Do ferrets need a friend?

  • By: belly
  • Date: August 31, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Ferrets are social animals, and many studies have shown that they suffer from loneliness when they don’t have a friend.

In fact, the majority of ferret owners who only owned one ferret reported that their pet was not as happy or friendly as when it had a companion.

And in some cases, once a second ferret was introduced to the household, all signs of depression disappeared within two weeks.

Ferrets are social animals, so it is important for them to have at least one companion in order to thrive. They should not be left alone because they can get very lonely and this leads them into depression or other mental illnesses that may affect their quality of life. The best thing you can do as a pet owner is find another ferret buddy for your furry friend.

do ferrets need a friend

Ferrets can be miserable on their own

Like many other animals, ferrets suffer from social stress and depression.

This happens when their pack is reduced to one or two individuals—the result of the death of a mate, for example—or when they are forced to live totally alone (in an empty room, or in a cage with no human contact).

In these cases, ferrets may become withdrawn, they lose interest in their surroundings and they are less active.

Sometimes they stop eating or playing and can become aggressive as well.

These behaviours are considered abnormal for a ferret, whose natural tendencies require them to live in groups of at least three.

In the wild, family groups usually consist of one adult male and two females, while bachelor males live in groups of their own.

But life is very different for pet ferrets, who usually remain on their own after only a few weeks of socialization with humans.

Although the majority of them seem to deal reasonably well with living outside the company of others of their kind, that isn’t always the case.

Some lack playfulness or become excessively shy as adults; others are over-excited and some even seem to suffer from depression and aggression problems due to isolation from other ferrets.

And many owners report that they can’t get rid of these unwanted behaviours until they introduce another animal into the household.

So when is it appropriate to get a second ferret?

Owners should be aware that the introduction of two ferrets into one cage can cause bullying, which could result in injuries and wounds.

For this reason, it’s best to get them young—4 to 6 weeks old or younger—to reduce the chances of fighting and injury.

You’ll also need to provide plenty of room for each animal, since you don’t want them taking out their aggression on another by way of its enclosure.

So choose a big cage and provide lots of enrichment (such as accessories) so they have something fun to do during downtime when they’re not playing with themselves.

Ferplast Ferret Tower Two-Story Ferret Cage | XXL| Ferret Cage Measures 29.5L x 31.5W x 63.4H - Inches
  • Huge & Healthy Living Space! | Provide your ferret with the room they need to roam & play for endless exploration | Each XXL ferret cage measures 29.5L x 31.5W x 63.4H inches & weighs 52 lbs., bar spacing is 7L x .5H inches
  • Fully Accessorized Ferret Cage | Two-story ferret cage includes everything you need to get started including a large water bottle, litter pan, food dish, 2 adjustable play tubes, 2 ramps, 3 adjustable platforms & a fun hanging hammock perfect for a cozy nap after playtime
  • Easy Access & Maintenance | Ferret cage features a door on each level plus a "roof-top" door for convenient access, two 6-inch deep pans keep litter & debris inside the ferret cage. To empty or clean the pans simply unlatch the wire portion of the cage
  • Quick Set-up Ferret Cage | Unique latching system that connects the metal mesh portions of the cage to the base pans allows for quick set-up or ability to take a part for storage or routine cleaning
  • Optional Wheel Casters | This ferret cage includes 4-wheel casters so you can easily relocate the ferret cage for cleaning & etc.

Introducing adult ferrets

Introducing adult ferrets takes more work because they may not get along with each other, no matter how much you try to socialize them.

Some ferrets don’t mind living in a cage with another of their kind, while others are smaller and younger than the other pet (which can lead to bullying) or simply can’t live together without fighting.

If they will have access to an out-of-cage area during the day when you’re home, it’s possible that they won’t see each other as competition for attention and will therefore be fine when you leave them alone for a few hours at a time.

Preparing them to live together

Once you have decided that you wish to try introducing two ferrets, there are a few things that you can do beforehand to help prepare them for living in close contact.

First, make sure that each ferret has its own cage and potty space (with either a litter box or the bedding material changed every day), so they don’t end up with any territorial issues due to smells on their peer’s belongings.

It’s also important that their diet is well balanced. A good idea is to vary the batches of food they receive at different times so they don’t become accustomed to only one type of food while ignoring others.

Also pay attention to the way your ferrets react when you handle them.

If you notice any signs of aggression or fear, they should be separated before problems get worse and injuries occur.

do ferrets need a friend

Introducing the ferrets to each other

Once your ferrets have been trained to stay away from each others’ food, toys and sleeping spots and when their cages are sufficiently far apart, it’s time for the actual introduction.

It’s a good idea to keep the new pair in one place for at least a week so they can get used to each other’s scent without having any opportunities to fight.

After this initial period has passed you can decide where both will sleep by placing their bedding material close together in different areas of the house—but not too close.

If you see that they’re fine with each other, eventually the two will share a sleeping spot together.

The final frontier

If your ferrets have managed to coexist peacefully for several days without fighting or showing signs of distress then it’s time to let them actually meet face-to-face.

For this final step in their introduction process take them out of their respective cages and place them together on the floor so they can get used to each other while you clean their cages (which should be separate).

Once all cleaning is done, put both ferrets back into one cage until the next day—and keep an eye on them.

If either tries to fight with the other through the bars of the cage, quickly put them back in their own cages until you can find a better time to introduce them.

If all goes well and they peacefully coexist down the road, congratulations.

Just give it some time before they actually get too close. Even if everything seems fine now, there’s no guarantee that an older ferret won’t eventually bully a younger one—no matter how small or large the age difference is.

##When introducing ferrets, it never hurts to have another set of hands around.

After all, they might be more comfortable with physical contact from another person while showing affection towards each other for the first time (which can be scary).

But most importantly don’t rush things take your time as this will help the ferrets adjust to each other more easily.

Final Words

Introducing ferrets can be tricky and should not under any circumstances be attempted by beginners.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to these animals’ safety.

If you’re dealing with a pair of ferrets that are being aggressive to each other and do not seem to be getting along, separate them straight away.

Doing so will keep damage to a minimum and could even save their lives in the end.

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