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Strange Ferret Food Habit

A look into the mystery of why ferrets carry food to different spots before eating.

L. Vanessa Gruden
Posted: February 19, 2014, 7:15 p.m. EST

ferret and babies
© Courtesy L. Vanessa Gruden
The mother ferret in this group, Feather, brough kibble to the nest to eat so the babies would eat the crumbs and transition to solid food.

Q: Why does my ferret grab a piece of kibble and run under a chair to eat it?

A: This habit was once a mystery to me too. All of my ferrets are rescued, so I wondered if it was because they had gone hungry before. When their food used to reside in the kitchen and one would always bring her kibble into the dining room to munch, I joked that she was just very socially evolved.

But I learned the truth when our ferret shelter received a jill who was nursing 4-week-old babies.

They couldn’t live with other ferrets, because moms are very protective. My dining room had become a ferret-free zone, so that was their home. The mother ferret, named Feather, decided that beneath a desk was her preferred nest. To ensure the kits — whose eyes were still closed — didn’t fall into her water bowl, I carefully placed food and water on the other side of the room, where they could not yet venture.

The kits were given mush, which they happily stomped through, fell in and devoured like miniature hippos. (Luckily, Feather loved mush and licked off the remains!) Yet I would see her bring kibble to her nest to chew. What I soon realized was that the babies were eating the crumbs. Feather was transitioning them to solid food.

I realized all my ferrets who carried food elsewhere to eat were girls. Clearly, this was an ingrained maternal instinct. I no longer yell at Tiramisu, who wants to eat under the coffee table. Whatever crumbs she leaves, someone else usually comes along to finish off, which is why you need lots of ferrets!

For more questions and answers about ferrets, click here>>
For questions and answers about ferret health, click here>>

Posted: February 19, 2014, 7:15 p.m. EST


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Reader Comments
When you have more than one ferret this is very normal behaviour but when you only have one, it does seem to go away with time.
Bruce, El Paso, TX
Posted: 2/27/2014 6:21:29 PM
I didn't know this about them carrying off food. You said that it is just the females I have had lots of male that would do the samething. I would find food all over the house.
Sheila Davis, Chanpaign, IL
Posted: 2/26/2014 5:43:41 PM
I've got a big male (neutered) who does this. He seems to think he's Alpha. Any suggestions for why he does it? He'll even cross a couple of different rooms to get to his preferred snacking spot.
Connie, Ardmore, OK
Posted: 2/23/2014 4:24:46 PM
I've got 11 ferrets and most of them do this same thing, both make and female. In fact one of my younger females will actually take food to where one of the older males sleep so he has food when he wakes up.

Btw...all my ferrets are Marshall Ferrets
Doug, Denver, CO
Posted: 2/21/2014 2:17:35 PM
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