Ferrets are used as pets all over the world and they make excellent companions. They bond with only one master and will do anything to get as much playtime and cuddles with you as possible. They’re very intelligent and even more adorable.
But ferrets can also bite or nip from time to time. Be it because they’re scared, ill, or just too young to know better. They’re very easy to trains so you can fix this problem within a few weeks, maybe a few months for the more aggressive types.
In this article, we’ll talk about the aggressive side of ferrets and what to do to discourage it.
Are ferrets aggressive? Do they bite or nip?
There are mainly four reasons for aggressiveness you might find in a ferret and they all need to be treated differently. A happy, healthy, and well-raised ferret will never bite on purpose, even while playing. If yours is aggressive, you need to ask why.
The first sense of aggression you will get from your ferret is when you bring him home for the first time. This is natural as he finds himself in a completely new place with completely new people that he doesn’t know if he can trust. Give him time, speak with a sweet and reassuring tone with him, and he will come around. A treat or two will also help.
Another reason might be because he’s just too young to know how to play properly. You need to stop playing immediately, take him by his scruff (but not off the ground), and with one finger pointed at him say a stern “No”. Don’t ever yell or hurt him trying to “discipline” him. A short time-out is enough.
If your well-behaved ferret starts biting suddenly and acting out of place you need to immediately take him to the vet. This may be his way of trying to tell you his stomach hurts or he has an ear infection. Once the illness is gone so will be the aggressiveness.
And the worst reason your ferret might have for being aggressive is abuse or having a previous owner that rewarded biting instead of discouraging it. This will take a lot of dedication and patience from your side to show him you’re his friend then slowly start training him properly.
Do ferrets hurt us when they bite?
The first thing you need to understand is that ferrets have thicker and tougher skin. This means they are naturally used to nip a bit harder when playing and taking it as normal behavior. But when those teeth make their way onto your skin, it can hurt and cause an injury if they keep hanging on.
This is why you should never get mad at a young ferret for biting you too hard while playing as he doesn’t have any way of knowing until you train him. After training all you will get is a soft nip here and them when they’re asking for attention.
But when it comes from an aggressive or very scared ferret, the bite can be pretty serious so be careful until you two become friends.
Should ferrets grow around small children?
Ferrets should be kept as far away from infants as possible, the same goes for any pet. They might not know what your baby is and try to nip. And since infants are so fragile, they can bleed very fast and the ferret will see your baby as a meal.
It doesn’t matter how cute and fluffy your ferret is, it acts that way with you because they see you as the master and because you’re so much bigger. But don’t ever leave an infant unsupervised while your ferrets are out of their cage or room.
We already established that a ferret will attack if he feels threatened and you’re hurting him. Small children that don’t know how to handle a living creature might get too excited and get rough with the ferret while playing. The ferret will see this as an attack and won’t think twice about attacking back.
Never leave your small children around the ferrets unsupervised, and don’t let any kids around them if they’re still aggressive. They’re very fast and they will reach your kid faster than you will be able to stop them.
Are ferrets aggressive with other ferrets?
As it happens with many animals, ferrets get aggressive with one another to establish who’s the boss. It’s a natural thing and you should never stop them unless you can see things get out of control. The quicker one of them gives up, the quicker all the fighting will end.
If you just keep them separated and don’t let them decide who’s the Alpha, they won’t ever accept each other and will attack even more seriously when they see each other. This means you’ll have to keep them apart, which is a bad idea as ferrets need to live in pairs or in small groups.
One thing you can be assured of is that while the fighting can get pretty serious, they won’t kill each other. The purpose of the fight is to determine the boss not to get rid of one another. Stop it when things get too out of control and always keep their injuries clean with the help of some antibiotic ointment.
How about wild ferrets? Are they aggressive?
Wild ferrets can get scared of you very quickly and they will either start screaming and run away or stand their ground and start biting you. You should also keep in mind that wild ferrets can carry various diseases and direct contact will have you running to the vet.
A wild ferret will also be a lot more aggressive and the bite will hurt very much. This is because they are prayed on by bigger animals all the time. Every time they go looking for food they might end up being the hunter or the prey.
Don’t attempt to befriend a wild ferret, especially if it’s very aggressive. They always live in packs so you don’t have to worry about it being alone out there. Go to a pet shop or ferret shelter if you want one as a pet instead.
Can ferrets be trained not to bite or nip? How?
Ferrets are a pleasure to train and you can easily teach them that biting and nipping is bad. This will ensure that your older kid won’t end up with an injury while trying to pet the ferret.
The first step is to give them an alternative that they can bite as hard as they want. This includes toys made specifically for ferrets, harder and bigger ferret treats, etc. Don’t ever give your ferret rubber toys because a single piece of chewed rubber can block his digestion.
You can place the ferret on your lap or anywhere that can support their body weight then take them by their scruff gently but with a serious tone. Then wave a finger in their face saying a stern “No!” or “No Bite!”.
There might be a need for various scoldings but never hit or hurt him in any way. This will encourage biting and being aggressive. You can also give them a few minutes of time out in an enclosed space. They’re social creatures so they hate that. But at the same time, don’t leave them there longer than a few minutes as they’ll take it as they’re rewarded with a nap.
All you need is lots of patience and treats and in no time your ferret will be the best-behaved you’ve ever seen.