Do Ferrets Like To Swim?

  • By: Karen Bradshaw
  • Time to read: 7 min.

It’s common knowledge that ferrets love to dig and play around in the dirt but what about playing in the water? Do these animals have a natural affinity for swimming or do they prefer to be on dry land? 

Ferrets can swim and often love to frolic in the water. Most of them will take very well to the activity and this is not only fun for them but also an excellent way of ensuring that they get enough exercise. 

That said, you must be mindful of the fact that, unlike their cousins minks and otters, ferrets are not naturally found in or around water.

For this reason, some ferrets may not be as keen. What’s more, it is essential to take good care of your pet and never leave them in a pool or bath without supervision. 

In this guide, we will be looking at everything you need to know when taking your ferret for his first swim!

Do Ferrets Like Water?

In the wild, ferrets are usually found with their feet firmly on dry land. While they have relatives like the otter and the mink that enjoy spending time in the water, this isn’t something you’ll typically see a ferret doing.

That said, they will often swim in the wild if they are in danger or are trying to get out of a sticky situation. 

In terms of enjoying the water for entertainment purposes, domesticated ferrets seem to find a lot of enjoyment in being in the water.

You will find that your pet ferret is very comfortable in and around water and as long as this is the case, there is no reason that you shouldn’t allow him to swim with supervision. 

Can Ferrets Swim Well?

While they may not be naturally semi-aquatic, that doesn’t mean to say that ferrets are not strong swimmers.

In fact, you may be surprised at how quickly your pet takes to the water and begins displaying his outstanding swimming skills. 

However, just because they are able to swim that doesn’t mean that they should be left for long periods of time in the water.

Swimming uses up a lot of energy and it isn’t unusual for a ferret to quickly become tired. But your ferret won’t necessarily let you know that he has had enough so it is important to limit the amount of time he spends in the water each time.

If your ferret is left for too long in the water and becomes tired, this can result in him having a very negative experience. When it comes to future sessions, he may not be as willing to engage.

It is also important to make sure that you take your ferret’s personal abilities into account.

Not all ferrets are the same and just like us they have individual limits and personalities. While one ferret may be happy to swim around for an hour or more, another ferret may have had enough after ten minutes in the water.

Getting to know your pet will allow you to become familiar with his unique needs and preferences. As long as you are mindful of this, he will likely enjoy every opportunity he gets to swim.

What About Underwater Swimming?

Your ferret will probably be more happy swimming along the surface of the water but that doesn’t mean that he won’t pop his head under from time to time.

They will usually do this in a similar way that we might snorkel. However, when they are swimming from one point to another, it is highly unlikely that they will remain fully submerged. 

What Is The Best Type Of Water For Ferrets To Swim In?

The great thing about using swimming as a form of exercise for your ferret is that you are not limited to where your pet can swim.

Of course, you will need to make sure that the water is clean and safe. If you wouldn’t get into yourself, then you cannot expect your ferret to get in. Stick to that rule and things should go pretty smoothly. 

Whether you are looking to simply fill the bathtub and let your ferret frolic or you want to take them outdoors and let them swim in a more natural setting, both of these options are suitable.

Your pet will have lots of fun splashing around and playing no matter where they are. 

If you are fortunate enough to have your own swimming pool on the property then this might seem like a good place to let your ferret play.

However, since these pools contain chemicals such as chlorine, swimming in them could irritate your ferret’s eyes and skin. We would suggest avoiding using a swimming pool for this reason.

A great place to take your ferret for some aquatic exercise is to the beach. Now you must remain mindful of the fact that your ferret may become easily stressed or nervous if you take them to a crowded beach where there may be other, potentially larger animals, like dogs.

If you’re going to allow your pet to swim in the ocean, we’d suggest finding a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed. 

Moreover, it is essential to keep your ferret on a leash as in this open environment, it wouldn’t take much for them to scarper or become injured.

Once you are at the water’s edge, you’ll need to make a decision as to whether you want your ferret to swim in the ocean itself or a little rock pool. If you choose the latter, then you may be able to take your ferret off the leash and let him play. 

However, if he is going into the ocean, we would recommend keeping him tethered or at the very least ensuring he doesn’t swim off into open water.

For beaches where there are a lot of strong waves, you must remain mindful that your ferret could easily get swept out and it would be almost impossible for him to swim back to shore unaided.

It is also a good idea to keep in mind that, while saltwater in itself won’t cause any harm to your ferret, it may cause problems if ingested.

Known as salt poisoning, ferrets can become very sick if they accidentally swallow large amounts of seawater. While they probably won’t intentionally drink the water because of its taste, you and I both know how easily a mouthful of water can get in when you’re swimming in the ocean.

Moreover, once your ferret has finished playing in the sea, you will need to rinse them off with fresh water.

This is to avoid ingesting salt when the ferret cleans itself. Additionally, leaving saltwater on your pet may result in irritation to the skin and could dry out its coat.

How Often Should Ferrets Swim?

If you have chosen to use swimming as a form of exercise for your ferret then the good news is that you can do this as often as every day!

Of course, you will need to keep your ferret’s preference in mind and it is vital that you never force your pet to swim when he doesn’t want to. Offer him the chance to get into the water but back off if he doesn’t seem keen on the idea.

Some people like to couple their ferret’s bath time with a swim by filling the bath a little deeper than they usually would.

Do keep in mind that ferrets only need to be bathed around once a month. Any more than this and the chemical in the soaps may cause irritation and dry out their coat.

If you are going to add more water to the bath than usual then you should be mindful not to go over the top. You must ensure that the ferret is still able to place its feet on the base of the bath.

Tips For The Best Ferret Swimming

The best place for your ferret to enjoy swimming is in the safety and comfort of your own home. We would suggest going for a kiddie pool which is shallow enough for your ferret to swim safely in and can be deflated and stored when it isn’t in use. 

You will need to fill the pool with lukewarm, clean water that doesn’t contain any chemicals up to a depth of around 3cm.

It may be a good idea to provide some small steps for your ferret to get safely in and out of the water but in any case, you should never leave your pet unattended. 

Some ferrets will enjoy having a selection of toys in the water so it is a good idea to source some waterproof toys for the sessions.

If your ferret seems a little uncomfortable with getting into the water, the presence of toys may be enough to entice his curiosity…and we all know how curious these little creatures can be!

Once your ferret gets used to swimming and becomes a little more confident in the water, you can start to make it a little deeper.

You will need to get to know your ferret to determine how he likes to swim but if you notice that he likes to dive in and out of the water, you might like to make it deep enough to allow him to do this. Again, supervision is required at all times!

Conclusion

Ferrets aren’t naturally aquatic animals but they are surprisingly good swimmers. If you want a new way of exercising your pet then allowing them to swim is both healthy and fun. 

You will need to make sure that the conditions are right and that your pet is fully supervised and safe at all times.

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