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Ferrets And Feelings

Is it possible for ferrets to have feelings?

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

Q: Do ferrets have feelings?

A: There is a scientific reply and a personal reply to this question. Science has certainly shown us that animals feel pain, pleasure and a few other "tangible" emotions, but that is about it.

Do ferrets feel sadness, loss, anger and other emotions? I believe they possibly might, but I don't think they dwell on these "feelings" like we do. I imagine that the less domesticated animals experience feelings in a way that we do. Feelings don’t really play a role in the wild, however; for example, anger doesn't help an individual hunt, eat or reproduce.

Most behaviors, like aggression, have a purpose. The purpose may be to win over a female or to scare a competing male away. For animals, most feelings exist to aid survival. Humans seem to be a species that has the time and the desire to "get lost in feelings." I hope this answered your question.

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Reader Comments
OVER THE LAST 21 YEARS WE HAVE HAD 28 FERRETS CROSS THE RAINBOW BRIDGE. ALL HAVE BEEN BROUGHT HOME FORM THE VETS, SO THAT THEIR CAGE MATS CAN SAY GOOD BYE. IT'S ALWAYS SAD TO SEE, BUT THEY SEEM TO DO BETTER WITH THE LOSS.
PATTY, Milwaukee, WI
Posted: 10/18/2010 11:19:23 AM
My female ferret(Chi-Chi)had never been without her cage mate (Chong, of course). So when he had to be euthanized, I was extremely concerned about her reaction. I decided to put him in a separate bed near her and let her 'find' him dead. I hoped that she would figure it out and be able to adjust. It was heart wrenching to watch as she tried to lick, prod, and bit him back to life. Over and over she sniffed every inch of him. I was nervous when she eventually snuggled up next to him for a nap. When she awoke she tried to rouse him all over again.
On whatever level ferrets understand these things, she finally did get it. She has adjusted beautifully with no detectable pining or depression. We gave her a lot more attention especially at first. She is doing great though I'm sure she misses him.
I have since read horror stories of cage mates dying of a broken heart or refusing to eat when their mate was gone. I think what I did was inspiration from God and I'm thankful for it. I would say ferrets definitely feel emotional attachments.
Annette, Hawthorne, FL
Posted: 10/13/2010 3:29:33 PM
We had 2 ferrets who were bonded. Our sable,Sherlock, died from a tumor, Clueseau, his buddy,looked for him for weeks leaving treats in his hiding places. I would say, yes they do have feelings.
Jerry, Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 10/10/2010 2:33:40 PM
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