Ferret Agility Equipment
I can not stress enough how important it is to use the correct size, safe and stable equipment. Equipment that will hold the weight of the animal using it. While some Agility Equipment Pieces used for small dogs may work for a Ferret, some Dog Agility Equipment will be too large and or too high. Many Rabbit Agility Equipment Pieces might work perfect for a Ferret, other, such as the higher jumps used in Rabbit Hopping or Rabbit Jumping or Rabbit Show Jumping, will be too tall. Some Guinea Pig Equipment will be the perfect size for Ferrets since Guinea Pigs and Ferrets are about the same circumference, but some of the Guinea Pig Agility Equipment will be too short for the Ferret's long body type. Be sure to buy or build the right equipment for the right animals. Ferrets need Agility Equipment that is proper for their body type, stable enough to hold their weight, and safe to manipulate.
Bar Jumps are jumps that have bars between the uprights. Those bars can be fall away or stationary. For Ferret's stationary is best. Many Ferrets will use the bars to climb over the jumps. You do not want high set bars on your jumps. 6" is high enough for most Ferrets. The entire jump must be stable enough to hold the Ferret's weight.
This piece of Agility Equipment is one of spectators favorites, it does not matter what type of animal comes through it, it makes us smile.
The inside of your tire needs to be big enough for the Ferret to come through it easily. The Tire needs to be attached to a stand that will keep it from swinging as the animal steps off of it, or jumps through it. The stand needs to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the animal and the Tire so that it does not tip over as the Ferret manipulates the piece.
Another piece of Agility Equipment that spectators love. For a Ferret keep the Hoop low to the ground on your Hoop Jump frame. The Hoop should be approx. 8" - 10" in diameter and mounted firmly on a stand or frame that will support the Ferret's weight.
A Window Jump is a jump that has a solid piece with a hole in it. The hole can be round or square or rectangle or shaped, as long as the hole is large enough for the animal to come through it easily. For a Ferret, the window should be set low in the solid piece. The solid piece is usually wood, but could be fabric or plastic. The bottom of the hole or window should only be a few inches up the piece from the ground. The solid piece should be set firmly on a stand or within a frame with supports that will hold a Ferret's body weight.
Fence Jumps are jumps that look like a section of fencing. In many Agility Circles all Agility Equipment Pieces are called "fences". The reason? All agility, for every species, came from Horse Steepechase. All the jumps for the SteepleChase are called Fences. So it is just carried over to other species.
Fence Jumps for Ferrets do not have to be high, should not be high, and do not need to be wider then 24". You might use Garden Fence Pieces that can be bought from most stores for $1 or $4. Just make sure to buy short pieces. You do not want your Ferret Fence Jump to be over 6" - 8" tall. Make sure, make sure that the Fence Jump you chose will support your Ferret's weight and that the top pieces are blunt, nothing sharp. Some wooden fencing you might be able to sand down are repaint. Bright colors are a welcome site on an Agility Course.
In this photo I have a side by side comparison of Fence Jumps that might be used for Ferrets. The white on is bright and the top area is not sharp. The black Fence Jump has the rounded top, that I like better then the pointed edges (as I said not sharp) and the points under the arches are not sharp either. Black is harder to see on the outdoor field. But they are a good size, albeit it will take some training to get the Ferret "Over" the Fence Jump rather then through it. These however can only be used outdoors. They have no stand or frame. They push into the ground. I also use these Fence Jumps for my rabbits, dogs and goats.
A Ferret Teeter Totter should have a low pivot point. The board should be wide enough for the Ferret to walk up comfortably, but not so wide that the Ferret tends to turn around. The board length should be approx. 45"-50". The idea is for the Ferret to have fun, not be frightened. A Sea Saw, that has a high pivot point, would certainly not be as safe for a Ferret. If you are planning to train your Ferret to a Sea Saw, be sure to train to the Teeter Totter first.
You will notice that my Teeter Totter has Rabbit Pictures on it. This is one piece of Agility Equipment that a Ferret and a Rabbit can share, or use the same size.
Absolutely! Positively! For Sure! Hands Down! Your Ferret's favorite piece of Agility Equipment. You will spend more time training your Ferret to come OUT of the Open Tunnel then teaching it to go into it.
"They say" that size does not matter and with an Open Tunnel for a Ferret to come through on an agility course, that is almost true...in human eyes. The Open Tunnel needs to be big enough for the Ferret to get in and out of easily. The length should be at least 20" long. The Open Tunnel needs to be secure to the ground or table so that if it is light weight, it will not roll as the Ferret comes through it. The material it is made out of will depend on where you are setting up your course and how long the Tunnel will be. Now...in the Ferret's eyes, the Tunnel can not be tooooo loooong.
I know you have seen those realllllly long, clothes drier type, clear plastic tunnels for pet Ferrets. You could use these on an Agility Course, however, you might use a shorter and even larger diameter Open Tunnel also. It depends on how you will set up your Agility Equipment on the Course.
For training your Ferret to come through the Open Tunnel you will need a shorter Tunnel at least to start.
Your Ferret will LOVE the Closed Tunnel once it gets the idea of what you are asking it to do, to come THROUGH the Closed Tunnel. A Closed Tunnel needs to be large enough that the Ferret can come through the Open End easily.
more to come
Weave Polls need to be at least 12" high and set so that they stay up if brushed against by the long Ferret body. If you are working outdoors, you might just pound three painted wooden dowels into to the ground at the same height. For a Ferrets short attention span you will only use three or four Weave Polls. These will not be easy to teach and your Ferret may never weave them without your hand above the polls "leading" it through. But the Weave Polls are a crowd and trainer favorite. All animals are cute when they weave the polls!
BALANCE BEAM - BRIDGE - DOG WALK
Your Ferret Balance Beam is more of a Bridge or Dog Walk then like a Balance Beam you might have for a Pet Rat. It will need a ramp up and down the other side with cross pieces. You do not want the Bridge set too high. The length depends on if you have rails on the sides or not. If not, you only want the top board about 18" - 24" long. Teaching this piece should not be too hard using food for bait or the backchaining method.
A Ferret's A-Frame should be low set, and have wide boards, more like a Guinea Pig A-Frame rather then the high set peak a dog or pet rat would use. The A Frame should have cross pieces on both sides.
A Pause Table should be low set enough for the Ferret to easily get up on it, wide enough for the Ferret to turn around on, and stable enough to hold the Ferret's weight. In reality, your Ferret will probably never be taught to stop and wait 5 seconds as a dog would. But a Pause Table is a cute piece to use at the end of your Agility Course as your place the Ferret gets it's treat.
The contents of this page for Ferret Agility Equipment is still under construction. Please check back later!
-- The Ferret Agility Team