Message Number: YG890 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Betty
Date: 2001-03-07 23:26:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Dominance

Just my two cents worth here... Firstly, I think I have a household that
is pretty close to Bob's, in which all my ferrets roam free 24/7
allowing them to find and defend territories and make boundaries. I
agree that the human factor plays a big part in where they set
themselves up as a large portion of my group prefers to close to "home
base"... the bedroom, the room the humans spend the most time in. There
is a much smaller group of ferrets that prefer to be farther away as
this gives them safety at a distance. The more aggressive ferrets tend
to stick close to home leaving only on occasion to raid the outer
territories. When they do, the fighting is heard from all corners of the
house. The underside of my couch is home to at least three of the
tiniest ferrets for their size alone allows them access to an area the
others cannot get to.

Since I have set up more nesting boxes throughout my home, each smaller
sub group of ferrets have staked out a few that they tend to stick to
and sleep in together, provided that the human washes the blankets often
enough to keep them smelling April fresh. Dirty nesting boxes become
abandoned in a very short period of time and is understood that this is
a natural process given that even in the wild, I would assume that a
female would move herself and her kits, if she had them, under the same

I see the intricate process of going up the rung with each newly
introduced ferret. All ferrets have access to all other ferrets. Every
single new ferret that comes in must fight to establish its positioning
in the order of the group. Some ferrets are quick to climb the rung,
while others seems to stay forever nearer the bottom. I use to divide
out the ferrets into two groups: feisty and able to defend, and the
older, need more care group. I found that once I allowed all ferrets
access to one another that it allowed a single hierarchy to develop
instead of two sub hierarchies. Truth be told, I find that there is less
fighting now when I have only one large group. It seemed that anytime
the two groups that were normally separated, were together, that the
time out created a more intense need to conquer each and every time
they had access to one another.

On top of that, I found that since I was the judge and jury of whom
should go with whom, that maybe sometimes my decisions were wrong -
another aspect of the human factor. As one large group the ferrets find
the ones that they make friends with far better than me finding it for
them. It is interesting to note that some ferrets are more popular with
other ferrets and seem to have more ferrets they hang around with, while
other ferrets may have only one other ferret they buddy up with.

All in all, I have found that this whole process of integration of
ferrets in large groups quite fascinating. Every year I learn more and
see more. And in a way, I find that the more I understand them, the more
I understand my own position in life... to clean litter boxes, to keep
food and water bowls filled, to wash bedding,,. to provide comfort and
care to the sick and elderly. Thank goodness this life skill will come
in useful when I have to look after hubby in his senior years!

Betty and Her Blur O'Fur