Why Does My Ferret Lick Me?

Ferrets are not equipped with linguistic capabilities like humans, but that does not mean that they can not get their message across.

Unfortunately for ferrets, most humans have no idea how to decipher the behavior of ferrets or what they are trying to say. Ferrets may move in a specific way (or make sounds) to let you know what they want.

So, why does my ferret lick me? Ferrets lick themselves in order to keep themselves clean, but if your little fellow is licking you then there can be more than one reason for this behavior.

Your ferret might be licking you because it liked the taste of the lotion you are wearing, it might be trying to groom you, or it is giving you cues that it is going to bite you if you do not let go. Ferret love has also been associated with licking.

Let us explore now some ways ferrets express their emotions in this article and delve into some details!

1. Curiosity

Curiosity might kill the cat, but ferrets are not much behind.

Ferrets are very inquisitive and intelligent creatures. When a ferret is curious, it keeps its body low to the ground and then explores something to check it out. Ferrets may also make a soft chuckling or dooking sound to show that they are excited about what they found. Licking might also be a way to learn more about their environment.

2. Fear

When ferrets are afraid they might tremble severely, hide, shriek, or cower.

If you have just bought a ferret and brought it home, let the little fellow come to you rather than reaching to grab it. In a state of fear, the ferret might go as far as to bite you. You can use a treat on a spoon to lure the ferret out of its hiding place.

If the ferret feels threatened or in danger, it will arch its back, hiss, poop on the floor, or screech. In this case, if your ferret is overwhelmed, licking might be a warning that they are about to bite you.

3. Excitement

When your ferret is excited about something, it will perform the Weasel war dance and may produce a very loud dooking sound. An excited ferret dooks with its head raised. The more excited the little guy is the louder and faster it dooks.

4. Anger

If a ferret is mad about something, it will bite, hiss, pout, or even chase another ferret. It might also bite or hiss its owner and show signs of aggression towards other people or pets.

5. Hunger

When a ferret is hungry it walks around an empty dish. It might also first walk to you and then walk to the empty dish to tell you what it requires. Ferrets do not overeat, so it is best to have dry food put out at all times so that your ferret does not go hungry. In this case, licking could be a way to grab your attention.

All you have to do is make sure that the ferret’s food is fresh, especially in humid climates.

6. Sadness

Like people, ferrets also get depressed. The loss of a human companion or another ferret can trigger depression. Licking could be a way to elicit affection from you if your ferret is feeling sad. Provide plenty of toys (check our updated guide) and attention to ease this difficult time for your pet.

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The ferret might go around and look for its lost companion in places that the companion usually occupied. It might also sigh and slouch down like it is in pain, but it will not have squinty eyes as a ferret in physical pain does.

7. Pain

Ferrets do not usually express pain, they are very stoic animals. Although there are some exceptions to this like if you accidentally step on their tail, they will dook very fast or hiss and shriek. Most ferrets will seem out of energy and sleep too much when in pain.

If they do not feel very well, they will squint their eyes and might even flatten themselves. Licking could be a way to seek comfort in this case. You should definitely take your ferret to the vet if it showcases such behavior.

8. Territorial

Like most animals out there ferrets are very possessive when it comes to their beds, litter boxes, toys, and treats. Ferrets commonly display their dominance if another ferret starts playing with their favorite toy and thus begins a shrieking match. The authoritative battle occurs mostly between two or more ferrets, not between ferrets and humans.

When giving your ferrets a treat remember to set them apart, so they do not duel over it. One ferret might bully the other so try luring the other ferret away by using an extra treat.

What Does Your Ferret’s Behavior Mean?

Aside from licking, your ferret probably shows a few other unusual behaviors. Here’s what they mean:

1. Biting

If a ferret grabs you with its teeth, this type of grabbing with teeth is not termed as biting. It is usually just a gentle grip on your finger. This means that the ferret wants to follow you.

Some ferrets even go as far as dragging their owners into their cages. They think of you as their favorite toy. If you try to free yourself, the ferret might tug on you even more and this might be painful for you.

2. Bouncing Around

This type of behavior is called the Weasel War dance. It is actually a sign of joy and excitement. This happens when your ferret is happy about something and wants to scream it out from the rooftops. It can also mean that your ferret wants to play.

Ferrets also do this when they feel abandoned and bounce onto furniture, stairs, and even beds. Remember to provide your ferret with a secure and safe area if it continues to do this.

3. Kissing

Like their human friends, ferrets kiss on the mouth as a display of love and affection. This could also mean that the ferret likes the taste of the ham sandwich you had earlier or the lip gloss that you are wearing.

4. Jumping

If a ferret begins jumping around your feet then this means that it wants you to play or to pick it up. If you are standing near the area where the treats are kept, that means it wants those treats and is begging for them.

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5. Running Back And Forth

If a ferret runs away from you and then back to you, it wants you to follow it or to play with it. Maybe the water or food dish of your ferret is empty or its toy is stuck somewhere and it wants you to help get it.

6. Nipping

Most ferrets nip you in order to get your attention. They might even nip your feet in order to get you to move so that they can play with you or even chase you. The ferret might nip you if it does not like what you are doing and wants you to back off.

7. Bushed Up Tail

Ferrets are a lot like cats when it comes to bushing up their tail. They do that in order to make themselves look intimidating when they are on the defensive, feel threatened, or are just afraid. A bushy tail can also show interest or excitement and you need to learn the difference as it is very important.

If the ferret is shrieking or hissing back then there is something that is annoying or frightening him and must be handled very cautiously.

8. Digging

In the wild, ferrets live in burrows and these little creatures have been valued throughout history for their insane ability to pursue vermin under the ground, burrow, and hunt. This is why ferrets love to explore tunnels.

The ferret might even begin to dig its own tunnels in its cage, home, or even outside. You can provide them with a sandbox so that they can carry out all their digging in an enclosed space and not make a mess everywhere.

If the litter tray is left dirty for a while, then your ferret will also begin to dig in it. Remember to clean the litter tray twice a day.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my ferret hiss like a snake?

Ferrets do this in order to warn off others and tell them to stop or else they will bite them. Picking up a hissing ferret is not the best idea as you might end up getting bitten. You could do that if you are wearing gloves.

Why does my ferret wag its tail?

Ferrets have many common traits with dogs. They wag their tail if they are excited or happy just like dogs.

Why does my ferret make clucking noises?

When ferrets are content, happy, or excited, they make clucking or chortling noises that are known as dooking. Ferrets are known to also jump and leap around the room at the same time.

Why does my ferret grab the other ferret and shake him?

Ferrets show dominance through this behavior. They might bite another ferret on the neck, get a great grip, and then shake him over and over in order to assert their dominance.

Why does my ferret slam into my walls?

Ferrets are mostly very clumsy and uncoordinated, and their vision is very poor. They can only see a few feet in front of them and have very bad depth perception.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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