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Do Ferrets Need a Friend? Do They Need To Be in Pairs?

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

It is important to consider all of a pet’s needs, from food to housing to social needs. When it comes to ferrets, they are very social creatures and need lots of attention and interaction to be happy. However, whether or not a ferret needs another ferret to be happy really depends on the situation. If you have the time or another ferret-friendly animal, your ferret may be perfectly happy all on his own.

In this article, we are going to take a deeper look at a ferret’s social needs and how to care for a ferret if you do decide to start with just one ferret.

Do Ferrets Need a Friend?

First, let’s talk about ferrets’ social needs in the wild. In the wild, ferrets do often live in small groups, whether it is all the time or just for certain periods or during mating season. They often really do enjoy the company of other ferrets for play and practical purposes (warmth, hunting, etc.).

On the other hand, lots of ferrets in the wild do spend most of their time on their own (except for mating season) and are perfectly happy that way. However, when ferrets were domesticated as pets, they became a lot more docile, and their need for social interaction and attention intensified.

Domesticated ferrets are very social creatures and need regular attention or else they will get lonely, bored, and even depressed. So, if the question is whether or not your ferret can live his life and spend most of his time completely on his own in a cage, outside, or in some other shelter, the answer is no. Your ferret will quickly become very unhappy.

However, your ferret does not necessarily need another ferret to be happy if you are able to provide him with lots of attention and time outside of his cage. There will be more information on how to keep a singular ferret happy in later sections.

Can A Human Friend Be Enough For A Ferret?

When you are considering bringing home a new pet, it can be overwhelming to consider bringing home a second or even third pet at the same time, even if it is the same breed. More pets mean more time, energy, and expense.

The good thing about ferrets is that while they are extremely social creatures that need lots of playtime and attention, a human friend can be enough for a ferret as long as you are home a good bit and have time to spend with your ferret every single day.

The general recommendation for ferrets is that you need to give them at least four hours out of their cage every single day. However, if you are hoping to meet your ferret’s social needs without another ferret friend, you are going to want to have your ferret out of the cage even more than that on most days.

You will also need to engage your ferret in play during this time, or else your ferret will still end up bored. If you are gone for most of the day, every single day, or do not have time to play with your ferret, you might not be enough to keep your ferret happy.

Do Ferrets Always Need To Be In Pairs?

Ferrets do not necessarily need to be in pairs since they will be able to fully bond with owners who are available to play and spend several hours every day with their pets. Many ferrets spend their whole life with no ferret companion and are happily entertained from dawn to dusk.

Now, if you think that you will not be home enough to meet your ferret’s social needs, you may want to get multiple ferrets right off the bat.

Bringing home multiple ferrets at one time means that you can get them from the same litter, and they will already be used to playing with each other. This means you know they get along and that you do not have to go through the process of introducing them.

However, you can also wait and get another ferret later on. If you only have one ferret at the moment, there are a couple of reasons that you may want to consider getting another ferret.

First, if you notice that your ferret is starting to seem lonely, bored, or depressed. Signs that your ferret may be struggling includes your ferret’s sleeping or eating habits changing drastically, refusing to play or seeming extra grumpy, or your ferret sleeping with a toy.

You also may want to get another ferret if you know your schedule is about to change, and you will not have as much time to spend with your ferret anymore.

Should I Get Two Males, Two Female Ferrets, Or One Of Each?

Domesticated ferrets are not usually very territorial creatures, so you can keep ferrets in pretty much any configuration that you want. You can get a group of male ferrets, a group of female ferrets, or a combination of the two. No matter which pairing you decide to get, you are going to want to get your ferrets fixed, but for different reasons.

  • With an all-male group, getting the males neutered will help decrease any territorial instinct they do have and therefore help them get along better.
  • With an all-female group, you want to get them fixed because not mating when in heat can cause problems for your female ferrets.
  • With a group of male and female ferrets combined, you want to get them fixed, so they do not breed.

You also will need to be careful about how you introduce the ferrets to each other. You are going to want to do this in a neutral territory under careful supervision. It is also usually best to keep them both on a leash in the beginning so that you have complete control over the situation.

If you do decide to get a group of ferrets, there is no perfect number, but most people stick with two or three (at most four). More than that can get overwhelming. If you are new to ferrets, you definitely want to start small to make sure you get the hang of taking care of ferrets before you get too many.

To understand the differences between male and female ferrets as pets, check out our article Male VS Female Ferrets – Which One Is Best To Keep?

Pros and Cons of Keeping More Than One Ferret

Pros of keeping several ferrets

  • The main benefit to getting another ferret is that your ferret will have access to a playmate any time, day or night.
  • Multiple ferrets will also cuddle with each other which is both really cute and practical (it can even help your ferrets stay warm in winter)
  • It will bring even more life and energy to your house. One ferret will bring joy, multiple ferrets will bring double the joy.
  • Ferrets can be more independent and will rely on you less.
  • It is a lot of fun to watch ferrets play with each other.

Cons of keeping several ferrets

  • Ferrets can form an extremely strong bond with each other, so if one dies the other could get depressed.
  • The strong bond also means that your ferret might not want to spend as much time playing and cuddling with you.
  • You may deal with the ferrets getting into fights if they do not end up getting along.
  • Owning double the ferrets is double the cost.
  • Ferrets are known to be troublemakers, and when they have a partner in crime they can get into even more mischief.

Tips To Keep One Ferret Entertained

If you are going to have just one ferret, there are some things that you can do to ensure that your ferret stays as happy as can be.

1. Lots Of Play Time

Set aside time to play with your ferret every single day, multiple times a day if possible. There are lots of different options when it comes to playtime with your ferrets. You can play tug with a towel or toy, or you can play chase or tag with your ferret by running around the house.

Another fun game is hide-and-seek, but instead of you hiding, you hide treats for your ferret to hunt around your house.

2. Lots of Toys

If you are looking to keep your ferret from becoming bored, you are going to want to make sure he has lots of toys both inside and outside of the cage. Great ferret toys include things like squeakers, balls, and tunnels. You can also try making ferret enrichment bins, a type of DIY toy that will keep your ferret both mentally and physically stimulated.

There are several different types of enrichment bins that you can make. You can make a dig box full of dirt or rice, a ball put, a box full of packing peanuts, or anything else that you can think of that is safe for your ferret. For some extra fun and to get your ferret interested, you can also hide some treats down in the enrichment boxes.

3. Get Other Family Members Involved

Life is busy, so it is completely understandable if you do not have hours every single day to spend playing with your ferret. It is always a good idea to get other family members to help out. Maybe a spouse, sibling, or child would love to play some games with your ferret while you are busy. More friends is always a good idea when it comes to ferrets.

4. Get More Pets

If you are not wanting to get multiple ferrets, perhaps you want to consider getting another pet of a different species. Docile and playful dogs and cats can make really good friends for ferrets, especially if you introduce them to each other when both the ferret and the dog/cat is still very young.

5. Take Your Ferret On Regular Walks

A great way to keep your ferret from becoming too bored in their environment is by taking him on regular walks outside. You can take your ferret to a local park or just go for walks around your neighborhood. Make sure that whenever you take your ferret on a walk or outside that you put him in a secure harness and leash.

6. Let Your Ferret Cuddle With You

Ferret sleep a lot, which means you do not always have to be playing with your ferret to provide him with social interaction. After you tire your ferret out with some games, it is a great idea to let your ferret curl up on your lap and take a nap while you do some work or watch some TV.

7. Keep An Eye On Your Ferret

Even with all of these different tips and tricks, it is still possible for your ferret to get lonely or bored. You want to look out for the signs that this could be happening. Not only do you not want your ferret to be psychologically unhealthy, but these can lead to physiological problems, especially if he stops eating or becomes especially lethargic. If your ferret starts displaying these signs, it might be time to think about getting another ferret or changing some of your habits.

Can A Ferret Play With Another Pet?

The answer to this really depends on what kind of pet you are talking about. You do not want your ferret to be playing with any animals that he might view as prey. Keep in mind that in the wild, ferrets are predators, no matter how harmless your furry friend seems to be. These instincts mean he may view smaller pets like a rat, hamster, bird, fish, or reptile as food rather than a playmate. You also do not want him to play with any animals that might be aggressive or dangerous towards ferrets.

However, ferrets can get along with some other household pets. They are specifically known to get along well with docile dogs and cats, and they can be great options if your ferret needs a friend, but you are not ready to bring home another ferret quite yet. Just make sure that you go through the process of properly introducing them to each other, just like you would when introducing two ferrets.

Check out our articles Do ferrets and cats get along? and Do ferrets and dogs get along? to understand better the dynamics between these species.

Do Ferrets Get Attached To Their Owners?

A common question that pet owners ask is whether or not their pet is as attached to them as they are to their pet. Of course, this varies from animal to animal, but ferrets usually do form pretty close bonds with their owners. This bond does not happen overnight, so do not be concerned if your ferret seems standoffish at first. It takes time for your ferret to get used to you and his new environment.

As long as you take care of your ferret and regularly spend time with him, the bond should form before too long. Once it does, you may never get a moment alone again. Your ferret will want to follow you around and do whatever you are doing, whether that is unloading the dishwasher, watching tv, or even going to the bathroom.


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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.