How to Trim a Ferret’s Nails. An Important Guide

ferret swimming in a lake

Grooming your ferret is one of the responsibilities you assume upon owning one. However, this is not always a tedious thing to do. As a matter of fact, I enjoy grooming my ferret. This includes bathing, ear cleaning and even nail trimming. Below is a step by step guide on how to trim a ferret’s nails safely.

After all, it will be to your advantage as long and sharp nails will destroy toys and even your items in the house. Also, a ferret with sharp nails is almost impossible to play without getting scratched.

Do I need to trim my ferret’s nails?

You need to keep your ferret’s nails short. In the wild, a ferret would keep their nails trimmed by digging. However, in our homes, they do not enjoy this privilege. As a result, your ferret’s nails could grow longer, which is not a very nice thing.

A ferret with long nails will use them to climb to higher surfaces in the house. In the process, your ferret might start ruining your stuff with his nails. Furthermore, he might keep getting stuck in fabrics and tear his beddings.

The worst thing that could happen if your ferret gets stuck somewhere is that he will go nuts. He will pull and twist in panic as he tries to get his nail free. In the process, he might end up breaking his toenails. So yes, you do need to trim your ferret’s nails.

I prefer trimming our ferret’s nails every two weeks.

Without much hesitation, let us discuss the procedure of trimming your ferret’s nails.

Step I. Get everything ready

Have you noticed tiny holes in your ferret’s toys and even beddings? It is probably time to trim your ferret’s nails before he becomes impossible to pet. Before you get started, make sure you have all the necessary items.

These may include a piece of a treat, Ferretone, nail clippers, and styptic powder. A treat will help you get your ferret’s attention to come to you. At the same time, ferrets are crazy about Ferretone which makes it a great treat to keep him occupied as you clip his nails.

I must mention that nail trimming is not always the best activity for ferrets. On the other hand, the styptic powder will come in handy should you accidentally cut into your ferret’s blood vessels. This might happen if you are not careful enough to spot the vessel through the nails.

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Step II. Use a treat to get your ferret’s attention

Your ferret will immediately get distracted as soon as you let him out of his cage. To get him to come to you, I suggest you use a piece of his treatment to get him to come to you. Well, you will be lucky if you have already taught your ferret the ‘come to me’ command.

However, it will be much easier if you have a treat with you. You want to associate nail trimming positively and so you must make it as enticing as you can. Once he comes to you, pick him up and probably put him on your thighs.

To avoid littering the house, put a towel on your laps before placing him there. Ensure that his back is against you as he lies down. Immediately spread Ferretones on his belly. He will smell it and raise his head to lick it. You should begin clipping his nails immediately as the Ferretone will help keep him occupied the whole time.

Step III. Look for the clear part of the nail

Before you trim your ferret’s nails, pay attention to the structure of the nails. This is especially important if you are a first-time ferret owner. Look closely and you will notice a pink area in your ferret’s nails. This is a blood vessel and you should not get to it when clipping his nails.

If you accidentally cut it, it will cause your ferret an immense amount of pain as well as bleeding out. It will make it impossible for you to trim the ferret’s nails. However, if it does happen, you need to put some styptic powder on the wound.

Luckily for you, it will only take a minute for the bleeding to stop. My advice is, be careful when clipping your ferret’s nails. Make sure he is occupied, as described above, so as to avoid sudden movements. Cut about 1.6mm above the pink layer.

Step IV. Holding the ferret

Nail trimming is certainly not the best time of your ferret’s life. Therefore, you need to hold him in a way that you can restrain him as you trim his nails. Get a towel and put it over your laps before placing your ferret.

Hold him in a way that his back is against you and you can see his belly. Remember Ferretone? Now is the time to use it. Spread it on your ferret’s belly as he lies in this position. The goal is to get him busy licking the latter as you proceed to cut his nails.

However, if you are not sure about holding him still, you may ask a friend to come over and help you. They can hold your pet ferret by scruffing him. Once they have a firm grip on the ferret, they should use the other hand to support the ferret so that he is in a rollover position.

As described above, spread Ferretone to keep him busy. As you go ahead to examine and trim your ferret’s nails, make sure you can see the pink area. You are only supposed to trim the clear area of the nail.

If your ferret finishes the Ferretone before you finish, give him some more. Nail trimming should be a quick and easy process.

Step V. Cutting the clear layer of the nail

Now, when cutting your ferret’s nails, use small cat nail clippers. These are great because they cut from the side as opposed to human nail clippers. Therefore, there are limited chances that you will hurt him. Once again, I emphasize caution to avoid cutting into the pink layer if your ferret’s nail.

Should you cut into it, you should use the styptic powder as described above. The bleeding should stop in less than a minute. If he is still bleeding minutes after, call your vet for consultation.

Otherwise, you should have your ferret’s nails trimmed and neat. Consider checking every two-three weeks and clip them before they become longer.

Precautions to take when trimming your ferret’s nails

Nail trimming, as I have described above, might seem like an easy process. However, it is a delicate process that requires you to hold him still. Below is a list of precautions that you should take into account when trimming your ferret’s nails.

  1. Ensure that your ferret is occupied before you trim his nails. As I mentioned earlier, this is far from your ferret’s favorite thing to do. Have a bottle of ferret ones ready and be quick when clipping his nails. He will be too distracted to notice that you are doing anything at all.
  2. Be very careful and identify his pink layer before you start trimming the nails. The pink layer is composed of a quick blood vessel. If cut, it will cause a lot of pain and bleed out. The styptic powder should help with the bleeding.
  3. Ask for help if you must. I will be lying if I said that it is a simple process for a first-timer. I mean, while it is possible to hold him with one hand and cut with the other, it will be much easier if you have someone holding your ferret for you.
  4. As you trim your ferret’s nails, you will also be able to examine his paws. If you notice dry patches on his paws, use petroleum jelly to moisturize them.
  5. You might consider wearing safety glasses when trimming your ferret’s claws. The tiny nails could get into your eyes causing you an injury.
  6. Have everything ready before you begin. You will not have the time to get an item once you start clipping his nails. Grab everything you might need as outlined above.
  7. If you do not seem to understand how to do it, as your vet for help. They should show you how to trim your ferret’s nails fast and easy.
  8. If your ferret does not begin licking the Ferretone from his belly immediately, maybe he is not aware. Use the tip of the bottle to shift his attention to his belly. As I mentioned earlier, they enjoy this product and will get busy licking his belly.

While trimming your ferret’s nails, there is a risk of cutting his quick vein. However, as I have outlined above, the powder should help stop the pain as well as bleeding. If I showing any signs of pain, I suggest you get to the vet’s office.

By stopping the bleeding using the powder, you will be clotting the blood and minimizing the chances of developing an infection. Do not try to medicate your ferrets in any case. However, do not panic as it is rather a common mistake when trimming a ferret’s nails.


Trimming your ferret’s nails should not be a lengthy process. The above step by step guide will help you clip his nails on your own. At the same time, it is always better to have someone help you hold your pet ferret still for nail trimming.

The first time can be quite scary and tense. I mean, we are all scared that nail trimming might cause an injury. Do not panic if you accidentally touch his quick vein. Instead, use the powder for fast aid. If the bleeding continues, call your vet immediately.

You must keep him as calm and distracted during this process. Put as much Ferretones as you can to keep him licking his belly as you proceed to trim his nails. If he finishes the Ferrotone before you are done, offer him some more. At the same time, you need to be fast.

Lastly, do not forget to check the vein in each nail. Cut as deep as you can without cutting the vein as there is no need to cause him unnecessary pain during this process. I hope the above guide and precautions will make this process as simple as possible for you to trim your pet ferret’s nails.

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