Posted: April 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I adopted two 2-year-old, female ferrets from a family of four. I was told that they are nippers, which is an understatement. The one seems like an easy fix, I think that she may be deaf and only nips when she is startled or she does the lick-lick-nip thing. The other ferret is a pain in the hand though. She seems to bite for no reason. She just walks up and chomps. No need for a “Hey, I am here or don’t pick me up.” It’s just like she wants to bite. Is this something that can be fixed, or am I dealing with a no-fix biter? I really want these ferrets to be happy and well-adjusted little girls like my other ferrets. What can I do to stop this biting behavior?
A: I don’t believe any ferret will be a biter for life as long as it is treated positively and given time to build a trusting relationship with its humans.
The key to solving ferret biting issues is to figure out what causes the biting — all biting happens for a reason. What is reinforcing the behavior for the ferret? Is your response fun for her? It also could be that she is lacking in hands-on experience with people and isn’t sure how else to behave. This type of biting takes time to alter and patience as you build a trusting relationship. Try to limit her ability to “practice” the behavior by keeping your body parts (hands, feet) away from her as much as possible and teach her that hands bring good things (hand-feeding).
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