Behavior Issues

BITING

A lot of ferrets bite just out of playfulness or not knowing any better. When they play with another ferret, they can bite and do it pretty hard. They have to be taught that this is not appropriate to do with humans. This is, of course, a little more difficult to do with a deaf ferret.
First thing is to be aware when you are around the ferret for actions that lead up to biting. For example, I had a ferret that would always lick twice before biting (as do a lot of ferrets). I had another that would come up and sniff first before biting. If you can recognize some of the actions, you can take pre-emptive measures to keep the biting from occurring.

Be sure the ferret is not hungry. A ferret should have food down at all times. Ferrets can be very picky about the food they eat, so make sure the ferret is eating nearly a bowlful of food a day. If it isn’t, it’s probably not eating enough because it doesn’t like the food.

If you see that the ferret is acting like it is going to bite, move the ferret away from you or move yourself slowly away from the ferret. If you move away quickly, the ferret will think it is a game and want to bite even more.

Until the ferret no longer bites, do not roughhouse, play chase or anything else that will make the ferret more likely to bite. The ferret must first learn to play nicely.

When the ferret does bite, tell the ferret no (but not yelling) and put the ferret away from you or the animal it is biting. Don’t yell at, shake or hit the ferret, because this can cause more biting and even aggressiveness. If the ferret tries to bite again within a short time (like a few minutes), tell it no and put it in a different area.

If it happens again, tell it no and put it in the cage or pet carrier, but only for a minute or two. They usually get the picture very quickly when they get confined. If the biting persists, confine to the cage again. Continue to confine to the cage for one or two minutes at a time. If you confine for more than a minute or two, they don’t remember why they are there and you lose the reason for putting them there. This is very important.

Using Improper Areas of the Cage to Potty

If a ferret is aggravated at being in the cage too much, it will
sometimes do its business on the shelves of the cage or in corners to
show its displeasure.  Be sure the ferret gets a minimum of four to five
hours out of the cage daily and is out at least twice a day (longer for
very young ferrets).  Even better is to let the ferret have free roam in
a room, like a bedroom, and leave the cage open and available. Next, be sure it is easy for the ferret to get up and down to the bottom
of the cage to use the litter box.  If the ramps are too steep or the
openings between shelves are too wide, the ferret may be fearful of
falling.  It will use the shelf rather than risk falling.  Have hammocks
hanging between levels of shelves.  The ferret will feel safer, knowing
that if it falls, it’s going to land in a hammock and not fall all the
way to the bottom. There should be some light in the room at night so the ferret can see
easily enough to get to the bottom of the cage.  Otherwise, it may not
risk going up and down ramps. Consider setting up one tray of the cage with a litter box and
newspaper, so the ferret isn’t forced to go all the way to the bottom.
Sometimes they just need to go sooner than they can get to the bottom
and once the smell is there, they keep going there.