Behavior & Employment for Ferrets

For a harmonious coexistence of ferrets and humans, it is important that you get to know the language of the animals and understand their behavior. Then you can educate the rascals if necessary.

The cheeky ferrets still have plenty of behaviors from their wild ancestors. They love exercise and romp around the house all day long if you let them. Sleeping is almost as important. The animals appreciate a little nap in between, they prefer to sleep in different places. Hunting is also in the blood of the little whirlwinds. Everything that moves is pursued with passion. Unlike polecats, however, ferrets are very social and enjoy the company. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a ferret, dog, cat, or human, everything and everyone is encouraged to play, and sleeping is best done snuggled up to a fellow animal.

It is very important for you as a ferret owner to understand how to interpret your animals’ behavior. Because only then can you understand them and notice immediately if something is wrong. If behavior changes suddenly, this can often be the first sign of illness. Ferrets express themselves on the one hand through body language and on the other hand through spoken language.

The body language

  • The ferret jumps around, cackling loudly: the animal is fine. It feels great, is boisterous, and wants to play.
  • The ferret grows up and stands very still: something has unsettled the little rascal. He keeps an eye on the potential source of danger and is always ready to flee.
  • The ferret raises its hair: The animal was startled and is very scared. It will probably flee soon.
  • The ferret wags its tail very quickly: this is a sign of great tension. It can express negative as well as positive tension, for example when playing.
  • The ferret fluffs up its tail: the little predator reacts negatively to unwelcome smells or fellow animals. This is a warning sign.

The spoken language

  • Nest chirping: Ferret puppies let the mother know with soft squeaking sounds that they are alive and well and hungry.
  • Moaning: With a long-drawn-out “göög göög” ferrets let their environment know that they are fine.
  • Gockern: The little bullies express their excitement with this fast variant of crooning. Triggers can be a new environment or an unknown conspecific.
  • Hiss: This sound is used to indicate displeasure and anger. Now you shouldn’t irritate the animal any further.
  • Squeaks: Ferrets sometimes sound like a whole pigsty when they are having a heated argument with one another.
  • Barking: When a ferret is startled or frightened, it lets out a short, high-pitched squeak called a bark. In this situation, the animals usually also empty the anal gland.
  • Cackle: If you accidentally step on your pet’s tail, they’ll immediately complain about a high-pitched, loud squeak.
  • Screaming: When the animal is in extreme pain, it sometimes screams piercingly. Most of the time it is no longer in its senses.

Housebroken ferret

Ferrets are very clean animals. In their cage, they usually only use one corner as a toilet. Once you have determined which corner the animals prefer, you can place a litter box there. It becomes more difficult to convey the meaning of housebreaking to the little whirlwinds outside the cage. Most of the time they are so engrossed in playing that they don’t make it to the nearest litter box in time.

Now you need some patience. First of all, place as many litter boxes as possible in the corners of the rooms that your animals are allowed to enter. If you see one of your ferrets getting restless and walking backward with their tail held high, it could be coming soon. Pick up the animal, tuck its tail under its belly and carry it to the nearest litter box. With a bit of luck, you’ve got the right instincts and the little rascal does his business. Give him plenty of praise and reward him with a treat. If you repeat this process several times, your pet will soon go to the toilet on its own.

However, keep in mind that ferrets will never be 100 percent house trained. In the heat of the moment, something can always go wrong, and many animals also react to stress with uncleanliness. Therefore, bring valuable carpets to safety. Never yell at your pet or even slap it when something goes wrong. This will only scare your roommate and he won’t understand. It is enough to say “No” calmly and clearly and put the little bastard back in the litter box.

The problem with the bite

Young ferrets often playfully tweak their fellow ferrets to encourage them to romp and frolic. Once they’ve accepted you as a friend, they’ll want to motivate you to play in the same way. Let your little bullies know that you don’t agree with this behavior with a firm “no” and a loud flick or smack. Your animals will soon understand.

Ferrets often bite when they are scared. If your animals aren’t tame yet, don’t overwhelm them by picking them up right away. Out of fear, the animals might bite you. The rascals react the same way if you hold them against their will. When they see no other way to escape, they pinch. Ferrets will bite if they are uncomfortable. There can be various reasons for this. Maybe you’ve just put lotion on the hand you’re reaching into the cage with or you’ve held a cigarette in it. The ferret may feel threatened by these strange smells. If you have just cut meat and the good smell is still on your hands, it is possible that there will be a mix-up and the animal will bite out of sheer enthusiasm.

Ferrets often snap when they aren’t busy. If there is not enough activity and free-range, the animals express their dissatisfaction in this way. Also, keep in mind that biting could always be a sign of pain. So if your ferret suddenly snaps, the first thing you should do is try to identify possible causes so that you can eliminate them if necessary. If you cannot find an explanation for the bite, you should visit the vet as a precaution.

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