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How to Cut Ferret Nails: The Ultimate Guide | Spanglers – General Blog News

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How to Cut Ferret Nails: The Ultimate Guide | Spanglers – General Blog News
How to Cut Ferret Nails: The Ultimate Guide | Spanglers – General Blog News

In this article you will learn everything you need to know about how to cut ferret nails -and why you should. Are you new to ferrets? Check out our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Ferrets!

At the end of the article, we also answer all of the most common questions surrounding how to cut ferret nails.

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What Supplies Do I Need to Cut My Ferret’s Nails?

Cutting your ferret’s nails should only take about 3-5 minutes per ferret if you come prepared. You will need:

  1. Nail clippers
  2. Treats
  3. Styptic powder

There are several different options when it comes to nail clippers. We use vet-grade cat clippers and have for 3 years. Some ferret owners recommend buying infant nail clippers because they believe it is easier to maneuver. It is just a matter of preference.

As a reward for their cooperation, you will want to give your ferret a treat. Ferrets go absolutely bananas for any kind of oil and it will keep them distracted for several minutes at a time while you cut their nails. We recommend using either Salmon Oil or Ferretone. We recommend against using Ferretvite because it contains corn syrup which will cause major health problems for your ferret.

Styptic powder or cornstarch are important to have on hand in case you cut the ‘quick’ (the pink part visible inside the nail) and your ferret bleeds. We will go over how to avoid cutting the quick later on in this article.

How to Cut Ferret Nails: Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Gather supplies (nail clippers, treat oil, styptic powder) and find a well lit place to cut your ferret’s nails. You need to be able to easily see the quick (pink part of the nail) to avoid cutting it. Locate your ferret and determine if they are in the right mood to have their nails cut. Are they sleeping or in the middle of play time? A tired ferret will be much easier to work with than a playful one.

Step 2: Place your ferret in your lap, belly up.

Step 3: Take your bottle of treat oil and place a pea-sized amount on their belly. This will occupy them while you trim their nails.

Step 4: Use one hand to hold your ferret’s paw (spreading out the toes) and the other hand to clip the nail. Continue through each paw like this. If your ferret finishes licking up the oil on their belly before you are done, just add more. Nails on the back paws seem to grow slower than nails on the front paws.

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^Here is a diagram we created to demonstrate the correct angle to cut your ferret’s nail, as well as a good distance to stay away from the quick (pink part of nail).

Step 5: Make sure to reward your ferret with praise after you are finished cutting their nails (cuddle, pet, offer a treat). As with all kinds of training, positive reinforcement will encourage your ferret to behave.

Are you new to ferrets? We recommend learning how to ferret proof your home, room by room.

Are You Really Supposed to Cut Ferret Nails?

Yes! Ferrets are just like dogs in the sense that regular life as a household pet does not provide enough opportunity to wear their nails down naturally. Therefore, it is vital that you as an owner cut your ferret’s nails.

Problems Caused By Long Ferret Nails

Long nails often flake or crack, which will also make them prone to snagging on fabric bedding and toys (like in the photo above). A scared ferret with a snagged nail may get frightened and attempt to run away from the caught bedding and break their leg or rip out their nail.

If you do not cut your ferret’s nails, their foot will be unable to rest fully on the ground. This can cause them to develop serious foot problems.

Source: Ferrets for Dummies

Lastly, long nails (even ones that aren’t cracked) can get wedged into tight places and cause an injury. For instance, our own ferret, Newt, got his overgrown nail caught in a patio table grate. He became confused and frightened and ripped out his own nail to free himself. Luckily it grew back but it was stressful for him.

Shorter Nails are Better For Humans Too!

Do you have a new, wiggly ferret? Are they leaving scratch marks up and down your arms from playing? Cutting your ferret’s nails will make them less sharp and ultimately easier to interact with. If your ferret’s nails are growing to a sharp point, you are waiting too long to trim them.

If you want to let your ferret sleep in your sweatshirt as you work like we do (it’s our favorite way to snuggle!), cutting your ferret’s nails is the first step to making it enjoyable for both of you!

Should I Pay to Declaw My Ferret?

No! Absolutely not! Ferrets do not have retractable claws like a cats so they cannot be declawed. The GIF above shows a cat’s claws coming out of their paws. A ferret cannot do that! A ferret’s claws are completely exposed at all times (much more like a dog). No ethical vet would allow you to declaw your ferret.

How Often Should I Cut My Ferret’s Nails?

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We recommend cutting your ferret’s nails every two to three weeks (That is how often we cut our three ferrets’ nails). However, it really depends on your specific ferret because age and lifestyle can affect nail growth rate.

Do you let your ferret dig and play throughout the day? Their nails may wear down naturally and they will need to be cut less often.

Ferret Nail Anatomy

Just like a dog or cat, ferrets have a pink part inside their nail called a quick. The quick is the pink inner portion of the nail that contains nerves and a blood supply. Have you ever cut your fingernail so short it bled? Ouch!! If you accidently cut your ferret’s quick, it is the equivalent to someone cutting your human fingernail in addition to part of your finger/nail bed. Make sure to avoid cutting close to the quick.

How Can I Avoid Cutting the Quick?

It is very common for a ferret owner to cut the tip of the quick at some point in their pet’s life. It’s happened to me and I forgive you! Going forward, here is how you can prevent it happening again:

  1. Cut your ferret’s nails in good lighting
  2. Find clippers you are comfortable using
  3. Cut your ferret’s nails frequently

The easiest way to cut your ferret’s nails is to choose a place with good lighting (like the photo above). The brighter the environment, the easier you can see the pink quick and hopefully avoid it.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with several different types of nail clippers. What works best for another ferret owner may not work well for you.

An interesting fact about quicks: the longer you wait to cut your ferrets nails, the longer the quick will grow. Similarly, the more frequent you cut your ferret’s nails, the shorter the quick will get. Therefore, if you want to keep your ferret’s nails short and avoid cutting the quick, you need to trim your ferret’s nails regularly.

How Do I Get My Ferret to Stay Still?

There are three methods to get your ferret to stay still while cutting their nails:

  1. Cut your ferrets nails while they are asleep
  2. Put oil on your ferret’s belly while you cut their nails
  3. Scruff your ferret while you cut their nails

If your ferret is a particularly deep sleeper, you can gently grab each paw and cut their nails. In our experience, younger ferrets are too energetic to sleep through a nail clipping session. However, older, tamer ferrets may allow you to do this.

The most popular method to keep your ferret cooperative while you cut their nails is to place a pea-sized amount of oil (salmon oil or Ferretone work fine) on the middle of their belly. Your ferret will then spend the next 3-5 minutes licking up the oil while you trim their nails. If they lick up all the oil before you finish, just place another pea-sized drop on their belly again.

If you don’t have any treats on hand, you can always scruff your ferret while you cut their nails. In our experience, this usually requires two people. One person will need to scruff the ferret with one hand and support their body with the other. The other person will need clip the nails. Scruffing a ferret does not harm them, though it is important to support their body weight.

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