Ferret territory marking can be a deal breaker. Some people may adopt a female instead of a male if they think Rudy will be more inclined than Raquel to spray urine around the house to designate his territory. It's true that wild male ferrets routinely leave their mark with urine.
Not Just the Boys
Male ferrets shouldn't be the only ones scrutinized for making a smelly mark. Females instinctively leave a scented calling card too. The compounds in ferret urine are so unique -- and ferrets' sense of smell so proficient -- that their urine identifies who left a mark and what gender the individual is.
Other Marking Behaviors
Ferrets are essentially furry sacks of secretory glands. This gives them a number of options for making sure everyone knows where they've been and what they consider "theirs." In addition to marking with urine, ferrets of both sexes drag their bums, crawl on their bellies and rub their little necks, chins and flanks on things they claim to own.
Reduce Chances of Marking
Maybe in the wild there's reason for ferrets to mark up and down their territorial lines, but there's no need for it in your house. It's the hormones that generate the objectionable musky odor and influence the little guys (and gals) to assert themselves through marking. That's why, just like with dogs and cats, you can reduce your ferret's impulse to spray his markings around your house by having him "fixed" at least by 6 months of age. Also get your ferret's anal glands removed by this time.
Cleaning Ferret Odor
Cleaning the odorous evidence of a ferret marking fest can be difficult or easy, depending on what has been marked. Porous materials like cloth, carpeting and wood will soak up the urine, and no matter what you clean it with, will always have the "eau de ferret." Such items will typically have to be tossed out. If you're cleaning up after a ferret who will no longer be living with you, diluted bleach can be used to clean and disinfect nonporous areas that were marked by the little guy. If you're still living with a ferret, you'll need to use ferret-safe cleansers, like ones found in pet supply stores, or you can make your own by mixing 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 gallon water.
- Penn State University: Life Cycle Care of Small Mammals: Ferrets
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: 20 Strange but Common Ferret Behaviors
- Behavior of Exotic Pets; Valarie V. Tynes
- The Landlord Chronicles; Barbara Barnes Getty
- Exotic Pet Behavior; Teresa Bradley Bays et al.
- Allergic to Pets?; Shirlee Kalstone
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: How to Clean Your Ferret's Cage
- University of Missouri: How to Make Homemade Cleaners
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images