The Ferret Owners Manual

General Behavior Regardless of age, you will find that your ferret is a hyper-energetic little bundle of fur. Ferrets are constantly into everything. If this is your first ferret, one of the things you will probably observe in the first day or two is the “ferret-dance of joy” or sometimes called the “ferret war dance.” They will hop about like they have springs on their feet, back arched, mouth wide open, head swinging back and forth, sometimes making a hissing or chirping sound, sometimes banging into walls and furniture. This has panicked many new owners who are unfamiliar with this “call to play”. “What’s wrong with my ferret? Is he sick?” Don’t worry. It just means that your ferret is happy and is having a great time.

An almost universal pose, is the “flat-ferret”. Here the ferret gets as close to the ground and as flat as possible, usually right in front of you. (He looks like a miniature “speed-bump.”) It’s almost saying, “Gee, look how pitiful I am. How can you not hold me? Please pick me up.” Ignore this and he might even come up and tap you on the leg or foot to get your attention, before going back to the flat-ferret pose.

The flat ferret pose, though, sometimes means “I’m invisible. You can’t see me.” This is

often used when sneaking up on something or someone. The problem is that it’s difficult to tell when he wants attention, or wants to be invisible. Ignore a ferret asking for attention risks disappointing the ferret; picking up an “invisible” ferret risks ruining his game. I usually just pick them up. I’ve found that when they’re trying to be invisible, it just means that they are about to get into trouble anyway.

Doc doing his Flat-Ferret Pose

[If it seems that your ferret is doing the “flat ferret” much more than usual, you might want to take him to a vet for a check up. It could be just fatigue or it could be an early sign of illness.]

Ferrets are very clever and their front paws are great at manipulating objects. They can open cabinet doors and drawers, so be careful where you leave your caustic cleaning materials. Childproof locks are not necessarily ferret-proof locks. Ferrets are also ingenious at figuring out paths to things that are “up out of reach.” They can even open zippers and unscrew bottle tops that are not on too tight.

Ours have figured out that if they open the bottom drawer of the kitchen cabinet and crawl to the back, they can climb up the back of all of the drawers, push the top drawer open from the inside and get to the counter top. I’ve also watched one of ours trying to get into a tall, plastic trash container. Unable to climb up the slippery sides of the container, he simply pushed the container over to his 6 foot tall cage, climbed up the cage and hopped in the trash. (Unfortunately he didn’t think about how he was going to get out again.)  I’ve also watched the drag laundry baskets, pet carriers and what-have-you over to something that they want up on but can’t reach.  They used this as an improvised stepping stool to climb to new heights of mischief.

If you’re going to own a ferret, you have to have a great sense of humor.


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