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How Should I Hold My Ferret? (With Pictures)

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

Ferrets are such fun pets to own, but their unique body types can make them seem difficult to hold. They are extremely lengthy, have short little legs, and like to wiggle all around. The good news is, holding them is actually quite simple. When picking up a ferret, there really is only a few key things to keep in mind.

First, you need to make sure that you always have clean hands. Second, you need to be sure to support both the chest and backside of your ferret at all times to avoid stretching out your ferret’s spine or risking some other sort of injury. Finally, you want to make sure you hold your ferret firmly against your chest to prevent him from wiggling too much or falling to the floor.

In the rest of this article, we are going to go over a step-by-step guide to holding and carrying your ferret. We are also going to take a look at some other key information related to carrying your ferret.

How to Pick Up Your Ferret

Step 1: Preparation

Before you go to pick up your ferret, you want to make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly. Ferrets, despite their size and appearance, are natural predators. While they are not naturally aggressive towards humans, ferrets will go after anything that they perceive to be food. By washing your hands before you go to pick up your ferrets, you will ensure that they do not smell food on your hands and nip at you.

Step 2: Let Your Ferret Come to You

If you have owned your ferret for a long time and he already knows you pretty well, you do not necessarily have to wait for your ferret to come to you. Once your ferret is able to recognize you, you will be able to scoop him right up without stressing him out.

However, when you first bring your ferrets home, you are going to want to let them approach you rather than the other way around so that you do not frighten them. Luckily, ferrets are naturally very inquisitive creatures, so it should not take long for your ferret to start to investigate you. If your ferret happens to be a bit shyer and needs some enticement, you can always feel free to use a treat of some sort as encouragement.

Step 3: Support Your Ferret’s Chest

Once your ferret is comfortable with you, you can move to pick him up. Start by placing your first hand underneath its chest, right beneath the front arms. Grasping your ferret here will support his chest and the top half of his spine so that he does not get injured.

You do want to make sure that you firmly grasp onto your ferret so that he can not wiggle away and fall to the floor. However, you never want to squeeze your ferret too tightly, as doing so could cause injury.

Step 4: Support Your Ferret’s Bottom

Once you are sure that you are supporting your ferret’s chest, you do not want to simply let the bottom half of your ferret hang loose. If you do not support your ferret’s bottom, it could stretch out your ferret’s back which would be both uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

To avoid injury, take your second hand and place it under your ferret’s bottom. This should be almost like making a chair for your ferret to sit on.

Step 5: Lift Your Ferret

Now that you have ensured that you are properly supporting both the front and backside of your ferret, you can actually lift him into the air. Now you can move on to holding him, carrying him, moving him, cuddling him, or whatever else you may need or want to do when lifting your ferret.

How to Hold Your Ferret Properly

1. Holding Your Ferret Around the House

With your hands still supporting your ferret underneath the chest and bottom, you want to cradle the ferret against your chest. Pressing the ferret against your chest is beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, you will be better able to prevent the ferret from falling to the floor and potentially getting injured. Furthermore, many ferrets find this position relaxing and, therefore, will be more comfortable while you carry them around the house.

2. Carrying Your Ferret For Longer Trips

If you are taking the ferret out of the house or need to carry him for a longer period of time, you should consider buying some sort of carrying bag. A carrying bag will be much more secure than your arms, so you will be better able to prevent your ferret from escaping, getting into trouble, or getting injured.

Most pet stores have carrying bags designed specifically for carrying ferrets. They usually have a slim opening and an accordion bottom that prevents plenty of space for your ferret to move around. For longer trips, a bag like this will be comfortable for both you and your ferret.

3. For Going to the Vet or Traveling

When you are going to the vet or taking your ferret on a trip of some sort, you are going to need something more secure than a bag. In these cases, you are going to want to get a carrying cage. There are small carrying cages designed specifically for ferrets, but carrying cages for other small animals will also work perfectly fine. You will want to get some sort of bedding to put in the cage to ensure that your ferret is comfortable.

Scruffing Your Ferret

Scruffing is a technique that female ferrets often use to control or discipline their offspring. In the wild or when ferrets are young, the mother will bite the fur/skin on the back of the young ferret’s neck and carry them around like that. In captivity, you can use scruffing as a method to control or hold your ferret.

As long as you use the proper technique, scruffing should not hurt your ferret at all. In fact, because many ferrets are used to the position, you may find that your ferret relaxes in this position. There is even evidence that scruffing triggers a yawning effect in many ferrets.

Step One: Grip the Skin

You are going to use your thumb and index finger to grab the loose skin on the back of your ferret’s neck, right below the head. You need to make sure that you grip the skin as close to your ferret’s head as possible, as this will mimic what mother ferrets naturally do.

At this point, you only want to pull lightly on the ferret’s skin so that the ferret stops moving. You do not want to pull the skin too tightly or completely taut as this could injure your ferret.

Step Two: Put Your Hand Under Your Ferrets Feet

You should never pick up or carry your ferret solely by its scruff, as this can cause serious damage and pain. Rather, you want to take your other hand and put it beneath your ferret’s back feet to support most of your ferret’s weight. Your grip on the scruff is mainly to control your ferret, not hold him.

Step Three: Lift Your Ferret

Once you are sure that you are properly supporting your ferret, you can actually lift your ferret up. This is a great way to hold your ferret if you ever need to clip his nails, look at something on your ferret, or give him some medicine.

Do Ferrets Like to Cuddle?

When ferrets are awake, they are extremely inquisitive, and playful, and can even be little troublemakers. This means when your ferret is awake, especially when he is young, it is unlikely that he is going to do a whole lot of cuddling.

However, once your ferret becomes more familiar with you, he will likely love to curl up in your lap or arms for a nap whenever he gets tired. Furthermore, as your ferret gets older and starts to calm down more, he may even start to want to cuddle while awake.

Can You Hold Your Ferret With One Hand?

While it is generally recommended that you hold your ferret with both hands to prevent your ferret from getting injured or falling to the floor, it is possible to hold your ferret with one hand if necessary.

When you need to hold your ferret with one arm, you are still going to use your hand to support your ferret’s chest. Next, you are going to lay the rest of your ferret’s body along your forearm. Now, you should be able to cradle your ferret against your side or chest to keep him secure. In this position, your ferret may wrap his legs around your arm for extra stability.

By holding your ferret this way, you will still have your second arm/hand free to do other things if necessary. However, you should not use this method if your ferret is prone to wiggling or accidentally injuring himself, as it is not as secure as a two-handed hold.

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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.