We love our ferrets. They’re so cute that we want to scoop them up and give them cuddles and kisses until they can’t stand it anymore!
Unfortunately, most ferrets can’t stand it within a few short seconds. They are naturally playful and hyper, and cuddling interrupts the fun. Despite our desire to give them affection, they often prefer not to receive it.
The best way is to engage them regularly in a healthy, appropriate way and strengthen your bond over time. Ferrets that are cared for in this manner will be more amenable to cuddling, holding, and petting.
You won’t build the bond overnight. But with patience and the right approach, you can get to a place where your ferret will not only accept cuddling, but may grow to expect it, appreciate it, and even initiate it!
How to encourage cuddling from your ferret
If your ferret is a new addition to your home, there are ways to set the tone from the get-go that will assist in the effort.
You will have the best results by starting early in their lives while they have their formative experiences, but you can work with an older ferret all the same.
Get acquainted and acclimated
A change in environment is stressful to any animal. In the beginning days and weeks, try not to rush your ferret to do anything that overwhelms or frightens them.
You want to provide a gradual introduction to the new sights, smells, and sounds of your home before trying to influence their behavior.
Handle them minimally at first and focus on getting them accustomed to your voice. Use a calm and soothing tone without dramatic fluctuations, anger, or forcefulness.
This will start to communicate to your ferret that you are a good presence, and they should feel comforted whenever you are around them.
Take your time and move slowly. Forcing your ferret to become exposed to negative stimuli too early can hinder your progress.
Whenever you make a mistake, reset and retry. With a concentrated effort and good intentions, you will be successful in time.
Playtime means engage time
Ferrets have an abundance of energy that needs burning. You should provide your ferret a minimum of 4 hours out of their cage daily.
This should be segmented into 2 blocks, each lasting 2 hours minimum, and the ideal timing is at dawn and dusk since ferrets are crepuscular creatures.
During their time out of the cage, engage them in games. Ferrets are curious and mischievous, so games that involve solving puzzles, tugging on ropes, or collecting items are fun. They are both physically and mentally engaging.
Engage them in games frequently, and they will come to look forward to your time together. This favorable acknowledgment on their behalf will help prime them for cuddling later on.
Set the foundation first through consistent engagement, and you will reap the rewards later.
Let them take the lead
You should be patient before attempting any cuddling whatsoever. Let them take the lead when you start to encourage physical affection from your ferret.
Do not grab, scoop, or restrain them. It will be a horrible idea to muscle them into submission.
Ferrets are feisty but fragile. Forcing them to interact in a way they’re uncomfortable with may lead to their injury or yours, as they will fight back if they feel threatened.
Start by coming to their level and offering an open hand. If they approach, do not make sudden movements. Let them sniff, touch, climb, and do whatever else they feel comfortable doing.
If they climb into your lap, that’s excellent! If not, that’s okay too. There’s no rush.
With a calm and patient approach, you can condition your ferret to seek cuddling, pets, and other physical affection.
That doesn’t mean they’re above bribery!
Ferrets are carnivores, and they’re always hungry. They need plenty of calories to sustain such a busy and playful lifestyle.
Offer them jerky treats and other high-protein snacks to reinforce good behaviors and encourage their interaction with you.
Cat treats are good, too, since cats and ferrets are both obligate carnivores.
Many pet retailers sell chew sticks for ferrets. These are great because they require the ferret to stay put for a duration and work on the treat.
Try offering one of these while they’re being held so they will come to associate cuddling with good treats.
5 benefits of cuddling your ferret
We want to cuddle our ferrets because we love them and because they’re so cute! But did you know that it is beneficial to their health as well?
1. Stress relief
Ferrets that are handled regularly are less anxious than those that do not receive human contact. Cuddling your ferret can help them live a less stressful life.
2. Healthier nervous system
Humans have a need for positive physical touch, and our ferret friends are no different.
Cuddling releases endorphins in their brain that help soothes their heart rate and manage anxiety levels. This improves metabolic functions, heart health, and other biological benefits.
3. Stronger immune system
Healthy ferrets have stronger immune systems and are more successful at staving off disease.
Providing plenty of cuddles for a happy and healthy life will benefit you and your ferret’s health.
4. Better sleep
Ferrets that get regular play and cuddles get ample time to burn off extra energy and start settling into your embrace.
This helps them get cozy faster and sleep better. Cuddle your ferret to help them get a good night’s sleep.
5. Stronger bond
Nothing beats feeling your ferret’s warm furry body against your chest or in your lap as they laze away or catch a nap.
Physical closeness from cuddling strengthens the bond between you and your ferret, improving the quality of life for both.
Do ferrets actually enjoy cuddling?
Most ferrets enjoy cuddling but not all take to it right away. You will need to be patient while learning about your ferret’s personal preferences and proclivities.
If they are predisposed to cuddles, congratulations! You have hit the ferret jackpot. Ferrets that love cuddling from day one are fast friends and full of love.
More likely, your ferret will need time to gain familiarity with you before they are apt to curl up in your lap and relax for a while.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes what seems like an eternity. Some ferrets take years even before they are ready to join you for cuddles, and that’s okay.
My ferret just won’t cuddle with me!
It can be frustrating if you’ve tried every tactic and still yield no results. This can hurt your bond and make you feel disconnected from the ferret.
However, there could be many good reasons that they do not wish to cuddle with you. Here’s what to do if they simply won’t come snuggle.
Respect their boundaries
You gave it your best shot; there’s no shame in that. Some ferrets may just never be interested in engaging this way.
If this is the case, be respectful of their boundaries and, no matter what, never force them to cuddle.
Forcing a reluctant ferret to cuddle may cause injury to your ferret’s delicate body, or they may scratch or bite you in self-defense.
Not only will one or both of you walk away with injuries, but the negative interaction will also harm your bond.
Just because they’re showing no interest now doesn’t mean they never will. Continue to trust the process and take things slow.
Over time, they may warm up to you more, and, as your bond strengthens, they will be more likely to accept or initiate cuddles.
In addition, ferrets’ energy levels diminish as they age. A juvenile or young adult ferret may be too busy exploring and playing to slow down for cuddles, but an older ferret may greatly prefer hanging out for long stretches with no motivation to do much else.
If they don’t cuddle from the get-go, they may still cuddle in their twilight years.
Visit the vet
If your ferret is not only uninterested but also opposed to cuddling, sometimes aggressively, it may be prudent to visit the vet.
If your ferret is typically happy-go-lucky and exhibits irritability or sudden aggression, it could indicate numerous health issues, including:
Your vet will perform a full diagnostic to see if their sudden behavior change is related to the discomfort they have been managing. They will also recommend proper treatment to get your ferret back to good health.
Nurturing a strong bond will enable you to cuddle your ferret, resulting in a happier, healthier ferret and positive effects for you as the owner.
Take your time when initiating cuddles, and never force things too fast. With a smart and careful approach, you and your ferret will be the best of friends before long.