My ferret, Mercury was like this when he was a baby--it was very frustrating. He'd let that "barking" sound out--the very same one you're describing and bite. It *usually* only happened when I would hold out his kibble to him. It's almost like he thought he had to "protect" his food from me. This behavior sometimes happens with ferrets who come from very large litters or ones that were kept in pet shops with a large # of other ferrets---sometimes they're the smallest or more submissive of the group and don't always get their fair share of food. The others usually push them aside and sometimes leave them with little or no food left to eat. When nursing there may not have been enough nipples to feed all the ferrets, so one or two(or more) had to wait or fight to get into the nursing group. If they go to the bowl to eat, the other ferrets might bite them, beat them up or do that same bark and bite thing to get them to go away. So the little one usually goes off by himself and waits til the others are done. So now this bark and bite thing becomes a defense mechanism...with anyone and over everything. Does he live with the other ferrets? If so, are they eating together? Or do the others bully the new one?
Mercury's behavior didn't start til he was about 10 weeks as well. It was weird cause we had him caged by himself when he was little. However, the pet shop we bought him at had him in a cage that ferrets were literally crammed into. The food bowl always seemed to be empty and instead of a water bottle they had a big water bowl which was either almost empty or had wood shavings or urine in it. No litter box of course
So, when we got him home, now he had a big cage all to himself, his own food, water and bedding. Now that he had his *own* stuff, he wasn't about to let anyone else have it now--even if nobody was trying to take it away from him. To help him get over this, I'd put my hand in the cage(while he was in it), and put my hand in his bowl--the first few times I did this, he went ballistic--barking and biting like crazy. I wouldn't pull my hand away tho(I know, sounds crazy). I'd turn it over to show him there was nothing in it. He'd sniff my hand(and in the beginning, still bite it), then look in his bowl--the food was still there, no one took it. Then I'd pet him(carefully, LOL) and take my hand out. He was a little dumbfounded that I didn't take anything.
Gradually I'd put my hand in the bowl while he was eating and run my fingers through it. He'd stop chewing(sometimes he would hiss) and kind of stare at my hand as if daring me to take something. On occasion I would take him out--hold him in one hand and offer him a piece of kibble with the other, using my index finger and thumb. Yep, he'd bark and bite--but every time I'd feel him getting ready to bite, I'd pull the kibble out of his reach and tell him no. I'd do this every time until he learned to take it gently(took him a while to figure out where the kibble ended and the fingers began). The best way I found to offer kibble by hand to him was to put it in the palm of my hand and keep my fingers splayed out so the skin on my palm was flat. This way if he barked and bit, there'd be no skin to grab. If you cup your hand, there's skin there for the grabbing. And as time wore on and he came to trust me more, then I could cup my hand a little and not be afraid that he would bite. Mercury was also a perpetual crier -- he was a handful LOL
This is how I got Mercury over his bark and bite problem. However, he was not drawing blood--so my methods may not work as well for you. But try them if you want to. Make sure your guy has plenty to eat --they should have a bowl of food available at all times. If need be, put an extra bowl in just for him, so he doesn't feel so pressured to "compete". Watch them when they eat--if the other ferrets are bullying him, you might want to put him in a separate cage(or separate their present one into 2 living areas) until he gets a little older and bigger. He just might be feeling very left out and gets defensive when he sees the others getting attention, treats, etc. When you handle him, I would wait til he's worn out from playing. When you go to pick him up, have a lickable treat, such as ferretone, linatone, or ferrretvite available. Pick him up with one hand while offering the treat(from the bottle, tube) with the other. And always offer praise and treats when he's behaving. Positive reinforcement helps a lot.
I have a few other methods you can try on my web page--here's the url. Just remember to be consistent with him. Don't get frustrated. Be patient and consistent and he will come around. If none of the methods work, then let me know. You can pm me or e-mail me at [email protected]
and I'll be happy to help.
Another suggestion--while he's in this "bark and bite" stage, don't let him come to close to your face; I don't care how snuggly he's being. He's biting for what could be any reason: distrust, defense, your hands may smell like food, he might also be able to sense your fear as well.
This page needs to be updated; I need to add more info, but this has a good amount to start with.