Posted: April 1, 2008, 5 a.m. EST
Like all species, the ferret personality is unique to each individual. Some ferrets climb, jump, cuddle and give kisses but some don’t. This is their unique personality and it further develops with age and experience. Love and kindness foster the development of the best ferret personality.
Nurture A Happy Ferret
Learn about how to raise a happy ferret. Click Here>>
Our Outstanding Six
During the past 15 years we shared our home with 17 ferrets — nine are at the rainbow bridge and eight are still with us. All but one were acquired at an early age, 13 weeks or younger. Our first four ferrets came from pet stores; six were from private hobby ferret breeders; one was a rescue; and six we raised from birth and decided to keep. All 17 had similar traits with different personalities. From these, six unique and distinctive ferret personalities stood out from the rest.
Bonnie was a smart, alpha ferret whose problem-solving skills often got her into trouble.
The Smart Alpha Ferret Personality: The love of our lives was a small, sable girl with endless personality. She introduced herself at the pet store by biting our finger and then pooing and peeing on the floor in front of us. This introduction was a forewarning to what life with Bonnie would be like. She demonstrated the alpha personality to the rest of the ferrets, and her role of leader was seldom challenged. She was the smartest ferret we have had, and her inquisitive and persistent personality kept her in trouble most of the time. She was a problem solver extraordinaire — able to determine the safe jumping distance from chair to countertop, or to push a trash can over to something she wanted to climb up on and investigate.
The Loner Ferret Personality: Goldie is a small, champagne jill that was introduced to our business of breeder jills as a 13-week-old kit. She was given the traditional welcome that jills tend to give newcomers, which means it was not a loving welcome. Goldie is a very quiet, unassuming jill that tends to be a loner. She has not bonded with any other ferret, but she occasionally plays one on one. She is very tentative and somewhat suspicious of any and all activity. She is not a kissy-cuddly girl but does like special one-on-one attention. Goldie is a great mother but somewhat protective of her babies.
Male Vs. Female
Learn how gender affects ferret behavior. Click Here>>
The Clown Ferret Personality: Quick Silver is a black sable hob that we raised from birth. The only word to describe Quick is clown. Quick has the type of ferret personality that most of our clients want. He’s a big, 4-pound, floppy, loving, cuddly boy, and he thinks humans are the very best toys. After doing something silly, Quick gives a look that seems to say, “That’s OK. I meant to do that.” He never meets a stranger because a new person is just another toy. He never meets a foe and accepts everyone as a friend to play and clown with.
The Loving Ferret Personality: Winston was an old, intact, sable hob that was found in the pouring rain eating french fries by the dumpster of a fast-food restaurant. He came to live with us after bathing, ear mite treatment, neutering and attention to many other health issues. It appeared he spent most of his life in a cage. He was judged to be between 9 to 11 years of age (based on tooth appearance) and weighed in at 6 pounds. He was in amazing, fair health for his age and circumstances.
Winston was introduced to being a pet in our world and allowed free-roam of his own room. He immediately expressed his happiness by constant dooking for at least two solid days. As he became more familiar with his surroundings and new freedom, he was slowly introduced to the rest of the ferrets. He learned what life was all about in a loving environment. He continued to dook and even did his “old man” version of the weasel war dance. Winston had insulinoma and received treatment for this the remainder of his life. He was not a kissy guy, but he loved to be held and cuddled. With all the changes he faced, Winston was the one ferret that always gave us direct eye contact that said he was happy and appreciated his new life.
Oh Those Hormones!
Learn how biology affects ferret behavior. Click Here>>
Happy-Go-Lucky Ferret Personality: Cosmo was a chocolate, boy that came into our home on Christmas Eve. You know that last ferret at the pet store with those big, soulful eyes? That was Cosmo. We just could not leave him there alone on Christmas Eve. After we brought him home and let him out of his carrier, he immediately ran around, around and around the room. You could tell he was happy by the twinkle in his eye. His name was given to him as we could just imagine him war dancing all around the Milky Way.
He was the ultimate happy-go-lucky guy that loved everyone. It seemed that his only purpose on Earth was to love everyone and help in any way possible. He was cage mate to an adrenal girl and always was her bodyguard, body warmer and, in her last months, her seeing-eye pal because she was blind. He was a wimp when it came to new ferrets but always ended up being loved by all the ferrets.
The Jealous/Possessive Ferret Personality: Ferrets can develop a very deep bond with individuals. Daisy is a great example of this. Four years ago we placed Daisy with a couple when she was 10 weeks of age. The first year everything worked out well. Daisy developed a deep affection with the lady -- so much so that she did not like to be separated from her. She turned out to be a lap ferret, sleeping only in the lady’s lap, and was certainly spoiled.
The second year we placed a male ferret, Dozer, with the couple. Daisy became very jealous of Dozer but eventually everything worked out. Over the next year Daisy became so attached to the lady that she bit anyone that was close to her. We felt she was either protecting her or just didn’t want to share her with anyone else.
Goldie was a loner that only sometimes engaged in one-on-one play.
Love Them For Themselves
Inherited traits cannot be eliminated, as these are part of the species. Ferret behavior is learned (like biting or food aggression) and can be changed to some degree with a lot of love and patience. A bad ferret personality cannot be changed but can be enhanced or in some cases diminished. A ferret left in a cage has no opportunity to develop its personality due to lack of enrichment. Boredom does not lead to a healthy happy personality in any species, including us. Personality can be greatly enhanced by providing challenging enrichments for the ferret. A ferret that loves to dig in your flower pots needs the opportunity to expand its horizons. Let it dig in a box of dirt, paper, plastic eggs or whatever. Don’t take away that part of its personality; enhance it by providing it the opportunity to dig.
Each ferret’s personality is unique. Help develop each of these personalities in a safe and healthy manner and enjoy an animal that is forever young and steals your heart.
Mike and Arita Morrett are co-owners of Savannah Lakes Ferretry in South Carolina, where they reside with their eight ferrets, and breed pet and show-quality ferrets.