The Ferret Owners Manual


Ferrets should carry a warning label “Warning! Owning ferrets is addictive and may cause you to buy more.” Even though all of our ferrets were altered, somehow they managed to multiply out of control. We started with one soon after they were legalized here in New Hampshire, and ended up running a ferret shelter, and meeting over 1,000 of them as they went to their new homes.

Ferrets are not significantly territorial, but they do have a social order. Once accepted into the existing “colony,” ferrets will share food, water and sleeping areas very readily. This acceptance may take minutes or weeks depending on the ages of the ferrets and how long they’ve been “alone.”

Young kits seem to adapt the best to the addition of new ferret members. They seem to take everything in stride. As they get older, it may take a little longer. Your best bet is to take it slow and supervised, but don’t be overprotective.

Remember, ferrets play rough. Don’t mistake rough play for fighting. Dragging by the neck or ears is normal behavior. There may be squealing and chittering; that’s probably OK too. Violent shaking and drawing blood is not. If you aren’t sure, separate the fighters and carry the one that appears to getting the worst of it a few feet away from the other. If, after you put him down, he runs over and leaps on the other, then it was just play. If he runs the other way, it’s time to separate them for a little while.

Keep them in separate cages during the introductory period and exchange bedding with one another so that they can get used to one another’s scent. One trick that works in some of the rare, more serious situations is to liberally coat the victim with Bitter Apple. You can spray it on directly, but be very careful of the eyes, nose and mouth. Better yet, spray it on your hands and rub it into the ferret’s coat. Be sure to cover the neck and ears as these are the most prone areas to “attack.”

Some owners report considerable success with introductions by having all of the ferrets share a dish of Ferretone.

You may have to keep up this supervised play for days or even weeks until they decide just who is “boss” ferret. It’s usually more of a worry for the owner than the ferrets though.

Again, patience is the word. 


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