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Aggression in Ferrets

Is your Indianapolis ferret biting you? If so, you aren’t the first ferret owner to have this issue. It’s very common for ferret owners to complain that their pets are biting or acting up. It is true that these little ones can be a bit aggressive at times, but they aren’t necessarily biting out of viciousness.

Ferrets often bite one another as a part of their normal ferret-to-ferret communication. These slinky little furballs have very thick skin, so when one ferret nips another, it doesn’t hurt much. We humans have much thinner skin, however, and those little teeth can be painful for us.

Here are a few reasons your ferret may bite:

Sleepiness

Ferrets spend 14 to 18 hours a day sleeping, and they really don’t like it when their naptime is interrupted! Ferrets sometimes bite if you try to pick them up while they are dozing. Make sure your ferret is wide-awake before you handle him.

Fear

Fear is another reason ferrets may bite. If your ferret is fairly new, or in unfamiliar company, he may very likely be frightened. Ferrets are very small, especially in comparison to us, and their teeth are their main defense. Take time to handle and socialize an anxious ferret. Once your pet realizes he is safe in your Indianapolis home, the biting may stop on its own.

Pain

A ferret that is normally docile but suddenly turns vicious could be in pain. Regardless of whether the discomfort is from an upset stomach, acute pain, illness, or injury, pain can make ferrets cranky and defensive. Check with your vet if you suspect your ferret may be hurting or sick.

Play

Ferrets sometimes nip playfully. If your ferret likes to run out, nip your toe, and then run off, it may be an invitation to play.

Ferrets will have to be taught not to bite. Never strike a ferret for biting. This will only cause them to fear you, and will exacerbate any issues they are having. One thing you can do is ‘scruff’ the ferret, or hold it up by the scruff of its neck. Ferrets usually recognize this as punishment, particularly if it is accompanied by a stern ‘No!’. Another method is to use a product with a taste your ferret will hate. You can find these with other training aids in pet stores. Blowing on your ferret’s face, or gently pulling its whiskers, can also be effective. Whatever method you choose, be consistent. Don’t yell one day, and choose a time out the next.

Please contact your Indianapolis vet with any questions on ferret care and behavior.

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