When the weather is scorching hot, there’s nothing quite like a nice dip in the pool to cool you off. During the summer heatwaves, it can be tough for us to handle the extra degrees without this at times. So, what about our furry friends? We know that dogs are a huge fan of jumping in and splashing around but for smaller animals like ferrets, it can be a little more concerning. After all, you don’t want to force your furry friend into a pool, if it makes them uncomfortable – and you definitely will need to watch them if they can’t swim at all.
Full of character and so very playful, the ferret is one of the best pets anyone can have. They’re incredibly sociable and even a little cheeky at times – but do ferrets like to swim? Find out this, and more, in our article below.
Can Ferrets Swim?
As excitable and happy as ferrets are, it turns out that they like to cool off and chill out just as much as we do. Indeed, evidence that our furry friends have enjoyed a dip goes back as far as the 1800’s, when researchers spotted a group of ferrets having a dip.
Ferrets have the physical and biological ability to swim without concern – providing they are happy to do so. While many wild ferrets may not be interested in swimming for enjoyment, there are still cases where ferrets will take to water for means of finding prey, or simply to escape danger.
And yet, domesticated ferrets appear to enjoy swimming in much the same way that dogs do. It’s believed that this is because of the so-called “syndrome hypothesis of domestication” in which animals who slowly become accustomed to human interaction, end up with a new set of social and cognitive skills.
This means that your ferret will likely have the same cognitive and social abilities of your dog, in that they can follow basic commands and are keen to work with their humans. So, even if your ferret doesn’t swim at the moment, they can domestic ferrets can learn to swim, with appropriate guidance from yourself.
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Do Ferrets Like to Swim?
Not all ferrets enjoy a swim and it’s fair to say that there are individual differences between them. While some ferrets will jump straight into the water like a fish, others might be a little more nervous, or even completely ignorant to the idea of water. There are many great stories online of ferrets walking directly into water, purely because they have never come across it before.
While most ferrets are completely natural swimmers, it’s understandable that many domestic types of ferret will not have been around water before. In these cases, it is best to follow the appropriate advice, in order to ensure the safety of your pet ferret.
Luckily though, the majority of ferrets love the water and there are ample videos online documenting the fun and frolics that most ferrets will throw themselves into at the sight of water. As always, however, it’s important to keep an eye on your ferrets at all time when they’re playing.
How to Keep Your Ferret Safe in the Water
Whether or not your ferret can swim (with or without guidance), it’s important to keep your ferret safe near the water. In order to best watch over your furry friend as they have a swim, follow these steps to learn how best to keep your ferret safe in the water.
- If you have your own pool, you can let your ferret have their own run of the pool, providing there is an appropriate enclosure to keep your ferret from running away.
- Never let ferrets who can’t swim near your pool.
- Only even take your ferrets to the pool when there is no direct sunlight. Dusk and dawn are the best times to let your pets in the pool as too much sunlight can cause heatstroke, burn your ferrets paws or cause eye damage.
- Ferrets become very tired very quickly, as they use a lot of energy while they swim. Watch for signs of exhaustion and try to keep times in the pool to short, easy playtimes.
- Ensure your ferret can climb out of the pool or stay nearby them at all times, so that they can come out exactly when they need to.
- If your cat is swimming in your pool, ensure your chlorine levels are kept the absolute minimum. Strong chemicals can damage your ferrets skin and fur.
- Once you’ve finished your play session, rinse your ferret under tepid water to wash away all of the chemicals that are around in the pool.
- Thoroughly dry off your ferrets after their dip in the pool. Unless it is extremely hot, your ferret can end up exhausting themselves trying to dry themselves off.
- If your ferret isn’t a big swimmer, or the pool isn’t enclosed, then keep your ferrets on a leash at all times.
- It’s likely that your ferret will be very hungry after having a swim, so make sure there’s plenty of fresh water and some food nearby for them to re-energize.
Teaching Your Ferret to Swim
For those who aren’t sure about your ferrets ability to swim, or you know your ferret can’t swim, there are ways and means of introducing to your pet to water without endangering them.
First of all, start out by giving your ferret the opportunity to associate water with good feelings. A good choice for this would be to start off with a bath or even a small washing up bowl, with water that is shallow enough for your ferret to comfortably stand in. They should also be able to climb out with ease, so place something in the bath or bowl that they can grip and escape with.
Over time, the depth of this water should be increased until your ferret is comfortable swimming from side to side. However, if they aren’t happy with this or seem to be scrabbling to get out, then go back to more shallow waters. If they still aren’t happy, then it may be time to give up trying to get your ferret to swim.
Take it slow and remember to stop frequently in order to avoid exhausting your ferret. They respond to lots of love and tasty treats, so keep enticing your pet to continue playing with these. Don’t worry if your ferret doesn’t seem all that interested at first – sometimes they are simply a little too shy to try out a new thing straight away. However, if you come back to it a few times, you may notice that their inquisitive nature will take hold and they’ll jump right in.
Once they have gotten used to the motion of swimming or seem comfortable around water, a good technique to try is to hold your ferret as they first entire the pool. Ensuring that they are keeping their head above water and aren’t getting too stressed out. This will help them get the motion of swimming down.
Remember, throughout it all, that your ferret is a domesticated animal and will take a lot of their cues from your response. They are keen to learn and keen to please, so it’s important to always make plenty of eye contact and give your ferret lots of positive reinforcement in the form love, a happy voice and plenty of treats.
The best way to introduce pools and swimming to your ferret, however, is to try using a kid’s pool. By doing this, you’re introducing your ferret to a shallow but safe pool that they can climb in and out of at any time without needing too much intervention – although we always recommend supervising your ferret at all times, when near a pool.
Ferrets in Fresh Water
If you’re considering taking your ferret to a beach or local freshwater pool, it’s important to remember that your ferret should always be kept on a leash in order to remain safely by your side and avoid losing you. Doing this also means that you will be able to pull them out if you think there is an issue, or you notice a danger that your ferret needs to avoid.
You should also be aware of other pets in the area that may or may not see your ferret as a plaything or, worse still, a prey. Dogs and other larger animals can be clumsy enough to accidentally hurt your ferret, so be sure to keep them at bay and, if needed, retreat back to a safe distance.
Other than that, we wholeheartedly recommend enjoying swim time with your pet. Once your ferret has gotten used to the feeling of water and knows what to do, you’ll both be having a great time in the water before you know it.