Why Do Ferrets Sleep So Much?

Ferrets are known for their energetic, inquisitive temperaments, making them the perfect companion for any true pet lover. For many new owners, the realization that their ferret isn’t constantly bouncing around can come as quite a shock. It can leave many wondering why ferrets sleep so much, especially with their reputation.

A sable ferret yawning on a dark blue satin sheet | Why do ferrets sleep so much?

Ferrets sleep so much because they are small animals with high brain metabolisms. Their nature means they look for valuable enrichment in their environment during wake periods, which leaves them easily exhausted when compared to other, similar-sized animals. In fact, Ferrets sleep so much they can spend up to 75 percent of their day in bed.

In this article, we will explore why ferrets sleep so much, the factors affecting how much they sleep and when you should be concerned about your furry friend. If you believe your ferret could be in immediate danger, please consult your vet for further advice.

Is It Normal For Ferrets to Sleep So Much?

In most cases, ferrets sleeping so much is completely normal. Believe it or not, healthy adult ferrets will only engage in the playful behaviors they’re known for for 3-4 hours a day; the rest is spent either sleeping (16-20 hours a day), or taking care of their personal needs (eating, toileting, and cleaning themselves).

Ferrets should not be sleeping for the entirety of that time, though. Adult ferrets tend to wake up every few hours to eat and go to the bathroom before returning to sleep.

If you are concerned, a generally accepted calculation is that a ferret should sleep up to six hours for every 1 hour of playtime they partake in.

One exception to this rule is for baby ferrets, or kits, and younger ferrets in general, who can sleep for up to 22 hours a day. This is because their brains aren’t fully developed, leading to quicker exhaustion rates from playful activities. If they have recently moved to a new environment, this can also contribute to their sleeping habits.

This isn’t something you need to be concerned about, though. They should grow out of sleeping so much by the time they are one year old, though male ferrets are known for sleeping longer than female ferrets.

As ferrets get older, they may also slow down and begin sleeping more, as they become less able to withstand long periods of play.

Are Ferrets Nocturnal?

One of the biggest misconceptions about ferrets is that they are nocturnal animals. Owners believe it because their ferret isn’t always awake during the day, and it was even a common belief in professional circles until recent years.

And, well, there is some truth to it. Centuries ago, the first species of wild ferrets were nocturnal, but those species aren’t the same as the domesticated ones we have today.

Modern ferret species are crepuscular animals, which means they are usually awake during twilight hours, or dusk and dawn. This means you are more likely to have an active ferret first thing in the morning or before you go to bed.

Their natural sleeping pattern makes them a great pet option for people at work and school, as they will often be awake when you’re at home.

As they come to understand their owners, ferrets may change from crepuscular animals to suit your routine in what is known as an adaptive sleeping routine.

Adaptive Sleeping Habits In Ferrets

Ferrets are crepuscular animals by nature, but if it doesn’t suit the lifestyle of their owners or the environment around them, they can adapt in a process known as adaptive sleeping. This process means the ferret will be awake when his environment is most engaging and sleep when it isn’t.

Interestingly, ferrets who live in more engaging environments tend to sleep less than those who don’t. If you’re playing with your ferret regularly, you’re likely to see them awake more often. This is because of the adaptive sleeping habits ferrets have.

It’s easy to assume keeping your ferret awake is harmful, but the opposite is actually true. Ferrets exposed to mental and physical stimulation may experience an improved quality of sleep and are healthier overall.

Equally, if you are a busy professional who doesn’t have much time to interact with your ferret, they will take advantage of this and spend more time sleeping. These are generally the times when your ferret will sleep for up to 20 hours as we mentioned earlier in this article.

Being busy occasionally and leaving your ferret to sleep won’t harm them. But if it’s a regular occurrence, it could lead to issues bonding with your ferret, and they could become irritable as a result. If this happens, you may see them begin biting, scratching or nipping when you are able to interact with them.

If you lead a busier lifestyle, investing in enrichment toys for their cage may help keep them awake when you can’t interact with them. This is especially important for females, who tend to be awake more than males.

Factors That Can Affect Your Ferret’s Sleeping Habits

As mentioned above, one of the big factors that affect a ferret’s sleeping pattern is adapting to their owner’s routines, but it’s not the only factor that can have an influence. Here are 5 other reasons your ferret might be sleeping so much, especially if it’s only a recent change.


When ferrets were still considered wild animals, they adapted to survive in extremely low temperatures by entering a peri-hibernation phase. This isn’t like complete hibernation, but it does mean that ferrets will sleep for longer periods during the winter months. If you use air conditioning or live in an area that is generally cooler, seasonal differences may not be so easy to spot.

Cold temperatures aren’t the only thing to be wary of; ferrets also suffer in hotter weather. As ferrets cannot sweat, temperatures of more than 80 Fahrenheit (27 degrees celsius) may put them at risk of heat stroke. If your ferret is sleeping more during hot weather, you need to cool down the environment, and if symptoms do not improve take them to the vet immediately.

To avoid overheating your ferret, keep them in a cooler room during hotter periods of the year. You can also utilize air conditioning if you have it, but be careful not to blow it directly into the cage. You may also want to consider the type of bedding materials you are using during these times.


If you know anything about ferrets, you’ll know male ferrets are far lazier than their female counterparts. It’s not unusual for male ferrets to appear sluggish, and spend more time happy in their own company.

If you love ferrets for their energy, you may want to invest in a female ferret. As we mentioned earlier, they tend to wake up more regularly, too, so you’ll see them more than their male counterpart.


When your ferret is sick or experiencing health problems, it’s completely normal for them to sleep more than normal. Like humans, infections and illnesses take their toll on energy levels and sleeping can conserve their energy.

If your ferret is sleeping more and you’re concerned it might be for health reasons, there are usually other symptoms you should keep an eye on. When these accompany your ferret sleeping more, it might be cause for concern and you should visit a vet as soon as possible.

Some of the symptoms your ferret may be unwell include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Breathing difficulties (signs of respiratory distress in ferrets include gasping, coughing, wheezing, and repetitive sneezing)
  • Behavioral changes
  • Weight Loss
  • Fur loss or changes
  • Vomiting


Baby ferrets, or kits, sleep way more than any other ferret — sometimes in excess of 20 hours a day! This is a completely normal part of their nature and not something you need to be concerned about. It should begin to cease around the year mark when awake times increase, and their playful temperament really comes out.

As important as it Is for kits to spend most of their time sleeping for development purposes, not every ferret will do it willingly. If their eyes are drooping, they appear lethargic or you notice other symptoms of tiredness with no other health symptoms, they may need some encouragement. You can do this by putting them in a quiet, comfortable, and dark room to prevent them from experiencing complete exhaustion.

Age should have less of an effect on ferrets in adulthood, but as they get older, they may become more lethargic and retreat to the same sleeping habits they exhibited as babies. This is a natural part of the slowing down process in older adult ferrets.

When Should I Be Concerned?

This article should put your mind at rest that, in most cases, it’s completely natural for ferrets to sleep most of the day. There are, however, some situations where it might be indicative of something else going on.

When something else is going on with your ferret, there will usually be symptoms to accompany the increased sleep. Some of the things you should look out for include:

  • A sudden loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy after being awake for only a few minutes, especially in healthy adult ferrets
  • Behavioral changes
  • Fur loss or change

What Should I Do If My Ferret Sleeps More Than Normal?

If your ferret is sleeping so much longer than it usually would, and you have concerns, you should visit your vet as soon as possible for advice.

It could be something as simple as a change in the environment, but if you aren’t sure, it’s always better to be safe. If you can find a local vet who specializes in ferrets, they will be able to provide tailored solutions that suit your ferret’s exact needs.

Final Thoughts

In most cases, ferrets sleeping lot is incredibly normal. It’s as much a part of their nature as their energetic, playful temperament.

Many factors affect how much sleep your ferret is getting, and changes to their environment can massively impact this. You must monitor your ferret and its surroundings so you can make note of any changes and adapt them if necessary.

But, even though ferrets will spend as much as 75 percent of their day sleeping, they are crepuscular animals and have adaptive sleeping routines to work around their owner. This means you should see them awake for at least part of your day.

If your ferret is sleeping so much and it’s different from their norm, or you notice other concerning behavior, visit a veterinarian for more advice.

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