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How to Stop Ferret Biting

How to Stop Ferret Biting

how to stop ferret biting

Most ferrets are loving, playful, social animals. As with any pet, however, there are a few who seem to be biters. There is hope for the biter, however. Most aggressive ferrets can be turned into gentle pets if given the correct amount of training and patience.

Ferrets can bite for many reasons–most are not due to aggressiveness. Before you address how to stop ferret biting, you need to identify the reason why your ferret is biting.

First of all, not all ferret bites should be considered attacks–most are not. Biting is sometimes the way a ferret tries to communicate. She may want to play and give you a nip to get your attention. If your ferret bites and holds on, or bites so hard that she draws blood, it is not a friendly nip. Both types of biting can be corrected.

Some reasons why a ferret may bite:

Baby ferrets

Young ferrets are natural nippers. They explore the world with their mouths and they also go through teething. If this is the case, it really should not be a concern, as they will grow out of it with a little training.

Untrained

Ferrets need to be trained not to nip when they are young. Ferrets play hard with littermates and playmates. They need to have limits set so they know how hard they can play with you.

Sick or injured

If your ferret isn’t feeling well or is hurt she can’t tell you. She may be in pain and want to be left alone. If this is a sudden change in behavior, it may be the case. Be sure to have her checked by a vet.

Unneutered

Unneutered ferrets can be more aggressive than neutered ones. Hormones can cause a male ferret to assert his dominance over others–including you. The solution is to get him neutered.

Change

Change, whether good or bad can be scary. A ferret in a strange situation or environment may be frightened and confused. When a ferret is under stress, she may bite. Give her time to adjust to the new situation, person or environment before you consider her biting a problem.

Displaced aggression

Some ferrets react aggressively to particular sounds, smells or objects. There may be no apparent reason–only your ferret knows why. With a little observation, you can identify what the smell, sound or object is. Common triggers are vacuum cleaners, brooms, loud music, and strong smells. You can keep your ferret away from the trigger–or at least keep her in her cage while doing household chores if this is the cause.

Trained to bite

If your ferret was cared for by someone else before you brought him into your home, he may have been inadvertently taught to bite. For example, if the person picked up the ferret and he nipped and then put him down to run around, the ferret may have associated nipping with getting the run of the house.

Mistrust

The main cause of ferret biting is mistrust. Your ferret may have had a bad experience with a person that traumatized him. Or, he may have been mistreated repeatedly. Ferrets can associate people with pain and react to protect themselves.

When you have identified the cause, you can address how to stop ferret biting.

There are right ways and wrong ways to teach your ferret not to bite. You will probably make the problem worse if you try any of the following:

  • Mist a bitter spray or another so called deterrent in your ferret’s face
  • Flick her on her nose or head when she bites
  • Hit her
  • Put her in solitary confinement for long periods of time
  • Bite her back
  • Use her regular cage for a time-out

How to stop ferret biting

Depending on your ferret’s personality and past experiences, she may or may not respond to certain methods of reconditioning. There are several techniques you can try. Don’t give up on one tactic right away. It takes patience and consistency to stop ferret biting. However, if the biting gets worse after much consistency and patience, then you should probably move on to another method.

This list provides some obvious solutions and some more creative techniques. You may combine some of these tactics together, as well.

  • Neuter an unaltered male
  • Take your ferret to the vet to rule out any medical reasons
  • If you know your ferret reacts to a particular trigger, keep him away from it
  • If your ferret is young, visually or hearing impaired, take care not to startle her
  • Make sure your ferret is well fed with a proper diet
  • Spend more quality time with your ferret and get her more accustomed to being handled
  • Put a bitter spray  on your hands so they don’t taste good
  • Yell “NO!” or “STOP” very loudly when she bites
  • Say a firm “NO” or “STOP” and flip her on her back in a submissive position and hold her there for a few minutes when she bites
  • Give him a 15-20 minute “time-out” in a small cage (not his regular cage) with no toys, bed or food immediately after biting
  • Wrap him firmly in a towel and hold him or carry him around for 10-20 minutes and talk to him gently and pet his head
  • Immediately substitute a toy for your hand or whatever was bitten and allow him to only bite that
  • Add another ferret to your home as a playmate, so he has someone to play rough with

how to stop ferret biting

Remember if you want to stop a ferret from biting, you need to be consistent and firm, but gentle. Reward your ferret for good behavior. In time your ferret will learn to respond to kindness and gentleness with like behavior.

Your comments are welcome.

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DIY Ferret Toys– Swinging Fun

DIY Ferret Toys--Swinging FunDIY Ferret Toys– Swinging Fun

Ferrets are always looking for fun, but sometimes what they see as fun is dangerous or destructive or both. As ferret parents, we are always trying to come up with new ways to safely entertain our fur babies.

Sometimes we need to think outside the box (or cage) to discover new ideas for ferret toys. DIY ferret toys can be a creative and fun way to give your ferrets new experiences.

DIY Ferret Toys– Swinging Fun

One DIY idea is to “make” your ferret a swing. I say “make” because there is little, if anything, you actually need to put together.  There are lots of hanging hammocks and other bedding that can be attached to the top of a ferret cage and hang down. But what about a swing? A fellow ferret parent had this idea and I thought I would share it with you. Continue reading DIY Ferret Toys– Swinging Fun

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Ferret Playpens–What to Look For

Ferret Playpens--What to Look ForFerret Playpens–What to Look For

Playpens are not just for toddlers and puppies!

If you have a ferret (or 2 or 6) you know that they can get into lots of trouble when left unattended. However, it may not always be practical to keep an eye on your ferret while he is out of the cage–especially if you have more than one. Ferrets are often bored in their cage and just sleep. Or they may get determined to break out. One of my ferrets, Toby, likes to grab onto the rungs of the cage door and pull and shake it with all his might–trying to escape.

Ferrets need plenty of time out of their cages in order to be happy and healthy.

One way to provide your ferrets with playtime is to use a ferret playpen. Although a ferret playpen is not a substitution for one-on-one playtime for you and your ferret, it can add a new and fun experience for your ferret. The right playpen can provide a safe and confined area for your ferret to play, relax and nap. Ferret playpens can serve a variety of functions such as a portable, confined area when traveling and a safe way to be outdoors. Continue reading Ferret Playpens–What to Look For

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How To Trim Ferrets Nails – Step By Step Guide

How To Trim Ferrets Nails - Step By Step GuideHow To Trim Ferrets Nails – Step By Step Guide

I have been often asked how I keep my ferret’s nails so neatly cut and trimmed. 

Many ferret parents leave it to the Vet to take care of this grooming necessity. However, it’s not that difficult if you know a few tricks.

Ferrets cannot keep their nails at the proper length on their own. They don’t get worn down much naturally and grow quickly. If left untrimmed too long, a ferret’s nails will start to curl and grow under her paw and even into it.

When your ferret’s nails are too long, they can have tears, sharp points, and ragged edges. She can easily catch them on bedding, furniture or carpets. This could break the nail, tear it, or rip it off completely. Your ferret could further injure herself from trying to free her paw.

I know of a ferret mom who found one of her ferrets dangling from her cage hammock by one nail! She caught her nail in the fabric when she tried to get out of the hammock. I can’t imagine how much that must have hurt. She was lucky no permanent damage was done. Continue reading How To Trim Ferrets Nails – Step By Step Guide

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How to Clean Ferrets’ Ears Safely

How to Clean Ferret's Ears

How to Clean Ferrets’ Ears Safely

Cleaning your ferret’s ears should be a regular part of caring for your ferret. To keep your ferret healthy, it is important to make sure her ears are free of debris and discharge.

Ferrets’ ear wax should be red, brown, or gold-colored. If you notice very dark brown or black debris or discharge, be sure to take your ferret to your Vet. Your ferret may have an ear infection or ear mites. Left untreated, these conditions can turn into severe health problems for your ferret. Continue reading How to Clean Ferrets’ Ears Safely

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How to Train a Ferret to Come

How to train a ferret to comeHow to Train a Ferret to Come

Can you really train a ferret to come?

You may not have thought it possible, but you can train your ferret to come when called!

This “trick” is actually very handy and could help get your ferret out of harm’s way. What if your ferret got behind the stove, crawled into an opening in the back of a cabinet you didn’t know was there or got outside? What would you do?

If you could train him to come when called it would save a lot of time and anxiety.

However, as you know, ferrets are not like dogs. You can’t expect a ferret to just come to you when you call his name just because you want him to. He has to have a really good reason. Unlike dogs, ferrets are not motivated by praise, attention and the desire to please you. A ferret is only interested in one thing–a tasty treat. Continue reading How to Train a Ferret to Come

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Brushing Your Ferret’s Teeth–A Guide

Brushing your ferrets teethBrushing Your Ferret’s Teeth

Although it may seem like a difficult process, with the right tools brushing your ferret’s teeth can be doable.  Most Veterinarians recommend that you brush your ferret’s teeth twice a month (at least) to keep your ferret’s teeth healthy.

Why Should You Brush Your Ferret’s Teeth?

Dental disease.  More and more it has been determined, that like people, pets need dental care to prevent dental disease and to keep them healthy overall.  Brushing a dog’s teeth has been recommended by Vets for a long time. As this has become common practice, Vets have been recommending dental care for other pets as well–including ferrets.

Dental disease in ferrets, as well as in other pets and in people, starts with gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. This inflammation is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and invade the pockets surrounding the teeth. Untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a disease involving the teeth and gum pockets. Eventually, these oral bacteria also invade the bloodstream and can cause infections in the kidneys and even the heart valves. The severity of gingivitis is partly determined by the strength of the ferret’s immune system. It occurs in middle-aged to older ferrets. Periodontal disease, luckily, is uncommon in ferrets. Continue reading Brushing Your Ferret’s Teeth–A Guide

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Ear Mites and Ferrets–Diagnosis and Treatment

Ear mites and FerretsEar Mites and Ferrets–Diagnosis and Treatment

Unfortunately, ear mite infestation is very common in ferrets. It is also common in cats and dogs.

Otodectes cynotis, or ear mites, live their lives inside an animal’s ears. Otodectes cynotis is contagious and spread by direct contact among ferrets, cats, dogs and other animals.  Many kits already have ear mites before they are brought home. Because of the highly contagious nature of ear mites, if you have more than one ferret, or have other pets, all pets in your home need to be treated.  Even those pets who do not show obvious signs of ear mite infestation need to be treated, because the treated pet may be reinfected immediately after the end of treatment by those pets who were not treated.

Otodectes cynotis is often unnoticed in ferrets.

One reason is that the mites are very tiny and can only be seen under a microscope. Another reason is that ferrets rarely show signs of being infected with ear mites. Ear mites in cats and dogs can often be suspected due to ear scratching and head shaking when they have an ear mite infestation.  Ferrets rarely show these signs. A third reason is that, although a thick, reddish brown to black, waxy discharge is commonly observed in ferrets suffering from ear mite infestation, it is also normal for ferrets to have a brown ear wax.  Therefore, a diagnosis of ear mite infestation cannot be made by merely observing the color of a ferret’s ear wax. The diagnosis must be made by a veterinarian. Continue reading Ear Mites and Ferrets–Diagnosis and Treatment

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How to Bathe a Ferret–Important Steps

How to Bathe a Ferret–Important Steps 

When to Bathe Your Ferrethow to bathe a ferret

Before we get into how to bathe a ferret, it is important to know when to bathe a ferret.

Many ferret owners love their pets but get frustrated by their smell, which can be quite strong. Bathing ferrets can be a good way to combat odor. Ferrets should not be bathed more than once every 3 months. Bathing a ferret too often can actually make the smell worse. Bathing strips oils from a ferret’s skin and oil glands go into overdrive to replace it. This results in even more odor! Ferrets can become itchy and uncomfortable when bathed too often, as well. If your ferret is scratching frequently, you might want to cut back on how often you’re bathing her.

Ferret smells are actually more often related to a ferret’s bedding, cage, and blankets than to the ferret himself. Try washing these items before bathing your ferret to rule them out as the primary cause of odor. For more info on ferret odor, see this article about getting rid of ferret smells.

How to Bathe a Ferret–Important Steps

Before starting the bathing process, you may find it helpful to get her used to water first. If your ferret doesn’t like water, first let her play in the sink or tub without water, so she gets used to being in the place where she will be bathed. When she seems to feel comfortable in the tub or sink, turn the faucet on just a little bit and let her explore the water. Give her licks of Ferretone, or another healthy treat as you gradually get her wet. Many ferrets love to play in the water, and some even like to swim! Continue reading How to Bathe a Ferret–Important Steps

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Ferret In Cage Ferret Out of Cage–How Much Time Should a Ferret Spend In and Out of Cage?

How Much Time Should a Ferret Spend In and Out of CageFerret In Cage Ferret Out of Cage–How Much Time Should a Ferret Spend In and Out of Cage?

Ferrets have a knack for making you feel guilty when you put them in their cage. One of my ferrets, Toby, was always trying to” break out”. He would climb up to the top door, grab the bars in his paws and push and shake the door, trying to open it.

However, for their protection, ferrets should be kept in a ferret cage, enclosure, ferret-proof room or area when not being supervised.

A ferret’s cage not only acts as his home–a place he should feel comfortable in–it is also a place to keep him safe. There are endless  dangers around your home–wires, appliances, cleaning supplies, etc.– it’s simply not safe to permit your ferret to roam free without supervision. Even if you think you have ferret-proofed your home, there is no limit to what a ferret can find to get into. Continue reading Ferret In Cage Ferret Out of Cage–How Much Time Should a Ferret Spend In and Out of Cage?