Posted: April 30, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I am currently owned by eight ferrets. I just adopted two from my local shelter. One of my other ferrets that I have had for more than two years likes to bite people and other ferrets (the newcomers). She is almost 3 and albino. I thought I had taught her not to bite, and she was doing so well. Lately, her biting is getting very bad. She bites ankles and hands when I’m cleaning litter boxes. What can I do to stop this biting?
A: At age 3, the biting could certainly be caused by adrenal gland disease, so it is worth a trip to the veterinarian to check. If your ferret is healthy, she could just be reacting to the new arrivals.
While you can curb a ferret’s biting, I don't believe you can teach a ferret not to bite; biting is instinctive for them, and all biting has a cause. Sometimes it is attention-seeking, sometimes it is due to stress or illness, and sometimes it is simply excitement. I find a lot of ferrets get really excited when you clean their litter and can't wait to play in it or chase the "tool" that takes it away.
Until you know why your ferret is biting, wear boots when cleaning and keep an eye on your hands; something is reinforcing her biting behavior, you just need to find out what it is.
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