The Easy Way to Cut Your Ferret's Toenails




Introduction: The Easy Way to Cut Your Ferret's Toenails

A handy trick to easily cut your ferret's toenails without needing a second person, without scruffing, and without a struggle!

We run a ferret shelter and often have over 400 toenails to cut every three weeks. This handy trick will allow you to take your time cutting your ferret's nails so you won't have any nicks and you can keep the QuikStop in the cabinet where it belongs. This will show you the appropriate and easiest tools to use to cut your ferret's nails.

Step 1: Trouble Cutting Ferret Toenails?

Does it always take two people to trim your ferret's nails? Does she squirm and make things difficult? Try the following steps!

Step 2: Get Your Cutting Tools Ready!

In order to cut your ferret's nails you will need a pair of nail clippers. The small "cat" clippers shown are the easiest to use because they cut the nail from the side. Using dog-style guillotine clippers causes the nail to splinter at the ends and often makes it too difficult to not cut into the quick (the pink part that bleeds all over if you cut it). Some people use human toenail clippers, but I find they are awkward when holding a ferret and cutting from the side. Small cat clippers are the tool of choice.

You'll see some stypic powder next to the clippers on a paper towel. If you are not sure of your ability to cut your ferret's nails, keep this around in case you do hit the quick. It will stop bleeding almost immediately. Corn starch can also stop bleeding, although not as quickly, should you need it.

Step 3: The Most Important Added Step

If you've ever had a ferret, you've probably have experience with ferretone. Ferretone is a product that ferrets love so much they do almost anything for it. If you use this to keep your ferret's attention, you can easily work with their nails. You'll notice how the ferrets enjoy the bottle. Ferretone by 8n1 or Marshall's version are readily available at most pet stores or online pet suppliers. I have found that most ferrets prefer the Ferretone 8n1 flavor over the Marshall's brand.

Step 4: Select a Ferret and Grab Your Ferretone

Here is Finnigan, you'll notice he is already interested in the bottle.

Step 5: Assess Nail Condition

If you are new to nail trimming, be sure to look at your ferret's nails. You will notice there is a white longer part and an inner pink area (called the quick). You will want to trim the white part as close to the pink without cutting into it as possible.

If your ferret's nails have sharp points at the tips, you need to trim them more often. Ferrets should not be allowed to grow their nails to a sharp point. Notice in the picture that the tips are long, but blunt.

Step 6: Nail Diagram

If you are still unsure of where you cut, use this diagram to help you.

Step 7: Back to Finnigan! Prepping the Ferret.

Hold your ferret with your less dominant hand so he/she is cradled as if he/she was a baby. With the other hand, pour some ferretone onto the ferret's belly. If your ferret doesn't realize what is going on, use the tip of the bottle to lead his/her nose into the puddle of goodness on his/her stomach. Licking should begin immediately. Quick! Put the bottle down and grab the clippers!

Step 8: Begin Cutting

Still cradling the ferret, use the cradling arm to hold out the ferret's back foot . Use the clippers to easily clip the nails while the ferret is licking off the ferretone. You can take your time and not worry about any sudden movements while you are clipping. If your ferret licks off all the 'tone before you are finished, just add more. Clip the back nails in this way. I find turning the ferret around in my arms helps me to do the opposite-side nails more easily. (See video at the end for a demo!)

Step 9: Front Nails

Continue on to the front nails until all 20 nails are finished. Look he's still licking!

Step 10: When Finished

When you are finished clipping, you may even find that when you put your ferret down, he/she is still trying to lick off the ferretone. If you have other ferrets around, they may come over to try to get a taste too.

Step 11: Finished! on to the Next Ferret!

Look at those short nails!!

Step 12: Without Ferretone Demo

Clover the shelter ferret is not very excited about what is going on right now and she wants to stick her head right inbetween the clipper blades. She even lightly grabs my thumb letting me know she is not happy about the process.

Step 13: Compare to How Easy It Is With Ferretone!

This is Mr. Roco in the video.

Step 14: Good Luck!

All photos were taken at the Emmett Ferret Shelter using shelter and ambassador ferrets of the shelter. No ferrets were harmed in the making of this video.

Good luck and may you have much success in your ferret grooming process!!

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53 Discussions


3 years ago

Furovite is sticky but also works well on tummy. Or even a bit of hairball lax treat during shedding...

My ferret won't even try ferretone, treats, or anything else. what do i do now?

i seen  a video where the women held the ferret by the nape of its neck like a mother cat or mother dog and it went calm and stayed there would that work too if you had someones help?

1 reply

I always have to wait until 2 sets of hands are around....thank you for this fabulous tip!!

I have always used human cuticle cutters. They are the perfect size and have a slight angle to them which helps!

You dont need 2 people to click a ferrets nails. I sit down in a chair with my ferret and put the ferretone on his tummy. then put him on his back on top of my legs. the crevice between my legs keeps him from rolling off. then I clip his nails. If he starts to squirm I add a little more ferretone. I keep adding tone and clipping nails until I clip all of them. I dont need anyone to help me clip them. I've owned 3 ferrets, I currently have 2. scuffing doesnt work on my girl. She's 3 years old but the size of a kit. Until I started using ferretone it was incredibly difficult to clip her nails, now she is a little angel

Although it should make sense to do that, it doesn't allow enough of the white part to be cut back at one time. We cut our ferret's nails (and shelter ferret's nails) as we would when showing them. 1/8th inch of the white remains before the pink.

Hi, i strongly agree with you in which nail clippers to use. Much quicker and a smooth finish, i cant imagine how uncomfortable it must be when akwadly cutting with human nail clippers, ouch. May i ask where about you are from?

Warning- argument about minutiae ahead! Of course I understand that you guys have to do what is most expedient when trimming so many ferret's nails (I also work at a ferret shelter, so I understand!), but for most owners, trimming a few ferret's nails slightly more often is not a problem, and if it makes walking more comfortable for the ferret then I think it's worth it. I'm guessing that you buff nice rounded edges when showing ferrets, which most owners won't need/want to do. In that case wouldn't it make more sense to move the pressure point to a place closer to the natural tip of o ferret's nail? I learned about the proper cutting angle from an article written by a ferret expert that was published in one of the national ferret magazines. It has since been corroborated many times by the owners of other large ferret shelters. Google: ferret "parallel to the floor" to see more sources.

I use the 8 in 1 Ferretvite, All my ferrets love it. I prefer to use people toe nail clippers but thats only because I have three ferrets.

1 reply

You prefer to use peoples toe nail clippers, oh dear, i would be surprised if your ferrets nails have not split already, ouch. I cant imagine the inconvience it would cause the ferret having a split nail. Painful. The best and recommended safe way to cut ferrets toe nails is to use nail clippers specially designed for their rounded claws,you can pick these up at a very reasonable price (ask your vet or at a pet shop, they should assist you). If they are a little pricey that should be fine as they should last you a long time and they should not blunt so quick. I have three ferrets myself, (i find the males nails quite tough, but hes a big strong boy) and i put ferret tone on their belly, spread out their toes and cut off their nail making sure not to cut the quick (the pink) 8 in 1 Ferritive my ferrets love alot also, just like your fuzzies :)

BTW, I LOVE your ferret shelter logo. It's adorable!

I was very happy to find this Instructable's. Thank you! However, I've never been able to master the art of trimming nails while standing, even with "tone". What works best for me is to sit and place the ferret on his/her back in the "crack" of my lap so they don't roll or move around. This way, there's no need to juggle to get to the other side. Also, I keep a sqeaky toy on the table to call the next ferret (if they're not already swarming my feet to get to the "tone") to their nail trimming session. I trim my deaf ferret's nails first, lol. Thanks again! ~Christinna - Mommy to 10 personal ferrets and volunteer for the Texas Ferret Lover's Rescue.

My ferret doesn't like ferretone... he doesn't like treats in general really, but ferretone especially. we got that goo all over our fingers trying to get him to try it. we put it on stuff, we "left it around carelessly", etc. Even the one or two treats he's liked, he will only accept begrudgingly. :(

Ooh. I'm glad this Instructable exists. My ferret NEVER lets me trim her claws except under absolute certain conditions.

I know a lot of people use these cat clippers, but i greatly prefer using flat-edged human toenail clippers. I feel it's easier to get the correct cutting angle, and would be impossible to take off a toe if the ferret thrashed. But whatever works!