Ferrets can’t talk so they use their body language to communicate with you. And since they don’t have claws, they tend to do everything with their mouth. This is why biting is a normal thing for ferrets and you can teach them to stop doing it as long as you find out what the real problem is.
In this article, we’ll talk about why ferrets bite and how to teach them to stop.
Do ferrets bite? Why?
There are countless reasons why your ferret could bite. The reasons range anywhere from them not learning that they’re not supposed to bite, to challenging your authority, to trying to get your attention, and to trying to tell you they’re in pain. It’s extremely important to find out why your ferret is biting so you can find a way to solve the problem.
You can’t punish a ferret that bites because he’s angry you kept him caged all day by giving him a time-out. The ferret might go blind and get spooked when you touch it so it bites back. You should not counter this by spraying gross things on your hands. Understanding why they suddenly bite will help a lot.
If you have a new ferret, it’s normal to have some biting issues at first, especially if it’s a kit. This means that the previous owner or breeder didn’t bother to get the ferret used to human contact and teach it that biting is bad. Ferrets play very roughly with one another and they don’t know that your skin is a lot more sensitive.
Some smart ferrets will try to test your authority as well. This typically happens with females. They know very well that biting is bad, but they will still go ahead and nip you a little bit to see your reaction. You should never respond with violence or with lots of shouting. Ignore its attempts to test you and it will immediately move on with its mischievous life.
There’s also the chance that you accidentally encouraged biting without even realizing it. This is actually a very common thing that happens to new ferret owners all the time. More than that, if you’re really busy and you only go to the ferret to scold it when it does something bad, you just taught it that doing something bad gets the attention it craves from you. They would rather get negative attention than being ignored all the time.
Ferrets are very smart and they can actually hold a grudge. So if it only bites one person or an animal, in particular, it must have something against that someone and you should make sure they don’t cross each other’s paths any longer. This can easily happen if your kid played too rough or hurt the ferret in any way when you weren’t looking, and the ferret will see that kid as dangerous.
If they just bite you when you take them out of their cage, it means that they need to be let out more. They know that you’re the one that put them in the cage and that it’s your fault they can’t run around the house any longer. And they will “scold” you for keeping them caged for so long.
Are ferrets aggressive?
Aggressiveness in ferrets depends on whether the ferret is neutered or if it just has a more aggressive personality. Intact male ferrets can get extremely aggressive with other males over territory and females, even when they’re not in heat. But this doesn’t mean that they will start biting you as their whole problem is the other male ferret, not you.
Some ferrets can have a more aggressive personality and you should pay extra attention to it when it plays with your child or other pets. Ferrets generally play very rough, but if one ferret is also aggressive it can do some serious harm. But generally, they’re not aggressive at all and they will rather run and hide from an attacker than try and bite back.
You should keep in mind that even the sweetest ferret can turn very aggressive and violent if it’s backed into a corner. They very rarely start the fight but they will fight back if they don’t have any other choice. And if you have an aggressive ferret, find out where does this aggressive side comes from and find a way to tame it.
Other reasons why ferrets may bite
A ferret will often bite if you try to pick it up and you cause pain without even knowing. This is their way of telling you that maybe their back hurts or they have some other health issues. If your ferret is typically calm and friendly and then it suddenly starts biting, you should quickly go to the vet and see if there’s a problem.
Your ferret will quickly learn that a soft nip is all it takes for you to put it down. And if it’s in the middle of playing but you pick it up and nipping doesn’t work, it will start biting you harder while trying to tell you that it wants to play, not cuddle.
Intelligence also plays a big role in how fast they learn that biting is a bad thing to do. Yours might know it’s bad but it just tries to test you, but it can also not be one of the brightest ferrets around and it simply doesn’t know better. Be patient and remind it that biting is bad.
How do you train a ferret not to bite?
There are numerous ways to stop a ferret from biting and it all depends on what works on your ferret. The best methods that have been proved to be effective over and over again might be useless for your ferret. This is why knowing why your ferret bites is extremely important.
One of the most popular and efficient ways is to grab the ferret by the scruff (but don’t lift it off the ground) and point a finger sternly at it. Don’t shout and don’t use violence. Ferrets barely feel anything when you’re grabbing them by the scruff, that’s also why they can play so rough.
Combine this method with patience and your ferret will quickly learn right from wrong. You should also make sure you’re not accidentally encouraging biting in other ways.