ok, so I have an issue, and maybe there is already a thread on it that I havnt seen yet (so please point me in the right direction if there is). I recently just got 2 ferrets yesterday (from a girl with a young daughter who couldnt have them as shes moving). Well the girls daughter apparently used to get really rough with the little girl ferret sometimes, and accidentally closed paws in cage doors and such (from what I was told). As I was holding her for the first time yesterday, she was fine for about 15 minutes then all of a sudden took a huge bite in between my pointer finger and thumb, she ended up leaving bruises which are still noticeable today. I was told to try giving her a treat to let her get used to me so I tried FerretVite and she LOVED it. I picked her up again from the cage and she was sweet, then all of a sudden she repeatedly bit the opposite hand in the same spot, this time leaving bloody guages. I scruffed her, and said "NO" firmly then put her back in her cage. Does anyone have experience with this behaviour? I'm not sure if shes scared of me, or if its just something that she does and never was taught not to bite. Im thinking it has to do with trust issues because of the incidents with the little girl. any suggestions? help please!!
Bite issues are common in rehomed ferrets. There are often a multitude of reasons and often it's really not worth guessing why but deciding on a method you're going to use. You're going to encounter many methods, so be forewarned. I've been doing shelter/hospice work for years and I use a method with my hard core biters. It takes a while to work, but if you and everyone that is handing this wee little one is consistent with how they deal with her...given time she will come around. I'm guessing that this wee thing wants to be put down on her time, not yours? I use a time out method for biting. A single cat carrier, no blankets, no toys....3 minutes maximum. In the beginning they spend a lot of time in there....I reward for no bites with some treat they really love. With Mad Max, it was little kibble treats that I kept in a bag on my wrist. He was very smart so I clicker trained him not to bite. In the end he could ride around on my shoulder where ever I decided to take him. I also made a point of not holding him long but holding him a lot. Every time I picked him up and he didn't swing around and bite me he got a treat. I held him only long enough for him to finish licking his lips. I wanted him to think that the idea was mine that he was getting put back on the ground not his....so waiting until he got restless defeated the purpose and set him up to fail. In a few weeks, I was able to lengthen the time that he was held. Just simple handling to prove to him that I wasn't going to hurt him. That's the same way I worked with Fun-Go only he used to attack me. He would line anyone up and just attack and bite....so I had to work through that first, then we progressed to the next step which appears to be the stage you're at now. You have to convince the wee one that those "evil" hands aren't going to hurt her. I don't scruff in a discipline method....I have to use a scruff for other things, meds, vets...so I don't want them to associate being scruffed with being bad. It's just my method. You're going to get a lot of information on this one ciao
I'm completely with Heather on this. One method that helped our little fear biter Willow was to use ferretone on the palm of the hand. We would quickly pick her up, bring palm and ferret nose together, then while she was licking up the tone it got to the point we could walk and hold her after a few weeks. At first however, we would only hold her for a few seconds then put her down and walk away. That was done frequently when she was out of cage. This was a 5 month old who'd been so terrified of human hands that she would latch on and bite to the bone every time she got the chance.
Last Edit: Sept 20, 2012 12:31:55 GMT -5 by Sherry
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thanks gals! im going to be trying the ferretvite option. a friend of mine said that if i get her to understand that my hands are associated with treats and mean good things, then she wont bite them. shes just like you'rs sherry, she bites so hard that if she bit and ripped a way it would litterally take a chunk of skin out. when I first held her she bit me so hard it took months for it to heal. she still bites now but not quite as hard and not as much but i do think the ferretvite idea will work. if she can understand that my hands mean shell recieve yummy treats I think shell start to understand that my hands arent bad. so sorry for really late reply, been really busy lately and havnt had time to check back here with everything going on elsewhere. hope you all are ready to be enjoying the upcomming holidays!
Also use caution that you are not rewarding her for biting, she may associate bite with treat. I would time out in an crate for bites, use toys for distraction and reward nice behavior. Oh by the way, Welcome you will love this forum! Some pics of your little ones would be very nice