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Ferret Seems Indifferent To Owner

Is there a way to get a ferret to bond with an owner?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: January 1, 2012, 11 a.m. EST

Q: I just got a 10-month-old ferret. He’s really sweet. I got him because I live on a campus where they don’t allow dogs. I recently lost a baby, and I’m wondering if this ferret is too old to get used to me and want to come to me. I need a companion, and it seems like he just wants to do his own thing. I have tried treats to coax him to come to me, and I have tried practicing, but sometimes the treats don’t even work. How can I get him to be attached to me? The pet store I got him from didn’t name him. I’m trying to name him, but he pays no attention. He also sleeps a lot and doesn’t want or care about playtime. I tried taking him outside to get fresh air and to play, but he’s just not into it. What should I do?
A: Ferrets are not like cats or dogs. In fact, the ferret's wild cousins are solitary, so we can't trust that a pet ferret will be as social or as attached to us as we may like. Personality also plays a role in how a ferret interacts with people.

At 10 months old, your ferret should have more energy and "desire" to be out of his cage and enjoying playtime with you, even if he doesn't want to cuddle. It may be worth a visit to the veterinarian for a checkup to make sure all is well with his health.

In order for your ferret to come to his name, you must train that behavior just like you would train a dog. Be patient, it may just take him a wellness vet visit and some time for him (and you) to adjust to each other.

See all Ferret FAQ questions and answers>>

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Ferret Seems Indifferent To Owner

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Reader Comments
Get him to a vet, could he possibly be deaf? All Ferrets have poor vision so they use sound and scent to communicate, maybe he's a bit deaf?

If he's not sick or deaf it could just be that ferrets are diurnal? They are more active at dawn or dusk (or whatever is considered morning and night in the home they live in, one of the joys of ferret ownership).

Maybe you are just expecting him to be more like a cat or dog?

They sleep for 3 1/2 hours, wake up half awake, go to the bathroom, have a drink of water, go to the food dish, go back to sleep, over and over again.

Twice a day about 12 hours apart (diurnal), they stay awake for about an hour and a half. During that time they play really hard until they slow down a bit and turn snoopy.

Originally at this time ,in the wild they would hunt mice, or play with each other if they still had some food left over from earlier.

After they eat their food they'll want to go back to sleep for another 3-4 hours, to start the 12 hour cycle again.

Ferrets actually sleep more than cats do...they're actually awake altogether between naps only 5 hours a day!! 1.5 +.5 +.5 +1.5 +.5 +.5 = 5 hrs awake

Mind you if a ferret thinks someone's willing to play, they usually will wake up, but it depends how tired he is (did he just fall asleep after eating?).

It might be a good idea to get several ferrets, that way when you feel like playing you have a better chance of finding someone awake...

(If you are taking him out on a leash make sure you have trained him to come to a squeaker toy...)

Ferrets are a lovely combination of a cat (or a kitten), a rat, and a two year old! Having loved and taken care of all of the above, I know this saying is true!LOL...Kittens playfulness, Rats sneakiness, and the cheerfulness and innocence and getting into trouble like a 2 year old!!

PS... all Ferrets respond to a squeak toy, it sounds like a ferret distress call. It actually stresses them out to hear it so use it sparingly and don't tease them with it. Rustling and crinkling is an invitation to play...
Wendianne, Mission, BC
Posted: 1/19/2012 5:27:19 PM
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