Posted: September 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I have two ferrets. One is a play-biter; during playtime she comes up to me and nips my arm, hand or leg. This doesn't bother me very much because her nips are more of a mouthing — she just opens her mouth and rests her head against me. The other ferret is a bad biter. He will be snuggling in my arms just happy as a can be, then he gets a weird look in his eye and he bites the crook of my arm. Or he will paw on my watch for a few seconds then bite my hand. The worst though is that he likes to bite my 17-year-old daughter when she reaches into the cage to get him out for cage cleaning. Every time he bites, we scold him and then make him lay still in our arms for three to five minutes before putting him on the ground to go play, or back into the cage (depending upon how much time he has been out). It seems he gets more aggressive the longer he has been out of his cage. What can we do to stop this biting?
A: It sounds like your ferret's excitement is getting the better of him when he is out to play. Pay close attention to his warnings, because it seems you can read him pretty well. When he gets that "weird look" in his eye, put him down. Assume that look is his signal that he is done being held.
Also make sure both of the ferrets are getting enough time out of their cage each day for playtime. Part of the biting may be because they don't have enough play time each day. You may also want to let the bad biter exit his cage by himself instead of reaching in for him.
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