Do Ferrets Play Dead? Here is the Answer

Ferret in the forest

Almost every ferret owner has fallen for this trick. Ferrets can play dead sometimes, and it is normal. It is not playing dead really as the ferret is usually in deep sleep. It is referred to as the ferret dead sleep.

Some ferrets will do it often while others will only do so occasionally.

Should I be worried that my ferret is playing dead?

I will not deny that it can be a little worrying, especially if you are only experiencing it for the first time. I freaked out the first time our ferret did that. You would think that he was really dead. I found him in his bed, unconscious and he wouldn’t wake up even after shaking him.

I honestly thought that he was about to die when I noticed the slow breathing. I shook him, poked him and even picked him up but he would not respond. He woke up as I was about to rush him to the vet.

Ferret’s dead sleep is normal. However, it can be concerning if it is happening when your ferret is playing or walking. It could also be an indication of low blood sugar, which leads to insulinoma. However, do not be too quick to conclude this. As I have mentioned above, it is normal for a ferret to fall into such deep sleep.

However, should you notice your ferret falling asleep when he is walking or suddenly collapsing, there is nothing normal about this? You should consult your vet if you observe other symptoms such as seizures, lethargy and decreased activity.

What should I do if my ferret is in a dead sleep?

Dead sleep can be quite scary, and especially if this is your first time. However, if your ferret falls asleep and he won’t wake up, he is probably fine. It could be because he is so exhausted that he needs so much sleep.

To be sure, check to see if he is breathing. It could be a normal or slower breathing rate. Also, he should be warm and have moist lips. That is a normal ferret sleeping status. Usually, this kind of sleep can last for a few more hours than usual. I have had my ferret sleep for 7 straight hours.

As sleeping is healthy for us, so is it for ferrets. In fact, sleep deprivation in ferrets could affect your ferret’s health. Some ferrets develop a weakened immune system as a result of sleep deprivation. This increases the chances of your ferret getting sick.

In extreme cases, sleep deprivation can possibly lead to death. Therefore, it is important to let your ferret get as much sleep as he needs to. After all, these small pets will need a minimum of 18 hours of sleep in intervals.

Otherwise, there is nothing else you can do about your ferret playing dead. He will wake up when he has had enough rest.

What are the right sleeping conditions for my ferret?

If you have just brought your ferret home, brace yourself for some peculiar ferret behavior. Now, every ferret will have a different personality from another. However, it is important to ensure that your ferret has a comfortable place to sleep.

Note that a ferret will sleep just about anywhere. For instance, if you are playing with your ferret and he gets tired, you might observe him looking for a place to sleep. Well, I have seen my ferret sleeping on the corner of the couch right after an intense play session.

temperature is one of the factors that may affect your ferret’s sleep. They cannot take too much heat since they do not have a natural way to cool off their bodies. Ferrets cannot sweat which makes them vulnerable to heat stroke during summer.

The best temperature for a ferret should be no below than 60 degrees Fahrenheit and no higher than 80 degrees F.  This means that during summer, you might have to install air conditioning for your ferret. Ferrets do not have problems with cold weather as with the hot weather.

At the same time, your ferret’s cage should feel safe for your ferret. Therefore, place the cage in an area with low traffic. For instance, near the bathroom is way better as compared to the kitchen. Your ferret should have the pleasure of enjoying the silence when sleeping.

Also, keep him away from the windows and from direct sunlight. The hours of daylight might affect your ferret’s body clock. Also, ferrets love to sleep in dark places.

Comfortable ferret beddings

So, now that you understand that ferrets love their sleep, it is only fair to make it cozy. If at all he is going to play dead, he better be comfortable. Well, you can choose ferret bedding from a wide variety. These include:

  • Hammocks
  • Litter beddings
  • Small pet bed
  • Fleece blanket
  • Tubes and tunnels

As I mentioned above, a ferret will fall asleep just about anywhere. Hammocks are an excellent choice for ferret comfort. And the good thing is that you can choose between a closed and open hammock. A closed hammock serves your ferret well as it provides a dark place to snuggle.

However, during summer, a closed hammock can be too much for your ferret. Therefore, it is safer to purchase both a closed and open hammock. On the other hand, it will be an excellent choice for your ferret during winter. An open hammock is a perfect choice for summer.

You can also purchase litter beddings for your ferret. Some ferrets will prefer sleeping on the floor. Make it comfortable by laying down litter beddings. These should be dust-free, absorbent and free of scents. Ferrets can be susceptible to respiratory illnesses and thus you must avoid dusty and litter with odor.

If you want your ferret to have his own bed, you can always purchase a small pet bed. You will need to lay down litter beddings on the bed. It should be big enough for your ferret and also keep him warm. The ferret bed should be easy to climb for your short-legged fuzzy body.

Some ferrets enjoy burrowing themselves in their tunnel or tube toys. It could be because ferrets love burrowing naturally. It is also perfect for ferret sleep as it is dark, safe and private.

Other peculiar sleeping behaviors in ferrets

Well, do ferrets play dead? Well, they kind of fall asleep too deeply to be conscious of anything. However, there are other peculiar ferret behaviors you should be aware of. These include:

Refusing to sleep in his bed

You should check to see if your ferret’s bed is wet, smelly or uncomfortable. If not, I suggest you provide several beds for him. This way, he can choose whichever one that he wants to sleep in.

Falling asleep when walking or playing

If your ferret falls asleep in the middle of playing or on his way to the litter box, check to see if he is okay. It has collapsed or experiencing seizures, you must take him to the vet.

Sleeping with toys

While this could be totally normal, it is also possible that your ferret has emotional issues. For instance, a depressed ferret will occasionally fall asleep holding onto their favorite toys. You should monitor him closely to ensure that he is alright.

In conclusion

It is normal for a ferret to play dead. Ferret dead sleep does not always mean that there is something wrong with your ferret. There is no need to panic if your ferret is breathing fine. He is probably just sleeping too soundly.

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