Ferrets kept alone or in groups? Most ferret owners believe that ferrets are social animals that enjoy being in large groups. However, a new school of thought is currently emerging in Europe in which owners believe that having more than one ferret in a household stresses ferrets out.
I believe the idea stems from the fact that wild polecats (the domestic ferret’s closest cousins) are largely solitary animals throughout their lives.
I believe that there is a huge misconception in the ferret community that ferrets are social animals and at all times need to have the company of another ferret. This is not true at all. There are a lot of ferrets that actually prefer being solo, without any companions. Many ferret owners try to force their ferrets to accept new companions without really taking into consideration what their ferrets would actually want.
It feels like ferret carers along the way slowly turned into collectors of ferrets instead of being in tune with their ferrets. We wear it as a badge of honour when we can boast about the number of ferrets we are looking after at one time. But isn’t this coming from a place of fulfilling our own egos? Are we doing the best we can for our ferrets or are we only thinking about our own needs and desires? After all, it’s quite possible every ferret lovers fantasy to be surrounded by fluffy, fuzzies at all times. But at what costs are we fulfilling our dreams and fantasies? Do we ever stop to think about what is best for the ferrets, from their perspective?
Time and time again I see posts on Facebook that read something along the lines of ‘I just got a new ferret and the others are ganging up on him, there is poo everywhere, and I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working, please help!’.
Shouldn’t this be an indication that the other ferret/s may have been happy the way they were and maybe never wanted a new friend in the first place? Why do we try to force more ferrets into the group when some clearly don’t want to be surrounded by yet another companion? I definitely think, the ferret community as a whole needs to rethink the idea that all ferrets need to have companions. Some don’t, and we need to learn to respect that.
On the other hand, I don’t believe that all ferrets are happier just being solo. Thousands of years of domestication has changed the ferrets we see today into more social beings. A lot of ferrets do indeed enjoy the company of others, for the mental stimulation of having a like-minded partner in crime to play and wreak havoc with, for another soft, fluffy body to spoon with while they sleep, And for companionship they miss when a cage mate passes away.
Is it really up to us to decide whether a ferret should or should not have companions? Perhaps as ferret carers we need to finally start to respect the fact that our chosen companions are individual, autonomous beings with their own wishes and desires and their own ability to choose what they would like experience in their lives. We need to respect their own free will, so they may live more fulfilling lives.
If we notice that a ferret is trying to kill another ferret, during introductions, then maybe they are trying to communicate the fact that they don’t want another companion in their lives at that point in time. If everything goes smoothly, however, then maybe they are willing to accept and even enjoy the company of another ferret.
Maybe it’s time for us humans to stop pretending we know the answers to every other living being’s wishes and wants.
One thing I do know is that the choices we make for our ferrets are always from a place of love, whether we try to force ferrets kept alone or in groups. We are just trying to do the best we can with the information we have at the time. However, sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to step back, listen, observe and try to understand our furry friends from their own perspectives and let them tell us what they do or do not want.
I hope this article on ferrets kept alone or in groups has helped you understand your ferrets a bit better. If this has helped you then I highly suggest checking out this months Dook Dook Ferret Magazine.
In this months Dook Dook Ferret Magazine we explore the topic of animal communication. We learn about what it means to see the animals perspective of the world which in turn helps you build a stronger connection with it. The objective of this issue is to help you deepen the connection you have with your ferret, understand it better and discover new ways to allow it to live a more fulfilled life.