Most people identify with ferrets because of their endless hyperactive behavior. These little critters play hard but they make up for it by spending three times more time sleeping their lives away, catching as much as eighteen hours of sleep a day. However, as active and energetic as they may be, it is possible that some ferrets are just as content to cuddle up next to you on the sofa while you watch your favorite TV show.
If you’d prefer the more docile cuddly type ferret, know that this behavior is not always the result of personality but of bonding with your little critter. In short, ferrets are all capable of cuddling if you start out with them that way. They are highly social creatures and love to interact with humans in all forms. Whatever they see you doing, they want to be a part of it. They work hard at doing things to get your attention, and if they discover that you like cuddling, many will eventually settle down to snuggle.
Why do Ferrets Snuggle?
Outside of playing, which they need to do for at least four hours a day, a ferret’s favorite pastime is snuggling; usually a prelude to their all-important hours of sleep they need each day. If you do your due diligence and give them plenty of opportunities for playtime and freedom to explore, when they are finally tuckered out, they will be more than happy to snuggle up with you whenever you want.
Just like with other animals (and humans), ferrets have a lot of energy when they are young and are probably not interested in chilling out and relaxing with you for an extended period of time. So, if you’re shopping for a cuddly ferret, I would recommend that you get one that is older rather than a young one. Older ferrets are ready to settle down and will lose a lot of their inborn energy they want to spend on play. The older ferrets are, the more likely they’ll want to be your snuggle bunny.
All ferrets will cuddle with you to some extent. However, they may not all want to cuddle at the same time or for the same reasons. Some will cuddle only when they are thoroughly exhausted and have no more energy to invest in play, others will be natural cuddlers and will affectionately take to you as soon as you bring him home, and older ferrets will pretty much cuddle with you any time you want.
Getting Ferrets Accustomed to Cuddling
When you first bring your ferret home, don’t be discouraged if they are not interested in cuddle time with you. They are in a new environment and will need to explore and investigate their new surroundings. Some kits are comfortable with cuddling right away, but that is rarely the case; expect to give them at least a few months before they get accustomed to you and your behaviors.
Remember, ferrets do not see you as the owner. Even though you pay the bills, give them food, and take care of their every need. They will see you as a source of entertainment for them. They will follow your cues if you give them enough time to get used to them. The more you handle them, pick them up, pet them, and interact with them, the more accustomed they will be to your expectations. In time, ferrets will know that when they are tired, they should come to you for some well appreciated snuggle time before going back into the cage for another fifteen to sixteen hours of rest.
How Cuddly do Ferrets Get?
While all ferrets can cuddle, they are different in how affectionate they will actually be with you. This may vary from one ferret to another. Some will take to cuddling with you and really seem to enjoy it, while others may accept a few strokes here and there and snuggle up for a minute or two before they are off to another adventure somewhere in your home.
Cuddle time for a ferret may not be what you think. If you’re looking for a pet that will settle down and fall asleep in your arms, lay on your chest while you take a nap, or just curl up beside your feet, then you may have to sift through a few ferrets to find the perfect match. Most of them, though, will view you as a big, giant, lumpy pillow that they can wrap themselves in. As long as you are cool with that, you’ll both be very happy together.
How to Get Your Ferret to Cuddle
It takes trust, time, and patience in order to build up a relationship with your ferret. Sometimes, we make the mistake of petting the ferret like we would a dog or a cat, but that can break the bond of trust you’re trying to build. Realize that there are some things you can do with your house cat that you can’t do with your ferret.
For example, people tend to want to rub their whiskers when they are holding their cuddly friend, not realizing that the whiskers are thick and course and run deep into their skin. Every time you stroke or pull on the whiskers, it can be a source of irritation, which can cause a ferret not to want to be around you. Let’s face it, you can’t cuddle with a ferret that wants to avoid you.
On the other hand, rubbing them gently on the top of their head will be welcome treat for the little critter, but try to avoid stroking their face. And when it comes to discipline, do not flick a ferret on their nose when they misbehave; a ferret’s nose is very sensitive. Rather than applying physical discipline, it is better to put them in a time-out situation rather than using physical punishment of any kind.
Grab your ferret by the scruff of their neck, firmly tell them no, and put them back in their cage and lock the door. You’ll get your point across much faster and with less drama that way and you’ll be adding to your communication and bonding at the same time.
Be patient. When you first bring you ferret home, expect them to test the boundaries. They don’t know the rules yet, so view it as a learning experience for both of you. Imagine how your ferret feels. He has just been removed from a familiar place and his senses are suddenly being assaulted with a host of new smells, sensations, sounds, and feelings. If not handled properly, it can be very frightening and can cause them to be fearful of you.
Make sure they get lots of exercise. If they are not getting at least four hours of exercise every day, they will become more irritable and frustrated; not the best mood of cuddling. Also, make sure they get enough rest and that their sleeping environment is comfortable.
Be free with your love. The more you handle your ferret, the quicker they will get used to your attempts at cuddling. Start off by holding them for short durations, then extend the time longer and longer until they understand that they can be safe in your arms.
Let your ferret get used to your scent when they want to rest. Take some clothes that you have previously worn and let them sleep on it. They will become more familiar with your scent and associate comfort with rest, especially if the article of clothing is soft and fluffy.
Bottom line, ferrets can be cuddly creatures. They have to learn how, but you have to teach them by being the first to show them love. The better able you are to bond with your new pet, the easier it will be for them to start to show you affection in return.
Not all ferrets will become master cuddlers; some will require an investment in time while others may only accept your affections for a few minutes a day. However, once you reach the point of bonding, you will find that they may come to you for some snuggle time, giving you nose kisses, licking your eyelids, and begging for you to pick them up and snuggle up with them for a while.