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Can Biting Male Ferret Co-Exist With Female Ferret?

A male ferret bites a female ferret housemate every time they meet.

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: July 1, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I have two ferrets, the boy is older than the girl. They are currently in separate cages. We want them to live together and play together, but the boy tries to bite her every time we get them together to play. We recently purchased the time out. It did not work. He continued to try to bite her. We just gave them a bath so they could smell the same, and he tried to bite her. She is the sweetest thing, but he doesn’t think so. Are we doomed to have them never to play together, or is there hope?

A: The current thinking is to let ferrets meet each other without human interference as soon as possible after a quarantine period.

An intact male can be a bit more aggressive and an illness like adrenal gland disease can alter behavior. If both ferrets are neutered and a veterinarian examined the male and declared him healthy, continue trying to introduce them.

Place both of the ferrets in a neutral room or play space to let them meet. A neutral room is someplace that neither ferret has spent time in previously. The male may bite the female, but female ferrets are very tolerant of this behavior and have thick skin in order to deal with it. Try not to intervene or separate them, unless there is a serious injury. This process can take time. I had two ferrets that took about a year to finally live in peace with each other.

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Reader Comments
I have had ferrets for 8 years now. Generally ferrets get along or will adapt over time. However, the previous answer is correct. Adrenal gland disease causes male ferrets to produce excessive sex hormones making them aggressive toward females. Unfortunately adrenal gland disease is very common in ferrets especially in the US. After as little as age 3, a ferret is at risk. Blood tests can detect this and if caught early, surgery/and or drug treatment can be quite effective for quite some time. I just lost a ferret to this but he had surgery at age 6 and lived almost 2 more years with quality of life. Treatment will improve their longevity and quality of life but from my experience, it did not eliminate the aggression toward the females. If you can eliminate this possibility, patience and interaction on a daily basis will probably make them great buddies for life.
Jane, Bartonsville, PA
Posted: 1/29/2009 9:39:30 PM
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