Winter has arrived and it is time to turn on your thermostat. First, a question: How is your house heated? Will the heating units be a danger to your ferret(s)? How about the dry air/heat?
American housing employs a variety of heating methods. Forced hot water is usually found in baseboard units or radiators in homes. Ferrets can be very good at prying the covers off baseboard units, exposing themselves to the hot pipes. Radiators for steam / hot water provide the same danger – burns from contact with hot metal. Radiators and baseboard heaters need to be isolated from your ferrets to prevent burns. In the event that you find a burn on a ferret, follow this advice: immerse the burned area in cool water, and get to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Dehydration and shock can occur in severe burn situations, and pain medication will be needed in all cases.
Different dangers exist with forced hot air heaters. Ferrets have been known to crawl into vent systems, requiring owners to search the house with squeaky toys while disassembling the ductwork. Make sure all vents are securely fastened.
Heating of all types leads to dry air in the house. Humidifiers and an increase in water available to all pets will offset the dehydrating effects of dry heat. Vaseline or aloe can be used on dry noses and paws.
Keeping ferrets free from drafts in the winter months will deter chances of colds. Check the walls and windows to make sure they are tight from drafts — moving ferret housing to an inside wall is always a good plan. Common colds left untreated can cause dehydration and death of your pet ferret.
Remember, it is also important to make sure your ferrets don’t get overheated. Ferrets are most comfortable at temperatures of 55-68 degrees, and actually like playing outside in the snow in many cases. A few blankets or snuggle sacks in a cool room and your ferrets will be all set to face the winter cold.