Blockage Risks in Your Home

Think your rubber toy is “Indestructible?” THINK AGAIN!!!! There is NO SUCH THING AS INDESTRUCTIBLE RUBBER. A ferret’s teeth and jaws are designed to tear through flesh and crush bones. They can make quick, easy work of even the toughest rubber. Even toys marketed as “chew-proof” and “indestructible” are NOT SAFE for ferrets.  Don’t believe us? Below is a picture of an “Indestructible” rubber toy that a ferret chewed up.

A ferret made short work of this "indestructible rubber" Kong toy. Photo by Kevin Farlee

“But MY ferret NEVER chews.” THINK AGAIN!!!! Over the years we have seen countless ferrets die of intestinal blockages, who had never once shown an inclination towards chewing. Several of those were items/toys that the ferret had had for years and never chewed – until they did. All it takes is ONCE, one day, for your ferret to decide to try their hand at nibbling on something naughty, and before you know it you are at the Emergency Vet with a ferret in critical condition on the operating table.

IT IS NEVER WORTH RISKING YOUR FERRET’S LIFE TO ALLOW THEM ACCESS TO RUBBER OBJECTS!!!!

Below are some real-life examples of objects that ferrets have chewed up. These are just some of the EDIBLE DANGERS IN YOUR HOME:

Remember that every ferret is different. It is important to know your ferret – there may be items in your house that your ferret could chew that are not listed here. Careful ferret proofing and close supervision can help save you from a disaster. Please check all toys regularly for damage and remove any damaged toys.

Rope Toys:

These should be permitted only with close, ACTIVE supervision. 

RE the chicken toy pictured below: “This toy used to have small tennis balls (dangerous!!) on it. I cut them off. It’s now in the toy dungeon because of the rope though.”

Laptop Case:

Watch out for electronics cases or other bags with a zipper lining and foam padding such as this laptop case.

Electronic toys:

Toys with small parts inside can be dangerous.

Elastic Cords and Small Fixtures/Decals on Furniture:

The mattress – there used to be a thick elastic cord running between those 2 holes. Elastic = rubber. We cut it off. He chewed the mattress as well as you can see. We also have no mattress pad because they dug it to shreds and the fluff was dangerous.

Plastic Eyes, Noses, and other “Attachments” on Stuffed Toys:

Beware any plastic attachment on stuffed toys – this is a commonly chewed on item! Other attachments and even layered fabrics, such as the eyes shown missing on the triceratops below, can be a temptation to chew.

Rubber Feet:

These are EVERYWHERE!! Rubber feet on the bottom of electronics, stools, decor, etc are ubiquitous and frequently overlooked blockage hazards. These are very easily removed by a curious tooth, and the perfect size to obstruct a ferret intestine.

Rubber Bases on Dishes:

Another commonly overlooked and very dangerous item in the house are the non-slip rubber rims on pet foot and water dishes. Note also that rubber/silicone foot mats and litter trapper mats are also not safe to use.

Electric Cords:

A favorite chewing attraction for many ferrets is rubber cords. Keep all cords covered, blocked off, or otherwise out of reach, and be sure you KNOW the climbing and jumping ability of your ferret – note the last photo of a cord on a bathroom counter, which a ferret was able to scale to reach and chew on the cord.

Drawstrings:

What? Really? Yep – the plastic or knotted ends of drawstrings can be a temptation for some ferrets who are particularly prone to chewing. One ferret, Koda, ended up on the operating table after eating the end of a drawstring from a shirt.

Soft and Medium Consistency Plastic Toys:

Only HARD plastic toys should be allowed. If the plastic is soft or, as in the toy bottle pictured below, a medium consistency plastic, it will NOT withstand the strength of a ferret’s teeth/jaws. 

Human Food:

Be careful of where you store your food, and whether any food has been left out in ferret reach. Most human food items are unhealthy for ferrets, and some are toxic – including chocolate, grapes and raisins, garlic, and onions among others. The packaging can also cause a blockage if ingested while trying to get to the food within. Nuts, raisins, chunks of raw vegetables, and other hard chunks in human food can also pose a blockage risk.

Silicone Cases:

Silicone cases on electronics (phone, iPad, laptop, etc), and other silicone items are very easily chewed and ingested by curious ferrets and must be kept out of reach at all times.

Rattle Toy Contents:

Think small items are safe inside a toy? Think again! The bells and rattles inside of toys can easily cause a blockage if the toy is opened.

Below is a childproof vitamin bottle filled with vegetable noodles to make a rattle toy – the ferret managed to wedge a tooth under the lid and remove the childproof (childproof but not ferret proof!) lid and eat the noodles inside. Thankfully in this case the rattle contents were while not healthy, at least digestible, and he did not get a blockage. 

Also beware of cat toy bell balls that are CAGES rather than SOLID plastic. The caged balls are very easily crushed by a ferret, “freeing” the bell inside. The bell is then the perfect size to swallow and either choke on or cause a blockage. Even the solid plastic balls can crack open (i.e. if stepped on by a human), and should be checked for cracks regularly.

Kitchen Tools:

Many ferret owners allow their ferrets access to the kitchen, including the kitchen drawers. If you do, be aware of kitchen items that can be chewed including, but not limited to: foam or rubber handle covers (see knife below), silicone lid liners, spatulas, etc.

Shoes:

Ferrets should NEVER be allowed access to shoes. Shoe insoles/inserts are a VERY commonly chewed item and pose a high risk for blockages. In addition to the inserts, the rubber soles, and even parts of the shoe itself (such as the leather shoe pictured below) are tempting items to chew on.

Foam:

It should go without saying that if rubber is dangerous, foam is even more so, but you would be surprised how often we see ferrets given access to foam toys and decor. While you may find it funny to find a ferret covered in “snow,” from foam packaging, this is a terrifyingly dangerous situation. DO NOT let your ferrets shred foam packaging. If making a dig box, be sure to use STARCH packing peanuts and NEVER styrofoam. (Note: starch peanuts will dissolve in water, stryofoam ones will not). Remove access to all foam decor, toys, packaging, and other objects.

Houseplants:

While less likely to cause a blockage, houseplants can also be chewed on and may be toxic. See the ASPCA’s List of Poisonous Plants for a helpful, but not necessarily exhaustive, list of toxic plants.

ANYTHING RUBBER:

Ferrets should NEVER be allowed access to ANYTHING rubber. This includes rubber toys (see note above about “indestructible” rubber), rubber feet and cords as described above, balloons (which can pop and scatter small rubber choking and blockage hazards around the house), etc.

Note: Also be aware of any rubber “Adult Toys” or adult personal items (i.e. menstrual cups) that may be in reach – many ferrets have been known to make off with these).

Rubber is NEVER safe for ferrets.

Stuffed Toys:

If you choose to allow your ferrets access to stuffed toys, examine them regularly for wear and tear. Once ripped or damaged, they should be discarded as the stuffing can be ingested. In addition to a blockage hazard, many toy stuffings become highly TOXIC once they contact stomach acid. Some toys also contain small beans, plastic beads, or Styrofoam which are dangerous if ingested.

Toiletries, Medications, and Chemicals:

Much like toddlers, you need to ensure that all chemicals, medications, and toiletries are kept out of reach and locked to prevent ferret access. Pills and plastic packaging may cause blockages, and the contents may be toxic if ingested.

Rawhide, Pig’s Ears, and other Dog “Chew Toys:”

These items are not safe for dogs, much less ferrets!

Tennis Balls:

Made with rubber, and the fabric feels oh so good on their gums, making chewing almost irresistible – Tennis balls are NOT safe!

Fluffy Bedding/Litter:

While often marketed for ferrets, fluffy bedding is not actually recommended for use in ferrets, even as litter. We have had several ferrets ingest this bedding and end up with a blockage. Additionally, ferrets love to stash their food in their litter box, which can cause the litter to stick to the food and be ingested accidentally, even if your ferret is not one for otherwise eating naughty items!

Ferret Toys:

If you have read other pages on this website you might notice we have begun to sound like a broken record – just because something is marketed towards ferrets does not mean it is safe for ferrets – the famous octopus and turtle beds sold for ferrets for example, have a foam lining that begins to break apart with use, and can be ingested even by ferrets who are not prone to chewing. Many popular ferret toys pose serious health risks. Even toys that are generally considered “safe,” should be regularly inspected for damage and discarded when damage occurs (i.e. the crinkle tunnel that a ferret decided to chew, pictured below).