Ferret Grooming Guide: Nail Cutting, Ear Cleaning & Bathing


What does it mean to groom a ferret?

What includes ferret grooming?

In today’s post, I want to talk about ferret grooming. What does it include, how do you do it, can you do it by yourself and how often should you do it. Those are the questions I am going to answer so if you want to know the answers, let’s continue with the topic!

What Includes Ferret Grooming?

Grooming means taking care of something or someone, in this case, ferrets. When we say that we have to groom a ferret, it means we have to keep the ferret clean and healthy. So, ferret grooming includes cleaning ears, cutting nails, brushing teeth, giving ferret a bath, and overall checkup once in a while.

ferret grooming

Do Ferrets Need To Be Groomed?

Ferrets love to clean themselves, especially their fur and paws, so you don’t have to worry about that part, but there are a few things you have to do for them. So, here I am going to share with you what are those things and how should you do them. You can do them alone or you can ask for help, which option makes you more comfortable.

Ferret Nail Cutting

The first thing you should do if you want to groom your ferret is to cut his nails. Ferrets don’t have retractable claws like cats, they have long and slender nails, similar to cats in the structure but without the retracting part. If a ferret is in the wilderness, he would use nails for digging, defense, attack, and overall exploring. Since pet ferrets are mostly indoor pets, they can’t use their nails like they would in nature. That means they can’t shorten their nails so you have to do it for them.

Ferret Nail Cutting

Ferret nail cutting isn’t a complicated task, as long as you keep in mind a few things. You have to avoid a quick, which is a blood vessel in the nail, and you have to cut them parallel to the floor. There are a few methods you can use for cutting nails. Some of them include a ferret treat and others include help in form of another person or even a veterinarian. This is a task you should do around every 14 days. Some ferrets grow their nails quicker, some slower, so make sure to observe your ferret and react when it is needed. One of the best ways to know that your ferret needs nail clipping is to look at the nail and you will see if it is too long, it will be sharper than usual. If you are looking for a step-by-step guide, visit my post about ferret nail clipping.

Ferret Ear Cleaning

Ear cleaning is another task you should do, not your ferret. When you look in the ferret’s ear you will notice ear wax and that is natural. The ear wax of a healthy ferret should be light brown to reddish in color. That means it is darker than yellowish or orange like we humans have. If you notice that there is too much ear wax or that it is dark brown, even black, it means something is wrong. Darker wax usually means your ferret has trouble with ear mites and the best way to determine if that is true is to visit the vet.

Ferret Ear Cleaning

A good way to clean the ferret’s ear is to use a treat, like nail clipping task. Ferrets love treats and if you find the one that makes them distracted, you can use it for everything, from training to grooming. The best way to clean ferrets’ ears is if one person does it because their ears are small. Two persons around the ferret’s ear are a crowd. There are a few ways for you to do it and you can read all about cleaning ears, proper equipment, and tips in my post about ferret ear cleaning.

Brushing Ferret’s Teeth

It is a good idea to provide your ferret proper dental care. Dental care consists of regular teeth checkups, removing debris, and taking care of the ferret’s gums. If you feed your ferret with kibble, then you should check his teeth and gums every now and then. Every few weeks you should brush your ferret’s teeth so you can remove plaque buildup made by that type of nutrition. If you feed your ferret with raw meat nutrition that consists of meat, organs, and bones, then you don’t have to brush his teeth. They are removing debris by chewing on the bones and they are strengthening the muscles in their jaws too. But, you still have to observe them and make sure they are all in a good shape.

Brushing Ferret's Teeth

Before you brush your ferret’s teeth is it a good idea to get him used to the fact that you will put your finger in his mouth. So, first, grab his head and gently start massaging his jaw and gums on the outside of the mouth. When he doesn’t fight that anymore, you can start brushing the actual teeth. That includes a special toothpaste recommended by your vet and a small toothbrush (for cats is OK) also vet-approved. Brushing should happen twice a month.

Check Your Ferret For Fleas

Fleas are stubborn pests that invade every furry animal there is, including ferrets. If you keep your ferret inside and you don’t have any other pets, it is a small chance your ferret will have fleas. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to check his fur from time to time. Besides regular fur checkups, you should check his behavior. If your ferret is scratching more than before, it could be due to the fleas so it is a good idea to visit the vet for confirmation.

Check Your Ferret For Fleas

If your ferret has fleas, there are special flea medications you can use to get rid of them. But, you should get them only with a vet prescription and with recommended dosage given by your veterinarian. Follow the vet’s instructions so you don’t harm your ferret. There is one more thing you should do if your ferret has fleas. You should clean every corner of the house. If your ferret has trouble with fleas, read my post about ferret flea treatment to gather information.

Bathe Your Ferret If Necessary

This grooming part shouldn’t be your task. Ferrets love to clean themselves so regular bath time isn’t something you need to do. Actually, it is not a good idea to bathe your ferret too often because you can cause skin irritation which might result in too much scratching and wounds all over his body. So, why is it a part of the ferret grooming process? Because at least once in your life you will have to bathe your ferret. That will happen when your ferret will get dirty, for example, dig into the flower pot.

Bathe Your Ferret

That is why this is a task you should know how to do, but without actually doing it. Bathing a ferret should be a quick process and you should use mild shampoos or even an oatmeal bath so you don’t cause skin irritation. You should put everything you need within your reach so you can keep an eye on your ferret in the bath. How should you do it and why you can read in my post about bathing ferrets.

Check Your Ferret Once A Week

If you can, grab your ferret once a week and do a thorough check-up. Look at his body, his fur, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and nails. If your ferret is energetic and doesn’t like to be held then do every day one thing. For example, start on Monday and check his fur. Tuesday check his ears, Wednesday his nail, etc. This way you can be sure that your ferret is in good shape.

Why Should You Check Your Ferret?

The first reason is pretty logical, you want your ferret to be healthy and happy. If you regularly check your ferret you can easily recognize some changes in his body and in his behavior. That means you can react in time if there is some health problem.

Why Should You Check Your Ferret

Another reason is that with this behavior, you are training your ferret. You are making him endure your checkups which eventually leads to having a well-mannered ferret when you are at the vets or even ferret shows. With this simple habit, you can make a vet’s job much easier because your ferret will get used to people looking at his ears, teeth, eyes, etc.

What Should You Check?

You should check everything there is on a ferret. A good idea is to start with the fur. Check for fleas, bald spots, wounds, and overall fur quality. A healthy ferret should have thick, clean, and shiny fur without bald spots. The next thing on your check-up list is ferret nails. Check if they are too long or if they are splitting. They should almost touch the floor and they mustn’t split.

healthy looking ferret

The nose and the eyes are easy to check, you should only look at them. The eyes should be without any discharge and the nose should be regular color (depends on the type of ferret). The last thing on the list you should check is the ears. Look in the ears and observe the structure, color, and amount of ear wax. Also, notice the behavior because a ferret shouldn’t scratch too much around the ears.

How Do Ferrets Groom Themselves?

Ferret grooming is similar to cats. They clean their fur regularly, just like they wash their paws and their face. Ferrets lick their fur and paws and then use their paws to wash their face. They usually do that when they are relaxed or sleepy. I must admit, it is a pretty adorable sight once you see it.

ferret is cleaning


Grooming is important if you want to keep your ferret happy and healthy. Besides keeping his nails and ears under control, this is a good way for your ferret to get used to people handling him. It is a good idea to set a schedule for every task and stick to it. That way you both will develop a routine that makes everything easier. What are your favorite grooming routines? Share your thoughts with us right here!

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Anja Delic
Anja is a Friendly Ferret owner and a ferret parent who is involved in the ferret world for more than 10 years. She started her Friendly Ferret blog when she got her first ferret Frida 8 years ago. In 2013, Friendly Ferret was recognized as a great source of information and it has become a good ferret brand for education, products, and fun. Since then, Anja was a part in many ferrets shows as a sponsor and as a judge, and she met many great and interesting people who share the same passion as her - ferrets. Anja is always opened for suggestions and advice, so if you have something to ask or say about ferrets, feel free to contact her on Instagram, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter or support@friendlyferret.com