One of the ferret's most endearing qualities is it's playful nature. Playing is what ferrets do best. Well, that and getting into everything and anything, but that's a whole other topic. A ferret would play all day and night if given the chance. Their energy at times seems limitless. They are non-stop balls of energy that run, jump, bounce off of walls, climb, and "weasel war dance". They keep us entertained for hours. It's a good idea to allow your ferrets at least 2 hours of playtime outside of their cage each day.
While ferrets love to play and can literally spend hours entertaining themselves, they do have an extremely short attention span. They don't focus on any one thing for too long before moving onto something else. They get bored SO easily. And what happens when ferrets are bored? They get into mischief and trouble, of course! So, as their owners, it is our responsibility to provide them with plenty of things to do and play with.
You would be suprised at some of the items ferrets enjoy playing with. I've gone out and spent quite a bit of money buying toys I *think* they'll enjoy, just to have them end up wanting to play with the boxes and bags the toys came in instead.
Here are some toy ideas to keep your ferret entertained, many of which can be already found in your home:
-Balls: ferrets love to play with different kinds of toy balls. Whether they be made of plastic, fleece or other material. They especially love ones that make rattling noises or have bells inside. Pushing the ball around the room with their nose always seems to be a favorite game. Balls made of vinyl or rubber are not recommended as they pose a potential blockage hazard. Always check the balls for breakage or excessive wear. Some of them are not made with the strongest of materials and will break easily.
-Cardboard boxes: boxes can be a lot of fun for ferrets. You can cut "ferret sized" holes in the boxes for them to climb in and out of. If you have several boxes, you can arrange and stack them on top of(or next to) one another for added fun. Be sure to secure the boxes with tape or something similar to keep the boxes from slipping or falling off one another while the ferrets are playing in them. Be sure to supervise as some ferrets have been known to enjoy chewing on the boxes rather than playing with them. If you discover any boxes with chew marks on them, missing pieces, or excessive wear, throw them away.
-"Dig boxes": Ferrets are natural diggers. That's why they are particularly fond of digging in potted plants or digging at the carpet in front of a door. To satisfy this digging need, you can make them a dig box. You can use a cardboard box, but I would recommend a large plastic box or bin(or you can even use a plastic baby pool...not the kind you fill with air though). You can put different things in the box for them to dig in such as shredded newspaper, sand (not directly from outside...buy it from a construction supply warehouse so you can be sure it's clean and safe), packing peanuts (used when shipping things. Use the cornstarch peanuts though, not the styrofoam. The cornstarch peanuts dissolve in water which makes them less likely to be a potential choking or blockage hazard). You can also use rice, but be sure not to use instant rice. Some have used store bought potting soil, but I've found it to be far too messy.
-Tubes: Ferrets love running and chasing each other through tubes. There are ferret "tunnels" available in some pet stores, but I have found them to be quite expensive. As an alternative you can use a dryer hose, pvc pipes or plastic drainage pipes which you can purchase for a reasonable price from your local hardware or home improvement store. The best part about these is they are made of plastic, so if they get too dirty or start to smell, they can easily be taken outside and rinsed with your garden hose or if they are too dirty or damaged, you can always buy a replacement since they are not very expensive. Depending on the length of the tube, you can twist them in all different directions and have them pass over and under things such as tables, boxes, etc
-Cat "teasers": I refer to these as fishing pole toys. They honestly look like a fishing pole with a string. And at the end of the string is a furry and/or noisy toy. Ferrets love to jump at and chase this toy. There are also similar toys that can be hung from a door knob that have the same effect.
-Used clothes: Ferrets love to tunnel through things, and clothing such as old jeans/pants and sweatshirts are perfect for them to tunnel through as well as snuggle up in for a nap. Just be cautious about using any clothes with buttons or decorations on them that your ferret could accidentally ingest.
-Old baby toys and stuffed(plush) animals are also ok to let your ferret play with as long as they don't have tiny pieces your ferret could accidentally swallow or that are made of rubber, vinyl, or weak plastic. Plush toys are ok to use but just be sure they aren't shedding excessive fur/material or aren't easily torn. Also make sure they don't have eyes, noses or other decorations that could come off easily and be swallowed.
These are just a few ideas of inexpensive "toys" to keep your ferret entertained. It might be a good idea to have two sets of toys. One set that the ferrets play with and the other keep aside so when they get bored with the first set, they can play with the second. Occasionally interchanging (and washing) the toys will keep your ferrets interested. When you give them a toy they haven't seen in a while or that you washed, it's almost like giving them a brand new toy that they've never seen before. Even with all the toys in the world, please remember that the BEST toy a ferret can have is you, their owner. They love to play and interact with you (playing "chase" is always a fun game), and they adore the attention they're getting in the process.