Types of Housing & Materials

There are two main types of cages and enclosures – the walk in type and the ‘upright cage’ type. Walk in cages or enclosures are large and should at least be large enough for a person to walk in. They are large enough so that the ferret can move about freely with ease. These types of housing take up more space and may be more costly compared to smaller cages. However one may consider these if they wished to house multiple ferrets or larger businesses in one area. They can be made from scratch or purchased pre-made for convenience.

Upright cages are usually taller and are not large enough or built to be walk in cages. They can be stacked one on top of another in various layouts and easily expanded if needed to make it easier to house more ferrets. The issue with these ones however is they often have levels which in some certain cages, may make falling hazardous to ferrets as well as difficulty for thorough cleaning. They are often smaller so animals do not have so much freedom when compared to large outdoor enclosures or free roam house ferrets. It will provide enough room for walking around, getting to and from sleeping areas to litter boxes or food/water bowls and that’s about it, unless one has multiple cages put together to create a larger enclosure, however this may make cleaning a more tedious task to complete as it still may not be accessible as a walk in enclosure.

Designing or Planning Housing

The main considerations to make when designing housing or purchasing housing for ferrets are:
Country laws on animal housing – if any,
Cost,
Maintenance,
Rust proof – usually water forms the basis of cleaning routines,
Protection from other animals, especially other ferrets housed next door if they are known to bite and scratch each other through cages.

MATERIALS

There are many materials that can be used for constructing or considering what is appropriate for housing. Each has its merits and also its disadvantages. What type of construction material used will depend on what the housing is to be used for and also whether it is for outdoor or indoor use. It is quite common for two different construction materials to be used together in combination.

Below you will find common materials used for cages and enclosures, click on them to view their Advantages and Disadvantages.


Plastic / Fiberglass

Advantages: Easily cleaned, generally lightweight, durable, good insulation, smoothness tends to be more hygienic.

Disadvantages:  Scratches easily which may allow bacterial growth to occur, deep scratches and marks are harder to completely clean and rid of bacteria, odours can permeate and stains easily, is not really breathable so extra ventilation must be provided, may wear down quickly and may be expensive.

More Info: Is a favourite material for producing carriers due to its durability combined with its light weight. Also used to produce stackable cages that are moulded in one piece and are often attached to wheels for ease of moving them from place to place.


Stainless Steel

Advantages: Easily cleaned, Non-toxic, Strong & Durable, Hygienic , Can be made into variety of configurations , Can be mounted on wheels for ease of moving, Very long lasting, Resists staining, Resists corrosion, etc.

Disadvantages:  Very expensive, quite heavy & cold.

More Info:  Popular caging option for veterinary clinics due to being easy to clean and thoroughly disinfect. Plenty of bedding is a must to keep animals warm and comfortable. Usually doors are made from stainless steel grille which make them hygienic and strong. Stainless steel is reflective and so it gives housing areas a brighter appearance.


 Galvanised Metal

Advantages: Strong, durable & long lasting.

Disadvantages:  Tends to be heavy, difficult to clean, can be cold, may begin to look very tatty, zinc coating may flake off and so metal will stain and rust, not a popular material for caging.

More Info: Sometimes used as a cheap alternative to stainless steel and may be considered inferior and less desirable. Galvanised mesh may be used in conjunction with concrete for suitable long-term housing. Galvanised mesh usually forms the door and may be used in the wall construction of some enclosures.


 Aluminium

Advantages: Tends to be strong, lightweight, easy to clean, somewhat durable.

Disadvantages:  The finish may become tatty and stained. It may be damaged by some disinfectants and scratches easily so it may in time become more difficult to thoroughly clean. Tends to be a little pricey.

More Info: Popular because of the combination of strength and durability while being lightweight. However there are limitations which may be a hygiene issue.


 Wood

Advantages: Relatively light, cheaper than above alternatives.

Disadvantages:  Needs to be sealed with a non-toxic substance, It’s fairly absorbent which poses a hygiene problem as the odours tend to permeate into the wood, may be easily chewed or scratched- another bacteria hygiene concern, deteriorates quickly so a lot of maintenance is required or it may require replacement every couple of years give or take.

More Info: Is a popular option for outdoor housing but because it can be easily chewed, it should be checked often to ensure the ferrets have not caused any destruction that could in turn become a security issue as well as a splintering issue.   


 Concrete

Advantages: If smooth it may be easier to clean, disinfect and hose down, tends to be durable and long-lasting.

Disadvantages:  Only suitable for larger areas and non-portable caging.  May crack, which may provide crevices for bacteria. Is cold and hard and so plenty of bedding is required. If it’s not smooth, may be harder to clean and disinfect. May stain and appear tatty in certain situations.

More Info:  Popular for outdoor walk-in enclosures and can be used in conjunction with other materials. Maintenance is minimal.


Brick

Advantages: Strong & Durable.

Disadvantages:  Will contain crevices for bacteria to breed and may be more difficult to clean unless it is plastered and painted. May be cold and hard.

More Info:  Usually used in outdoor areas in combination with mesh gates

For more info on designing a cage or planning what cage to purchase, please see our other files.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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