Message Number: SG7326 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "Lisa Oestereich"
Date: 2004-01-07 21:12:39 UTC
Subject: RE: [ferrethealth] aggressive female
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Gosh. Where to start? I've had ferrets since 1985 and 80% of the time,
there's a scuffle when a newbie arrives (or a period of scuffle I should

I, too, have had the same situation with a 4.5 lb male being the aggressor.
He seemed to be a benevolent "king" until I got baby male angora (8 weeks).
Instantly, he hated the baby. I mean really...just one sniff and that was
it. Pure hatred. The second in line to the throne (queen), the absolute
sweetest ferret on the planet jumped in right behind him and bit the little
one on the neck too. Since the baby was so small, I kept them separate
until the kit was FIVE months old. A feat in and of itself I might add.
But then came the fateful day when the little guy had to fight it out.
Every time Scooby (the big male) saw Tucker (the baby) he attacked -- bloody
neck and the whole lot. Tucker would scream and run straight over to me and
as I held him and he looked down at Scooby stalking him....he would continue
to scream and whine. It was heartbreaking and funny at the same time. But
eventually, they began to fight less and less and before too long, they
began to tolerate each other. They were never best friends, but at some
point, the pecking order is established and that's kind of the end of it.
We still had minor squabbles here and there, but that faded too. Mind you,
I had to purchase a carpet cleaning machine because every time Scooby bit
Tucker, Tucker would poop himself instantly.

Back in the early 90's, I took my dominate male in for surgery. Two days
later upon bringing him back home, the rest of the gang began to attack him.
It was like they thought he was a brand new ferret. I called the vet
(there's nothing more disturbing than a post surgical ferret being gang
beaten) to see if there was something I could do. He said bathe them all to
make them smell the same. Didn't work at all. I put Teddy down on the
ground and they beat him up again. He was subjected to the ass-whooping
that all new ferrets had to go through in my house.

Dozens of times I've thought that they would kill a newbie, but have always
been told that they won't (unless it's breeding males) and I've never had a
situation where they didn't eventually stop bickering. Accidents can happen
though, and I imagine that damaged eyes and the like can be a problem. I've
never had anything other than bloody necks. Pulling them apart prolongs the
end of the fighting -- you just have to let them go at it. I wouldn't
suggest leaving them alone (however appealing it might be to your psyche)
you just have to let it run it's course. I've heard lots of people say that
they've had instances where the ferrets NEVER got along. That's never
happened to me. Sure, they may not love each other, sleep together or play,
but they tolerate each other just fine.

Friends of mine bring their ferrets over to play and Scooby has NEVER been
naughty to any of them (10 ferrets in all!). So why that baby? Who knows.
Most they like, some they do not.

And believe you me, Scooby was horribly aggressive. I had to pry his head
off Tucker's neck over and over again. Horrible, nasty, SMELLY! How could
one so sweet be so foul?

In the throw of the attack, I couldn't believe he wouldn't kill the little
one...the same thing I've thought every time. Not that it couldn't happen,
I guess. But it's never come to that with my ferrets. But it feels like it
could when your in the middle of it.

This is by no means a guarantee for you. Things can happen when they're
fighting. But I've never had anything serious come out of it. It is
traumatizing for the others, no doubt. And in my experience, the one that
gets beat up will also display the behavior towards the next new ones that
come in. Some sort of sicko right of passage or something.

I hope this helps. Be brave. It could take months for them to totally stop
fighting. But it's been my experience that they do. At least mine have.
I've talked several of my friends with ferrets through the tragedy of an
ass-kicking and they have all come out ok. But remember, if the newbie is a
baby, you'll have to wait until it's big enough to take a licking.


[Moderator's note: it is often advised that after surgery ferrets be kept separate
from others; part of the reason (besides better survivability with this and other
post-surgical tips like no climbing) is because they smell different and
sometimes are not recognized as a result.]