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Ferrets/Multiple cohabitation



I own 3 ferrets, 3 sterilized females of 6, 4 and 1 years old. My 6 years old female still doesn't accept my last one, after more than one year.

At the beginning i had 2 ferrets, my older female and a sterilized male ( her brother ). Two years later i adopted a young female. With this one, my older female had no problems with, she accepted her.

But after 1 year the younger female died accidently. I didn't noticed modifications in the behavior of my 2 remaining ferrets. And 1 year later i adopted a new female, and again, she accepted her.

But one year later i adopted a new young female. At the beginning i let them together in my main room but not in the same cages. My male, my 2nd female accepted the new one but not my older female.

She just attacked her with no reason, there was no blood but a lot of screams and pooh everywhere. The new female was shaking. I let it happened during 2 weeks believing they were establishing an order,but during this time, i didn't noticed any improvement, my new female was just scared by my older. I also payed attention to my own behavior and gave same cares to all my ferrets, just with an order : the older ferrets first, and the new female always last.

So i decided to let some time pass. I also rotated the male and the second female with the third one and the older female and i permuted the new female and the older in each cage in the goal to let them smell all my ferrets odors. Each month one or two times i let all my ferrets in the same room but again no improvement, except that my new female was getting stronger and now answer and attack in return my older female. I also tried some meetings in rooms they didn't knew. That inhibited the older aggro toward the new female but not the fear of the last one who just scream and attack the older female. Still no blood but i don't really let it happened for a long time ( 10- 15 min max ) and if the fight become too violent i separate them with some water. The last 3 months i was concentrated on my male disease. He died last week. Now i just want my 3 females to be able to live in the same cage and tolerate themselves.

If you have any advice, i am listening.


ANSWER: Hi Nicolas;

Thanks for your very good question.  The general rule with ferrets not getting along is "no blood, no poop, no foul", meaning if the ferret getting picked on poops while being attacked, if either ferret bites to the point of bleeding, you immediately and permanently separate them them.  As with people, some ferrets just do not like others and will fight, not play-fighting, really fighting to injure or kill.  You never said if the female being picked on has ever pooped while being attacked.....that will be your answer. If she poops, she is truly scared of the other feret....otherwise, they are just fighting hard, establishing who is the alpha female. You probably have two alpha females who will just have to either tussle around - ferrets DO fight hard when they are establishing who is alpha and screaming is part of it.  If she poops, tho, she is truly scared and they need to be housed separately and immediately...she truly feels fear and not just using screaming as part of her battle tactics.

On the flip side, your older ferret is getting  old enough, she should be mellowing out, so hopefully that may help.  If it were me, I think I would put them all together, make sure each has their own bed, then just let them do their thing, but watch for poop or blood.  Hopefully neither will happen.  Continue to separate them by spraying with water bottle, if necessary, until they finally wear themselves out and hopefully accept each other...or at least tolerate each other.  The bottom line is if the one being picked on poops, there is true fear and they must be separated. Ferrets have very tough skin and it takes a lot to puncture enough to break the skin.  Otherwise, just continue using the spray bottle/separate them to different areas of the same housing area.  Another way to know if the new ferret is truly scared is if she RUNS AWAY from her attacker consistently, but eve tually she will just accept the other ferret as the alpha ferret. Normally they will run away, then at first chance will go back to engage again. That would be typical and normal, nothing to truly worry about.  Do be sure their housing atea is plenty big.  Too small of a cage with too many ferrets in it may also cause fights.  A larger cage might be a good idea for three ferrets.

I hate to see one ferret being beat up on also. Unfortunately, sometimes it is nearly impossible to determine if they are really fighting to the death or just doing normal very very rough establishment of alpha ferret. It does sound like your girls are being very very rough.  Let them be, as long as there is no pooping or blood...or you can .spray with water bottle to let them know that is not acceptable behavior, but don't step in otherwise unless you see poop or blood.

It sounds like you have done so many RIGHT things to integrate them. You are obviously a good ferret owner, using the water spray bottle to stop them, separating the, etc.  Just remember the "no poop, no blood, no foul" rule and only separate themselves if it is an absolute necessity.  They might just be some really really tough little girls :-) who need to work through this.

Best of luck in  integrating these two difficult little gals.  I hope ultimately it works out for you and for them. Nobody wants to be all alone, so yes, it would be nice if they can be housed together :-).

Jacquie Rodgers

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Jacquie,

Thank you for your answer, i was afraid to obtain such explanations but well we will figure it out.

Here are more details :
My ferrets are spread in two cages : Jenny ferret cage ( Ferplast ) and Tower ferret cage with two floors ( Ferplast ).

For the fights between my two females, at the beginning the female i picked on always pooped and fouled. Now, one year after she still fouls and sometimes poops when my older ferret attack her.
Here is what happen when there is a meeting in the main room : my older ferret smell or see her, she starts to hunt my young female who in first place try to run away. Then my young female come back and go for fight with a lot of screams, and imediatly fouls. Generally they separate themselves after a short time and if they meet again, they fight again, and with time the young female poops.

It also happened that my older ferret didn't attack her ( very rare )
but the picked on female attacked her with screams and foul. In this case, my older ferret seems like she is stunned but i saw it maybe two times in one year.

So, i will probably go on seperating them and trying sometimes a meeting under my surveillance. Maybe with more time :)

Again thank you for your explanations on my issues, at least it comforted me in my actions for my ferrets.


Hi again  Nicolas:

Thanks so  much for writing back to me.  I am so sorry to have to have given you the bad news. Unfortunately, you are right....these two ferrets will never be friends and if the little one is getting that upset, it is dangerous to put them together.  Maybe you can let the one ferret who does get along with the little girl rotate back and forth, sometimes caged with one ferrey, sometimes with the other so she does not feel so isolated and alone. Your very dominant female likely would be best caged alonef you have to choose. Sounds like the little one has had enough trauma and could use a snuggle buddy to comfort her.  Just a suggestion...I think thats what I would do.  

Best of luck to you and your little ones in this difficult situation.  It won't be forever....the older ferret eventually will pass away unfortunately,  and you will eventually be down to just one cage, it will just be a while. Average ferret lifespan is usually around 5-7 years, at least here in the U. S.   And as much as we hate to lose them, I am sure your life will be easier. Wish I had better news for you.

I would like to invite you to join my ferret group on Facebook, where we have folks from all over the world and lots of ferret experience to share.  We love to post pictures and see each others ferrets and share stories and experience...hope you will join us on Facebbook at THUNDERING FERRET PAWS.

Javquie Rodgers


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Jacquie Rodgers


PLEASE READ ALL BEFORE ASKING QUESTIONS... WHAT I CAN DO: Being a ferret owner for 20 years, I can answer questions re: general care, cage ideas & requirements, healthy foods and snacks, safety issues, ferretproofing play areas, common causes of intestinal blockages, appropriate housing, litterbox training, making bathtime fun, toys, games galore, outdoor trips, "Do`s and Don'ts, traveling w/ferrets by car or RV, safe environmental temperatures & keeping your ferret cool in summer (NOT A FAN!!), setting up a hospital cage, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), helicobacter (ulcers), adrenal disease symptoms & care,intestinal blockages, helping your ferret recover quickly/safely from surgery; common problems of ferret ownership, illnesses; care of sick or injured ferrets, hospice/palliative care, facing & coping with your ferret's death, choices that must be made when a ferret dies, memorializing your pet online and in your daily life. #1 TIP: FIND AN EXOTICS VET BEFORE YOU GET A VET...IF YOU WAIT, YOU MAY FIND YOU HAVE TO DRIVE UP TO 6-HRS TO GET TO A PROPER VET!..if you did not find one first, be WILLING to drive as far as possible for proper care. AND.... #2 TIP: FERRETS ARE EXPENSIVE TO FEED, HOUSE, VET & CARE FOR PROPERLY...IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ONE/OR NOT READY TO SACRIFICE, PLEASE DON'T GET ONE!! A FERRET IS NOT LIKE HAVING A CAT OR DOG!! THEY REQUIRE MORE TIME, ENERGY, CARE AND MONEY to properly care for them. Prepare to spend up to $8,000-$10,000 OVER A FERRETS LIFETIME (6 to 8 years usually) FOR NECESSITIES & VET CARE. WHAT I CAN`T DO: I can`t take the place of your ferret vet; if your ferret appears sick,PLEASE have your ferret examined by a ferret vet .TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE FOR A SICK FERRET - PLEASE, IF IN DOUBT, GET THEM TO A VET! 24- hours of a ferret not eating/drinking may kill your ferret! NEVER FORCE FEED A SICK..he may choke. Sub-Q or IV fluids from your vet who is not eating WILL help save his life IF he gets it in time.


I have nursed ferrets through many illnesses, an injury, and a variety of diseases over the years.Ferrets are so very delicate, yet incredibly strong-willed; a well-loved ferret will fight courageously to live if given proper medical care, close monitoring, and especially lots of TLC.& LOVE. A ferret can entertain for hours on end when they know they are the center of attention; and they can make even the grumpiest person laugh. They do require a LOT of time, love and daily care, but the love you give a ferret always comes back to you tenfold OR MORE!! I dedicate the time I spend helping others here to my precious little ones who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. They taught me how to laugh, to love unconditionally....and how to live each & every day to its fullest, and for that I am forever grateful.


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I read everything I can get my hands on regarding ferrets, I learn from my great Exotics Vet, and my own experience and interactions with other ferret owners. I am writing a book on ferret care (Great Need for a CORRECT one!) never rely on a ferret book OR a website when your ferret is sick. I can help with suggestions to use IN CONJUNCTION with proper care by your exotics specialist vet (ASK when you call for an appointment whether or NOT your vet has EXPERIENCE in working with EXOTICS..if not, move on and continue to seek one. The wrong vet can KILL your ferret. I learned this early when my ferret hurt his front paw jumping off the couch...a vet, NOT EXOTICS SPECIALIST couln't handle ferret properly because he was afraid of the ferret...and ended up xraying THE WRONGBARM, telling me it was not hurt. I took xray & ferret to EXOTICS SPECIALIST VET 3-hrs away & found out the arm WAS BROKEN & wrong arm had been xrayed. THAT is how important it is to have a PROPERLY TRAINED VET FOR YOUR FERRET!

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