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Young Ferret Bites Owners

Why is a 3-month-old ferret biting so much?

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

Q: We just got two ferrets from the RSPCA two days ago. They are both neutered and are a 1-year-old male and a 3-month-old female. They live outside in a large house that my husband built for them. The female ferret is very playful but is biting us a lot. Sometimes it is when we pick her up, but other times she actually comes after our hands and won't stop. She has drawn blood a few times today. We have scruffed her a couple of times and given her time-out in her pet carrier, but I just want to make sure we are doing the right things as we want to bond with her and build trust but at the same time stop the biting. Maybe she just needs time to settle in?

A: At 3 months old, the female ferret is very young, and most young animals are biters at this age/stage -- even kittens, puppies and some children.

Your female ferret is likely testing her world and her limits. Be patient and limit the opportunities to bite you. Likely she is biting your hands when you pick her up because she wants to play, or she is going after your fingers because they are "dangly" and fun!

The 1-year-old, male ferret should help her figure out when biting is not appropriate, and then she needs to learn other ways to communicate.

Most of what you describe is something your younger ferret will grow out of in time. Try not to punish her, just redirect her onto something that is safe to bite.

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Reader Comments
Check the 3 month old to see if she is deaf, stand behind her away from her and keep the male in a different area so he doesn't clue her in, shake keys to see if she turns to the sound. If deaf, she won't be able to hear when someone tells her no so her training technique would be different than a hearing ferret, gentle with hands on training. It is possible she was abused, or not handled in her previous home. If abused she may think people try to hurt her so she maybe trying to potect herself first. Showing her that hands, and people, are a good thing by giving her a special treat such as ferretone each time you pick her up can be helpful. She'll still need to learn not to bite so hard. For biting, I've used a q-tip dipped in vinegar to deter biting, rubbed across my hands and when necessary gently touch the tip of the q-tip to the mouth of the biting ferret when they are biting. They typically spit and sputter because they don't like the taste and learn after repeats that they aren't suppose to bite so hard.
Troy Lynn, Wamego, KS
Posted: 11/1/2011 12:09:58 PM
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