How many ferrets should you keep?

Ferrets love the companionship of other ferrets for comfort and play.

You’ll often spot a pair or group of ferrets having an impromptu play, charging around their enclosure and springing at each other. They almost always choose to snuggle together in a big pile when they sleep.

Ferrets can be kept in same-sex pairs or a male and female. Whichever pairing you go for, you will need to have them all neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Ferrets will also happily live in groups – these can also be mixed sexes. Ferrets can be quite particular about their companions, so new pairings or new ferrets coming into a group must be introduced with care and monitored for up to two weeks.

Introducing your ferrets to each other

Always mix ferrets on neutral territory, ideally in an area that they can stay in undisturbed for one to two weeks. Ideally, introduce ferrets in the morning and when you are able to supervise for one to two days. Using their existing outdoor accommodation is possible, but it will need cleaning well with pet-friendly disinfectant and new toys and activities added to make it as different as possible.

Another way of introducing ferrets to each other is to take them out for a walk together on harnesses – again in an unfamiliar, neutral area. If they show positive signs of getting on well together, you can go on to place them in a neutral territory and let them settle.

What to do if ferrets become aggressive

Ideally, always introduce ferrets with two people there to monitor. If the mix becomes aggressive, it can be tricky to separate ferrets. Have a towel and cat carrier available to safely and quickly separate them.

Always make sure you’re wearing suitable footwear and clothing to avoid being bitten. Ferrets can become quite alert and unpredictable if they are feeling threatened by other ferrets.

How to know if your ferrets accept each other

Although ferrets usually ignore each other for the first few minutes, their first few hours together will give you some indication as to whether the mix is likely to work or not. Friendly behaviour includes:

  • The ferrets walk past one another showing no response
  • They sniff each other’s bottoms
  • They seem more interested in their surroundings than in each other
  • They play rough-and-tumble games, leaping around each other with arched backs
  • One or both will take turns to grab each other gently by the scruff of the neck and drag each other around or off to their bed area
  • They snuggle up together or feed relatively quickly.

Ferret introductions can seem very rough and aggressive, but don’t be too concerned. This is their natural way of establishing a hierarchy, and it rarely results in serious injury. Even so, it’s a good idea to check your ferrets over for wounds during their first few days together.

Signs your ferrets may not be suited

If you spot any of the unpromising behaviours below, separate the ferrets and seek advice. Unfortunately this particular mix is unlikely to work.

  • Constant neck-scruffing the same ferret in an aggressive manner, often shaking them and making them scream
  • You may spot puncture wounds around the scruff area.
  • One ferret seems to be fearful of the other after a few days – they will keep their distance and may let out a little scream or hiss when other ferrets approach.

Many ferrets bond very well with each other. Follow all the steps listed above and there’s an excellent chance your ferrets will become lifelong friends. Good luck!

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