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Home > Ferrets > How to Trim Ferret Nails: 8 Easy Steps

How to Trim Ferret Nails: 8 Easy Steps

Woman cutting the nails of a ferret

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Dr. Karyn Kanowski

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According to the American Ferret Association (AFA),1 a ferret’s nails should be trimmed every 2 weeks, which can be daunting, especially when you’re worried about hurting your little furry baby. But fear no longer, because with a little practice, a lot of patience, and the right tools, trimming your ferret’s nails will soon feel like a walk in the park…or almost!

Here are the basic steps to give your adorable little carnivore a neat manicure while minimizing stress for both of you.


Before You Start: Gather the Essentials

Don’t worry; you won’t have to break the bank to get the supplies needed to complete this mission! All you need is the following:

  • Small animal nail clippers: A cat claw clipper will also do the trick, but avoid dog nail clippers as they are too bulky to work well on a ferret’s delicate claws.
  • Styptic powder: To stop bleeding if you accidentally trim too short.
  • A soft blanket or towel to make a perfect ferret burrito if they get too squirmy.
  • Ferret-friendly treats: You should stick to options made specifically for ferrets or, incidentally, cat treats, but never treats made for dogs. Other good treats for ferrets include boiled eggs and pieces of chicken or turkey.
  • Salmon oil (or similar dietary supplement): To put on your ferret’s tummy and distract them while you get the job done.

That’s it! You are now ready to tackle your first nail-trimming challenge!

feeding a ferret while cutting nails in the park
Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

The 8 Steps How to Trim Ferret Nails

1. Choose a Quiet and Safe Spot

Find a quiet, cozy place in your home where you won’t be disturbed. You don’t want a noisy child or a rambunctious puppy to add more stress to your first nail-trimming session.

Pro tip: If possible, wait until nap time. Ferrets are big sleepers and are generally more relaxed before falling asleep or just after waking up.

2. Immobilize Your Ferret

Pick up your ferret and hold them gently but firmly on their back in your lap. We know, easier said than done! But here’s a helpful tip from the AFA:2

A good way to immobilize your ferret is to place their favorite liquid treat (such as salmon oil) on their belly and let them lick it off while you trim their nails. However, be careful not to use too much as it can cause gastrointestinal upset.

3. Locate the Quick

Fortunately, ferrets have transparent nails. This means that when you examine your pet’s claws, you will easily find a pinkish area (called the “quick”) about halfway up the nail. This part contains the blood vessels and nerves, so you must be extremely careful not to cut it.

Cutting ferret nails
Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

4. Clip the Nails

Squeeze the clippers and make a perpendicular cut, taking care not to touch the quick. It’s best to clip a small portion of nails at a time and to stop at least ⅛ inch from the quick. The closer you get, the more likely you will put pressure on the quick, which will cause your ferret pain and discomfort.

5. Check for Bleeding

If you accidentally nick the quick, apply styptic powder to the injured nail. If that doesn’t stop the bleeding, gently press a clean towel over the nail. The bleeding should stop within a few minutes.

ferret-on hand
Image By: amayaeguizabal, Pixabay

6. Repeat the Process

Repeat the steps for the other paws and place a small number of liquid treats on your ferret’s belly if necessary. Avoid sudden movements and stay calm throughout the process. You don’t want your ferret to become more restless due to your lack of patience! Also, rest assured that with practice, trimming your ferret’s claws will become easier and less stressful for you and your furry friend.

7. Reward Your Ferret

Give your ferret a special treat like Marshall Bandits Peanut Butter Flavor and several cuddles after each nail trimming session to make it a positive experience.

8. Ask a Friend for Help

An alternative method would be to ask a friend to help you. Have your friend hold the ferret firmly by gripping the loose skin on the back of the neck with one hand (as you would when lifting a kitten) while supporting the hindquarters with the other hand. This will allow you to trim your ferret’s nails with greater ease.

little ferret sleeping
Image By: ursulacatenazzi0, Pixabay


Tips for Trimming Your Ferret’s Nails Like a Pro

  • Start early! The sooner your ferret gets used to it, the easier it will be to trim their nails. Start by just playing with their feet and toes regularly before you introduce the clippers so they are used to having their feet handled.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable using clippers, buff the tips of your ferret’s nails with a coarse emery board.
  • Don’t try to cut all the nails at once if your ferret is restless or if you are very nervous. Take a break and resume the session when you and your pet are calmer.
  • Don’t use one of your dull old human nail clippers! Getting a nail clipper designed specifically for small animals is easy and inexpensive.



Since ferrets should never be declawed and taking them to a professional groomer every few weeks can be time-consuming and expensive, learning how to trim their nails properly is a fundamental skill to acquire. Furthermore, it’s essential to prevent your fur baby’s nails from becoming too long and causing discomfort or injury.

However, if you’re still feeling insecure and worried about hurting your pet, it’s best to ask your vet to show you how to do it the first time.

Featured Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

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