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Do Ferrets Stink?

Do Ferrets Stink?

I just became a ferret mom and was so excited for this new role! I was sharing this great news at my workplace and couldn’t wait any longer to return back to my domestic ferret. As I entered my house, I was engulfed with a strong peculiar smell, which had me thinking, Do Ferrets Stink?

It’s not that I am very sensitive to smell, however, I could not ignore the musky scent and somewhat stinky odor of my ferret. 

I immediately went into action and did a full research regarding my furry friend’s smell. And guess what, I had answers to many of my questions! Read on to know all about your dear pet’s odor.

Do Ferrets Stink? Top 4 Reasons!

A simple answer to Do Ferrets Stink is a YES. However, this stink can be controlled and reduced by following various methods. Before trying to control the smell, let’s take a look at why do ferrets stink?

Do Ferrets Stink?

1. Release of Smell from Their Anal Glands

Ferrets possess anal glands which secrete an extremely strong smell. Your ferret’s anal glands will release a strong smell under the following situations:

A. Communicating With Another Ferret

Since your furry friend cannot talk, the strong smell is a way in which your ferret will try to communicate with other ferrets.

B. Your Ferret Might Feel a Sense of Danger

As ferrets belong to the Mustelid family, they release “stink bombs” through their anal glands when they sense any danger. This is how their defense mechanism works, as the strong smell scares away their predators.

However, these stink bombs are less likely to be released as your ferret stays in a protective environment at home. Hence, you can expect lower occurrences of stinky ferret in a protected environment.

C. Your Ferret Wants to Mark His Territory

Ferrets are smart creatures and they love to mark their territory.  This is where anal scent glands get activated. If your ferret feels defensive and wants to mark his territory, then the odor will get more prominent.

2. Release of Smell from Their Skin Glands

Skin glands are the reason for the musky smell that your ferret possesses. The secretion from the skin glands also causes the ferret’s skin to be oilier than usual. Hence, if you get a strong musky smell along with oily skin in your ferret, you know which gland to blame it on!

Secretion of scent from skin glands also occurs when your ferret is in mating mode. If you have an unneutered ferret, you can expect this scent to be stronger.

3. Unhygienic Ferret Cage

If you are a ferret owner, it should be your top priority to keep the ferret’s cage clean. Sometimes, rather than the ferret’s smell, it is the cage’s unhygienic condition that produces the bad smell.

It is very important that you keep the litter box clean and take proper care of the ferret’s bedding. 

4. Incorrect Ferret Diet

Your ferret’s poop will have an extremely strong smell if you do not take proper care of his diet. You should only feed high quality kibble and meat to your ferret. Certain foods like fruits and vegetables should be avoided.

Do All Ferrets Possess the Same Smell? 

If you have many pet ferrets, you may have noticed how each ferret smells differently. Moreover, if you observe closely, your ferret might smell different at different ages.

1. Smell Associated With Younger Ferret or Kit

If you have a younger ferret or a kit, who is still suckling at his mother, you might notice that he possesses a strong odor. This ferret odor is sweeter and very peculiar. 

This smell is a mixture of many other smells, like your ferret’s own musky smell, the poop, and the milk that they are feeding on. As your kit grows, you can expect the smell to mellow down a bit, but still retaining the sweet smell.

2. Smell Associated With Intact Male Ferrets

If you have an intact ferret, either male or female, be prepared to face the extreme ferret odor when they are in heat as they tend to release an extremely strong odor.

Talking about male ferrets or hobs, they tend to make their territory by urine. In the process of doing so, their testicles and bellies are also dragged, causing the urine smell to get mixed up with the strong body odor.

Do Ferrets Stink?

Thus, the smell of male ferrets in heat is sometimes unbearable for few pet owners. It is best to consult a veterinarian in this case and decide on a fixing procedure.

3. Difference Between Male Ferret’s Smell and Female Ferret’s Smell

Male ferrets have a stronger smell as compared to female ferrets. When in heat, you can expect both genders to have a strong and powerful smell.

Top 8 Ferret Grooming Tips to Control Your Ferret’s Stink

1. Groom Your Ferret Regularly

There is no way to completely eliminate your ferret’s odor. However, if you groom your ferret regularly, you can at least suppress the ferret odor. This will make the odor bearable and somewhat pleasant for your guests, who might have never had a pet ferret.

2. Clean Your Ferret’s Ears

It is extremely important to clean your ferret’s ears regularly.  If the ears are not cleaned regularly, the wax will get accumulated inside them. The accumulation of wax aggravates the musky odor, making the smell extremely strong and unpleasant. 

Your ferrets ears can also be at a risk of ear mites if the ears are not cleaned properly. Hence, it is necessary to clean your ferret’s ears once every week or in two weeks.

A point of caution here is that ferrets being small pets have really small ears. If you do not take proper care while cleaning, it may cause damage to their ear canal. You should select a pet-safe, extremely soft ear cleaning solution, earbud, or ear cleaning wipes.

This ear cleaning solution I found out might help you out.

Marshall 4-Ounce Small Animal Ear Cleaning Solution

You should feel free to ask your veterinarian to demonstrate how to clean the ferret’s ears if you are not aware of the same.

3. Bathe Your Ferret in Moderation

Bathing your ferret in moderation can reduce the build up of the musky odor. 

However, if you bathe your ferret frequently, it can cause your furry pet to smell more. The reason for this is that due to excessive bathing, your ferret’s skin goes dry. To retain the skin’s oily condition, your ferret’s oil glands will secrete more oil, thus causing an increase in the musky odor.

Have a look at this awesome video I came across:

You should bathe your ferret once or twice in a month or two. Also, proper ferret shampoo and soap should be used while bathing them. Check out this amazing product I found and always use while bathing my ferret.

8 In 1 Ferretsheen 2-in-1 Deodorizing Shampoo, 10-Ounce - P-83528

4. Keep Their Cage Clean 

You, as a ferret owner, should be extremely careful in maintaining the hygiene of the ferret’s cage. Many times, the strong and foul odor is actually because of an unkempt cage, filled with urine and litter.

Follow the below 4 steps to ensure a clean and hygienic living space for your ferret:

A. Deep Cleaning the Cage

You must perform a deep cleaning of the ferret’s cage at least once a week. This will ensure that urine and fecal waste are not deposited in the ferret’s cage.

B. Maintaining the Hygiene of Your Ferret’s Bedding

Keeping the bedding clean is the next important step. You should always select a bedding material that is easily washable inside out. Moreover, the bedding should have a good absorbency and odor control feature.

Are you in a fix regarding how to set up your ferret’s bedding and maintain it? Read on this extensive guide.

C. Cleaning the Litter Box

It is a no brainer that if you do not clean the litter box regularly, the poop and urine will smell a lot. Hence, should make it a point to clean the litter box regularly. 

It is best to use odor control litter so that your cleaning effort will be minimized.

D. Maintaining Your Ferret’s Cage Accessories

If you have kept any toys in your ferret’s cage or water bowl, they too should be cleaned regularly.

5. Keep a Close Watch on Their Diet and Provide Healthy Food

Feeding your ferret with the best quality food will not only fulfill all his nutritional requirements but will also help to control the odor. Have a look at the best ferret foods here.

You can try feeding your ferret with raw meat or eggs. Taking into consideration that ferrets are carnivores animals, it is best to avoid fruits and vegetables in their diet. Food rich in fish meat should also be avoided.

By monitoring your ferret’s diet, you can ensure the good health of your ferret, resulting in healthy skin and fur coat. If your ferret’s skin is healthy, they are less likely to secrete smell from their skin glands. This will lower down your ferret’s musky smell.

If you follow proper food habits for your ferret, you can ensure that your ferret’s poop will smell a lot less. 

6. Provide Your Ferret With Ample Outdoor Playtime

You should provide a minimum of 2 hours of outdoor playtime to your ferret. This will allow them to breathe in the fresh air, have their daily dose of activity, and soak in some nice sunshine. 

Moreover, when your ferret is enjoying his time outdoors, his cage can also be aired out. This will ensure that their cage and bedding do not have too much moisture caged up which ultimately leads to a pungent odor.

7. Use Safe and Pet Friendly Odor Control Sprays

If you feel that the ferret’s cage smells, even after sufficient cleaning, then you can opt for ferret friendly odor control spray. This will leave a fresh smell in your ferret’s small home.

However, it is important to note that the spray should not have any allergic reaction or other side effects on your ferret. 

Take a look at this product that you can use in your ferret’s home.

Eliminates Urine Odors – Controls Cat, Dog, Pet & Human Smells from Carpet, Furniture, Mattresses, Grout and Pet Bedding & Concrete. Biodegradable Enzymes 32 Oz. Spray

8. Surgical Procedure Removing Your Ferret’s Anal Glands

Anal glands are responsible for secreting the strong smell during the heating period of an intact ferret. Descenting a ferret is a surgical procedure where the anal sacs and anal glands of the ferret are removed.

Hence, you no longer would have to bear the smell of the stink bombs during the mating period from your descented ferrets.

However, another thing to note here is that the surgical procedure will not eliminate the natural musky smell of the ferret, as the skin glands are responsible for the secretion of that smell.

FAQs on Do Ferrets Stink

1. Do Ferrets Stink Up Your House?

Yes, ferrets can stink up your house if you do not take proper care in grooming your ferret or maintaining a clean and hygienic cage. It is also advisable to get your ferret neutered as ferrets in heat tend to release extremely strong smell, which can be unbearable for few ferret owners.

2. Is It Better To Get a Female or Male Ferret?

Male and female ferrets both behave in the same way, and are equally fun and playful. Apart from their minor weight and size differences, there is not much difference. The gender selection of the ferret depends totally on the ferret owner’s preference. 

However, one thing to note is that a male ferret has a stronger odor as compared to a female ferret.


A clear and crisp answer to Do Ferrets Stink is a YES. However, there are many ways in which you can reduce the odor making it bearable for yourself and your guests.

You can follow the ways that we have mentioned, but in the end, the natural musky smell should be something that you should be comfortable with if you have a pet ferret. After all, pets need to be loved unconditionally, irrespective of their bodily smells!

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