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Understanding Your Ferret: Normal Behavior

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Ferrets are wonderful pets because of their captivating and comical personalities and playful behavior. They chuckle, hiss and giggle during play and occasionally whine or cry if they want something or if they are uncomfortable or ill.

Ferrets will normally walk or run with their backs in a hunched position. They will also run and jump backwards with their front legs outstretched when excited or when enticing someone to play. They play intensely for short periods of time, and then sleep for several hours until their next time of play. It seems ferrets are active for 20 to 30 percent of the day, and sleeping the rest of the time.

Ferrets depend strongly on their sense of smell. They spend a lot of time with their noses to the floor investigating their surroundings. This behavior often results in the inhalation of dust and debris and a loud sneeze. Unless the sneezing is frequent, or is associated with other signs of illness, you need not be alarmed.

Due to their inquisitive nature, ferrets are notoriously getting into things. They love to tunnel and hide and can squeeze through very small places. If their heads can fit, the rest of their body can fit, too. It is important to ferret-proof your house before bringing your pet home. All openings to dangerous areas should be sealed. Check closely, and seal the openings around the pipes and ducts in your home. Unfortunately, their desire for tunneling and their curiosity may put them in dangerous situations. They will crawl under refrigerators, behind stoves or into the bottom broiler, and into the components of recliner chairs and sofa beds, to name a few.

Ferrets are not destructive to most household items, but do love to chew on hard and soft rubber. This behavior is dangerous because pieces of tennis shoes, slippers, and rubber squeak toys, dolls, crayons, and doorstoppers can become impacted in your ferret's intestines and lead to serious illness.

Avoid accidents or injury by becoming familiar with your ferret's habits and be constantly vigilant. To protect your ferret when he is out of the cage, apply a lightweight adjustable ferret or cat collar and add a small bell. The bell will signal that your ferret is under foot or going somewhere he/she shouldn't be.

All ferrets have a fondness for people. The older the ferret, the more laid back he becomes. As young kits, ferrets may nip playfully and with lots of enthusiasm. This behavior is no different than that of a young puppy or kitten, and early discipline and training will eliminate biting and nipping when they get older. The nip may seem harder than that of a kitten or puppy because their teeth are razor sharp and their skin is naturally tough. The roughhousing a kit may do with his littermates may not feel appropriate to an owner's hand. Don't mistake this behavior for viciousness; this is the same playful, acceptable behavior a puppy or kitten will often show.

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