How to Deal with an Aggressive Ferret (Solved!)12 min read

Some common reasons why ferrets might be aggressive include playfighting, suffering from an injury, or because it’s unneutered. Before finding a way to deal with this behavior, you should first figure out why they’re acting this way. 

Within this article we’ll detail the most common reason for aggressive ferrets, and what you can do to deal with an aggressive ferret. 

Summary

Ferrets can be aggressive for a number of reasons ranging from being frustrated to carrying a painful injury. Therefore the most important step in dealing with an aggressive ferret is determining the cause of aggression. Then appropriate action can be taken to calm down your ferret. 

Why Do Ferrets Get Aggressive?

It’s distressing seeing your ferret in a violent state. The best way to understand and remedy their behavior is to try and see things from their perspective.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common reasons why your ferret is acting up:

Your Ferret is Injured

When your ferret bites, it can be a call for help. This is especially true if your ferret isn’t usually a biter.

If they’re injured or in pain, you might notice more than just biting. For example, they might refuse to eat or appear more lethargic than usual.

Try touching your ferret on its belly or ears. If they instantly react to your touch, it could mean they’ve developed an infection. If this is the case, it might be time to visit the vet for a complete physical examination.

Your Ferret is Just Playfighting

Have you ever opened a national geographic documentary to look at a couple of cubs or pups playfighting? Well, this might be the case for your rebellious pet.

Think of it this way; biting is their natural language. Lucky for them, they have thick skin that can withstand heavy bites pain-free. Unfortunately, for us, we don’t have that advantage, which is why you should train your ferret early on that biting is a big no-no.

This sort of playfighting is common in younger ferrets. That being said, playful bites can be distinguished from aggressive ones. They’re much less severe and won’t cause bleeding.

Check out a video of ferrets being aggressive with each other:

Your Ferret Isn’t Properly Trained

Two things to keep in mind: where did you get your ferret from? How old was it when you first got it?

Knowing those two things can determine how well they’re trained. If the previous owner never taught your ferret not to bite, it may not know it’s doing anything wrong. 

If they’re still young, you have a better chance of training them. The older your ferret gets, the harder it gets.

Your Ferret Is Unneutered

Most animals tend to get more aggressive around mating season. Ferrets are no different, specifically male ones.

During this time, hobs act out to feel more dominating. They also give off a stronger scent to attract female ferrets or jills.

If you have a business or group of ferrets as pets, specifically all hobs, things tend to get more territorial and hostile.

If this is the case, you should seriously consider turning your hob into a gib, or neutered ferret. 

Your Ferret Was Mistreated

That pent-up aggression could come from a tragic past of abuse and mistreatment. You’ll first notice this reaction during the first few days after getting your ferret.

To help them get over their feelings of mistrust and fear, you need to think of it as a real relationship. Abused ferrets need a bit more TLC, care, and attention from you. You’ll have to work extra hard to prove that they can trust you and not put them in harm’s way. 

How to Recognize the Signs of an Aggressive Ferret?

It won’t be hard to pinpoint signs of aggression in your pet ferret. They’re avid biters. Nevertheless, there might be other signs worth considering.

These signs might also be an indicator of fear. Whenever animals are scared, they feel threatened and act on aggressive instinct.

In the ferret’s case, they may start to hiss at you. Like a cat, they want you to back off.

What usually accompanies the hissing is a puffing of the coat. It might be a sign of excitement but also one of irritation. When most animals are threatened, they want to make themselves appear larger. Despite the ferret’s adorable size, it probably thinks it looks scary all puffed up.

Another sign to watch out for is your ferret playing hide and seek with you, without the seeking part. It could be hiding out of fear, not playfulness. Keep in mind that it won’t be too scared to bite if you approach it.

How to Prevent a Ferret From Becoming Aggressive?

There’s no sure-fire way of preventing aggression in your ferret’s behavior since apparent aggression has many possible causes. 

The best you can do is find the motive for its actions and work from there. For example, if you determine an injury is causing aggression, take your ferret to a vet and help it recover with some ferretvite

The process takes time and patience, similar to training any other house pet.

That being so, if your ferret is a male, then you’ll want to neuter them. It helps improve your chance of training them while reducing their aggression.

What Should You Do When a Ferret Becomes Aggressive?

If your ferret is attacking you, the worst thing to do is fight back. That only confirms its fears, and it will lead to your ferret losing trust in you.

You need to back off until your ferret calms down before approaching it again.

Another issue is if your ferret is latched on to your hand and won’t let go. Your first instinct will be to flail your hand around to loosen the animals’ grip, but that’s also a bad call. Try your hardest to resist that urge.

Instead, you could prepare a bucket of lukewarm water and dip your hand in it. After a few seconds, your ferret’s survival instincts will kick in, and it’ll let you go to avoid drowning.

The bottom line is you need to remain calm and be cautious when using your hands around your ferret, especially when it’s acting out.

How to Handle an Aggressive Ferret

There are a few methods to get your ferret the needed help to control its anger or excitement. Check them out.

Method #1: Attempt to Gain Its Trust

Gaining your ferret’s trust should be your number one priority, especially if your ferret is in a completely new setting. This aggression could result from all the built-up energy, fear, and panic. If you want the ferret to trust you, try playing with it.

Toys will be you and your ferret’s new best friend. Spoil your fuzzy friend with toys suspended from a string. That way, your hands won’t bear the brunt of its tiny, but painful, teeth and claws.

You can use gloves while playing with your pet if you get too worried.

Method #2: Visit the Vet

A vet visit might clear up the pain your precious fuzzy might be experiencing. The most common medical issues ferrets might face are an upset stomach caused by the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Parasites
  • Heart disease
  • Intestinal foreign bodies are caused by ingesting something inedible like plastic or rubber

Method #3: Show Your Ferret Some Love

To avoid scaring it or catching it off guard, use the ‘neck grab’ method. This method involves making them look in one direction so you can grab them from behind the neck. Don’t worry, your ferret won’t feel any pain.

With your other hand, support the upper chest area. You can keep its paws resting around your fingers.

Once you’ve got a secure grip on its upper body, slowly but carefully let go of the back of its neck. All the while, softly caress the ferret’s head.

If your ferret is resistant, you can always try again later.

How Do You Discipline a Ferret?

Disciplining might be the most challenging part, but alas, it’s part of being a fuzzy parent. Trying to teach your ferret baby the rights and wrongs will pay off in the long run. Just stay consistent in your techniques.

One of the most crucial approaches that you’ll find yourself continuously doing is scruffing. Once you scruff your ferret, it’ll feel powerless and will have no choice but to listen to your orders.

Whenever you see the ferret biting or exhibiting any aggressive behavior, it’s time for the scruff. Yelling “no” in an authoritative voice is also a great technique. Make sure you hold it up and look it in the eyes while doing it.

Here’s how to properly scruff a ferret:

That’s not all. After reprimanding your fuzzy child, send them to their cage for a 10-minute timeout. If you leave them for more than that, they’ll likely dose off and mistake timeout for nap time.

How to Tame an Aggressive Ferret

Taming that wild side all comes from consistent discipline. Even though a fully disciplined ferret is ideal, it’s okay to give them some room to let out some steam. Just make sure it’s on their toys and not your hands.

If you want them to hate biting you, try spraying some bitter apple spray on your hands or anywhere your fuzzy pet can get to. That should put them off of nibbling on you. It also works on items such as cords or cage poles.

Another point we want to stress is that you need to exaggerate your emotions. In other words, if the ferret bites you, try to show it that you’re in pain. Feel free to yell out a dramatic, “Ouch!” or “Ow!”. This way, it’ll associate biting with a negative response.

How Do You Train a Ferret Not to Bite?

Your main mantra for training a ferret not to bite is actions have consequences. Training involves psychological conditioning.

Before starting, make sure your ferret is well-fed and isn’t suffering from any health issues. You also want to be sure that you’ve bonded and created enough fond memories with your ferret to merit your trust.

You can promote their playful, friendly attitude with treats. Remember, if they’re not cooperating, you can always resort to scruffing and timeouts.

While doing all that, you need to have the upper hand. Any sign of fear and you’ll instantly lose control, and your ferret will be the one in charge.

Why Does My Ferret Rattle the Cage? (Cage Raging)

Keeping an animal in a cage for too long is bound to make them go wild and act out. After a while, they’ll start to feel restless and rattle the cage.

Your ferret might also want to seek your attention and believes rattling the cage will make you turn your head towards it. Don’t buy into it; it’ll only make things worse.

How to Prevent Cage Raging in Ferrets

Now that you know why ferrets cage-rage, how can you prevent it?

For starters, you can’t free them when they’re in the midst of a cage rage breakdown. That’ll only reinforce the idea that rattling the cage is the way to open it.

Instead, ignore the rattles. You could even cover the cage with a blanket until the tantrum subsides. Then, and only then, you can release the ferret from its enclosure.

You might also want to consider letting them play with toys afterward. It’s the best way to release all that energy and get them to relax.

How to Break up Fights Between Ferrets

Ferrets are social creatures. Like us, they tend to get lonely if they’re by themselves.

Also, like us, they tend to argue and fight, which can be quite chaotic. If your ferrets are fighting, you need to take control immediately. Scruff the aggressor and keep them in a cage until they calm down.

To prevent further fights, you can use the same shampoo for all your ferrets. Having the same scent might make them more comfortable around each other.

Are Male or Female Ferrets More Aggressive?

In most cases, the main aggressor is the male ferret, specifically unneutered ones. They become more alert and aggressive as they secrete special glands and rub them off from their anus or necks as a way of marking their territory.

When it comes to the jills or female ferrets, they’re a little more laid back. Some may be slightly excited or anxious during mating season. Other than that, they only occasionally playfight.

Conclusion

Dealing with an aggressive ferret can be tasking. It takes a high level of commitment and patience.

However, if you’re willing to train, tame, and discipline your ferret, then you’ll have a friendly pet to show for it. Maybe not instantly, but with continuous effort and consistency, you’ll be on your way to having a less feisty, friendlier business group.