Ferrets are certainly not the most popular animals to keep as pets, but they are very playful, intelligent, and curious creatures. However, before you decide to adopt one, you should ask yourself: can you train a ferret?
Contrary to popular belief, ferrets are bright animals and can be trained well. Although they are very different from dogs and cats, they can be trained just like them.
Like dogs, you can use treats to condition them to learn certain behaviors.
The natural inquisitive instinct of ferrets can keep you on your toes. Thus, many people have reservations about keeping a ferret as a pet.
Here we answer the major queries that people have concerning ferrets.
Can You Train a Ferret to Not Bite?
Biting also known as nipping is a common behavior in ferrets. They bite for various reasons – mostly when they are playing. However, you can train a ferret that biting humans is not on and is only limited to their toys.
Here are some tips:
- You can start training your ferret by scuffing it. Grab it by the back of its neck and make eye contact.
- Place your thumb and index finger to keep it shut.
- Stare directly into its eyes and say “NO” in a commanding manner.
- If this trick doesn’t work, put your ferret on a timeout by placing it in its cage for 5 minutes or so. As they are playful animals by nature, they will realize that they’ve done something wrong and are getting punished for it.
- Make sure not to put the ferret in the cage for a long time; otherwise, it will sleep and not realize that it was a punishment.
Can You Train a Ferret
Well, of course, the answer to that question is a resounding Yes.
Get a Toy
You can keep your ferret from nipping at you by getting it a toy and distracting it. Make sure to get it a toy that it can chew on. This will give it an idea that toys are to be chewed and not people.
Remember to never yell or scream at your ferret as it will only scare it off. Moreover, ferrets have a very short-attention-span, so even if you scold it, it won’t remember why it was scolded.
Apply Apple Cider Vinegar
Another effective way of preventing your ferret from nipping is by applying apple cider vinegar on your skin as a deterrent. Apply a little amount on whatever body part it bites. The flavor of the vinegar will drive away the ferret to stop nibbling on you next time.
Try Negative Reinforcement
Some ferrets have a habit of biting as a way to tell you that they want to play. If a ferret does this, take away your hand and walk away from your pet. Your ferret might start following you, believing that it is a chasing game, but keep on ignoring it.
Whenever it starts biting you while playing, just move away. This trick will send a clear message to your ferret that this is inappropriate behavior, and you dislike it.
It is advised to buy a baby ferret as your pet as they are easier to train than adult ferrets. The reason that baby ferrets bite you is that they don’t feel safe with you. You can gain their trust by holding the baby ferret in your hand and let it squirm.
When it stops wriggling place it down and reward it for being a good pet. Ferrets also bite when they are scared. You should try to calm them, providing fur to skin contact. The best way to do this is by feeding them with your hands to comfort them.
Can you Train a Ferret to Do Tricks?
Ferrets are very mischievous and active animals. So, they can also be trained to perform tricks. You can use conventional methods like using treats to train a ferret to do tricks.
Ferrets are carnivores by nature, meaning they need a diet that mainly consists of meat. Make sure to get treats that are made of meat and try to avoid vegetables and grains in their meal as their digestive system can’t process them.
You can use treats like small pieces of boiled chicken as a reward or positive reinforcement when they perform a trick.
Invest in a Clicker
If you want to train your ferret, get a good clicker from any pet store. You can use the clicker to click when the ferret performs a trick to use it as positive reinforcement. It is a much faster way compared to giving treats, and it is also more efficient as the ferret picks the behavior you want much quicker.
Start by using a clicker and offering your ferret treats when it performs a trick. This will help your ferret understand that a click means that it has done a good job. When your ferret starts looking for a treat after you click, it implies that it has been trained.
Using Verbal Cues
You need to add verbal signals to your training sessions. For instance, you can tap on the ground and command your ferret to come to you. This way, it will learn to associate a behavior with a verbal cue.
Make sure to incorporate the click and treat method after it follows your instructions.
Training a Ferret to Sit
This training is a little tough and can take a couple of months for your ferret to master. Don’t forget to be persistent and keep rewarding it.
- Hold a treat above the head of the ferret.
- When it is attentive towards you, lower the treat slightly but keep it out of its reach.
- When it lowers its body, tell it to sit down clearly. Keep repeating this process until it learns what the word “sit” means.
Training a Ferret to Shake Paws
- Put your hand forward in front of the ferret to have its attention.
- Place a treat on a flat surface at an inch further than your hand. This will make your ferret curious.
- When your ferret puts its paw on your hand, give it the treat and shake its paw.
Training the Ferret to Roll Over
Be sure to put your ferret on its back before you start with this trick:
- Show the ferret the treat in your hand and then gradually move it to the side of its head.
- You will see your ferret getting curious and will try to move its head and get the treat from you.
- The next step is to bring the treat around the back of its head and keep moving it. Your ferret will try to keep up with the movements and eventually roll over to get the treat from your hands.
Don’t forget to click every time it performs the trick, followed by a treat.
Can you Litter Train a Ferret?
- Start the potty training by keeping your ferret in its cage. Make sure to put a box in the corner of the cage where it can do its business.
- The litter box should be attached to the cage as the ferrets are very playful animals and might push the litter box around.
- Fill the litter box with unscented litter like shredded newspapers as they will not clump together.
- Add a little amount of urine and feces to the litter box so the ferret can get an idea of what the litter box is for. You can put its nose near the litter box to ensure that it understands its purpose.
- Ferrets have a habit of pooping in the same place they did it before. So if your ferret accidentally pooped at any undesired area, make sure to clean it properly with lime or apple cider vinegar. This will repulse the ferret, and it will avoid pooping at that spot.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that ferrets don’t do their business in a filthy place. So make sure to clean the litter pan at least twice a day.
In addition to this, wash the litter box with warm water and dish soap twice a week to remove the mess and eliminate the odor. This is imperative to provide a hygienic environment for your ferret.
Hopefully, this article will prove to help train your ferret. With a little patience and persistence, you can handle this adorable, funny little creature and fall in love with their cute presence.