How To Cut Ferret Nails The Right Way: Guide With Steps


How to cut ferret nails?

Can you cut ferret nails?

If you have asked yourself these questions at least once, then you should read this post. I will share with you the most important information about cutting ferret nails. Besides knowing how to cut ferret nails, you will also learn what ferret nail clippers you can use, should you trim ferret nails, and many other useful tips. So, let’s talk about ferret nails!

What Does A Ferret Nail Look Like?

Like cats, ferrets use their claws to climb on things, dig, or investigate their surroundings. But, the anatomy of ferret’s toenails and cats isn’t the same.

What Does A Ferret Nail Look Like

Cat’s claws are retractable, ferrets are more like dog paws. Their nails are long, light and you can see a red line in the middle of the nail if the nail is white. That line is called a quick and we can define it as the innervated core of the nail bed. Its purpose is to provide nutrients to the nail.

Are You Supposed To Cut Ferret Nails?

Yes, you have to. Wild ferret’s ancestors used their nails every day for digging, climbing, and overall investigating so their nails were always short. Our pet ferrets don’t have the opportunity to dig all day and make their nails short, which makes it our job to cut ferret’s nails.

Ferret Nail Can Get Stuck In Fabric

If you let your ferret’s nail become too long, he will have trouble climbing or even walking. There is a high possibility that the ferret’s nails will get tangled in fabric and the ferret can get hurt during the process.

Ferret Nail Can Get Stuck In Fabric

If the ferret gets stuck in the fabric when nails are too long, a ferret will panic. When ferrets panic they jump, twist and act all crazy. That means your ferret can break his nail, or even worse, his paw! That is something we won’t allow since you can trim ferret nails really simple, easy, and fast.

Long Nails Are Sharp!

We mustn’t forget us, humans. Playing with a ferret with long nails can give us unintentional scratches that can result in drawing blood. That is not something we enjoy and the easiest way to get rid of it is to cut nails.

What Do You Need To Cut Ferret Nails?

To cut your ferret nails you don’t need much. You need a towel or an old T-shirt. You need good ferret nail clippers, salmon oil, or some other ferret treat, and a ferret with long nails.

Towel For Nails

You will place a towel beneath your ferret so you can easily clean after cutting ferret nails. It is not required, but I’ve found it useful because it keeps the nails on the fabric. It makes the cleaning process much easier.

Ferret Nail Clippers

When I say “good ferret nail clippers” that means they are sharp, comfortable for you to use, and small enough to cut ferret nails effectively. You can use ferret nail clippers or you can use cat nail clippers. The ones made for dogs are too big and they will get in the way and you won’t be able to see the nail and the quick. Keep it simple, the smaller the better. Some people use human nail clippers which is another good option.

good ferret nail clippers

You can’t get the wrong clippers as long as they are sharp and they clip nails with a clean cut. But, be careful, if you buy a cheap clipper it will become blunt very quickly. If you have more than one ferret, definitely buy quality clippers. All of you with one ferret, you can also buy quality clippers of course, but since you’ll use them rarely for clipping ferret nails, they will last longer. When you buy the quality one, they can last for years, cheap ones you’ll have to buy almost every year.

Salmon Oil Or Paste

Salmon oil or paste are good distractions you can use on your ferret. It is important to use a treat your ferret loves because it will prevent him from moving around and won’t pay attention to you.

How Do You Cut Ferret’s Nails?

This process mustn’t give you or your ferret stress. The first thing you have to do is pick where would you do it. I suggest a place with good lighting, it is important for you to see the quick in the nail. Then, make sure you have everything you need within your reach.

ferret nail clipping equipment

You can clip the nails on the table, on the chair, with a ferret in front of you or in your lap. Whatever is the most comfortable for you and your ferret. I recommend placing a ferret on the table if you aren’t experienced. You will be able to move around if you need a better look.

When everything is set, it is time to start cutting ferret nails.

Step 1: Place The Ferret On The Towel

Place the towel on the table or on your lap. Then place the ferret on the towel on the back so you both look in the same direction. That way you will be above your ferret and you will see his tummy.

Step 1 Place The Ferret On The Towel

Step 2: Place The Oil Or Paste On The Tummy

Once you place a treat on the tummy, your ferret will lay down and won’t move. You won’t exist, the towel won’t exist and you can start clipping. Make sure there is enough oil the tummy so the ferret has something to lick the entire process. If you have oil, you can press the dispenser once to get enough oil. If you have a paste, place almond size on the tummy. That should give you more than enough time for every paw.

Step 2 Place The Oil Or Paste On The Tummy

Step 3: Examine Nails On Front Paws

Slowly grab the paw and examine the nail. I suggest you start with front paws because those nails are bigger and you will be able to see everything. Try to imagine the line where you should cut the nail. That line should be parallel with the ferret standing position, with the bottom of the paw.

Step 3 Examine Nails On Front Paws

Step 4: Clip Nails On Front Paws

Make sure you see the quick in the nail so you don’t cut it. You can slightly push their paw with your finger so he’ll push you back and you’ll see nails better. If you do cut it, your ferret will bleed a little, but it won’t be something serious. Try to avoid that by placing the ferret nail clippers away from it.

Step 3 Clip Nails On Front Paws

Step 5: Clip Nails On Back Paws

If you are done with the front paws you can continue with the back paws. Back paws have smaller nails so you might have more trouble with locating the quick on them. The good thing is that they grow slower than front paws.

Step 4 Clip Nails On Back Paws,

Step 6: Reward Your Ferret

Step by step you are done with the clipping. Remove your ferret from the towel reward it with a little bit more treats and put the towel with nails away. You are done for the next two weeks.

Step 5 Reward Your Ferret


Don’t rush. If you aren’t sure what you are doing take your time. Double-check the quick and do it calmly. Rushing will result in accidents and that shouldn’t be an option. You can even try the entire process without clipping the nails. Try Steps 1-3 so you can see how your ferret will act. You will see you can touch the paw and pull it gently without your ferret noticing if you include a treat.

Ferret Nail Clipping Alternatives

Besides using treats as distractions, there are a few other ways you can cut your ferret’s nails.

Cut When Ferret Sleeps

There is one more way you can cut the nails and that is when your ferret is asleep. If your ferret is a heavy sleeper that shouldn’t be a problem. You can try that. Try to put your sleeping beauty on your lap and test his sleep. Pick one paw and release it. Pick another and repeat. If your ferret didn’t wake up, you have a deep sleeper and you can do it then! Your ferret won’t notice anything and won’t move. You don’t even need a treat for this ferret nail clipping!

Ask Someone For Help

If you live with someone you can ask that someone for help. The other person can hold the ferret and offer your ferret a treat while you focus simply on the nails. I’ve cut my ferret’s nails that way with my brother’s help when I was inexperienced. Today I do it with treats on the tummy.

Ask A Veterinarian

If you are new to the ferret world and you don’t feel like you are ready to clip the nails you can always ask a veterinarian. I would recommend this option to everyone who didn’t have ferrets before. That way you can ask a vet to show you how long you can cut the nails without touching the quick, how to hold a ferret, and many other things that come to your mind when you are there. Once you see how he does it you will feel more comfortable about the entire process and you might even try it yourself the next time!

ask veterinaran to trim ferret nails

Don’t Scruff Your Ferret

There are people who are scruffing ferrets during nail clipping. That is not something I would recommend because scruffing is not something you want your ferret to experience. It is not a generally bad thing but the ferret’s mother used scruffing as a correcting method so your ferret might consider this as a punishment. Remember, ferret nail clipping shouldn’t stress out you or your ferret.

Don't Scruff Your Ferret

When a ferret is stressed, it can become restless and start moving around and that can result in you cutting the quick. So, make sure you have treats at home when you are cutting nails so you can do it without worry.

How Can I Avoid Cutting the Quick?

There are a few things you can do to prevent cutting the quick, so let’s talk about them.

Make Sure You See The Quick

Cut the nails in a well-lit room. You can even use a desk lamp and point to the place you plan to do it (I did that a lot). That is the best way to make sure the quick is easily visible and you can cut away from it.

Use Oil Or Paste

There is no need for scruffing or help when you use a distraction. But, before you decide on the ferret treat, make sure your ferret loves it because it has to keep him occupied during the process. When a ferret is eating (or licking), it won’t move a muscle. Most ferrets are pretty focused on the treat when it is right in front of them and you can do almost everything with them. That is why treats are welcome at the vet too.

Use Sharp Nail Clippers

Good quality nail clippers will help you do the clipping in a short time. Don’t use blunt ones, you will have trouble and your hand might slip. Ferret nail clippers aren’t expensive so you can replace them without hitting your budget too hard.

Make Sure You Are Comfortable

No matter whether you are sitting with a ferret in your lap or you put the ferret on the table, make sure you are comfortable. A comfortable position allows you to focus on other things like the position of the quick for example.


How Often Should You Clip Ferret Nails?

You should cut them every 14 days, give or take. That is an estimation, some ferret nails grow faster, some slower. Look how your ferret interacts and if you see that your ferret has trouble with any type of fabric at all, it is time to cut them. If you can’t see the difference, stick to the two-week period just to be safe.

How Short Should I Cut My Ferrets Nails?

There is one good thing when it comes to the quick on the nail. It shows you how short you can cut your ferret’s nail. The ideal length is a few millimeters away from the quick and parallel to the bottom of the paw. So, don’t touch the quick, move away from and you are set.

What To Do When You Cut Your Ferrets Nails Too Short?

Cutting your ferret’s nails too short means you will cut the quick. That will result in bleeding from the nail and you will get a reaction from your ferret. It will bleed a little, not a lot. If you do that and the nail starts bleeding, you can stop the bleeding with a small amount of cornstarch. If it still doesn’t stop, try to stop it with a tissue. If it still doesn’t stop after more than 10 minutes, you will have to go to the vet.

Unfortunately, you will cut the quick eventually. I think that every ferret owner has experienced that at least once in life. When it happens it is very important not to panic. Calmly hold your ferret and the wound for a couple of minutes to stop the bleeding. Reward your ferret with more oil and kisses and hugs. Your ferret knows you didn’t do it on purpose and it won’t be mad at you.

Can You Declaw A Ferret?

No. Don’t declaw your ferret and don’t declaw your cat. That is a completely unnecessary operation and it won’t result in absolutely anything. The only thing you will do is save a minute of your time every two weeks. Yes, cutting your ferret nails lasts under a minute and you have to do it every 14 days.

If you declaw your ferret you will rip his nails off which may result in hurting your ferret’s every step from that moment. Declawing some consider mutilation and I agree. It doesn’t have a purpose just like descenting. If you don’t know what descenting is, read my post here.


Know that you know how to cut ferret nails, try it. Ask for help if you aren’t sure how to do it but I am sure you will do just fine! Remember, if you use a treat during the process, the ferret won’t even know what you are doing. Do you cut your ferret’s nails alone or do you need someone to help you with the task? Share your experience with us in the comments below! If want to receive good ferret news, subscribe to our Friendly Ferret newsletter!

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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