What to Put into Your Ferret Dig Box
Many ferret parents search for an outlet for their ferret’s natural exuberance for digging. One solution is a ferret dig box. A ferret dig box contents can have many options and there are many alternatives.
Personally, I am not a fan of typical ferret dig boxes. Since these boxes are shallow, they can be quite messy. Ferrets dig around and scatter the contents everywhere. Some people put a lid on it, but there still needs to be openings so the ferret can breathe. And if you are making holes in plastic, there are sharp edges that can hurt your ferret (and you). Then there is the association with the litter box. I had a friend who had a ferret, Willie. Willie was quite tidy about his litter box. He always tried to go in one corner and kept the rest clean. He never played in it or scattered the litter around his cage. Then he was given a dig box–a dishpan filled with rice. He loved it. Rice was everywhere! Then one day, Willie made the association. Rice was kind of like litter. They are both in a box. He had such a good time digging around in his dig box, he decided it would be just as much fun to dig in his nice (mostly clean) litter box!
Options and Alternatives
Similar to a ferret dig box, one of the best toys for a ferret is a play box. This is not the same as a ferret dig box–it’s much larger–at least deeper. This alternative to a ferret dig box gives ferrets the joy of digging combined with the instinct for tunneling. Some of the ferret dig box contents can be used in the ferret play box as well.
You can be creative with the type of box you use. You want it to be large enough and deep enough so your ferret has enough room to dig, burrow, jump around and play. It also needs to be sturdy enough so it doesn’t fall apart or collapse. Some options are: a large, sturdy cardboard box, a plastic storage bin, a plastic trash can, a laundry basket or a laundry hamper. If you really want a large ferret play box, you can even use a cat, dog, or child playpen– or even a kiddie pool–one of the deeper ones.
Then you need to consider what to fill the box with. There are many options for play box contents, such as shredded newspaper, crinkled up paper, leaves you raked outside, ping pong balls or even plastic Easter eggs.
One of my ferrets, Panda, loved to play in dried leaves. I would rake up a bunch and dump them in a huge moving box. She would disappear under the leaves and burrow around–sticking her head out once in a while to make sure she wasn’t missing anything.
Don’t use shredded newspaper if you use that in the litter box. You don’t want your ferret seeing this as a giant litter box! If you are using a laundry basket or a box with holes, you will, of course, need to choose a box content option that won’t come out of the holes easily.
Also, make sure what you use is non-toxic and safe for ferrets. Some people have used packing peanuts. I strongly recommend against this unless they are the non-toxic starch peanuts. These peanuts are not easy to find, however. Some packing peanuts say they are biodegradable. That doesn’t mean they are safe. That only means they will eventually break down–unlike some others. They may be better for the environment, but not for your ferret. If your ferret eats some of these peanuts, it can cause intestinal blockage.
Some people have tried rice, dried beans or pasta. Rice and beans are too heavy for a deep box and pasta breaks into tiny pieces. Never use instant rice. If swallowed, it quickly swells up in your ferret’s stomach and can cause serious problems. Some people use dirt or sand, but this is messy. Plus, it encourages the same behavior with house plants!
There are pros and cons to these content options and alternatives. You may want to try a few different safe ones and see what you and your ferret like best.
If you want a fun and easy solution, you can buy ready-made ferret play boxes. One type that many ferrets and their parents love is the Pop-N-Play Ball Pit. This play box is specially made for ferrets. The 14″ x 14″ x 10″ play pit comes with a velcro strap so you can attach it to your ferret’s cage. It folds up for easy storage and comes with 35 plastic balls. For even more fun, you can buy extra balls and even attach a tunnel–Super-Thru-Way, which is available as an accessory.
I know a ferret parent who got one of these for her 2 ferrets because it’s compact and she has a small apartment. She got the ball pit and the Super-Thru Way Tunnel accessory (She later got more balls to fill the ball pit fuller). Her ferrets love it. One of her ferrets, Rocky, loves to take the balls through the tunnel. He often drags 15 or more in there. The great thing about this play ball pit is that if you get the Super-Thru Way with it, you have 2 different toys in one. You can use the tunnel separately. It can be laid out straight or looped and twisted around.
Ferret Dig Box Contents–Options and Alternatives
Ferrets love to burrow and dig. They are always going to dig in or at something and burrow underneath something. Play boxes work well to give your ferret a place all his own to dig and tunnel. It may even help lessen or eliminate digging at furniture, at the carpet and in the litter box. An appropriate play box provides your ferret with a safe, fun, non-destructive place to satisfy his digging and burrowing instincts.
What types of boxes and contents do you use that work well?
Your comments are welcome.