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How Do I Know If My Ferret Is Happy? 8 Tell-Tale Signs

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

When you bring home a ferret, you know that he is going to bring you lots of joy. So it is likely, that in return, you want to make sure that your ferret is as happy and healthy as possible. But, it can be hard to know if you are succeeding at that goal if you do not know the signs of a happy ferret.

In this article, we will cover some of the common behaviors that happy ferrets display. Additionally, we will go over some signs that your ferret might be unhappy and the things that you can do to ensure that your ferret is as happy as possible.

What Are The Signs Of A Happy Ferret?

Here is a quick and comprehensive list of the signs of a happy ferret:

  • pawing the ground
  • digging
  • dancing/hopping around
  • tail wagging
  • lunging to play
  • rolling while playing
  • chirping/barking
  • taking a nap beside you

1. Pawing the Ground

If you ever notice your ferret pawing around on the ground, it is likely because he is very happy and looking for a play partner. Feel free to join in on the fun by mimicking their behavior and stroking the ground with your hands. They will likely take this as an invitation to wrestle and play with you.

2. Digging

Ferrets naturally love to dig. While it might not be a sign that your ferret is overjoyed, it does generally mean that nothing is wrong. Sometimes the signs that nothing is wrong are just as important as the signs that something is right.

3. The Dance of Joy

Have you ever heard of a happy dance? Well, ferrets quite literally dance around when they’re happy. They run all around, bear their teeth, puff their tail and hop in all directions. All these different dance moves are a good indication that your ferret is a very happy ferret.

4. Tail Wagging

While this is a typical behavior associated with a happy dog or happy cat, it also means that your ferret is quite happy. Now, just because your ferret is not wagging his tail does not mean that he is not happy. Ferrets are more likely to wag their tails when they are especially excited rather than all the time.

5. Lunging Around

Pretty much any sign that your ferret wants to play is a sign that your ferret is happy. Just like pawing the ground, a sure sign that your ferret is dying to play is if he starts lunging at you or your feet. This is an invitation that your ferret wants to play a game of chase. Take turns chasing him around and then letting him chase you back.

6. Rolling while playing

When two ferrets are playing together, it can look quite rough, like a fight. However, them doing their alligator roll and playing together is actually a really good sign. Sometimes ferrets will even do it when playing with humans. Just make sure you don’t let them bite you too hard.

7. Chirping and Barking

It is hard to describe the noise ferrets make when they are happy. Some people describe it as a chirp, while other people describe it as a bark. Nevertheless, you will quickly learn that the unique sound coming from your ferret is a sound of pure joy.

8. Curling Up And Taking A Nap

If your ferret is comfortable enough to curl up beside you and take a relaxing nap, it is a sign that he trusts you quite a bit. Napping is considered a state of vulnerability for most animals, so napping beside you means that he trusts you to keep him from being attacked.

What About The Signs My Ferret Is Unhappy?

1. Lots of Hiding

While it is normal for a ferret to get into trouble and find little holes to hide in, you should be on the lookout if your ferret starts to run away from you and hide excessively. Lots of hiding can often be a sign that your ferret is either feeling upset or uncomfortable in the environment he is in. Make sure to give your ferret time to adjust to both you and your home.

2. Aggression Rather Than Play

It takes some time to learn the behaviors that are unique to your ferret. This is because a lot of the signs of happiness are very similar to the signs of aggression. For instance, just like your ferret dances around when he is happy, he will likely puff his tail and bear his teeth when unhappy or threatened.

3. Hissing and Biting

While your ferret playfully nipping at your hand or foot is not a problem, if he does it while hissing, it means he is likely feeling upset or aggressive. It is best to leave your ferret alone when he is displaying these behaviors.

4. Lethargy and Depression

Believe it or not, ferrets can feel depressed just like humans can. Signs that your ferret is depressed include lounging around, not playing anymore, sleeping too much, or not eating. He may also start to sleep with a toy, which could mean that he is feeling insecure or needs more attention from you.

For a complete list of your ferret’s behavior and sounds and their meaning, check out our guide on ferret behavior.

How Do I Make My Ferret Happy?

So, what are some things that you can do to ensure that your ferret is as happy as can be?

Well, the first thing that you can do is give your ferret time to adjust to you, any other new people, and his new home. As you can imagine being picked up and moved into a new place can be overwhelming and stressful. Allowing your ferret time to approach you, sniff you, and explore their new space is a vital part of ensuring they will feel happy and stress-free.

Once your ferret is used to you, you can move on to other regular care tasks. This does include some tasks that are vital to your ferret’s survival. Your ferret will not be happy if he does not have the proper diet, access to clean water, proper rest, and a clean habitat. These are all basic needs that you need to be sure that you can meet before you bring home a new pet.

After you ensure that all of your ferret’s basic needs are met, you can move on to making sure your ferret has other things that will make him happy. This includes lots of playtime with you or other ferrets, access to toys, and yummy (but healthy) treats.

The good news is that ferrets are generally easy-going and happy creatures. As long as you provide him with everything that he needs, plus a way to have some fun, you will definitely have a happy and healthy ferret on your hands.

How Do I Know If My Ferret Loves Me?

Generally speaking, as long as you’re taking proper care of your ferret, he is going to love you. If he associates you with all things fun and food-related, you are definitely going to be his favorite person. But there still are some signs that you can look out for that indicate that your ferret loves you.

First of all, does he get excited when you walk into a room? If whenever you walk into the room that your ferret is in, he gets excited, runs up to you, or hops and jumps around, it likely means that he absolutely adores you.

Your ferrets licking you is also a good sign. These licks could be happy little ferret kisses that mean your ferret is super happy to see you. Or, it could be that your ferret is trying to groom and care for you just like he would himself or another ferret. He loves you, and he wants you to look your best.

Finally, if your ferret is constantly trying to get your attention or crawling all over you, you’re likely one of his absolute favorite people. Unfortunately, this can make getting anything productive done rather difficult.

Are Two Ferrets Happier Than Alone?

Ferrets are highly social creatures. This means that they like to interact with other animals and people all the time. Because of this, it is generally recommended that you adopt ferrets in pairs or small groups.

However, having just one ferret does not mean that your ferret is going to be miserable. You will just need to provide your ferret with extra attention and interaction to keep him from feeling isolated and lonely.

On the other hand, if you are a busy person and will not be home a lot or expect to leave your ferret in an enclosure more often than not, you will definitely need to get multiple ferrets. It is best to get multiple ferrets from the same litter, but this is not absolutely necessary. You can get two ferrets from two separate litters; you will just need to spend some time introducing them to each other.

Do Ferrets Show Affection?

There are some pets that would prefer to be both left alone and to leave you alone. However, this is absolutely not the case with ferrets. Ferrets are extremely affectionate, sociable, and friendly creatures. They absolutely love to play with each other, humans, and sometimes even other animals like dogs or cats.

Even if your ferret has other ferrets to play with, he is likely going to want to spend some time playing and cuddling with you. Sometimes ferrets will even push each other out of the way to get more affection from their owner.

How Do I Know If My Ferrets Are Playing Together Or Fighting?

When it comes to ferrets, it is a very thin line between fighting and playing. More often than not, your ferrets are just playing, but there are a couple of things to be on the lookout for that could indicate that things between your ferrets are getting more heated.

First, is your ferret hissing? Ferrets will almost never hiss just for fun, so if you hear any hissing sounds, it might be time to separate your ferrets for a short (or long) time out.

Additionally, if one or more of your ferrets appears to be getting scared or stressed, they probably are not just playing. If one starts to try to hide, cower away, or even come to you for protection, it is a sign that at least one of them is no longer having a good time.

Why Does My Ferret Randomly Lie Down?

There are two main reasons why your ferret might randomly lay down in the middle of playing. First, he might be too hot. When ferrets start to overheat, they often instinctually lay down on the cooler floor to allow their body temperature to come back down.

Another reason your ferret might be lying down is that he simply ran out of energy. Ferrets are like human toddlers, meaning they will run and play until they just can’t anymore, at which point they often just drop down and fall asleep wherever they are.

How Do I Know If My Ferret Is Dying?

Unfortunately, any pet that you are going to bring home is eventually going to age and pass away. No matter when this happens, it can be quite distressing and sad, but knowing the signs can help you prepare.

There are a number of different signs that your ferret might be nearing the end, including lethargy, breathing problems/breathing difficulty, lack of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, blood in stool, going to the bathroom less, vomiting, dull fur color, skin problems, and seizures.

Now keep in mind that just one or two of these symptoms on their own does not mean your ferret is dying, but if more and more start to occur, it could be a sign that your ferret is reaching the end of his life.

Resources and further reading:

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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.