Posted: July 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I have five ferrets, and I am having problems with one. His name is Cinnamon. He is about a year old and is neutered. When he was a young ferret, he was abused by my friend’s ex-boyfriend (he used to be her ferret). Cinnamon was thrown up against walls, starved and teased. Now, I can't even feed him treats without being bit, or let him out without fear of him attacking me. I have noticed he is very hypersensitive to sudden movements. I have to keep a harness and leash on him to let him out and play, so I can catch him to put him away. Do you have any suggestions on how to tackle this case? I have confidence he can be rehabilitated, but I just don't know how to start.
A: The most important suggestion to help out this poor ferret is patience. Give him time to adjust to the new situation and time to bond with you. Try to teach him that hands are good and not something to be feared by handing him tasty treats to eat in and out of the cage.
I really like that you keep the harness and leash on him when he is out because this probably helps keep him less stressed by having you pick him up and keeps you safe from him biting!
As soon as you find something he likes, try to use that as often as possible to show him that he is safe with you. Above all else, be patient with him and realize that it may take months for him to feel safe and comfortable.
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