Ferrets Shaking: Cause For Concern?8 min read

Although visibly alarming, ferrets shake for a variety of (mostly) benign reasons. The shaking movement within ferrets actually increases their metabolic rate, and this is utilised both during sleep and feeding.

However, shaking within ferrets is not always caused by their metabolism. Within this article we explain all of the possible reasons for shaking within ferrets, and when you should be concerned as a pet owner.

Here’s Why Ferrets Shake:

Ferrets shake for a variety of reasons depending on the time of the day. Ferrets often shake during sleep to increase their metabolic rate as well as during and after eating. Shaking is cause for concern when accompanied by other worrying behaviors (such as seizures). 

What Are the Possible Reasons Why Ferrets Shake?

Ferrets may start shivering and shaking on a variety of occasions and throughout different times of the day. In other words, they can exhibit the same behavior but have different reasons for it.

We’ll walk you through the possible reasons why your ferret shakes, so you can have a better understanding of your pet:

1. Ferrets Shake When They’re Energetic 

Let’s start with one of the most popular reasons why your ferrets shake and shiver. Unlike other popular pets like dogs and cats, ferrets use their body language more extensively to convey emotions towards others.

For example, ferrets are remarkably energetic, and sometimes, they like to translate this extra energy into shivering and shaking.

When ferrets are shaking because they’re excited, they’ll also display various behaviors to show their excitement. 

They will start hopping around and perform various acrobatic moves. Additionally, they’ll start vocalizing by making chirping noises (called dooking).

2. Ferrets Shake When They’re Nervous

Like humans and many other pets, ferrets might also shake when they’re a little nervous or anxious. However, you should know that shaking isn’t the only sign of being disturbed that ferrets display.

For instance, when ferrets enter the fight or flight mode, they’ll make noticeable hissing sounds in addition to duck and hiding while looking over their shoulder towards the thing that is stressing them.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to calm down your ferret if it gets scared, which we’re going to cover later in this guide.

3. Ferrets Shake While Sleeping

Ferrets are known for having an extremely high metabolic rate, which requires them to eat a lot of food throughout the day.

In addition to eating a lot of food for their relatively small size and having a very high metabolic rate, ferrets also like to sleep for a long time, which can be as high as 20 hours a day.

Of course, ferrets won’t just shut down their metabolism when they’re sleeping. Instead, they go through a state of lower metabolism that keeps their heart beats slow and respiration steady.

Due to the nature of their bodies, ferrets will need to burn a lot of energy when they’re asleep, which can be as high as when they’re awake. In other words, their metabolism has to be high when they’re asleep.

For that reason, ferrets may opt to shake involuntarily while sleeping in order to increase their metabolic rate.

Sleeping ferret

4. Ferrets Shake During and After Eating

If you take a look at ferrets’ commercial food, you’ll notice that it’s calorie-rich for such a small animal. However, food is critical for ferrets in order to maintain their very high metabolic rate. 

Since ferrets need to eat a lot every day in order to thrive, they need to ramp up their metabolism in order to digest food quickly. That’s why it’s quite common to see your ferret shaking a little after eating.

Sometimes, ferrets may get a little hungry and excited about food, and as previously discussed, this can also drive them to shake or shiver as a form of displaying happiness and well being.

Why Does My Ferret Shake After Waking Up?

We’ve already established that ferrets will shake a little during their sleep in order to keep their metabolic rate high. 

However, even with shaking, their body’s temperature may still drop a little due to slowed down heartbeat and respiratory rates. 

While this might be alright for a sleeping ferret, it might need to restore its higher body temperature after waking up

As a result, your ferret may start shaking for about 10 to 20 minutes after waking up in order to raise its body temperature and metabolism back to normal.

Do Ferrets Shake Because They’re Cold?

Humans and many mammals will usually shiver when they’re feeling a bit chilly, so it’s easy to understand that ferrets might be shaking because they’re cold. 

While ferrets will usually react to the cold by shaking, it’s highly unlikely that a pet ferret is shaking because it’s feeling cold.

Ideally, ferrets will feel most comfortable when they’re living in a temperature range of 55 to 68 degrees F (12.7 to 20 degrees C). 

In other words, the furry pet is very well adapted to living in relatively cold places and will rarely feel so cold that it needs to shiver. 

While ferrets might resort to shaking to warm themselves up in the wild, pet ferrets who live in a normal house temperature range will rarely resort to shaking in order to feel warm, except for the first few minutes when they wake up.

Is It Dangerous When Ferrets Shake?

Based on the information above, it’s easy to say that ferret shaking is a natural thing and you shouldn’t worry too much about it, especially if your ferret is looking healthy and happy throughout its day.

When to Do Something About Your Ferret Shaking?

Shaking is usually a sign of a happy and comfortable ferret. For that reason, if the shaking is accompanied by other adverse symptoms, your ferret might be having a health problem that requires professional attention, such as:

  • Very intense shaking (convulsions), which is a major symptom of seizure
  • Hiding and trying to be alone all the time
  • Your ferret is also aggressive
  • Your ferret looks unhappy or in pain

How To Stop Ferrets From Shaking?

One thing you should keep in mind here is that shaking in ferrets is mostly due to natural reasons and you shouldn’t try to stop it. 

As you now know, shaking can be essential for their metabolism, so stopping it can affect their well-being negatively.

However, if your ferret is overly anxious and nervous and fidgeting intensely, there are some methods that you can use to calm them down:

How To Calm Your Ferret From Shaking?

Here are some of the most common methods that you can use to calm down your fur baby:

  1. Distract your ferret by taking them for a quick walk
  2. Give your ferret belly and chin rubs if they seem okay with handling them
  3. Try to look around for any cause for their concern, such as changes in their habitat or their surrounding, and get rid of whatever they seem to be stressing about
  4. Play them some calm music. Some ferrets do enjoy music and even have their preferences when it comes to music
  5. Train your ferret so that they only get treats when they’re calm, which encourage them to stay on best behavior
  6. Make sure that your ferret gets enough playtime every day as well as a selection of toys to enjoy

What Are The Signs of a Ferret Dying? 

Ideally, a healthy ferret can live for up to 10 years. However, when a ferret is dying, they start to manifest several symptoms and signs that you can use to understand their situation and provide them with the help they need.

When a ferret is dying, you’ll notice some remarkably obvious symptoms, such as:

  • Lethargy: Your ferret will be generally weak and less active than it used to be.
  • Easy Handling: A healthy ferret is generally energetic, even when you’re handling them. Sick and dying ferrets will be more limb when they’re handled due to lack of energy.
  • Noticeable Weight Loss: Dying ferrets will eat a lot less than healthy ones. Since ferrets have a very high metabolism, they’ll start losing a lot of weight very quickly.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Ferrets may vomit from time to time, but when the vomiting is frequent, accompanied by nausea and/or blood, it’s usually a sign of something serious.
  • Tremors: While shaking is usually not a problem, a dying ferret may suffer from serious convulsions and seizure attacks due to neurological issues.
  • Less common symptoms: These symptoms may include changes in fur structure and color as well as bloody diarrhea or constipation.

If you see any of the previous symptoms, whether your ferret is shaking or not, it’s crucial that you take your pet to the vet immediately in order to receive proper medical care.


As you can see, in most cases, there’s nothing you should worry about when your ferret is shaking, as the behavior is mostly carried out for normal reasons like showing excitement or increasing metabolic rate while eating or sleeping.

Luckily, there are several ways to embrace the behavior and calm your ferret down, but you don’t need to do much if the shaking isn’t accompanied by signs of health issues.