Understanding Ferret Behavior and Their Actions

Ferret behavior could be understood through the actions they make and not merely on the sound they create. As some animals are known for their sounds like dogs, cats, birds, and other animals, some don’t have a distinct sound such as ferrets and rabbits. But this is not really a problem because ferrets are very good in delivering their message. As a ferret owner, you just need to understand their basic ferret behavior, observe them as often as you could, and interact with them to get used to their behavior and to be able to build a relationship with them.


Photo: Tim Dorr | Flickr

Here are some basic ferret behavior and actions and how to understand them

  • Rolling on the floor

This is actually normal when they play around with other ferrets. Ferrets are rowdy animals, and once they escape from their cage they are like prisoners from Azkaban who acts as if they haven’t been out for a long time. Other than rolling, they also wrestle with other ferrets to show dominance. They wrestle in the form of flipping each other out. The one who gets to flip more is the considered as the stronger and dominant ferret making him the alpha of the group.

  • Backing into a corner of the room

This is an indication that your pet ferret is afraid of someone or something.  They usually just stay in one corner until they are calmed down. When they do this kind of behavior, it would be best to leave them until they can calm themselves or until they are no longer afraid. They can become aggressive when you try to pet them in this scenario.

  • Dooking
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This simply means they are happy and excited. The sound they create is similar to the sound of hens.

  • Dancing/ Weasel War Dance

This happens when they are jumping around side to side and flipping their body, they also bounce nonstop and looks like they are out of control.

There are two reasons why they do this. It’s either they are happy and ready for playtime or they are up for a fight with other ferrets. The indication that they do this because of happiness and wanting to play is when they create a dooking sound and their tails are not looking brushed up. When they are hissing or backing away while doing the dance and seems like they are ready to empty their anal sac, it is most likely that they are ready for a fight with other ferrets.

  • Hiding objects

Ferrets are generally swipers. When they are attracted to something they would do anything to get it or swipe it away from you. They also have the tendency to be obsessed with an object to the point that they will hide it. They will protect it from being taken away from them. If that object was taken away, they will panic and will try to get the object again and hide it in a different place.

  • Lunging and chasing

This means they need your attention and wants to play with you. When they do this it is important that you respond because this is a very good way to create bond and build your relationship with them.

  •  Hissing
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This means they dislike or disapprove something which makes them angry or scared. Handling them at this time is not recommended.

  • Tail wagging

Just like dogs, ferrets also wag their tails as a sign of excitement and happiness when they see you or something they like.

  • Shrieking or screaming

This is an indication that they are in pain or they feel threatened. Check them out as soon as possible when you hear them shriek or scream.

  • Biting and nipping

You can train your ferret to avoid doing this while they are still young. Biting and nipping is a way for your ferret to communicate with you. They are seeking your attention and like to play. This is also sometimes an indication that they are hungry.

  • Slamming on the wall

This is not a ferret behavior but rather an indication of ferrets having poor eyesight. Generally ferrets have poor vision that is why they are seen as clumsy and sloppy animals but the condition actually contributes to this kind of ferret behavior.

There is no better way to build a foundation of trust with your ferrets but through communication. Learning their ways and understanding how to deal with them will give you and your ferret both the kind of harmony and balance in your everyday life.




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