Archive for the ‘Ferret’ Category

22Sep

One of the most popular new pets in the past few decades is the ferret. It is estimated that roughly 800,000 ferrets are kept as pets across the United States, with many of these owners purchasing two or more of the active little fur balls. With dogs and cats in seemingly every household, the ferret is a fun change of pace for families that want to experience a friendly, curious animal with a variety of uncommon behaviors.

A Common Ferret Problem

However, like any animal, ferrets are also prone to unwanted behavior. One such behavior is “nipping” – where the ferret gives you a tiny (but no less painful) bite when you come close.

Nipping is not always a sign of bad behavior. Nipping may occur when your ferret is trying to get you to play with it, or when your ferret is afraid, hungry, or trying to get your attention. Ferrets have much stronger skin than humans, so what is painful to your skin may not be a strong bite to another ferret.

Training your ferret out of this behavior takes some time and patience. Because nipping is part of a ferret’s natural instinct, it is important that you do not expect your ferret to easily pick up on your discomfort with its nipping behavior. Rather, work with your ferret gradually in order to reduce the behavior over time.

How to Stop Nipping Behavior

To stop nipping in ferrets, you need to try several different methods at once. Each method will help your ferret learn that nipping is not acceptable.

Method 1: The Dominant Method

The first method you will want to do involves showing your dominance. The second your ferret nips at your finger, yell out “No” or “Ouch” (choose one), then grab your ferret by the back of the neck and slowly but gently drag it across the floor. This is a dominant behavior, and it allows your ferret to realize that:

a)      The bite hurt.

b)      You are in charge.

This will help your ferret understand that not only is nipping painful, but it just bit a dominant member of the group, and that behavior was strongly discouraged.

Method 2: Check Your Smells

What is thought to be nipping can sometimes be curiosity and hunger. If for some reason you have a scent that you may not have had before (such as a new deodorant or laundry soap), you may have sparked something in your sensitive ferret that has it interested enough to bite. In these cases you will need to replace the scented item so that your ferret is less hungry/interested, and continue saying “no” if these problems occur.

Method 3: Give Your Ferret Attention

Like most pets, ferrets need attention to. A ferret that is ignored and not used to your handling may become frightened or angry when you finally try to interact with it, or it may be trying to get your attention. In addition, if something is wrong with your ferret, nipping may be its only way to communicate with you. In any of these instances, the more you interact with your pet, the better you will pick up on warning signs before your ferret feels like biting for attention, and the more pleased your ferret will be with your contact.

Get Your Ferret to Stop Nipping

There are several ways to get your ferret to stop nipping. Regardless of which ones you choose to use, remember that with any animal you must be firm. If you let your pet nip “sometimes” but not other times, it will not be able to tell the difference between when nipping is okay and when it is not. This will lead to confusion, and most likely the behavior will not be changed correctly.