Ferret Body Language. What are They Saying?

ferret using its body language

Ferret pets are gaining popularity with time. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that they are small animals and perfect for apartments and homes. However, as with any other pet, you need to understand your ferret. Below, I will help you understand ferret body language in case you are looking to keep one. 

Before I get to the point, understanding ferret body language is going to make it easy to bond with your pet. I mean, I am sure you want to know what he wants when he engages in various activities. Also, you need to understand him to make him comfortable. 

Understanding ferret body language

As we have indicated above, you must take some time to study ferret body language. It is going to make everything so easy for both of you. For instance, you need to know what to expect when your ferret is sick, hungry, or even playful

Sometimes your ferret will change his mood and you need to know if he is upset or getting sick. Well, without much hesitation, let us quickly explore ferret body language: 

Excited Ferret

As with every being, we will have our moments. Sometimes we are grumpy and other times we get excited. Now, unlike us, our pets cannot communicate verbally. 

An excited ferret is going to be quite jumpy. You will see him run around and even perform a dance for you. It might sound hilarious but a happy ferret will barely contain the excitement.

He is very interactive when excited and will try to get your attention. When you see your ferret dancing and jumping around, it means that he is happy and content

Anxious ferret

A ferret is a great pet and companion. What makes them even better is that they are less neurotic. Ferrets will not get stress or suffer separation anxiety for obvious reasons such as being left alone. 

This, however, does not mean that your ferret cannot experience anxiety. Fear can propagate a lot of anxiety in a ferret. The good thing is that they have mastered the art of protecting themselves. 

An anxious ferret will be on his fight/flight mode. If you have let him roam freely in the house, he might be startled by sudden loud noises and sometimes the doorbell. You will see him trying to hide away, probably under the couch. 

Ferrets may also exhibit these signs when he is upset. He might hiss and even give the object upsetting him the side-eyes. Understand that this has nothing to do with anger. He just wants to let you know that he does not like something. 

I suggest that you check on him whenever you notice any signs of anxiety. 

Curious ferret

Ferrets are quite smart which makes them very curious. He will notice any new scents in the house immediately, and try to find where it is coming from. 

When he is curious, your ferret will keep his nose down. At the same time, he might sniff everything until he finds whatever he is looking for. Sometimes it could be that there is another pet or rodent in your house. Other times it could be a new scent you bring in probably from stepping on the grass or wet weeds that could be getting him so excited. 

In most scenarios, ferrets are very excited when they are curious. He will not stop until he finally reaches whatever he is looking for. 

A playful ferret

Yes, ferrets are very interactive and playful animals. When they are feeling playful, you will be able to tell. He could try to initiate play by running towards you. Once he gets to you, he will turn and run back, trying to make you chase him. 

This not only means that your ferret is playful but also an attention-seeking gesture. Maybe you have been working all day and you let him out to stretch. Trust me when I say that he will not give up easily. 

Some ferrets start nipping on your ankles and shoes when you won’t play with them. Well, my advice is that you should not wait until he starts acting up. Instead, play with him when he suggests playful behavior. 

However, if he is already nipping at you, this could create an undesirable train in him. Ignore him and put him back in his cage. I mean, you do not want your ferret to learn that biting and nipping is good. 

I insist on establishing a schedule where you create some time to play and hang out with your ferret. During this time, offer him all your attention and avoid distractions. 

Ferret tail language

As with cats and even dogs, ferrets also communicate with their tails. As I mentioned earlier, it is going to be essential to understand ferret body language if you intend to keep them happy

There is not much to tail talk until he gets it all puffed up. I suggest you back off as it could indicate aggressive behavior. Your ferret is not feeling so social at that moment. Look into the matter and identify the reason he seems angry.

On the other hand, a brushed up tail could mean that your ferret feels threatened by something. He gets his tail puffy while trying to make himself look larger and a bit more intimidating. It is often a defensive move.

A ferret wagging his tail is body language for excitement.

Hungry ferret

Sometimes you are just too busy and you may forget to feed your ferret. Well, this should not happen often but if it does, your ferret will remind you. Of course, he has observed his feeding bowl by now. 

A hungry ferret will play with the bowl, and sometimes appear to be digging into it. Other ferrets are very intelligent such that they will give you a sign. For instance, he might look at you and back to the bowl, while still playing with it, 

If this happens, feed your ferret immediately. Also, I suggest that you stick to a feeding schedule to avoid all this. 

Be very keen when translating ferret body language. Playing with the bowl could also mean that he is bored. A bored ferret can be distracting, destructive and quite unsettling. 


Often, when we adopt pets, we forget that they still have their animalistic instincts. For instance, ferrets live in burrows, that is when in the wild. They dig these burrows themselves and will dig out prey from underground. 

Well, this means that once in a while, your ferret might develop the need to dig. Unfortunately, if you live in an apartment, your ferret has nowhere to dig. For this reason, I suggest that you come up with a way to meet his digging needs. 

There are several tunnel toys you can purchase. This is going to be a fun activity for your ferret. Alternatively, get a sandbox and place it in his cage. Failure to meet these needs could lead to a depressed and bored ferret

Sick ferret

Ferrets are generally healthy animals. However, once in a while, he might fall sick and you need to differentiate between normal behavior and when he is sick. 

Unfortunately, this is not always an easy thing to do. Ferrets can hide away their pain, making it extremely difficult to tell when they are ill. However, if your ferret has become less active and lays down all day, something could be wrong. 

Also, he might sleep for longer hours and experience difficulties when going to the toilet. I suggest you put some time aside and concentrate on his behavior. If your ferret body language indicates he is ill, then I suggest you check with your vet. 

If you spend time with your ferret, it should not be difficult for you to understand when he is ill.

Hiding toys and other things

Ferrets love hiding away stuff including their toys and smaller items around them. At this point, I should disclose it to you that you might be living with a thief! Ferrets love stealing and hiding away things, just for the sake. 

However, if you realize that your ferret is hiding his toy, it could mean that it is his favorite one. Note that sometimes they become too attached to their toys and will protect them no matter what. 

If he is hiding away your stuff such as slippers and other small items, then I suggest you get it back or it will forever belong to your ferret. He is going to be very defensive with the hidden toys once he is completely attached to them. 

Now, if your ferret has started falling asleep with his toy, it could mean two things: either he loves his toys or he is feeling a little insecure. Set aside some time and offer him attention and affection

Open mouth and arched back

When your ferret gives you this gesture, it is not safe in there. It is a form of ferret body language to display aggression. Therefore, I suggest you back off, especially if he gives out a scream. 

It is usually a warning from your ferret to back away and keep off. Well, I advise that you find out why he feels aggressive. It could be inspired by pain, fear and sometimes anger. 

Ferrets who are looking to mate may also exhibit this behavior. Ensure that you spay or neuter your ferret to avoid such instances.


Understanding Ferret’s body language is essential for all pet owners. It is the best way to understand what your pet is feeling at certain times. With ferrets, it is no different. 

Ferrets are social, intelligent and exciting pets to keep. However, as we have discussed above, you need to understand some of these body languages to be able to live harmoniously with your ferret. 

If you suspect that he might be ill, call your vet and arrange an appointment. The good news is that ferrets will rarely get ill especially when you take good care of them. 

To curb attention-seeking behavior, make sure that you spend at least 4 hours playing and petting your ferret. After all, they are an energetic species that needs physical and mental stimulation quite often. 

Also, do not forget to set up a feeding schedule. Purchase tasty treats to keep him fed and also for training sessions. Take your ferret to the vet at least once a year for a check-up. 

How has your experience with your pet ferret been? I would like to hear from you.

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