Appropriate company for ferrets
Make sure your ferret has appropriate company
Things you should do
- Keep your ferret with at least one other friendly ferret, unless advised otherwise by a vet or a clinical animal behaviourist. Groups should be carefully matched and a group of a maximum of four animals, which are preferably littermates, is ideal.
- Get your ferret neutered (see Health and Welfare) unless you intend to breed from him/her and provisions have been made to care for both parents and offspring.
- Carefully observe your ferret(s) each day to check for signs of stress, fear and/or aggression within the group, so that you can review whether any changes need to be made to the housing or group. For example, it may be necessary to make changes such as adding hiding places or moving 1 or 2 of the ferrets to other suitable accommodation. Each ferret should be alert, moving about, easy to handle, explorative and playful, without displaying any fearful behaviours.
- If your ferrets show signs of aggression towards each other, carefully check each ferret for wounds, especially in the neck area and take your ferret to your vet if wounds are obvious or if you are in doubt.
- Handle your ferret every day from an early age and also provide daily interactions with other (non-prey) animals that your ferret gets on with. If your ferret is properly socialized this will be a pleasant experience for him/her and a welcome daily activity. If your ferret has to be kept on their own for some reason you must provide him/her with companionship by interacting with them every day.
- Make sure your ferret has sufficient time to sleep and rest undisturbed (up to 80% of the day).
- When handling your ferret make sure it is a non harmful, pleasant experience.
- Kits should stay with their mother until they are at least 8 weeks old.
- Make sure your ferret has places where he/she can get away from companions if they want to and that there are enough resources (e.g. shelter, food, water, hiding places) for all your ferrets at all times.
- When you are away, make sure your ferret is cared for by a responsible person.
- Never leave your ferret unsupervised with another animal or person who may, deliberately or accidentally, harm or frighten it.
- It is thought that the ancestors of ferrets are solitary animals. However, many domesticated ferrets tend to enjoy each others company, as long as they can have their own, marked space in their home range.
- Ferrets that are well handled by people from a young age can become well socialized and form strong bonds with humans.
- If carefully introduced early in life, ferrets can also develop friendships with other animals (non-prey species).
- How well ferrets get along with each other in a group depends on factors such as genetics, housing and group composition as well as the ferrets’ previous experiences.
- Male ferrets that have not been neutered may display more aggressive behaviour.
- Persistent hiding, biting and fighting are signs of overt aggression in the group and are reasons to either make changes to the group or to your ferret’s housing.
- Kits need to learn from their mother and littermates how to behave in a group. For example, they need to learn how to communicate.