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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-12-2005, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 49
Adding Ferrets and Biting problems

Well ferret math hit, i now have 5 ferrets. I decided on only adding one ferret to my three but when i got to the adoption shelter they told me how the ferret i was interested in was bonded to another ferret with a huge biting problem.

Anyway i don't really have experience with biting but i decided to go ahead and try since both me and my bf fell in love with both of them and we got a 2 week trial period (though i would feel bad taking them back). I have trained nipping very well but this is a little different as both of the new ferrets that i got, have a biting problem. They will bite down on me (not drawing blood if i dont move) and will not let go. The first time one of them did it, i freaked out and tried to move my arm away but it just made matters worse and the lady helped me get the ferret off of me.

Since then i have become slightly afraid of the ferrets but its getting better because i have learned that if i yell out in pain (louder than it really feels) they will both let go. It isn't that it really hurts that frightens me, its just the sight of seeing an animal i know has strong teeth attached to my arm.

Well its day 2 and me and my bf have been trying to handle them several times a day while they play, every time they bite we scream out in pain then they let go, we then scruff them and tell them "NO" in a firm voice and put them in a 5 min time out.

Does anyone got any advice? I think they can be taught out of this because of when i scream in pain they let go, that tells me that i dont think they are really trying to hurt me and maybe they dont realize how strong they are. Like i said, they dont draw blood unless you move away with them on the arm but i have learned from that.

When i trained my ferrets from nipping, i would keep doing it over and over, like put their mouth at the same body part like a finger that they would nip at and then when they did i would scruff and say no then start all over. They learned very quickly that way. I dont know if i should do that sort of thing with these ferrets or just show lots of love and handle the ferrets but try to avoid letting them bite me.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-13-2005, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 49
Well I don't know. It has been a couple of days now and i haven't seen a slight improvement at all. Me and my bf have been trying to work with her alot but the main biter will go after our arms as soon as she gets the chance without a second thought. Been doing time outs, scruff and say "NO" along with bitter apple. I feel bad but if i can't find a slight improvement this sunday then i will probably return the two ferrets that were adopted.

I use to never fear ferrets, and when one of mine would lick me i wouldn't think it was getting ready to bite. I just don't know if i can handle a biter that may never stop biting. Granted i think a change in one week is a little soon, i only got 2 weeks before the trial is over. I would love for them to be a part of our family but i dont want to always have to feel this way when i go in the ferret room. I love my ferrets and i want to be able to play with them and hug them without worries.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-25-2005, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I just went through the same experience. I adopted a male sable from a rescue shelter. Every time he licked me it was a prelude to some nasty biting. My fiance and I worked and worked with him and I never thought I'd see and improvement. Like you, he was starting to make me be afraid of being licked and jumpy around ferrets, and I hated that.
But let me say that now after three months of work, Loki doesn't try to bite at all any more and we're totally at ease with him.

My fiance discovered the best way to get him to stop biting was to grab him quickly after a bite, and flip him on his back then shake him a little. No other thing worked but this.

At first this little guy was very nasty. If you held him, when you put him down, he'd turn around and bite you as retaliation. Time outs didn't work, because the previous owner just left him in his cage always and it was a safe zone for him.

But the licking actually turned out to be the best thing, because you knew he was going in for a bite and you could be ready to flip and exert dominance. Within the first month to a month and a half we were able to cure him of biting the hands and feet. It took another couple weeks to get him to stop pushing the rest of the boundaries (he started biting other places like elbows and backs).

The key thing with this is time. This took over two months. Loki is very smart but he didn't have a good life before we got him. I thought we could train him quick like babies and you can't.

But the result is worth it. Loki still isn't to fond of playing with us, but he doesn't bite at all, will allow us to hold him (and sometimes he'll fall asleep in our laps), and we can bring him in for hugs and kisses without worrying about him biting our lips. I've even got kisses/licks from him now that aren't preludes to bites.

Work with your rescues. Don't give up. Hold them in your lap for 5 minutes and then work up each day. If you do give up, the work will have been for nothing and the next people to take care of them will find it that much harder to start over.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-26-2005, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 49
Well thank you for your reply, i should give an update to this. Yesterday was the 2 week marker and we decided to keep them.

One of the biters bite because of a trust issue, so i did alot of searching and found out the best way to overcome that is just to give them love and treats (alot). After placing ferretone on the palm for a good bit, we have moved up to putting the ferretone in the place that the biter would bite so that way when she looks at our arms she doesn't see a place to bite but a place treats go. Anyway we have been working with her alot and she has shown alot of improvement, the only time she *nips* us now is our ankles and i believe she gets really excited and is trying to get some attention. Of course when she does that, then she gets time out for 5 mins and i usually then cuddle her for a bit afterwards and give her a treat on my arm.

My other biter, i believe bites because he has socialization issues and has limitless energy to say the least. We have been trying to hold him more, and show him that we can be more dominent, pin him down on his back for a bit until he sighs and then give him a treat on palms up to places that he would normally bite.

I really believe there is an improvement although i do not try to test my biters out, they do sneak up on me and they look for treats on my arms instead of a place to bite. Currently me and my boyfriend are trying to show them that when they give us licks and kisses we will put them down and they can go play. I'm mostly trying to associate good behavior in place of that bad behavior and i really think its working. The one thing we had working with us is that these ferrets do not lick before the bite so i dont really worry about them biting me if they lick me, they are just trying to find treats.

It has been a long time since either ferret *latched* down on me and my boyfriend, at the most they just nip now and barely put any pressure on us now so i really think that is a major improvement. I think my worst biter has a real issue with new situations, that seems to set off the biting, plus she has a slight attitude, so i will have to decide in the future or not whether i want to take her on walks to a pet store or anything like that although if i did then i would keep all of the public away from my known biters even if i think they will not bite.

It has been a real struggle but i do see improvement and i am starting to fall in love with the little buggers so we decided we will keep them.
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