Unlike what most people think, ferrets make great pets. They are known for their playful and social nature and can form strong bonds with their owners and enjoy spending time with them. They are often compared to a mix of a cat and a dog in terms of their behavior. Their curious and energetic nature makes them fun to be around, providing hours of entertainment.
But it should naturally be a little worrisome if your ferret doesn’t play with you or doesn’t like to bond.
This is what you need to know:
Ferrets have longer hours of sleep and only stay awake every 2-3 hours to eat, drink, or play for a short time. This is their “normal behavior”.
Why won’t your ferret play with you? Sometimes it is a clear sign of adjustment to its new home or owner, or maybe some illness. The best way to engage with your pet is to keep the preoccupied with toys or use the time to train and bond with them. Pique their interest with exercise games, simple tricks, and giving them rewarding treats
Simply pouncing at them can actually initiate them to play. Once they start jiggling to wrestle with you, jumping back and forth in your front, or tugging on your legs, it’s a good sign that they wanted to play.
But if all efforts fail, it’s recommended to go the extra mile and find out the possible reasons why your ferret wouldn’t want to play with you. In this post, we will try to demystify this topic to help you understand your pet and their behavior better.
Playing Games With Your Pet Ferret
You’ll discover their joyful nature through their energetic antics once you dedicate time to having fun with your ferret. They may become lively, emitting playful chuckles and bouncing off the walls, expressing enthusiasm.
Ferrets can sleep for long stretches, but engaging them in interactive play will keep them awake and entertained. These furry companions thoroughly enjoy wrestling, chasing, running, engaging in hide and seek, or participating in a lively game of tug-o’-war.
To challenge their intelligence and enhance their exploration skills, you can train them with more intricate games. Encourage them to explore new objects, follow scents, engage in gentle digging, or roll around in a designated play area. If you have limited outdoor space, don’t worry; you can also create a stimulating environment indoors.
Consider setting up tunnels made of cloth or hard-ribbed plastic with small holes for them to navigate. PVC pipes can also be used to create maze-like tunnels, or you can create a rice box where they can dig and search for toys.
Incorporating waving blankets for them to catch, sliding them across the floor towards a pile of soft toys like a mini bowling game, or even dragging them around while they ride a bath towel are exciting games you can enjoy with your ferret. The best part is that you can easily find these items in your house!
Remember that simply having a few toys may not keep them engaged throughout the day. Just like their varied diet, it’s important to offer them a variety of activities. You can ensure that your ferret remains entertained and fulfilled by providing a mix of interactive play, exploration, and mental stimulation.
10 Ferret Enrichment Ideas
Ferret Safe Toys
When selecting toys for your ferret, it’s important to consider the materials used. Ferrets have a natural inclination to nibble and chew on things, so it’s crucial to choose toys that are scratch and chew-resistant. Opting for tunnel maze tubes made of PVC material is ideal as they are easy to clean and more durable.
You can also consider toys that contain catnip or have bells or rattles inside. However, be cautious that the toys are not rubberized or made of easily torn cloth to prevent small parts from being swallowed.
By prioritizing durability and safety in toy selection, you can ensure that your ferret has engaging and long-lasting playtime while minimizing the risk of any potential hazards.
Do Ferrets Play When Stressed?
Ferrets, like any other animals, can experience stress or discomfort, which may lead to changes in behavior. When unwell or stressed, they might display aggression or become lethargic, losing interest in their usual playful activities.
While ferrets are generally friendly and enjoy being part of a family, it’s important to recognize that they can also express displeasure or discomfort. They are susceptible to illnesses that can impact their well-being and happiness. When stressed, they may exhibit behaviors such as running away or hiding, particularly if they haven’t fully adjusted to their new environment.
If you notice signs of aggression, such as hissing or attempts to bite, giving the ferret some space and avoiding further interactions is crucial. Additionally, remain vigilant for any indications of illness, including a loss of appetite or unusual behavior. Seeking immediate veterinary advice is recommended if you observe concerning symptoms or behaviors. Consulting with other experienced pet experts can also provide valuable insights.
By being attentive to your ferret’s behavior and promptly addressing any concerns, you can ensure their health and well-being, promoting a harmonious relationship between you and your pet.
Ferrets Can Be Happy, Sad, Or Mourning
Sometimes ferrets do not want to play because something upsets them. They can also “feel” emotions like happiness and even pain, which can either be physical or emotional.
And this “pain” may be an indication of a possible underlying health problem. If the ferret’s treasured companion was moved away from it, has recently died, the ones that were left behind might start getting depressed, sitting or looking away blankly, refusing to play, refuses to eat, or sometimes finding comfort sleeping with the lost ferret’s favorite toy, it is a clear manifestation of its sadness or mourning.
As a remedy for its heartbreaking loss, try to find pleasurable activities to comfort it. Give it a hug or softly speak to it while eating specially prepared foods to comfort and divert it during its downtime.
This “therapy” is effective and most of the monitored cases respond well to increased attention or hand feeding the ferret if its appetite is lowered. Generally speaking, ferrets are evidently “feeling” either happiness, sadness, bored, or other emotions which are uniquely characterized by any living creature just like humans.
Medical Problems Causing Inactivity
The problem is easier to handle once we recognize it. If a ferret’s root of stress is not any loss but a deep illness causing physical pain, then a vet consult might be needed as the best approach to figuring out what is wrong with it.
Once there is a clear manifestation of a medical problem like sudden appetite loss, becomes drowsy abnormally, and starting to be inactive, it has to undergo some tests courtesy of a vet to see if it suffers illness such as insulinoma, or pancreatic cancer, adrenal neoplasia, or cardiomyopathy or other infections that may simultaneously arise causing discomfort and lethargy. Always be vigilant about behavioral or routine changes for immediate medical attention if it is needed by your ferret.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do ferrets get irritated with a strong smell?
Actually yes. An important behavior clue for ferrets is “scent.” For them, “stink” is a status and also a power/ superiority signal. Safe perfumes can be used to protect an insecure kit or to end fighting during a challenge against the “alpha ferret” by buoying the power of the lead ferret. This is one “natural” reason why they hate or get irritated by perfumes. If it starts to nip, consider the perfume it has smelled as the culprit.
Can certain sounds possibly stir up their emotions?
Yes! It gets frightened by loud sounds (like thunder for example), music can cheer it up or calm it down, or even be one therapy used to make it savor food again, or can make them recognize a person by its singing voice. Just as it adores some sounds, there are also ones that upset them, but luckily, there is an easy solution to it if it gets irritated- try a different sound!
Can you tell if your pet ferret is happy or stressed?
Yes. If it bounces off the wall, chirp, and always stay close to you and beg to play with them! And vice versa… if it is upset, stressed or in pain, it will always want to run away from you, start hiding a lot or wouldn’t want to move or play with anyone.
Can a ferret recognize you as the owner?
Yes, they are social animals and they bond strongly with its owning family! It may take time for it to adjust, and adapt to your care and its environment. They need close attention and more bonding time and just like other pets as dogs and cats do. They too need care, affection, and appreciation for them to stay sociable, recognizing its handler/ owner.
Can they be aggressive?
Yes. And once they start hissing and seemingly about to bite, please back off and give it some space to probably calm it down first before you can touch it again!