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How to introduce ferret to each other

Ferrets are interesting animals, they aren’t like dogs so when they see each other they’ll sniff and play immediately. Ferrets work like that when they are introduced very young. The older the ferret, the more challenging introduction will be. You can’t know how your ferret will react with another ferret. So, what to do then?

When it comes to gender, opposite gender  ferrets are usually getting along better than same gender ferrets. Also, female ferrets are more challenging to introduce than male ferrets. (Female ferrets are bossy :D) If you are getting another ferret make sure that he’s healthy before introducing to your other ferret or business of ferrets. I’ve got Yoda and he was separated from Frida for 10 days until we were 100% sure he is healthy. All of that you can read in my post: Going to the vet with your ferret

You must take the introduction slowly, no need to rush. It will stress you and your ferrets. Take your time and everything will work out.

HOW TO INTRODUCE FERRETS?

INTRODUCE two FERRETSThe best solution is to do it on neutral ground, not on your ferret’s territory. Ferrets are territorial animals and they may think that another ferret is trespassing. We all know how we feel when someone is trespassing into our domain. If you don’t have another room or a friend who has ferrets who are surrounded with other ferrets (if you do, try to organize a playdate with him because new territory is great distraction for your ferrets), you can do it outside, but make sure all your ferrets are on a leash, so they don’t run away. I had to do their introduction in Frida’s room because my other room isn’t good for that and it was too cold to go out.

If you can, remove as much furniture and tunnels as you can. When your ferrets start to fight (they probably will) you can quickly catch them and separate them. Otherwise, they can run under the bed or in the tunnel and you can’t reach them.  If there is poop, blood or smell, interrupt their fight and stop the introduction. Let them have a break, because that is stressful for them. If they are aggressive, make their introduction short, about 10 to 15 minutes and repeat every few hours. When they are biting but there is no blood/poop you don’t have to separate them because they are probably just playing. If bitten ferret comes back to your bully ferret, that means they are just playing ruff, not hurting each other. That is the best solution there is. Ferret’s skin is thick, they don’t feel pain as much as we do. That is one of the reasons why ferrets bite so much. When they are biting (not viciously), they are inviting to play.

On the other hand, what if ferrets won’t stop biting to blood? There are few methods you can use to make that introduction as smooth as possible. All methods are great, but they don’t work 100% on every ferret. Some will work on your ferrets, other won’t. The good thing is that there are many methods so you can try until you find one that works.

Before introducing them, when you make sure the other ferret is healthy, you can switch their beddings so they get used to the smell.

METHOD 1:

If one of your ferrets bites another on the same spot every time, try to put some oil, ferret one, malt paste (whatever you have) which he likes to lick on that spot. When he comes near another ferret with an intention to bite him AGAIN, he’ll smell that and start to lick instead of bite.

METHOD 2:

You can always pretend to be his mother (:D) when he starts to bite another ferret, pick him up by the scruff of the neck and hiss at him. When they were little, his mother corrected them by hissing and grabbing. You can shake them but really gently!

METHOD 3:

For more stubborn ferrets there is always a time-out solution. The moment he starts to give biting treatment to other ferret take him and put it in the cage or transporter for five minutes. Time-out is always a good solution J (unless it’s my Frida we’re talking about, if I put her in time-out, she goes to sleep 😀 )

METHOD 4:

Bath your ferrets together. Their smell will be the same and if they don’t like water they can bond over the missfortunate action you are putting them through. They will be mad at you (for a while) but they will be mad together. A bath will be one thing that can bring them close.

METHOD 5:

Another version of 4th method I used on my Frida and Yoda and it really helped a lot. I thought about bath but they just got their treatment against fleas so that wasn’t an option. To make this other method work you need a bottle with spray and water. I used a bottle filled with water and when things got ruff I sprayed the water in face of the bully (usually Frida but not always) When you spray them they stop and look surprised. It got their attention and that is the most important 🙂

WHAT ABOUT SLEEPING TIME?

Ferrets are big sleepers and most of the dreaming is in their cages. Don’t put them in the same cage until you are sure they are great with each other. They may seem great during the day when they are playing, but sleeping in the same cage is something different. The main problem is that you can’t monitor them, so it is easier to make them sleep in separate cages.

INTRODUCING YOUR BUSSINES OF FERRETS TO A NEW MEMBER

If you have more than 2 ferrets introduce your new ferret with your business one at a time. Frist, introduce him with the calmest ferret in the group. When they introduce, send another who is higher in their hierarchy and then another, all the way to the top.

FRIDA AND YODA TIMELINE:

The first day Frida was mean to Yoda, she was biting him hard, there were poop and his skin was reddish (no blood) and she was charging towards him. The only time she was calm was when I held both of them in my hands. Frida was attacking him because he was someone new in her life and she didn’t trust him. That is why when I held them in my arms they were both calm. It is important that your ferrets trust you because it will help them to trust themselves. That day I tried the option with malt paste on Yoda’s back, it worked only when the paste was fresh. I had short sessions with them about 3 times and every time Frida was biting very hard. Every session lasted about 15 minutes and every session she made him poop. When she was alone, she was normal, same as Yoda. I cross that method with the malt paste of the list and decided that next day I am trying another one.

yoda-and-frida-timeline-of-ferret-introducingThe second day went better. The moment I let them out of the cages,  I could see that Frida was better. She didn’t charge at Yoda, but she did bite. A lot. This time without poop. 😀 I decided to use method number 5 and that was a great decision! Frida really doesn’t like water (or getting wet) so the first time she attacked Yoda I sprayed her, she was really surprised. The moment I saw in her walk that she is preparing to attack Yoda I sprayed her. Then, she was calmed, she relaxed. Few times she tried to bite him and I haven’t responded, but Yoda did. He fought back which showed Frida she needs to back off a little. That was the moment she went from looking Yoda as prey to looking him as the potential friend. He earned respect 😀 and trust I was talking about on the First day. On the second day, they started to play and I was so proud of them! As long they were playing they were outside

The third day went great, I had to interfere 5 times through the entire day and the rest was just playing. They aren’t sharing water bowl and they aren’t sleeping together but they do play, almost all the time. I had my finger on the water bottle the entire day, prepared to jump and spray, but they were really good.

The fourth day of our bonding period I can say that they are good friends. They are playing I didn’t have to use my weapon once, they are chasing each other, wrestling and all I can hear is DOOK DOOK! through the entire room.  Yoda entered into Frida’s cage, she was looking at him, hissing and he just went out. Important thing is that they understand each other. 😀 I am still monitoring them but without my weapon and I can proudly say that our bonding is almost over!

Now, about us humans 😀 I think that all this bonding process was more stressful for me than for Frida and Yoda. The first day, when Frida start attacking Yoda it crossed my mind that they may never be off! Their fights look so aggressive to us, but they are not. So, all I can say for all of you that patience is really the best solution. If it doesn’t work with methods 1,2,3, it will work with 4. All you have to do is have patience and take it slow. Their normal behavior is to drag each other and bite and for us that looks too ruff.

All you have to remember that bonding two ferrets can take time, from days to weeks. Just have patience and everything will work out. Don’t let your ferrets be unsupervised until you can see them sleeping together and grooming each other. When that happens, you know that they will be friends forever!

What are you experiences with introducing ferrets? Do you have any other method that worked for your business of ferrets? Share your stories with us and share the knowledge! 🙂

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