Do Ferrets Smell? Understanding and Controlling Odor

Published February 16, 2021
Girl and pet ferret

So ferrets smell? Pet parents need to expect a musky odor from this small critter. If ferrets eat a low-quality diet, are scared or overstimulated, they emit an odor. The stink of a ferret depends on your attentiveness as a pet parent. Owning a ferret is like living with a cat or dog. Always pay attention to your ferret to determine when this odor is released.

Do Ferrets Smell?

Yes! The scent glands emit a foul odor. Many ferrets are descented at an early age, and following the procedure, this small pet may stay odorless for a long time. Pet parents must stay on top of grooming and cleaning a ferret's environment to eliminate the smell. The good news is the smell dissipates quickly! Some owners even enjoy the scent.

What Smells to Expect

A slight musky smell is what to expect and perfectly normal. There is always some odor involved with this small pet. A ferret needs a safe and secure home life. A routine is a great way to reduce stress and bond with your small pet. A happy ferret may smell-less, but there is still an odor.

Ferret on a fence with roses in the background

Anatomy and Scenting Mechanism

Located outside the ferret's anus on both sides are anal sacs filled with a foul-smelling fluid. Your pet's skin glands also produce a smell over time. A dog's anal glands may smell too, but it is not as intense as the smell a ferret emits.

Non-Descented Male Ferrets Stink

Unaltered, non-descented males smell bad. These males also smell terrible during mating season.

Many Ferrets in the U.S. Are Descented

In the U.S., a lot of ferrets are descented shortly after birth. Vets remove the anal glands. There is a natural body odor with the musky smell, but it is mild compared to an unaltered and non-descented male.

Ferret Smell

The musky smell is typical. There are many factors, and a low-quality diet may be one of the biggest causes. The "three F's" is a rule of thumb ferret lovers need to understand before purchasing or adopting this small pet. Fear, fun, and fight may all result in an odor. Attentive and caring parents may be able to manage this ferret smell.

Poor Diet

Feed your ferret a high-quality diet. High-protein and low-ash meals may help. This small pet is like a cat. Cats and ferrets are both obligate carnivores and meet all their nutritional needs by eating meat-based foods. Dog food is not appropriate for a ferret!

Ferret eats juicy banana


Clean the litter box regularly as ferrets poop a lot. The cage also causes stink throughout the house, and how often you clean the housing may impact the smell of your ferret. Poor conditions amplify your critter's odor. Also, ferrets poop all the time, and proper hygiene is a best practice!


A new ferret needs to get used to a new home. If your ferret is afraid of anything in his surroundings, he may emit a foul odor. Always give your new buddy time to acclimate and take things slowly.


If you hear a hiss, a foul scent may follow. Always make some notes if you think your ferret is overstimulated and angry. Ferrets may need more playtime as these critters are demanding and require a lot of attention. Biting isn't cute. Pet parents need to train a ferret and ensure this small pet is socialized.

How to Prevent Smells

Ferrets are musky critters! If you live with an unaltered male, your ferret is going to be smelly. A ferret with full scent capabilities is still a wonderful pet, and there are ways to manage the smell.

Change Litter Bedding

The litter pan needs a deep cleaning once a week. The litter box also needs to be scooped daily, and the same rules apply to a cat, so create a similar routine for your ferret. Bedding needs to be cleaned every few days, and use your nose to determine if this needs to be a daily task.

Ferret for 5 months sits on the floor near its cage

Routine Dirt Baths

Similar to when chickens dust bathe to remove parasites, a ferret also enjoys a dirt bath. Pet parents need to provide this small pet with a tub of clean potting soil to dig in, and the soil absorbs the excess oil on his skin. This dirt bath is an excellent activity for a ferret, and your small pet smells better afterward.

Don't Over Bathe

Ferrets do not need regular baths, which causes your small pet to overproduce the smelly oils you are trying to reduce. A few baths are fine every few months.

Ferret in the clinic

Ferrets Emit a Musky Smell

This musky smell is typical. Consider the scent a unique and vital social tool. There are many reasons your ferret's odor may smell worse, and a clean cage and proper diet may help eliminate some of the scents in your home. Always provide an opportunity for your ferret to dirt bathe and skip a regular bath as it may make the smell worse.

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Do Ferrets Smell? Understanding and Controlling Odor