About 0.5% of the United States population has a ferret for a pet. Because these cute little animals are so rare, their behaviors aren’t as well known as more popular pets like dogs and cats.
If your ferret has its tail puffed up and you don’t know why then you’ve come to the right place! Let’s take a look at what our lanky little friend is trying to say when their tail is puffed up around you.
Why Do Ferrets Puff Their Tails?
Ferrets puff up their tails for two different reasons. Sometimes, your ferret will puff up their tail because they are excited about or interested in something. Other times, ferrets will puff up their tail in response to stress or fear.
Another term for when a ferret’s tail is puffed up is called the bottle brush tail. Because of the bristly look of the tail when puffed up, it reminds a lot of owners about the brushes used to clean out bottles and other narrow containers when doing the dishes.
Ferrets puff up their tail when they are excited or scared. Because ferrets can display a wide range of emotions, you’ll have to rely on other body language from your ferret to figure out which emotion it is feeling.
Why Is My Ferret’s Tail Puffed Up?
Ferrets puff up their tail when excited, interested, or scared of something. Your ferret is feeling one of these emotions when its tail is puffed up.
You see, ferrets are active creatures and are predators by nature. Because of that, a lot of their behaviors go back to their lives in the wild. Much of their actions, responses, and behavior are based on being able to hunt down prey and find mates.
A puffed-up tail is a physical response to something in the ferret’s environment. They puff up their tails to try and communicate with either the thing that has their attention or other ferrets. Depending on the ferret’s mood, their tail getting puffed up can mean different things.
Ultimately, if you want to understand why your ferret has puffed up their tail, you need to look at the environment around them. Where are their eyes drawn to? What noises is your ferret making? These are the clues you have as the owner to figure out what your ferret is thinking.
What Does It Mean When Your Ferret’s Tail Puffs Up?
Ferrets can be feeling one of a few different emotions when their tail is puffed up. The most common ones are excitement, fear, or interest.
When excited, your ferret puffs up their tail alongside other behaviors. If they are playing, the ferret might be looking up at you and bouncing around. By jumping around, the ferret shows that it wants to play and burn off some energy. They might also be pawing at the ground, trying to get you to come over and play with them.
When interested, the ferret will have different body language. Your pet might be burying its nose to the ground, sniffing about. When your ferret does this, it’s found a scent that it’s curious about and is trying to find the source. Your ferret might also chirp, also called dooking, as it does this.
Tip: Avoid scents such as incense or scented candles around your ferrets as they can damage their airways.
Finally, a scared or angered ferret will puff up its tail to make it seem bigger. Usually, the ferret combines this behavior with other aggressive actions. Hissing, arching its back, and baring its teeth are other behaviors your ferret might display when angered.
What Should I Do If My Ferret’s Tail Puffs Up?
What you do with your ferret when their tail is puffed up depends on what mood your ferret is in. You’ll need to figure out how they feel about what’s going on around them before you respond to them.
Excited ferrets might just want to play. If your ferret is bouncing around or pawing the ground, you can respond with the same behavior to encourage them to play with you. Ferrets love to wrestle, so be prepared to have your ferret wrangle around with your hand, arm, or whatever other toy you offer them!
And you should join the fun no matter what! After all, ferrets that do not receive enough attention can even become depressed.
Ferrets interested in their environment most likely just need time to investigate the area. They will go around your home, sniffing out whatever has gotten their curiosity. Over time, that curiosity will fade, and their tail will go back to its normal size.
Finally, scared or angry ferrets need time alone or away from what is upsetting them. If someone is bothering them, encourage that person to leave the ferret alone so it can relax. The ferret might also be hurt and trying to ward off others so they won’t hurt it further.
Ferrets With Puffed Up Tails
Ferrets puff up their tail when they are excited, interested, or scared. Because of this range of emotions, you’ll have to read into their other behaviors and surroundings to find out what your ferret is really feeling. Once you do, you’ll be able to respond in kind, whether through play or by giving them space.