or at home but not in the room, the boys are always in their cage. We rotate toys and bedding. We also have foraging toys that help to keep them occupied during the day. To be honest though they sleep most of the time we are gone – remember that ferrets sleep 14-18 hours a day. They will probably snooze while you are at work and be ready to gogogo when you get home.