A part of bonding with your ferret is actually understanding his language. Like people, ferrets also tend to express their feelings through their body language. However, as I have always said, ferrets have different personalities. For this reason, you must pay attention to the circumstances in which your ferret licks you to understand what it means.
Since ferrets cannot speak our language, they have to find a way to express their feelings. Licking you is part of the body language that you should understand. In this article, I am going to outline some of the reasons why your ferret licks you.
Reasons why a ferret may lick you
Ferrets are affectionate, friendly and as times goes by, he will allow you to pet him. Licking can mean any of the following things:
Attempting to groom you
Love the taste on your skin
He is getting ready to nip hard
To show you affection
A protective gesture
An acceptance gesture
Note that a ferret will only allow human contact when he trusts you completely. So if your ferret has not licked you yet, maybe he will once he settles down in your home.
An attempt to groom you
Have you ever watched your ferret grooming himself? Well, yes, they do groom themselves as cats do. Your ferret could lick you to groom you. Well, you may also consider this as a way for him to display his affection.
Not only will your ferret lick you but also other ferrets. If you have two ferrets, it is normal to see them grooming each other. It is part of their bonding process.
Sometimes your ferret will lick other pets in the household. However, he can only do this if he trusts and loves the other pet. For instance, cats are not exactly comfortable with the idea of being groomed by a ferret. They may get along but a cat will prefer staying away and watching the ferret.
They love the taste on your skin
Ferrets are not only intelligent but they are also very curious. A ferret may lick you because he likes the way you smell. It could be the smell of your lotion. Other ferrets will lick their owners for the salty taste. Almost all animals love the taste of salt.
There is no harm in your ferret licking your skin. It could be that the smell is interesting and wants to taste. Once he feels the salty taste in your skin, your ferret can keep licking your arms and sometimes your face.
He is preparing to bite you
As ferrets are affectionate, they also get irritated. For instance, if you are handling your ferret and he wants to get away from you, he could lick your hands as a fair warning. It is a nice way of telling you that he wants to be left alone.
At the same time, I urge you to monitor your ferret closely when he is licking you. If he seems a little bit unsettled, try putting him back in his cage or let him go.
A way to show affection
It is important for you to understand what your ferret wants when petting him. Licking your hands can also be a method to show you affection. For instance, if you are petting your ferret and he reaches out to lick you, he is probably grateful.
The most ferret will lick your hands occasionally during petting or grooming. He is only displaying his affection towards you.
A protective gesture
Ferrets can also be very territorial. Does your ferret lick you when you have guests in the house? Well, sometimes ferrets will lick you to mark you as his territory. He is trying to warn your visitors that you are his territory.
Well, our ferret has a habit of licking my fingers when I am having a conversation with a guest. At this point, I think that he is trying to seek validation and I will reciprocate by petting him gently.
Fear and nervousness
The feeling of insecurity in ferrets can make them want to lick you. It is more of a signal, telling you that he is completely scared of the situation. Our ferret has also pulled this trick on me more than once. I remember when we brought home a new puppy, our ferret was somewhat scared. Each time he saw the puppy while playing with me, he would start licking me frantically.
It was like he was telling me to get him out of the said situation.
Ferrets engage in different behaviors for different reasons. As I mentioned earlier, these pets have quite different personalities. Therefore, you cannot assume that your ferret is licking you for a certain reason. Spend time with him and notice the times he is likely to lick you. However, it should not bother you much unless your ferret bites or nips at you.