Ferret Body Languages and Ferret Sounds
At one time or another, every ferret owner begins to wonder what their ferret is trying to say. Over the course of owning a ferret, we discover all the many ferret body languages as well as ferret sounds.
It’s good to be able to understand the sounds they make as well as to decipher the meaning of their behavior and body language, not just to understand your fuzzy’s feelings and moods, but also to identify the dominant in a group of ferrets.
One of the most frequent noises you may hear your ferret make is the dook sound. It sounds sort of like a chicken cluck. At times this can indicate nervous excitement, like human laughter. You may notice ferrets do this most often when they are in social groups.
Ferrets rarely scream or cry. If a ferret makes any sort of yelping or crying noise you can be sure he or she is in serious pain. You may hear this noise if two ferrets get into a squabble and one bites too hard. The smaller one may scream to stay STOP!
This low pitched noise can sometimes be difficult for the human ear to pick up. It sounds sort of like the screech of a hawk. And it seems to mean something very serious to ferrets. I have seen my ferrets get in some nasty fights with one another. Fights that are hard to break up. But the hiss will usually stop a very bad fight dead in its tracks.
It was my dominant female who usually hissed when a fight was getting out of control, so I suspect it may carry some authority. The hiss usually comes after the scream, as a sort of last resort when the scream fails to stop an attack. That is when you will often hear the hiss.
This is one of the most interesting ferret body languages, I think. Ferrets do love to wrestle and one of the ways the winner seems to declare victory is by rolling the other ferret or flipping them over on their back. Sometimes a smaller ferret will roll on it’s back to avoid a fight with a larger one, as a way of showing submission.
Bottle Brush Tail
This is usually a sign of fear though it can also signal excitement. Ferrets will sometimes fluff up their tail hair if you let them explore a new area that they are not used to. Or if they are introduced to new ferrets. This particular one can be a confusing ferret body language to interpret.
Often indicates happiness and anticipation of something fun.
Standing Up On Hind Legs
Curiosity. Ferrets will do this to try to get a better view of something. It can often be interpreted as begging but in fact, your ferret is just trying to see if you have a treat for him.
Standing Up On Hind Legs And Hopping Around
This is also known as the weasel war dance. Ferrets do this to show how blissfully happy and excited they are. Usually, they cluck loudly while doing this. Sometimes while doing the weasel war dance your ferret will hop forward right into your leg and bounce off, then start hopping backward. Which is his way of saying come get me? I want to play!
8 Surprising Facts You May Not Know About Ferrets
- Ferrets are smart. Maybe not smart enough to type, but they are certainly good at problem-solving and planning out complicated schemes to steal things or go places where they are not allowed to go. A lot of people teach their ferret to associate certain noises with rewards. They will ring a bell for instance, and then give their ferret a treat. It is easy to train a ferret-like this, but be careful, once your ferret realizes the bell is his key to getting treats sooner or later he will try to get hold of it and start ringing it himself. Then he may start training you!
- Ferrets are good mousers and in fact, mice are so terrified of ferrets that the scent of one is enough to drive mice and rats out of a barn permanently.
- Ferrets cannot tolerate temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit and will die if exposed for too long to the heat. This may seem unusual for animals that have ancestors in common with the African mongoose and meerkat, but remember the polecat has been habituated to the colder parts of Europe for a long time, and it has traditionally lived under the earth in tunnels where it is always the same comfortable temperature year-round despite the changing seasons.
- Ferrets have poorly developed eyes and suffer from an almost total lack of depth perception. This is why so many ferrets end up in the emergency clinic after suffering trauma from falls.
- Some ferrets experience a sort of sleep paralysis that is harmless but can be very scary to their owners. Once asleep these ferrets can be jostled and even hung upside down without waking. The sleep disorder so closely resembles death that there is a name for it. “Ferret death sleep” or “DFS”. This may have been some sort of opossum-like defense mechanism ferrets inherited from their wild ancestors.
- Un-de-scented ferrets can emit an odor from their scent glands if they become scared. This is called “poufing”. The smell is not a bad or overpowering skunk-like smell. In fact, quite often it smells just like musk perfume and dissipates in a minute or so. I should point out that de-scenting ferrets are totally unnecessary as it does not lessen the ferret’s body order at all. Spaying and neutering do.
- Baby ferrets have razor-sharp teeth that fall out and are replaced with less sharp teeth as they grow older.
- Female Ferrets will die if they are left unspayed and then not mated. The reason is that when mating occurs there is a hormonal change that causes the onset of ovulation thus ending her period of being in heat. Without mating (or hormone shots from a vet) this change won’t happen and the ferret will stay in heat permanently, causing illnesses and eventually death.
What are your thoughts about the article ” Ferret body language and ferret sounds?” Are there any other surprising things your furry friends can do? Please let us know via the comment!