Posted: October 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I have several ferrets, but only problems with my two older ferrets — one 7 and one 5, both males. Both of these ferrets are spectacularly nice with other ferrets both female and male of all ages, but when the two are put together the older male spends his time searching for the younger and attacking him in any possible way — even attacking him and dragging him out of a deep sleep. The younger ferret that gets attacked just lays there and screams without fighting back at all. He was raised as an only ferret for four years until his owners surrendered him to my shelter and I kept him. I’ve had to separate them in different rooms, but would give anything to be able to keep them in the same area. Both ferrets are super sweet and love to sleep and snuggle on me in the bed as close as possible. It would be fantastic to have both old ferrets come cuddle up on either side of me and take a snooze without one trying to kill the other! How can I put an end to this constant dominance fiasco and get these two ferrets back in the same room to live and snuggle with Mommy in peace? Right now, I snuggle them in shifts to make sure there’s as little jealousy as possible.
A: My first thoughts are to check for adrenal gland disease in both male ferrets, because they only seem to fight with each other. Because one of them was an only ferret, he may be having a hard time adjusting to living with multiple ferrets, even though he seems to get along with others at times. It would be helpful to know how often the ferret attacks — is it every time (I mean every single time they are together)? How long does the fight last? What happens to either ferret once they are separated? All of these factors matter in helping determine if they will ever be able to co-exist. I would like to mention that there are no dominance issues here.
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