How To Tame A Ferret: A Complete Guide

When a ferret first comes home, your initial excitement may turn to concern when you notice their untamed behaviors. You know they are high-maintenance creatures, but they’re also known as loving, so why isn’t that coming across? If you’ve come here wondering how to tame a ferret, you’re in the right place.

Some of the untamed behaviors you may recognize in your own ferret include things like biting, pouncing, scratching, and general aggressiveness. This can be extremely distressing, and difficult to deal with, especially if you aren’t an experienced ferret owner.

This article is for everyone, though, even those who have previously never owned a ferret. Using our expertise, by the end of this article you will know how to tame both older ferrets and kits. You will also understand the fundamental relationship necessary for this process, and advice for taming ferrets out of specific behaviors.

How To Tame A Ferret: The Fundamental Relationship

Building a relationship that fosters trust and boundary following with your ferret is one of the most crucial parts of this process. It is achieved by paying plenty of attention to them in a way that asserts yourself as their owner and is incredibly important. You should continue this after the initial taming process to maintain their learned behaviors.

The best way to build this trust with your ferret is to handle them from the beginning. They may be uncomfortable with this to begin with as they are incredibly nervous animals, but you should preserve. If you don’t, untamed behaviors continued unchecked, and they are taught to believe they shouldn’t trust you.

At first, hold the ferret for a minute or two at a time. You should be looking for signs they are uncomfortable and hold them just beyond this point. As time goes on, focus on increasing this, and do so until they trust you enough to feel safe for long periods.

Make sure when handling ferrets you are confident in doing so, even if they exhibit untamed behaviors. Any nerves will be picked up on by your ferret and lead them to push boundaries and continue aggressively, which causes issues in other areas of your ferret-owning journey.

You can also increase your bond with your ferret by putting clothes you’ve worn into their cage. They will use their extremely enhanced sense of smell to get familiar with your scent and learn to trust you much faster.

Ferret Taming Methods

When learning how to tame your ferret, there are a few methods you should utilize. While you should do all of them, your focus should mainly be on those that elicit a positive response from your ferret without reinforcing negative behaviors. Negative taming methods have their place, but overuse will threaten the bond you have with them.

Handle Them Regularly

Handling your ferrets is something we cannot stress enough during the taming period. It is incredibly important because it helps build their bond and trust with their owner, but it also gives them firm ideas of your boundaries.

By handling them regularly, you will be able to pick up on their tamed and untamed behaviors and react accordingly. The more you do this, the less of the behaviors you don’t want to see will occur.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is one of the main taming methods you should be using with your ferret. Once your ferret trusts you, they have a natural instinct to please you and will respond incredibly well when they are rewarded for it.

This can be implemented by giving a ferret a reward when they show tamed behaviors. If a ferret lets you hold them and doesn’t bite you, for example, give them a treat. Not all ferrets respond to treats, however, so make sure the reward is personalized to their likes.

Positive reinforcement should be given immediately after the good behavior. Ferrets have short memories so if you give it too far afterward, they may not remember why they are being rewarded. If this happens, you won’t be reinforcing the good behavior.

Punishing Negative Behaviors

Lots of owners struggle when it comes to taming a ferret because they are unknowingly reinforcing negative behaviors. This isn’t always easy to spot, but if you are doing it, it can be extremely detrimental to them in the long run.

A ferret biting you is an example of an untamed behavior. You might respond to this by hugging the ferret to stop them from hurting you or telling them its wrong, but this all looks like positive reinforcement to a ferret.

To make them realize that you are unhappy, remove the attention from them immediately. Some owners recommend putting them in a pet carrier for up to 3 minutes as a punishment for their actions. Long-term seclusion may damage bonds, but doing it in short bursts while they still remember the behavior can help them learn your boundary.


When ferrets are younger, older ferrets will lie on top of them when they are getting too rough to teach them how to behave. This is why keeping ferrets with their parents is crucial in the early days.

While lying on ferrets yourself isn’t recommended, scuffing is a way we can imitate that without hurting them. You should visit a vet for advice if you are inexperienced, however, as doing it wrong could harm the ferret.

This form of punishment is extremely effective as it is a punishment technique they recognize from their own species. You should only ever use this as a last resort once the other options have been exhausted. There are many reasons for this, including that scuffing is sometimes used to provide veterinary care to your ferret.

Is Ferret Taming Easy?

Figuring out how to tame a ferret might make you think the process is easy. Though it is possible, it often takes months before your ferret can be declared officially trained.

It is completely normal for your ferret to test boundaries, to begin with, especially when they first come home. Doing so helps them to determine what they can and cannot get away with.

Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how overwhelmed you would be coming into a new home. Everything is different, from the smells to their food, and they’re expected to trust new people. It’s scary.

As they settle in, behaviors like biting, scratching, and general aggressiveness may seem neverending. This can be frustrating, especially if they’re hurting you, but it’s important not to retaliate. If you show ferrets this behavior is normal, it reinforces what you are trying to tame them out of.

Even if you are learning to train a ferret you’ve had for a while, it can take them for them to get used to being handled. It may seem like they’re taking steps backward, even though they are working hard to trust you.

Your hard work will pay off, though. By being patient and continuing to reinforce boundaries using methods we’ve spoken about above, your ferret will notice your persistence. In a few months, your ferret will be transformed as they learn how to get the right attention from their owner. You should keep up with these practices even afterward, so your ferret doesn’t relearn old habits down the line.

Is Taming Older Ferrets Possible?

There’s a common belief among ferret owners that taming older ferrets is completely impossible. Especially in situations where they may not have been trained before.

In truth, taming older ferrets can be a lot harder, and demands more patience from owners. In circumstances where they haven’t been tamed before, they might be used to pushing boundaries with consequences, which you’ll be introducing for the first time. If you can be persistent, however, a ferret will eventually learn to trust you and build the bond required to become tame.

Once establishing a bond with an older ferret, you can use the methods we have mentioned in this article to tame them. They may need more reminders than younger ferrets, and slip up occasionally, but taming older ferrets is possible.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to tame a ferret may be overwhelming, but it can be quite straight forwards once you know how. The taming process essentially involves building a close bond with your ferret that encourages trust and boundary following.

Although it isn’t easy and can take several months, using methods like positive reinforcement and punishing negative behaviors can have a big effect on your ferret’s behaviors. In a few months, your ferret will be completely transformed, regardless of its age.

If behaviors start to appear again, look back at this article and remember the advice that helped make your ferret tame in the first place. For some ferrets, regular reminders are incredibly useful.

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