Ferrets sleep about 18 hours per day, so ensuring they have a comfortable place to do so is crucial for their happiness. So, it might get you wondering—can you use straw for ferrets?
Straw doesn’t make good bedding for ferrets because it can cause health problems. Continue reading for details about why you shouldn’t use straw for ferrets and learn about safe alternatives.
You shouldn’t use straw for ferrets because ferrets have sensitive upper respiratory tracts. Straw contains dust, doesn’t absorb well, and may contain mold.
Straw isn’t safe for ferrets. If your ferret spends a lot of time in straw bedding, they might begin to suffer respiratory issues including:
- Sneezing and coughing
- Nasal and eye discharge
- Difficulty breathing
Furthermore, if your ferrets get bored, they may try to eat their straw bed. That can cause dangerous intestinal blockages, for ferrets are strict carnivores; their bodies can’t process fiber well.
Therefore, any bedding you use should be inedible so that your ferret maintains the high protein and fat diet that they need.
Straw is terrible bedding for ferrets because it has lots of dust that can damage their respiratory system, opening the opportunity for severe infections like pneumonia. If your ferret’s straw bedding gets wet, you may also have to worry about harmful mold and bacteria growing.
In fact, the National Ag Safety Database argues that farm air isn’t as fresh as people assume—a condition called “Farmer’s Lung” is common among farmers. It occurs from farmworkers breathing in dust from moldy crops, including straw.
Although you can train your ferret to use a litter box, accidents can happen. Furthermore, they may accidentally spill their water while playing or kick soiled litter onto their bedding.
If they do this on straw bedding, the straw won’t absorb the liquid well. That creates an uncomfortable environment for your ferret, a mess for you to clean, and the possibility for bacteria and mold to grow.
There are several excellent beddings for ferrets, including recycled paper, wood pellets, and towels.
So, instead of asking, “Can you use straw for ferrets?” consider using the safe alternatives below.
Recycled paper is an absorbent, dust-free, and economical bedding for ferrets.
There are several ways you can use paper products as bedding for your ferret. For example, you can cut newspaper into strips and pile it into your ferret’s cage. Cutting up the paper creates bulkiness and makes it easier for your ferret to burrow.
You can also purchase packaged paper bedding. The advantage of this is that many packaged paper ferret beddings come with odor control properties.
One of our favorite paper-based beddings for ferrets is Vitakraft’s Fresh World Strength Crumble Bedding. Its super soft crumbles are gentle on a ferret’s sensitive feet. Plus, it absorbs three times its weight and is 99.5% dust-free.
Using towels and clothing for bedding offer your ferrets lots of warmth and fun for them to burrow beneath.
As with newspapers, it’s best to rip your old clothes and towels into pieces. That way, your ferret will have more liberty to craft a home in their bedding.
That said, you should consider leaving pant legs and long-sleeve shirts mostly intact, for your ferret will enjoy using them as tunnels.
Aspen shavings can make good ferret bedding as long as you purchase it in a package that states it’s safe for small animal use.
Under most circumstances, wood shavings aren’t safe for ferret bedding since, like straw, they contain a lot of dust. However, aspen is a nearly dust-free hardwood. It also doesn’t have the essential oils that softwood does, which can also harm your ferret’s respiratory system.
Look for aspen shavings that are all-natural without additives. Like using paper for ferret bedding, you can compost or recycle aspen shavings, making them a great option for environmentally conscious ferret owners.
A ferret hammock should never replace bedding, which ferrets should have on the floor of their cage. However, ferrets enjoy dark, cozy places to sleep. So, a ferret hammock is an excellent addition to their standard bedding.
Because ferret hammocks are so popular, many ferret cages come with hooks to hang them. In either case, test your hammock before you give your ferrets free range of it to ensure it can safely support their weight.
It’s not okay to use straw for ferrets because straw often contains dust and mold that are harmful to a ferret’s respiratory tract. Instead, you should use ferret-safe products that you can purchase or make at home, such as recycled paper, clothing, and aspen shavings.