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Ferrets USA: Turn Your Devil Into An Angel

Use enrichment to minimize these top10 unwanted ferret behaviors.

By Bob Church

We all have them: Jekyll and Hyde ferrets that are sweet, lovable and fun most of the time, but turn into furry little masked terrorists when least expected. Who hasn’t encountered the sweet little fuzzy that gently licks your hand and then later chomps down on your Achilles’ tendon like a starving crocodile? Or the gentle giant that won’t even put its teeth on your finger, but has murdered several pillows and the seat of your sofa? Or that telltale eau-de-poo emanating from the depths of your Sealy Posturpedic? Rather than falling to the floor in frustration and doing the Curly Shuffle (Woo! Woo! Woo!), use enrichments to dissuade your ferret from these unwanted activities.

Truthfully, few enrichment programs are going to stop entrenched, unwanted behaviors. If your ferret dug into the sofa the past five years, don’t expect a few hours of enrichment to change things. For such cases, you need a holistic program that might include ferret-proofing, changing your ferret’s environment to encourage positive behaviors, short timeouts for poor behavior and enrichment. Enrichment works best with young ferrets prior to when bad behaviors become habitual. Still, enrichment can work with older ferrets. It may take time, so be patient.

1. Biting
OK, ferrets bite. Other pets bite, but ferrets get the bad press so ferret owners have to work harder to dispel the myth. We have to teach young ferrets not to bite hard. Because entire chapters of ferret books have been published on this subject, I will only discuss play-bites.

**For the full article, pick up the 2008 issue of Ferrets USA or click here to buy the issue.**

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