Why Do Ferrets Stink

Why Do Ferrets Stink? Will They Smell Your House Up?

Ferrets stink because of various reasons relating to their bodies. They can stink up your house if you don’t take a few measures to reduce the stink. The measures that people take to reduce ferret stink depend on an individual pet owner. There is no unanimous conclusion as to whether ferrets stink or not. 

Some individuals say that ferrets have a natural musky smell that isn’t overpowering. Such pet owners do not mind the body odors that ferrets omit.

Other people find ferret odors unpleasant and seek ways to reduce the smell. A few pet owners can’t smell the odors that ferrets produce. Therefore, the strength of ferret smells will depend on an individual.

This blog explores various reasons why ferrets stink, how they can stink up your home, and remedies that will keep the stink to a minimum. You should consult a vet before attempting to implement the counter-actions for the ferret stink. 

Why Do Ferrets Stink Up Your House?

Ferrets can produce powerful body odors depending on their age and situation. Most people categorize ferret smells as musky, but the smell can change with time.

Understanding the various reasons why ferrets stink will help you understand how to minimize the smell in your house. Here are the reasons why ferrets smell. 

Anal Glands 

Ferrets are part of the Mustelidae family, along with badgers and skunks. Members of the Mustelidae family have anal glands that carry a stinky fluid.

Ferrets can release the fluid into the air when they are scared. Otherwise, a ferret will not release the fluid when they don’t feel endangered. 

The problem with the anal gland fluid is that it can stink up your home, and it is hard to remove the stench. It will stick to the beddings, cage, toys, and other items around the cage or near the cage. 

Most pet owners opt to have the anal glands removed to ensure that ferrets can’t spew the stinking fluid in a home. Many pet shops have ferrets that have their anal glands removed before adoption.

You can ask your vet to set an appointment for surgery to remove the anal glands from your pet ferret if it still has them. 

Oil Glands

Ferrets have oily skin and many oil glands on their skin. The musky smell from ferrets generally comes from the oil secreted by oil glands on their skin.

The scent will vary from ferret to ferret, with some pet owners claiming that they smell like active teenagers. 

Some people like the smell of oily ferrets, while other people find the smell repulsive. Some ferrets have skin oils with stronger smells than others. You won’t know whether you can withstand the smell of ferret oils until your ferrets produce the oils. 

Ferrets that are not sterilized tend to smell more than ferrets that are sterilized. It is one way to reduce ferrets stink in the house. Another way is to clean the cage to remove the oils from the surfaces.

Another option is bathing your ferret. You can check out the tips on how to clean a ferret’s cage and give your ferret a bath to reduce the ferret stink. 


Bacterial and yeast infections are common for ferrets, and the infections can make ferrets stink. Ferrets may suffer a yeast or bacterial infection a few times in their lifetime, and an increase in ferret stink may be an indication of infection. 

The stink will go away immediately you get treatment for your ferret, and the infection goes away. You can take your ferret to a clinic when you notice other symptoms accompanying the bad smell.

A ferret may be lethargic or refuse to eat because it is feeling unwell. 

Adrenal Disease 

Adrenal glands sit on top of each kidney and are responsible for regulating the production of hormones in ferrets. A malfunction in the glands can lead to an increase in hormone production in pet ferrets.

The result will be a stronger smell coming off your ferret than usual. It may cause the house to start stinking. 

Treatment for adrenal diseases should reduce the number of hormones produced, which will reduce the smell of your ferret. Your vet will prescribe the best treatment depending on the severity of the adrenal disease. 

Ferret Diseases

Other ferret diseases can cause a ferret to stink more than usual. Symptoms that you ferret may be unwell include lack of appetite, weight loss, general weakness, vomiting, or diarrhea.

It would be best to take your pet to a clinic when the increased odor coincides with other symptoms. Don’t wait long because ferret illnesses tend to escalate fast. 

It is essential to keep an eye on your ferret when you notice an increase in odor to ensure that nothing seems out of the ordinary. Noting symptoms of illness in the early stages can reduce the duration that your ferrets suffer when ill. 

Mating Season 

Unneutered male ferrets will stink more during the mating season because of hormones and increased skin oil production. Therefore, the smell from your ferret will seem to increase around March, which is the beginning of the ferret mating season. 

The smell will subside naturally at the end of the mating season when the pet stops producing excess skin oil. Maintaining a clean cage during mating seasons to reduce the smell is too much for you.

Alternatively, you can have your male ferret neutered, and the skin oil production won’t increase during mating season. 

Ways to Reduce Ferret Stink In Your Home 

There are several safe ways to reduce the stink from your ferret without causing adverse health effects. Please don’t attempt to apply perfume to your ferrets because it may trigger an irritation that will increase the smell. 


Descenting a ferret is removing the anal glands from the pet to prevent it from releasing the stinking fluid in the glands. The American Ferret Association and veterinarians do not agree with descenting ferrets.

Anal glands are part of the ferrets, and descenting them isn’t a procedure that improves their quality of life. 

Sometimes the surgery doesn’t go smoothly, and the ferrets end up being unable to control their bowel movements afterward. Overall, it is a simple procedure, and most pet ferrets are descented before being places at a pet store. 

Sterilize Your Ferret 

It would be best to get your male ferret neutered to ensure it doesn’t stink during mating season. Neutering a male ferret ensures that the pet doesn’t increase skin oil production preparation for the mating season.

You can organize your vet for the neutering session to be done as soon as you adopt a ferret. 

Cleaning the Beddings and Toys 

Ferrets tend to rub skin oil on beddings and toys, which keep the smell in the cage. Chances are you have odor-absorbing beddings, but they will start smelling after a few days.

It would help if you washed beddings every 2-3 days and put in clean beddings. Therefore, remove all hammocks and blankets from the cage for laundry. 

Also, wash toys in soapy water frequently to remove any oils your pet rubs on them. You need a good detergent that will remove the excess skin oil so that the odor goes away.

There will be odor on the beddings and toys after washing them if your detergent doesn’t remove the oils completely. 

Cleaning the Cage 

You need to clean the cage at least once a week or clean it whenever changing beddings. You need to wash the cage with warm water and soap to remove any skin oil on the cage walls.

Be thorough when cleaning the cage because changing beddings only may not reduce the smell significantly. 

 It would be best if you emptied the litter bin 1-2 times a day as part of keeping the cage clean. Don’t apply any perfume or use overly scented detergents when cleaning the cage.

A scent may irritate a ferret, so use clean soap and a mild-smelling detergent. 

Bathing a Ferret 

Bathing a ferret is another way to get rid of the smell, but the frequency matters. Many ferret owners make the mistake of washing ferrets frequently in an attempt to reduce the stink.

However, the increased frequency makes the oil glands on ferret skins work overtime to compensate for the oils lost during a bathing session. 

The right frequency for bathing a ferret is once every 1-3 months, depending on how much you can stand your pet’s smell. You can consult your veterinarian to get the ideal frequency that is suitable for your pet.

Overall, bathing a ferret at least once a month will reduce the smell without increasing the production of oils. 

It would help if you used a ferret-friendly shampoo during bath times to prevent irritation or reaction to a product. Don’t choose scented products in the hopes of leaving your pet smelling like flowers after a bath.

Keep in mind that products with chemicals are toxic to ferrets, and you should use products designed for ferrets only. 

Are There Ferret Perfumes?

There are scents in the market meant for ferrets, and they may not cause reactions to your pet. If you choose to apply a scent to your ferret, don’t do it directly.

Apply the scent to a cloth and then rub it on the ferret. 

Overall, it isn’t advisable to apply perfume to ferrets, no matter how much they stink. You should try all the methods above to minimize any ferret stink before opting for a scent.

You can check in with your vet to see whether they have any recommendations. 

Can You Get Used to the Smell?

Yes. Most ferret owners get used to the smell on normal days. Some have to do regular cleaning to make the smell bearable.

However, you will most likely get used to the smell of your pet ferret that you won’t notice over time. 

You shouldn’t adopt a ferret if you find the scent repulsive. There isn’t a solution that can take away the smell 100%.

There will always be some musky smell on your ferret, even when you ensure that everything is clean. It is a ferret’s naturals smell, and you can’t change that. 

Do Ferrets Stink Up Your Home? 

A ferret can make your home stick if you do not clean their cages and beddings regularly. It is hard for the smell to spread across the house when you implement the best ferret hygiene practices. 

However, it would be best to consider taking your ferret to animal daycare when you are traveling. Ferrets need someone to clean their litter box once a day and clean beddings regularly.

You may find your house stinking when you ask your neighbor to feed your ferret for a few days without any cleaning. Therefore, make appropriate arrangements for your pet ferret when you aren’t home for a couple of days. 

Should I Use Air Freshener for My Home

Cleaning your home regularly will keep it smelling fresh. It isn’t advisable to use air freshener, especially in rooms where ferrets live. You may not know about toxic ingredients in the air freshener that can affect the health of your ferret. 

Don’t forget to clean the areas surrounding the ferret’s cage as the excess oils can reach outside the cage. Also, ferrets can shed fur at certain times, spreading the smell around the cage.

Overall, a thorough cleaning will significantly reduce any odor that your pet ferret may be emitting. 

Where Do I Get Product Recommendations?

The best person to ask about the products to use to clean a ferret cage and bathe your ferret is your veterinarian. Most vet clinics that treat ferrets have products suitable for pets, and you can order what you need.

Alternatively, you can get a list of ferret-friendly products that you can use during cleaning. 

Please make sure any products you shop online specify that they are suitable for use on a ferret. Don’t choose products suitable for cats because ferrets can be allergic to things that ferrets aren’t. 


Ferrets tend to have a musky smell that occurs naturally, and you can’t make it go away permanently. The smell can stink up your house if you don’t maintain high cleanliness levels in your home.

The good news is that you will get used to the natural odor your ferret produces. 

However, it would be best if you tried to note when the smell increases, as it might be an indication that your pet isn’t feeling well. Remember that the strength of the odor will vary from ferret to ferret. Some ferrets have a mild musky smell while others straight out stink.

Any of the measures above will help you reduce the smell to bearable levels.

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