Q: We have a reverse osmosis unit in our kitchen because our municipal water supply tastes like chlorine. This is what the humans drink and cook with, and we fill the ferrets’ bowl and water bottle daily with fresh water. We also have a water softener system in our home. We have used both sodium chloride and potassium chloride pellets in the unit. Our ferrets have access to this water in the bathrooms via playing in a shallow tub of water, as well as daily human showers, which seem to attract ferrets like bees to honey. All ferrets come running to drink the shower water, which is the municipal water supply that tastes like chlorine with added softener agents. I would like a veterinary opinion about the effects of ingesting the shower water. I don’t let the ferrets at the water once shampoo and soap are used until it is all rinsed down well. Please help. I’ve searched the Internet on this topic and can’t find out how the treated municipal water might affect my ferrets.
A: Ferrets can be very particular about the water they drink. I have seen ferrets turn their noses up at water that has a strong smell but is otherwise healthy to ingest. Ferrets may even become dehydrated by refusing to drink water that they find objectionable.
My belief is that if your ferrets are drinking the shower water and your veterinarian proclaims your ferrets to be healthy, then the water should be fine. If the water is coming from a municipal source and it is healthy for human consumption, it should be healthy for ferret consumption, even if there is a smell of chlorine that you can detect.
Is there a reason that the ferrets enjoy the shower water? It may have nothing to do with the taste or smell of the water, but the “fun” of playing in the shallow tub of water. Ferrets are all about the fun, so the allure of being able to frolic and play may be why they run when they hear the shower.
If you consider this a problem, provide a tub of water from the kitchen for your ferrets to play in. But I suspect your ferrets will always enjoy the fun associated with water coming down from the shower!