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What Will Make An Older Ferret And Younger Ferret Friends?

What’s the best way to help an older ferret and younger ferret become friends?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: September 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I have 3-year-old ferret, and I bought a 3-month-old ferret two days ago. My oldest ferret is very upset and starting to bite the new ferret. I am always with them and protect the little one. The oldest just tried to bite the little one’s ear; it wasn't serious, but I am afraid to keep them together. They are in separate cages. What can I do to help them play like friends together?

A: Let the ferrets interact as much as possible; do not keep them in separate cages. Biting on the neck and ears is very common behavior when ferrets meet each other and is not usually serious.

If the little ferret screams or seems stressed by the interaction, give both ferrets a time out and let them try again. This behavior often resolves itself in a short time.

Supervise the ferrets’ interaction until the situation is resolved.

See all Ferret FAQ questions and answers>>

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Reader Comments
I disagree with the "no separate cages" advise. Especially if the ferrets cannot be monitored all the time during their "getting to know you" phase.

Instead, I recommend putting a fleece from the old ferret in the young ferret's cage -- and vice versa. This gives them each the chance to "smell" the other ferret, maybe even get comfortable enough to snuggle with the other ferret's fleece. Do continue to allow them time to interact -- WITH SUPERVISION! Yes, ferrets play rough and yes, there is biting and scruffing. But I've seen some pretty aggressive "I don't like you" reactions and their humans need to separate them.

It depends a *lot* on your efforts, persistence and consistency, but there's no guarantee that these two ferrets will ever be happy with each other.

I wish you much luck -- I know how terrifying and heartbreaking that screaming/screeching sound can be!

Anne, Mesa, AZ
Posted: 9/8/2010 10:02:41 AM
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