L. Vanessa Gruden
Posted: January 8, 2015, 3:05 p.m. EST
© Courtesy of L. Vanessa Gruden
Some ferret owners keep ferrets in groups of three or more so that if one passes away, there is at least a pair left to comfort each other.
Q: I recently had one of my ferrets pass away. I had a boy and girl (girl passed). My little boy is lonely now, and I have a chance to get two more; they are a male and female. Will they be able to go together or will they fight too much?
A: I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your little girl ferret. You’re right to be concerned about the surviving boy; many ferrets become depressed when they lose their friend. This is why long-time owners often keep three ferrets; when one passes, another companion remains to lessen the stress.
Ferrets are so individual that it’s difficult to generalize about how each will react when meeting new ferrets. Sometimes a ferret (especially if elderly) won’t accept any newcomer. Sometimes they’ll immediately take to them. Sometimes it can take awhile. And the new ferrets’ temperaments need to be considered; two youngsters are often too much for an older ferret, or one could be a bully.
In this circumstance, a ferret shelter can really help. The shelter operator may let you bring your boy so you can gauge his reaction. If they know their adoptees well, the operator can guide you to a pair that isn’t aggressive with others. If there isn’t a nearby ferret shelter, make contingency arrangements in advance to return the pair if things really don’t work out. Unfortunately, if someone purchases a ferret from a retailer, the risk of disease transmission means they usually can’t allow returns.
Don’t panic if there is initial squabbling. It can take a couple of weeks or more for your ferret to get used to the new ones. He might look miserable but often it’s just a bit of drama. Keep an eye on him to make sure he is eating well and isn’t constantly hiding. Also watch for any green poop — ferrets can carry minor viruses and as long as you’re aware and on top of any symptoms, you can take quick action so no one becomes very ill.
Good luck on making your ferret happy with a new friend or two.
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