Posted: June 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: What can be done about ferrets that bite for attention when the normal scruff-and-drag methods don’t work? My ferret Ellie is deaf, so making the distressed ferret sounds don’t work either. She’s not a fear-biter and doesn’t bite out of spite, just for attention. She bites when we don’t give her our undivided attention quickly enough to suit her needs. She’ll paw our legs the way we train all of our ferrets to do when they want up, but with her if up doesn’t come quickly enough you can expect to be wearing an Ellie anklet. We’ve come to accept that Ellie will be Ellie, and we love our fluffy, white demon-ferret regardless of our fang-marked ankles and wrists. Is there any way to reduce the biting?
A: Most animals repeat a behavior because it works for them. Your ferret Ellie has learned that when she bites, she gets you to do what she wants.
You don’t say what you do when she bites, by my guess is that you pick her up. I know it is difficult to ignore a ferret attached to your leg, but the only way to get her to stop is to ignore her. Only pick her up when she is pawing even if this happens after she bites.
I suggest jeans, boots, thick socks, etc. in order to help ignore her.
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