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Females Greet New Ferrets With Aggression

Explore why female ferrets are attacking new ferret family members.

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: May 30, 2008, 7 p.m. EDT

Q: We have six ferrets 1) Smalls, an 8-to 9-year-old male; 2) Shadow, a 4-year-old male; 3) Squirt, a 5-year-old female; 4) Wensey, a 5-year-old female (she’s blind); 5) Scooby, a 1-year-old male; 6) Zek, a 1-year-old male.

We got Smalls and Shadow in 2004 at two different times and they got along great. Squirt and Wensey arrived in 2005 at the same time. Squirt immediately attacked the two boys — every time she saw them, she charged at them and attacked. Wensey didn't attack any ferret. Squirt kept attacking the boys until Shadow dragged her across the floor by the nape of her neck. She then stopped attacking the boys and turned into a “mother.” She now sleeps with them and grooms them all the time.

In December 2006 we got Scooby, and Squirt attacked him as she had Smalls and Shadow. Two weeks later, we got Zek. Squirt started attacking him and left Scooby alone. She attacked Zek for about a week and then stopped. Smalls and Shadow got along great with Scooby and Zek from the start. This month we were watching another male (a 4-year-old), and both Squirt AND Wensey attacked him but the boys took to him immediately.

Why do the girls attack? Is it a territory thing? If it is, why do the girls do it and not the boys? Would it be OK to get more ferrets? My dad and I are afraid to because of what the girls are doing. If we do get more ferrets, what can I do to help? We've just been letting them go at it.

A: Ferrets are, by nature, solitary. So, there is a thought that captive or domesticated ferrets seem to do best in litter sizes, which means around 6 to 10 ferrets in a house.

You haven’t mentioned if all of your ferrets are spayed or neutered, so I will presume they are. You also didn’t mention health status. Both of the attacking females are of an age that adrenal gland disease may be a concern regarding their aggression, so have them checked by your veterinarian.

My own experience is that females attack females and males attack males, but that isn’t always the case. Your females (if they check out cancer free) may just be a bit maternal and consider the existing “business” their litter.

Your “let them go at it” attitude is great and should be the way to go whenever introducing new ferrets, once they have passed their quarantine period. It certainly would be OK to get more ferrets, just make sure they have plenty of room to play and to get away if they are chased.

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Reader Comments
I have one female who will be 4 in a few days and 2 males the age of 3 and 1. My female never "attacks" the males. She plays with them both the same, non aggressive. When I brough home Brutis who is the 3 year old male she immediatly took to him but when I brough home Casper a couple years later she didn;t want anything to do with him. She stopped eating and drinking and got real lethargic and sick. We nursed her back to health and took her to see her doctor and ever since they have all been best friends. She washes the boys and they all play and love each other.
Brooke (Lola, Brutis, & Casper's mommy), Roseburg, OR
Posted: 7/30/2009 11:47:02 AM
i have just had a hob 9 weeks old. at the moment only one female out off the two is grapping the scruff.the other just sniffs and washes the male.she is the boss of the two.
gary, plymouth,england, KY
Posted: 7/27/2008 8:10:15 AM
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