Why does my ferret bite my feet?
Ferret is a cute animal who uses its mouths not only for eating but digging, playing, biting in love, grabbing, and defending itself. You must have seen a mother ferret with a pile of kits, they usually drag each other by grabbing other’s neck while playing around with their mouth. Let’s know why does my ferret bite my feet.
So, biting is natural for ferrets until you train them not to bite and make them disciplined. However, it is a tool for them to defense, communicate and grabbing with the mouth. You can observe this behavior by putting a toy or other ferret in the cage.
Why ferret bites?
Because of the poor eyesight, this is a problem of a ferret to explore things with a mouth as it bites for many reasons. It would be no good to say if it bites your feet with aggression only, it may have attention to communicate with you.
That means you cannot control ferret by one method as each situation is different and should be handled differently. They don’t understand their carnivores' teeth are no fun for human hands and can hurt them.
When Ferrets Bite/ Reasons for biting
In case, if he bites you and you go to the vet he will tell you two main categories of ferret bites, they are nibbles and nips. It may be playful often or accidental but doesn’t leave a mark on your skin. But a deliberate hard bite can cause wound and makes the situation worse. You should have observed the ferret’s behavior as it bites for the following reasons.
- Nibbles and Nips
While exploring the ferret find an object your ‘thumb’ as strange because it doesn’t have fingers but claws. So, the best way to retrieve that object of interest is with its teeth. When kits nip at each other they mean to play to establish a social order. As it won’t hurt them because the skin of their neck is a bit hard and thick than human and cause no issues while grabbing. Keeping the behavior naturally, when they bite each other. They feel no real pain but when bite human it can hurt.
- Trying to communicate
Ferret is a lovely pet at home, they want your attention while wandering about. So biting can be a signal to attract you or to be picked up. They often try to bite to get your attention as a quicker action they learned if you ignore them. As they started bounding over to you and waited, then nuzzling you.
- Grabbing attention
Baby ferrets nip to grab the attention of the earlier request are ignored. So, they nip as an invitation to play with them. They don’t understand while playing with each other they can bite with no hurt cause of their tough skin. But their biting to humans can hurt them. They must have learned this gently and to understand biting will not be acceptable. Those kits nip who are not directed not to bite may grow into biting adults and harmful for humans.
- Fear biting
The ferrets who were not trained or punished for biting when they were kits or poorly socialized may bite out of fear. It matters in the initial growth as they can lack confidence or more indulged in nipping. Your pet needs to care if you react aggressively in the result of its biting they may get more fearful or if you tap on its nose or scruff will worsen the behavior.
- Bossy biting
Some of the ferrets have dominant behavior, and bites in a way to show who is the boss? Usually biting behavior is a result of deep-seated insecurities and lack of socialization. They want other ferrets and humans to keep themselves at the submissive level.
However, it is not necessary that ferret is small or big in size when he has learned that one good bite will fix everything he will bite sure. Such types of ferret should not be punished hard or they will bite more often and not show fear to them but you are boss.
- Painful biting
With the time of growth when the ferret starts getting their heat, hormonal changes in the body with the onset of oestrus in breeding males or in the ferrets with the adrenal disease can cause an increase in biting. If you think your ferret was fine when kit and as an adult started biting then you should visit Veterinarian.
Male ferret often fights when females on heat around as female ferrets should always be desexed. So, a ferret that is in pain, will also start biting as this is the only way to show discomfort.
- Blind and deaf ferrets
When you observe your ferret doesn’t respond appropriately, even when handled with care and bites you. Then you must visit the vet for a check-up, it may be a sign of illness or perhaps your ferret is deaf or blind.
Consequently, if a resting ferret is surprised can accident bite because he feels vulnerable so you should take care of him well and make him signal that you are coming to take him. So, before touching him blow on ferret so he can smell you otherwise, he might bite you.
- Smells trigger biting
Be careful, while handling the ferret as they are very sensitive to some odors like perfumes, soaps, and hand lotions can trigger them biting even if they are calm animals.
They can be proactive on the smell of nicotine from cigarettes, lingers heavily on smokers’ fingers, mouth and clothing which your ferret may hate and bite when you smoke. On the other hand, some ferret may like nicotine and get hooked on it.
- Toys noise/ baby cries
Sometimes ferrets love wrestling and bite you playfully. So, redirect their attention to the toy and remove your hand gently so, they should learn the difference to your hand and the toy. Rubber toys can be a great outlet for biting behavior and the wrestling can occur safely but make sure that if they like the toy or not.
Sometimes, they get attract to uncertain noises like some baby toys or cries. That’s why they are illegal to keep at home when you have a baby.
- Not trained to not bite
When you buy a ferret it took time to build trust. As they may roughly be treated when they are young so, they bite. You should train him not to bite it will take a few months but stay consistent and gentle to them until then. The kit bite is not harmful but the adult bite is harder.
Train your ferret not to bite
These are the ways to train your ferret to stop biting.
- Scruff your ferret.
Teach your ferret by grabbing from the neck and lift it to the eye contact and close its mouth with index finger and thumb by saying in loud voice ‘No’. Scruffing will help your ferret not to bite as it will struggle and try to move around but don’t be alarmed and don’t hurt your ferret.
- Time out
If you think your ferret is still biting and scruffing doesn’t work then, put it in time out like cage for 5 minutes or less. A baby ferret can be handled easily this way. As they don’t want to be left alone in the cage so, time out will help not to bite. It may go to sleep if you leave it for a too long time out.
Punishing your ferret with tapping on the nose, hitting it, throwing or water spray won't change its behavior and will worsen fear biting. Time out is a better way of punishment. But, do not hurt your ferret physically as it will tend to escalate the behavior. As your ferret will feel aggression is appropriate.
- Distract your ferret
Small ferret is playful and when over-excited. They bite so try to divert their attention to some toy instead of your hand to bite. This will teach him not to bite people but can bite toy.
- Use bitter apple spray
You can buy a bitter apple spray as the ferret hate the taste of bitter apple, bitter lime, etc. You can buy online also. Spray a small amount on your hands while holding your ferret or the feet or ankles where it loves to bite. Do not directly spray it on ferret but when it starts biting you can put on. Some Q-tip and put it in its mouth then he won’t like the taste and stop biting in the future.
Never hit your ferret. As they are delicate pets, don’t scream, throw or hurt them physically or scare them. Scaring them will increase in biting more often. So try to train them with loving behavior as love is a language of all and makes him disciplined and they won’t bite you again in the future.
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