Table of Contents Hide
- Why does a ferret bite?
- How to stop a ferret from biting-handy tips
- A ferret bites to communicate
- Ferrets can bite out of fear
- Mistakes you should not commit when your ferret bites
Ferrets can be the most loving and cutest creatures on the earth when they are in a good mood. However, they can also become a nuisance if they bite you without any reason.
They are naturally curious animals and have a tendency to give an exploratory bite or nip to start play. Also, some ferrets begin this sort of behavior as kits but continue into adulthood. So, it is extremely important for you to know how to stop a ferret from biting.
One thing you should remember if you own a ferret is that it will take a little patience and some time to train them to come out of this sort of behavior. Fortunately, ferrets are not beyond redemption. You can quickly train a young ferret within some weeks. However, if your ferret is older, it can take several months for it to rehabilitate.
Why does a ferret bite?
Ferrets have an impulse to explore the environment around them with their mouths. Plus, their eyesight is fairly poor. Your furry buddy can bite for several reasons. They hardly realize their sharp tiny carnivore teeth are not fun for humans and their hands. It is possible that they are trying to communicate several things with their bites. Now, that also means a single technique will not work for all scenarios.
Trying to find out the root cause behind why your ferret shows a tendency to bite often will go a long way to curb this kind of behavior. For instance, a playful bite by an unafraid ferret needs gentle correction and redirection. A fear bite by your ferret will require a gradual and gentle approach and not a punishment.
Ferrets that are biting to get attention have been usually trained to behave in such a fashion. So, it is imperative to opt for more subtle cues. It is also possible that your ferret is going through health concerns if it never used to bite earlier.
However, you lately observe it to do so. You should always consider visiting your local vet during such situations. After you have found out the actual cause of biting, you may start implementing desirable solutions.
How to stop a ferret from biting-handy tips
1. Let your ferret bite you
Now, this may sound a bit scary. After all, there is hardly anyone who loves to get bitten. Yet, by doing so, you are trying to present an opportunity before your furry buddy to learn. We are not trying to say you have to provoke them so that they respond out of aggression or fear. Rather, we are insisting that you play with it in a gentle, normal manner until it goes too far and bites you.
However, as soon as it bites you, stop playing instantly and freeze. You need to demonstrate to them that playtime has come to end as soon as they bite you. Doing so will make them realize that they have done something wrong.
You can also hiss at your furry friend after it bites you. This is what even a mother ferret does when she wants to scold the kits.
3. Scruff your ferret
After you stop playtime for around two seconds or more, freeze and use your other hand calmly to firmly yet gently scruff the ferret. It is imperative to note that a ferret should never be scruffed out of fury. You should not pinch its skin too aggressively or high. Scruffing does not hurt them if done in the correct manner. As you would be using only one hand to scruff it, make sure that its butt is on the floor while it is being dragged off from the bite.
Make sure that you are offering support to its bottom with your free hand while scruffing. This is the time to admonish your ferret by saying “No biting” in a stern voice if it is not deaf.
If you have tried the above three techniques multiple times in the last ten minutes and your ferret still does not take the hint, follow steps 1 to 3 first. Then place it in “time-out.” It is advised to use a space different from its cage. That is because you would not want it to associate the cage with punishment. Usually, ferrets are put in their cage before bed every night.
However, the timeout should a different zone altogether and linked with only bad behavior. If your ferret is too aggressive, you can place it in a clean, tall, empty trash bin that has a lid. It should be kept empty and properly lidded to appear boring and dark. Your timer should now be set for 3 minutes.
5. Remove your furry friend from time-out
Once the three minutes are over, take the ferret out gently from its time-out box. You may use a pair of gloves to protect the hands if your ferret is excessively aggressive. You should also ensure that you are calm and quiet while picking it up.
Position the ferret on the forearm and make sure the head is not towards your body as it can easily bite you then. You should use this time to pet the ferret calmly. Speak softly and praise it for being so calm. Do this for around 10 seconds or so. Then gently put your ferret down on the floor.
6. Hug your ferret
Hugging and cuddling your ferret also works. Speak to it constantly in a smooth and soft voice.
7. Play with ferrets but do not use your hands
Make sure not to play with your ferret using your hands. Use a toy always.
8. Be consistent and do not lose your patience
All ferrets do not need the same time to be trained not to bite. Some may take more time while others may be trained more easily. Be persistent and do not give up.
9. Pay attention
Try to give more attention to the ferret. If a ferret shows aggressive behavior, you should give more focus to it.
10. Use bad-tasting sprays
It is an excellent way to prevent your ferret from biting you. You can visit a pet store in your locality to search for bad-tasting sprays such as Bitter Lime, Fooey, or Bitter Apple. You will usually find them in the dog/cat section of the store.
Spray lightly on your toes, fingers, feet, and hands or wherever the ferret might bite you. Ferrets hate the taste of these sprays and will be discouraged from biting you. Do not forget to clean the spray up after your training sessions as you would not wish to discourage them from licking you.
Your pet ferret shows its affection towards you by licking. So, you would not like to be afraid of approaching your feet and hands. You simply want it to stop biting.
A ferret bites to communicate
Ferrets that bite to be picked up or grab attention might first give certain subtle hints that they are craving attention. They may nuzzle their owners or bound over to them as signals. However, if a human overlooks those signals, the ferret could try to bite to get attention.
It is important to give close attention so that these early signals can be picked up indicating that the ferret is asking for your attention. Now, that means respond promptly to its more subtle signals. Do not react to its bite and just look or turn away. Restrain yourself from giving attention to the bite. Instead, reward its gentle and calm interactions.
A ferret also has a tendency to ask the owner to put it down. So, try picking up its hints that it wants to be put down. Else, it might bite you. Make sure that the play sessions are brief. Also, if your furry friend does not like to be held for too long, you can play with it in different ways.
Your ferret can be also trained with treats for permitting a gentle handle. However, do not put it down when it bites. Hold the ferret for another five seconds before you put it down.
A few ferrets do not like to be cornered. You may swoop down and pick it up. However, be careful to read the signal your ferret is sending as certain situations may cause it to bite you. If so, it is better to avoid such situations. Instead, permit your furry buddy to come close to you, start playing and give it attention. It can be achieved with some training and treats.
Ferrets can bite out of fear
If ferrets are poorly socialized and were not handled properly when young, they may bite their owners out of fear. They may also bite when you handle them roughly. A few ferrets do not have proper confidence and are usually in the habit of nipping. They exhibit such behavior even more while they are being put down.
In case you try to punish it with a scruff or a tap on its nose, its behavior will worsen. They will have a tendency to bit harder and become more fearful. So, you can begin by using treats to get it accustomed to your hands. You may use any food it is fond of as a treat. Reward their good behavior and slowly gain its trust. Instead of trying to pick it up, simply put your hand close by and give it a treat.
The training sessions should be short and quit if you are ahead. There will be a time when you can progress and touch your pick. You can then pick it up gently.
Mistakes you should not commit when your ferret bites
There is a common misperception that it is alright to hit a ferret on one part of its body including on the nose if it bites you. Although it may appear to be a suitable knee-jerk response, your ferret will be highly confused if you do that. There is also a possibility of you injuring the little one.
If you hit the little guy after it bites you, it does not tell it to stop biting. Rather, they get a message that it is good to play rough. Remember that when you become aggressive, your ferret will also exhibit more aggression.
This is another common mistake frustrated or new ferret owners tend to make if their ferrets bite them. They put them away for a prolonged time period and also stop interacting with them completely.
In case you are sincere about providing a good life to your ferret, you should give emphasis on training them. Try collecting some scratches while you embark upon this journey. However, the bond you will develop will be worth it.
Finally, if your furry friend bites you, it makes sense to empathize with it. You should also try understanding why it is behaving in such a fashion. Show your ferret that it can trust you. If it is in pain, take it to a vet as soon as possible. If it is confusing, have more patience. We hope that you now know the answers to how to stop a ferret from biting you.