Ferret Poop: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: September 15, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/FaST_9
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The ferret is a mammal belonging to the genus Mustela and the family Mustelidae. It is known scientifically as the Mustela furo and can be found across Europe, especially in forests and grasslands. They are an excellent pet choice thanks to their cuteness, playfulness, and intelligence. Like most other mammals, ferrets poop and there’s a whole system to it as we shall be exploring in this article. Stay tuned!

What Does Ferret Poop Look Like?

A normal ferret poop has a tan-brown or dark-brown color and it looks quite firm. It has a tubular shape and looks very much like toothpaste. When a ferret’s poop is any color that isn’t brown, it could be an indication of a problem in the digestive system. For example, green ferret poop may be an indication of an illness called epizootic catarrhal enteritis, which affects the intestinal tract. Dark green poop may also just be an indication of stress, while bloody ferret poop might mean a problem with the rectum. In the same vein, runny poop means possible diarrhea and mucus poop indicates an unalarming problem in the bowels. 

On the whole, healthy ferret poop should be tan-brown in color and should have a firm, tubular structure. Anything apart from this might be an indication of stress, a change of diet, or a serious illness. 

How Do Ferrets Poop?

Ferrets have a very noticeable penchant for pooping and peeing in corners. They would go to corners, turn their hindquarters and let it out. They often poop without any struggle and are normally done with the whole thing in a matter of seconds. Sometimes, after they are done, they give the poop a nice little smell before going their way. Gross, right?

Where Do Ferrets Poop?

ferret
Ferrets like to poop in corners

Irina Vasilevskaia/Shutterstock.com

As we mentioned before, ferrets like to poop in corners. Doing their business at corners is their way of protecting themselves against any onslaught from enemies and predators. When they are adopted as pets, their natural instinct is to pick several corners around the house to poop which can get really messy. So, if you have a pet ferret, experts advise getting a litter pan and making sure it is the right size. Ferrets are pretty intelligent, so you can effectively potty-train them by yourself or with the help of a trainer. You can also get multiple litter boxes and put them around the house to get your ferrets familiar with the idea. 

How Often Do Ferrets Poop?

Adult ferrets poop every 3-4 hours and the youngins are even more frequent poopers. That explains why they can mess up a house with their poop in one day if they are not properly potty-trained. However, if the poop frequency becomes a lot higher than 3-4 hours, there could be a problem. 

Why Do Ferrets Poop So Often?

Ferrets poop every three to four hours and it’s pretty normal to wonder why exactly they have to poop that much. The major reason for this is their simple digestive system which processes ingested food in a short amount of time and makes for fast metabolism. In addition, ferrets like to eat frequently; they enjoy having something to munch on every now and then, which, of course, impacts their poop frequency. 

Does Ferret Poop Smell?

Ferret poop actually smells very bad and it can get pretty uncomfortable, especially for people who do not care for them. In addition to the poop smell, they also have anal glands that secrete foul smell as some sort of defense mechanism which gives them a permanently offensive odor. 

What Do Ferrets Eat?

ferret
As pets, owners can opt to feed ferrets live or pre-killed mice and rabbits.

Fayzulin Serg/Shutterstock.com

Ferrets are predominantly carnivorous animals, not just as a matter of preference, but as a matter of NEED. Ferrets require huge amounts of protein, hence a carnivorous diet is what suits them, at least in the wild. Speaking of the wild, ferret prey includes mice, gophers, birds, rabbits, amphibians, and smaller mammals, among others. As pets, owners can opt to feed them live or pre-killed mice and rabbits. They can also make do with chicken, turkey, eggs, and commercial ferret food with at least 40% protein. 

In case you were wondering, ferrets should not be fed fruits, grains, vegetables, or anything that is not proteinous. Not only do they not like veggies, it is borderline poisonous for them and could impact their health and reduce their lifespan

Is Ferret Poop Harmful?

One big downside to being around ferrets is the likelihood of getting infected. Ferrets are carriers of viruses, bacteria, and skin parasites. They can carry the Salmonella bacteria and Campylobacter in their intestinal tracts, and contact with their feces could cause campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis in humans. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, and long-lasting fever.

There is also the microscopic parasite known as the Giardia which affects the small intestine and can be contacted by humans through contact with ferret feces. The parasite causes the Giardia infection which is symptomatized by diarrhea, nausea, and even possible miscarriage in pregnant women.

These diseases are mostly harmless for people with strong immune systems but can cause serious illnesses in babies below the age of five and adults above 65. The simple way to forestall this is washing one’s hands thoroughly after contact with ferret feces. Owners should also book regular appointments with vets for checkups and diagnoses. 

Can Ferret Poop Be Used As Manure?

black-footed ferret peeking beyond burrow
Ferrets poop can not be used as manure.

iStock.com/Kerry Hargrove

Poop from many animals is useful as organic fertilizers in farmlands. While manure can be sourced from a long list of animals, the ferret is not one of them. Due to their hugely carnivorous and proteinous diet, ferret poop contains bacteria and parasites that can be harmful to plants and even to people who eat plants fertilized with it. Putting it in compost may not work either as this plan may backfire and contaminate the rest of the compost. As tempting as it may seem, one should never use ferret poop as manure. You are better off using poop from herbivorous animals like cows, sheep, pigs, and the like. 

Is Ferret Poop Useful?

In all honesty, ferret poop is not useful for much and there is absolutely no reason to keep them around. They do more harm than good and owners should always dispose of them as quickly as possible. 

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Sources
  1. AdviceHub, Available here: https://petopedia.petscorner.co.uk/looking-after-ferrets/
  2. Friendly Ferret, Available here: https://friendlyferret.com/ferret-poop/
  3. Gardening Know How, Available here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/manures/ferret-poop-in-compost.htm