What does it mean when a ferret licks you

Ferrets cannot speak so they try their best to communicate with us using other methods. This includes specific gestures, nipping, vocalizing, and even licking. If your ferret licks you from time to time, it doesn’t always mean that your hands are salty or that it wants to bite you. In fact, most of the time, it will just try its best to groom you if it thinks you’re dirty.

In this article, we’ll talk about why do ferrets lick their owners and what does it mean.

What does it mean when a ferret licks you? 5 possibilities

Ferret eating from owners hand
Source: Adobe Stock Photos

Ferrets form strong bonds with each other and they like to show a lot of affection to their partner. This includes grooming one another. They might simply try to tell you how much you mean to them. But there are also other reasons that you need to figure out by paying close attention to your pet and trying to understand its actions.

It might simply be curious, it might want attention, your hands are salty, or they’re about to try and bit you next. Each ferret has its own personality and it’s up to you to try and bond with it. As time passes, you will both get to understand one another better and better.

Grooming you

If your ferret is close to you and sees you as part of the family, it will try to give you the same treatment as all the other ferrets in its business. This is actually a great bonding moment and you should feel very loved if this is the reason why your little pet tries to lick you. It’s a way of showing indirect affection and making you feel like you matter to your pet.

You might also be really dirty on your hands and it will try to clean you up. Of course, anything that isn’t your natural skin seems like “dirt” to them, including your lotion. But since lotion contains some specific ingredients that are meant to improve your skin, you should prevent your ferret from licking it off your hands.

He is happy to see you

If you are close to your ferret and you’ve been away from it for a while, it starts getting anxious and will try to look for you every time it gets out of the cage. When you come back, it will try its best to show you how much it missed you by showering you with an overwhelming amount of licks all over your face. It will also do an excited dance around you to get you to notice it.

Respond back by cuddling with it for a few minutes and trying to pet it as much as possible. This will show that you missed it as well. If you don’t agree with an animal licking your face, don’t scream at the pet. Just distance yourself a bit and offer it your hands. Your hands are easier to clean than your face. Not giving them an alternative can make them sad.

You should also keep in mind that ferrets can suffer from separation anxiety and feel abandoned if they don’t see you for an extended amount of time. Having a partner can help them deal with you being gone a bit better. But if they don’t, then whoever is taking care of the ferrets needs to give them extra attention until they feel better.

They’re curious

If you’ve just eaten something that smells interesting, your ferret will try to get as close as possible to your face and lick you to try and find out what it was. It will reach the same after you handled food. Don’t let them lick your hands if you cooked something spicy or something that could cause them pain if they come into contact with it.

After you work out, your body is very sweaty and salty. This can lead to the ferret trying to lick pretty much any body part it can get. This includes your arm, neck, shoulder, nose, etc. Ferrets seem to be very fond of licking noses, which is probably because of their shape.

They need salt

Ferrets love the taste of salt and a salty hand is like a magnet to ferrets. They will even try to stop you from taking your hand away while they’re licking. Your body always has traces of salt on it because of your sweat. And if someone gets a bit more licks than you, it might only mean that they are more sweaty at the moment.

Your ferret might also become obsessed with licking your face if you’ve been crying recently. Be very careful of when they lick you as they might get a bit too into it and they’ll try to bite your face to get a piece of that tasty salt.

If they become too determined to lick your salty hands, you might want to take them to the vet. Maybe the new food lacks the necessary salt for their body and they try to get it from somewhere else. A vet will offer a supplement or an alternative way for your ferret to get its salt.

He might bite you next

A ferret will often try to get you to move to another location by licking your hand or foot and then giving a soft bite. This is to get your attention and to help you understand that it needs something from you. Your pet might simply do this because you are busy with something and you keep ignoring its play advances.

If your foot is placed slightly on one of their toys, they will try the same method to get you to let go of the toy. They are very smart creatures and they can actually tell that your foot is the reason why their favorite toy isn’t moving. But since they also love you, they will try to give you a lick as a warning that they are about to nip you so you have enough time to move your foot.

And if your ferret actually has the intention of biting you. It will lick your skin in an attempt to soften the area so it can bite better. This is a behavior that needs to be stopped until it’s too late and can be solved with a bit of training.