Why Do Ferrets Wag Their Tails? + 3 Other Ways They Express Themselves

Ferrets are intelligent creatures that make excellent pets and are popular all over the world. Although they are often compared to cats, today we’ll talk about a habit that’s typical to dogs, which is wagging their tail.

Since ferrets are so much different than both dogs and cats, many owners don’t know if this behavior is a sign of happiness or not. And since this is not natural for all ferrets and is rare to see, most keepers are even more confused.

Tail wagging is used by ferrets to try to communicate with you. They can try to tell you lots of things using their tail and sadly, most of it gets misinterpreted. In this article, we’ll talk about why do some ferrets wag their tails and what does it mean.

Ferret wagging tail
Photo by Rohan Chang on Unsplash

Why Do Ferrets Wag Their Tails? The Long Answer.

Having a ferret that wags his tail is quite rare, even in large businesses. It also doesn’t look similar to how dogs wag their tails. It’s actually more of a beating action where the ferret keeps slamming his tail to the floor, which is why is also known as “tail beating”.

Expert ferret keepers confirm that 99% of the time, some ferrets wag their tails when they are happy. This can be noticed when the ferret plays a game with another ferret and he enjoys it a lot. The ferret might also wag its tail if it notices it’s about to win in the game he’s playing.

The other 1% of tail waggling can be seen when the ferret is extremely scared. It will make its tail very puffy and start waggling it in an attempt to scare off the danger. You should never go to the ferret and attempt to console it if it runs away from you.

It’s recommended to keep your distance and start talking in a sweet and calming voice. You might have to deal with this a few times the first time you bring your ferret home.

The good news is that once you understand what your ferret is trying to tell you with its body signs, communicating with him is a lot easier. And as time passes, you will be able to understand him more and more.

What Other Ways Do Ferrets Have, To Express Themselves?

One thing you should keep in mind is that this behavior is only found in ferrets with really strong personalities. This includes ferrets that are very smart and don’t shy away from expressing themselves. It can also be found in clever ferrets that love being mischievous and causing problems all over the house.

If they have too much to say and don’t know how to say it, they will start wagging their tail trying to make you understand. They might even wag their tail around you trying to show you that they’re ready to play with you or that they want attention.

Let’s break down three of the most used ways they typically try to express themselves which also includes tail wagging.


One of the funnies occasions you will see your ferret wagging his tail is when he’s dancing from excitement. This happens because the ferret just has way too much energy and they’re trying to pour it out in any way they can.

Some owners have a hard time understanding when exactly is their ferret dancing as they’re actually expecting some dancing moves. However, they actually just tend to show off various acrobatic styles, hopping, and wagging their tail as well.

You probably already saw your ferret running around very fast then bumping into the bed or other obstacle in the house. This is their way of getting rid of all that extra energy.


Another popular way of expressing how happy they are is by wrestling. This is actually a very natural and typical behavior that happens both in nature and in captivity. They blow off a lot of steam during this process.

If a ferret enjoys wrestling a lot or is about to win, he might start wagging its tail from excitement. You will often see ferrets fighting each other over a toy or simply trying to prove who’s the alpha. And the winner might end up wagging their tail.


Happy ferrets usually make a noise that is called dooking and it happens when they are very delighted and dancing around. This also makes them jump around in excitement when they get something their way or they’re chasing someone.

If you’re playing “catch me” with your ferret, he might start wagging its tail when he sees that he has you cornered in a place. Then they’ll jump on you and whip your body with their tail just so they can tell you they’re ready to play some more.