Author: Lorelei (with edits by HFF Admin)
Original Forum Post: Litterbox Boot Camp
I’ve gotten a few stubborn rescues in who had never seen a litter box before coming to me, and I’ve had just about 100% success with the right training and environment!
You need to go back to basics first – think litter box boot camp!!
– Take out all shelves, hammocks, and the like.
– Lay down a single layer of fleece or baby blanket of your choice. Make sure to cover the entire floor and up the sides slightly.
– Get a large, square/rectangular litter box. NEVER try to train using those corner boxes. Mine all use dish pans (you know, those things that fit into the sink). The litter box then gets fixed into the farthest corner away from the door or other activities of the cage (3ft squared). You can secure the box with the eyelet/dowel method, string, or zip-ties. *For Ferret Nation/Critter Nation cages, you can buy a 28 qt Sterilite under-bed storage bin for about $5 that fits PERFECTLY.
– Large ceramic bowls or locking crocks for food and water go into another corner.
– A hanging toy gets tied into a third corner just to get in the way of backing up.
– 3,4, or 5 (whatever it takes) fleece blankets are then dumped in and spread about to cover every single inch of floor space. (It is even better if they have slept in these blankets for a few days so they smell familiar).
– Fresh poo is put into the farthest corner of the litter box.
– Next get a large cardboard box or something similar to drape over the back quadrant of the cage, making that area darker and away from you and possible distractions.
– Put the ferret in box and put their nose to poo (DON’T RUB THEIR NOSE IN IT – it’s useless) just make sure they get a good whiff.
– Let go… MANY times they’ll immediately back up and go – then it is high praise time!
– Watch the ferret very carefully but from a distance. If you see them backing up hollar to get his attention, dash over to pick him up, and put him in the litter box. Give him a whiff of the poo corner and dont let him out of the box until he goes.
– If there ARE messes clean them up completely!!! Immediately dump them into the tray.
– When cleaning the tray for the first week only change the litter – don’t scrub the box and always put a fresh poo in the proper corner and give him a sniff when you put it back in place.
I’ve trained 3 week old kits, 12 week old hooligans, 2 yr old neglected adults, 8 yr old elderlies and everything in between with this method. Keep with it…it works.