You are here:

Ferrets/help with a BX

Advertisement


Question
I have 3 ferrets and one foster ferret. Two of the three ferrets that I own are male and the third is female. My female bites I think that she is about 4-6 months of age. I got her from a pet store. I know that she was neglected and I think that she was possibly abused. She was in a small enclosure that was about the size of a 20 Galleon fish tank by herself with a sign that says she bites. When I seen this I bought her right away and introduced her to my male and since then I have gotten a second male. The resin that I am writing you is because she bites. These are not play bites and I don't know what to do with her. At times I can hold her and she does fine for short periods of time but other times I will go to pick her up and she starts going crazy. When she bites it does not matter what I do she clinches harder I am concerned that someday she is going to take a chunk out of my finger. It has gotten to the point that I have to pry her mouth open to get her to let go. I don't want to get rid of her but I am at a loss for what to do. I have tried Bitter apple, time out, flicking her on her nose (I don't like that one), and I have tried association with her. Like putting Ferret tone on my finger. With the ferret tone she licks it off and will come after me when she has completed it. Do you have any suggestion of what I can do with her? Please help me I don't know what I am to do with her.

Answer
Dear Bill,

I'm glad you asked your question.  Seems everyone has a biting problem now and then and each situation requires totally different action.  I can help but please keep in mind that it will take time and persistance.  

Your little girl has three obsticles to overcome.  One, she was kept at the pet store in an enclosure WAY too small and isolated from ferret friends.  Two, she's frustrated, and frightened of humans.  Three, she's a newbee in the household; new friends, new surroundings, and new scary humans.  Ferrets bite for all three of these reasons and when they bite they usually mean business.

Solution 1, time outs, won't work.  she's already been confined in a nasty little space all alone.  Solution 2, nose tapping, wont work.  She's been mishandled in the past and has no reason to expect anything different.

So, let's get busy and try a couple of things that have worked for me in the past.  Remember, TIME and PATIENTS.  LOTS OF PATIENTS.  Don't try to rush through this or it will be all for naught.

Solution 1  -  Without picking up this fisty little girl, squat down and offer her something, by hand, that she really likes.  Maybe a few slivers of plain boiled chicken.  Something special that she doesn't often get.  Don't try to pet her or pick her up.  Just let her begin to realize that when you approach her, she's going to get something good.  This is part of building trust.  After a number of times without incident, then try just a little rub on the head.  If this goes well after a few times, try lifting her up, with the chicken right under her nose.  After a while she should realize you're not going to harm her and that you bring only pleasurable things to her.

Solution 2 - I use solution 2 AFTER I've worked through solution 1.  If your little girl still takes a nip, immediately scruff her and then hiss at her.  I know, it sounds silly but I've seen it work.  When ferrets disagree or become annoyed at each other, they HISS!  So you'll be speaking her language.  And, you get your point across without harming her.  Please don't try to punish her.  You want her to associate you with Good Things.  

So far she's been using a line of defense that has been working for her.  So it will take time for her to learn she doesn't need it anymore. TIME and PATIENTS.

Well, Bill, I hope I've given you some hope.  Time will tell.  Remember, just because I've answered this question, it doesn't mean you can't write me again.

Ferret, round 1 and ahead so far.  Bill, round 1 and has regained his footing.  I don't know, looks like two pretty good contenders.

Please keep me posted, Bill.  We may still have to put our heads together.

Warm Regards,
Janet

Ferrets

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Janet Russek

Expertise

I can answer questions re: Feeding(keeping that body weight up) General Care, Safety, Behavior, Best Cages, Proper Toys, Dangers to Ferrets (ferret proofing your home), Play Area/Room Suggestions.

Experience

I've raised ferrets very successfully for approximately twelve years. I usually kept three at a time. I presently have one. I've tried a variety of cages, habitats, toys, treats.

Education/Credentials
Highschool grad with some college.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.