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Formerly Friendly Ferret Shows Sudden Aggression

Why would a ferret suddenly attack someone he’s been friendly toward?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: January 1, 2012, 10 a.m. EST

Q: The strangest thing happened today with my 1-year-old, male ferret, who is normally loving and very docile. My housekeeper came as she does every two weeks and was spot-cleaning my recliner. My ferret climbed up onto the recliner and lunged at her, biting the web part of her hand. It shocked her and she shook him off and he fell onto the carpet and had about a 3-foot fall. I checked him and he seemed fine. He didn’t draw blood, but it was very surprising. She took it that he was protecting my chair. She then moved to my couch. As she was dusting it, he climbed up on the back of the couch, made a squeaking sound and lunged again, luckily he missed her. So I took him and put him in his room and shut the door. He didn’t eat his breakfast, which he normally does, and he also refused his ferret peanut butter snack. I have never ever seen him act like this, and she is always very receptive to him and pets him each time she works. She didn’t step on him or shoo him away. He does a lot of dooking and dancing and is normally a very happy little fellow. Have you any clue why he would have acted this way?

A: Any "sudden" behavior change in any animal warrants a visit to your veterinarian because there could be a medical reason for the behavior. Your ferret’s eating habits changed, so that makes a medical reason especially likely.

The behavior toward your housekeeper could simply be due to the noise of the vacuum or the movements of her cleaning, causing your ferret to get excited and start chasing the movements.

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Formerly Friendly Ferret Shows Sudden Aggression

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Reader Comments
Hi Esther, Thanks for your question. I haven't heard about a situation like that before. I'll pass this along to our ferret expert to possibly answer in the future. Meanwhile, as with any sudden change in behavior, you might consider taking your ferret to a veterinarian for a checkup. Good luck.
Marylou, Irvine, CA
Posted: 5/9/2012 11:37:14 AM
Our ferret has taken to chasing, biting and attacking our cats all of a sudden. He usually is very loving, but lately he is attacking any one of our cats by biting them and hanging on to them until I can get to him and release. Any suggestions as to why?
Esther, Pike Road, AL
Posted: 5/4/2012 4:49:50 PM
Update on formerly friendly ferret showing aggression: I did take him to Vet and he was given a complete exam and received a clean bill of health. He continues to be aggressive with the housekeeper only. He has become protective of his mom's things. He has to be contained when housekeeper comes to clean.
Sherry, Hewitt, TX
Posted: 3/22/2012 5:52:15 PM
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