Q: I live in New Orleans and have three ferrets. My roommates have started complaining about pet odor, even though I’ve been using Glade like crazy. What can I do?
A: “Don’t ferrets stink?” is a common question ferret lovers hear. Sometimes we’re so defensive we ignore that there may be a nugget of truth there.
People’s scent perception differs greatly. Fragrances some folks love, others loathe. A person may become inured to one strong smell but really notice an unfamiliar one. Ferrets have a musky, woodsy aroma different than cats or dogs. Like wet dogs, a ferret’s signature scent will be stronger in a humid, Louisiana summer.
Air sprays or solid “fresheners” are just a temporary mask. The only way to stop odor is ensuring your pets’ environment is sparkling clean. It’s rarely them that stinks; it’s their stuff. Changing litter/papers daily and washing floors makes a big difference. Carpeting is tough — it may need periodic steam-cleaning. Febreze (safe for pets) can work short-term, but odor-reducing, enzymatic cleaners are more effective on multiple surfaces.
Whatever ferrets touch will pick up the oil from their skin. Wash bedding weekly; try using a natural laundry additive like borax or baking soda. Don’t forget to clean toys. I once used cute woven baskets for beds, but within weeks they reeked. Now I use plastic dish pans that can be scrubbed clean.
Routinely stink-proof cages outdoors by cleaning using a hose. Vinegar is a great, safe cleanser; then dry thoroughly in the sun. One of my friends takes hers to the car wash for a hot bath!
A closed area concentrates odor. The FACT shelter uses 2-foot-tall door barriers to maintain air flow. Recently we were able to purchase a Rabbitair Minus A2 air purifier that’s great! I loved the wall-mount option. In any air cleaner, make sure to look for an activated carbon filter designed for odor control.
While you may never completely eliminate smells, with work they’ll be inoffensive and your roommates can spread the word — ferrets do not smell bad!