Ferrets Biting: Dealing and Preventing

Ferrets biting behavior is common and part of their basic instinct. This behavior can be tolerable at times but there are times when they go overboard and making nasty ways in biting people as well as other ferrets and animals around them. This instinct is part of their curious behavior and getting rid of this nasty ways could take time and effort on your part as the care taker.

Young ferrets, as experts would say, can be quickly trained not to develop further ferrets biting habits; however, this could not be completely eliminated specially when they start to discover again the benefits they get from biting like showing of dominance and catching attention. Training and disciplining them if not completely get rid would at least help reduce this nasty behavior.

To start working on training them, it is important that you deal with it first and know the reasons behind the series of ferrets biting so you could correctly plan your method in curbing this ferret ways. Below are some of the common reasons of ferrets biting and how to deal with them.

ferrets biting an object

Photo: naou | Flickr

Common Reasons of Ferrets Biting

Other than plain curiosity and biting as their way to discover things, there are some other reasons for this behavior.

1. Fear

This reason is common for ferrets who are not properly trained at young age and those that grow up without enough socialization and interaction with people and other animals. These ferrets tend to be fearful and scared and will cause them to bite what they think is an aggressor for them, and in this case it is the humans or other animals. Another thing is when they are mishandled. They will get scared and will bite the arms of the person holding it.

To deal with this behavior you have to start making them comfortable with humans around through constant interaction. Do not try to handle a scared ferret. It is important that you build their trust first by socializing with them, offering them food, and being gentle with them. Once you notice that they are becoming comfortable with you, you can start by touching them and petting them slowly for few weeks until they are confident with your presence around.

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2. Looking for play

Now, this one is a challenge for those with overtrusting and confident ferret. Once they discover having fun with their human, they will find a way to seek attention for play time and would nip your hand or feet to initiate playtime. The best thing to do to deal with this behavior is to remove your hands or feet and walk away from them.

Do not respond on your ferret’s request for play time if it asks it through biting. Ferrets will learn that biting will not work to get your attention. Reward your ferret if it initiates a playtime without having to bite. When you are already playing with them and bites you again, stop playing and walk away. Do this repeatedly.

3. Ferrets biting to communicate

Ferrets bite as a form of communication either because it wants attention or signaling something. A trained ferret would not bite to seek for attention unless you ignored the previous things it does for you to notice such as waiting steady for you, following you, or nuzzling at you. Well-mannered ferrets’ last resort would be to bite you. Avoid reacting to bites and rather react and reward ferrets who seek attention using better ways without biting.

4. Illness and Conditions

Ferrets biting that they not normally do could be due to certain ferret conditions and illnesses. An example of this is when your aging ferrets become deaf and blind or because of hormonal changes or an onset of a disease. Ferrets that are under certain conditions will show symptoms of disease and are not active for playtime so you would easily notice the reason for biting. Seeking immediate help from a licensed veterinarian is important.

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5. Ferrets biting due to obsession for an object

We know that ferrets sometimes are very determined whenever there is something that catches their attention. They would do anything to get that object and if you hinder them from doing so they would sometimes nip on you because of frustration. These objects vary from toys, sock, piece of fabric, and almost anything they could carry with their mouth.

When ferrets biting are out of control

To punish your ferret by hurting them or screaming at them when their biting spree gets out of control is NOT recommended. This is because you will make your pet become either afraid or anxious. This would not help in disciplining to curb its behavior. Experts would recommend to scruffing them instead for time-out. To do this, simply pick them up by the scruff on their back neck or the loose part of their skin. This is the area where most baby ferrets are being picked up by their mother. This will not hurt your ferret at all.

Punishing them by putting them in a smaller and boring cage could be a better solution for a punishment. Doing this repeatedly whenever they show their unruly behavior will help them become trained for obedience.

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