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Foot-Biting Ferret

How can an owner stop a ferret from biting people's feet?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: October 31, 2008, 11 a.m. EDT

Q: My ferret Bear enjoys being handled and does not bite hands or fingers. However, he bites shoes, socks and bare feet very hard. I have tried scruffing him and shouting no, but he returns within a half second to offend again. He even pushes up pant legs to bite a sock or some skin. I have put him back in his cage when he does this, but I get no results. Should I try a bitter spray? Any more advice would be wonderful. I hate to sit in odd positions to protect my feet when playing with him.

A: Biting feet seems to be a favorite pastime of ferrets, especially young ferrets. My theory is that feet smell really good. They have been outside and all over the place, so they carry a wonderful variety of odors and they smell especially like you.

I do not usually suggest a bitter spray unless you know the ferret doesn’t like it, some ferrets seem to enjoy the taste! However, it can work. This means you need to spray your shoes or socks anytime you play with Bear.

When we have young ferrets in our home, we always wear shoes and also tuck pant legs into our socks or wear boots. I usually also tuck in a shirt so they can’t climb up inside that either. Like most biting problems, patience and preventive measures work wonders. Eventually, your ferret will realize that feet, like hands, are not that much fun.

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Foot-Biting Ferret

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Reader Comments
My ferret, Izzy, always sits next to my feet when he has an itch or when he's nipping at himself. But then he'll start doing the same thing to my feet/ankle. It's not biting really, I'm not sure how to describe it; every if I more my foot he'll stop, find it and nip at me. I was wondering why he does that?
Katie, Mobile, AL
Posted: 2/15/2014 7:58:09 PM
I have 6 ferrets, but one in particular is a biter. He only goes after MY hands and feet and has never even mouthed another person. It took me a while to figure out exactly what he wanted, but one day when he grabbed my hand firmly in his mouth and started pulling hard, I realized he wanted me to go with him. I let him pull on my hand with his mouth and then he became much more gentle once I followed him and let him "stash" my hand under the cage where he likes to keep all his other "treasures." I guess it is his way of letting me know that I belong to him and he loves me. It's pretty sweet when you think about it, but the biting still doesn't feel good. I'm just happy he hasn't tried to "claim" anyone else yet!
Britta, Chicago, IL
Posted: 5/10/2011 11:45:56 AM
Both of my ferrets shadow and baby think it is a fun game to bite feet. They also dook and do the weasel war dance after biting feet and will chase me all over the house when i dont have shoes on. I swear they are laughing at me, occasionally they will bite the shoe when it is on. If you take your shoes off they will steal them and stuff them under the couch or behind the tv. They are obsessed with feet. I just try to keep my socked feet away from them and warn guests about it as well.
ashley, clarksville, TN
Posted: 4/4/2010 8:24:38 PM
I pretty much agree with the lady from Kentucky. But I think it counter productive to 'thump' the nose of a Ferret. He/she may bite because he distrust hands. As for feet, well sleeping toes I learned look a lot like a favorite (undomesticated) meal - baby Mice. Ya know, people are stupid. They buy a Ferret because they like Ferrets, then spend all their time breaking them of Ferret behaviour. It gauls me.
Joe, Pflugerville, TX
Posted: 2/13/2009 11:58:33 AM
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