Posted: April 30, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I am a ferret owner in Sweden and desperately in need of help! Ferrets have been in my life for 15 years. I mostly take care of ferrets that other people leave behind. I’ve encountered some problems, but time and gentle care has always helped. I just rescued two older female ferrets, almost 6 years old. They joined my existing family of three ferrets — Heike, 3, Fluffa, 4, and Kiwi, 2. Kiwi doesn’t fight with the new ferrets, and Fluffa only fights in a “fear way,” not too hard. But Heike tries to kill them! They bite him, too, but he is so strong and twice their size. The two female ferrets were mistreated when they were young. They’ve been moved around and the last four years they only had one room — lots of toys but not much space. My ferrets have five rooms 24 hours a day.
I would like to give the ladies a good safe home for the time they have left. They really enjoy life here. You can tell by the way they play and the way they relax. But Heike is the problem — my sweet, lovely, baby Heike. As soon as he gets the chance to bite them, he does. What can I do to make them friends or at least make him accept the new girls?
A: If you were in the United States, I would presume that all ferrets were spayed/neutered, and I would suggest having Heike looked at by a veterinarian for signs of adrenal gland disease. In your case, I am not sure if they are altered, and I don't believe adrenal gland disease is common in your country.
If any of your ferrets are still intact (not neutered), that could also play a part in the aggressive behavior — intact males can be aggressive to females, especially if the females are also intact. It is possible that Heike just needs time to adjust to the newcomers. If they don't seem too stressed by the situation, let them adjust. If they are stressed out by the attention, you may have to situate them into separate play-groups until things settle.
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