Ferrets are cute, but boy, do they have sharp teeth—which immediately begs the question, “Are ferrets aggressive?” In short, ferrets are loving, high-energy pets that aren’t mean by nature.
For all their positive traits, ferrets can become aggressive in certain situations. Learning to recognize their aggression as a form of communication is vital. Understanding these signs informs owners how to handle their ferrets should they become aggressive.
When feeling scared, threatened, injured, or sick, it is normal for a ferret to bite. While it is easy to conflate biting with aggression, understand that when ferrets do bite, they are communicating. Ferrets do not intend to harm you by biting; this is how they communicate with other ferrets. You can view this much like a dog barking – they are trying to tell you something.
It is important to understand the motive behind their biting while taking strides to minimize it. To address their behavior, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions.
The key to recognizing the meaning behind a ferret bite is through observation. Notice the way they act. Look for indicators in the ferret to find their motives.
The following are signs of playful behavior:
- Extremely energetic behavior
- An invitation to play
Watch for these signs as they denote an aggressive ferret bite:
- Avoiding human interaction
- Attacking when approached
Be sure to recognize the signs specific to your ferret. The better you understand what they’re telling you, the better equipped you are to recognize and handle any aggressive behavior.
To correct aggressive behavior, you’ll need to know the root cause of it. Let’s address several reasons why ferrets act aggressively to understand where the behavior stems from.
Commonly, younger ferrets – known as kits – are harder biters because they don’t know any better. Kits’ aggressive behavior stems from a lack of training.
The best way to avoid this is to get a kit from a breeder that socializes their ferrets. This way, they will bite during play as it’s natural to them, but the bites will be gentle.
Male ferrets can become aggressive toward those around them during mating season. This show of territorial dominance is a completely normal, hormonal response. Neutering your male ferret will nip this problem in the bud.
Remember, ferret bites are often their way of communicating needs. If a normally well-behaved ferret begins biting suddenly, especially when you hold them, this could denote an injury.
If you believe your ferret is injured, go to the vet to get them checked immediately.
Taking the time to vet the breeder or shop your ferret comes from will go a long way in helping you understand and train the ferret later.
In dealing with your ferret, take care to be cautious, patient, and understanding.
The quickest way to help a ferret with pent-up energy is to burn it all off by playing. An overly excited Ferret will bite, so be sure to play with them from a distance. Ferrets enjoy toys on strings; make them burn their energy by hunting the toy down from location to location. Be sure to allow them to catch the toy and wrestle with it to work out their frustration.
If the ferret was abused or neglected, you have to teach them to trust humans again. This process will take time and requires patience.
Give your ferret time to get used to its surroundings. When they’ve acclimated to their space, begin spending time near them. This does not require actual interaction, just proximity.
Once the ferret is comfortable, they will come to you. That’s when you can begin interacting with them physically. Start by slowly moving to touch the ferret. If they are receptive to this, you can attempt to pick them up. If they try biting you, this means they’re not ready. Be sure to move at the ferret’s pace.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding aggression in ferrets if you still have questions.
Unfortunately, ferrets are animals and can attack humans. The good news is that this isn’t common, and as long as you take the proper precautions to treat them well, it shouldn’t happen.
There’s not a vast difference between male and female ferrets. They can both be aggressive, but neither is more than the other. Usually, one will be more aggressive if they haven’t been desexed.
Some people believe white ferrets are more aggressive than others. While that’s a possibility, it’s not always true. There has been evidence that white ferrets can be more aggressive, especially males who haven’t been desexed. They can be even more aggressive if near an unfixed female.
Any wild animal can act aggressively when they feel threatened or scared. If you encounter a wild ferret, it’s best to leave it alone. This will hopefully prevent any attacks of aggression due to them being scared.
If you leave the animal be, it’s doubtful that it’ll act aggressively towards you or another person.
Black Footed Ferrets are scarce animals and are considered endangered. Just like any ferret, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or scared. Generally, these animals aren’t aggressive towards humans and are only aggressive towards their prey.
Are ferrets aggressive? Not without a reason to be. When ferrets get aggressive, you must find the underlying issue behind their behavior and address that. With patience and diligence, ferrets are fun, affectionate pets.