Posted: December 1, 2009, 5 a.m. EST
Q: I have three ferrets, two males and a female. For the last year, the oldest (and more dominant) of the males has started biting the younger (and by far more passive) of the males. He usually does it in the early morning. He wraps his arms around his brother's body and attaches himself to the back of his neck. I can't pry him off for the life of me. I have to scruff him, and jam my pinky between his teeth to pry his mouth open. I separate them for a while, and when they are together, they cuddle up like little angels in the same hammock. I thought it might be a dominance thing, but the little one will be asleep in a hammock, minding his own business, and the older one will go out of his way to clamp onto him. I don't want to separate them if I can avoid it, but I can never be sure if he's going to snap. The youngest one has scabs on his neck from broken skin. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
A: Any kind of behavior change, especially one that involves aggression, should be looked at by a veterinarian. The older ferret could be suffering from adrenal gland disease or pain or some other medical issue causing him to become aggressive.
As an aside, ferrets aren't "dominant" because they are not naturally social animals. When we keep them as pets they live socially and live like a family group, but other than their experiences as a litter, being in a group isn't a normal construct for ferrets.
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