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Ferret Aggressively Grooms Cagemate

Why would a young, male ferret suddenly start aggressively grooming a female ferret?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: July 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I have two ferrets: a small female, 4 years old, and a male, 2 years old. Until now the only problem we have had with the male ferret, Bear, is that he bites us. In the last month he has been grooming Miss Frankie so hard that she cries. What can I do about this? I find it very upsetting. I have tried giving him a time out, and now I am considering separating them altogether. They have a huge cage that I can divide. Before this, they have been the best of friends. Please help this worried ferret mom.

A: I will assume that the male ferret is neutered, otherwise this might be a natural breeding behavior. Although 2 is young for a health problem, have your ferret checked out for adrenal gland disease. Overgrooming can also be misguided breeding behavior, which could be a sign of adrenal gland disease.

If your ferret checks out healthy from a veterinarian, then try either putting Bitter Apple (or something similar) on the female ferret’s neck and always re-direct Bear to an acceptable behavior when he starts any aggressive grooming behavior.

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Reader Comments
According to our specialist ferret vet, agressive grooming of another ferret is most likely a sign of dominance. These ferrets should NOT be housed together. They need their own personal space to retreat to.
Diane, Apeldoorn
Posted: 9/22/2012 10:37:03 AM
Try getting him a melatonin implant to see if this lessens the behavior. It's a lot less expensive than running the Tennessee Panel to check for adrenal disease, and even if he does not have adrenal disease, a melatonin implant can only help give him a nicer coat.

Realize also that with increased grooming comes the potential for increased ingestion of fur. You may want to give him some ferretlax or similar hairball prevention on a regular basis to prevent a blockage or partial blockage in his digestive tract.
Jeff, Colchester, CT
Posted: 7/14/2011 7:40:15 AM
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