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Are Ferrets Nocturnal? All You Need To Know!

Kristin Hitchcock

Ferrets are not considered nocturnal. They don’t stay awake all night or sleep for much of the day. Instead, they are considered crepuscular. In other words, they are most active around the twilight hours. Your ferret will probably be up around dawn and dusk, sleeping through the middle part of the day and night.

This schedule works out quite well for those with typical 9-to-5 jobs. You can play and interact with your ferret in the morning before work and in the evening when you get back home. During the day, your ferret will spend much of their time sleeping.

You will need to let your ferret out of their cage for at least 4 hours a day. Preferably, this should occur in the morning and the evening, when they are most active. You may want to plan for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, but an uneven layout also works.

Just like most creatures, ferrets will adjust their sleep cycle to match their surroundings. While most ferrets will sleep during the middle of the day, many will adjust to waking up when everyone starts coming home from work or school.

If you’re most active in the morning, your ferret may wake up early. If you tend to sleep in, your ferret might too. Their sleep cycles are adjustable.

There is also a decent amount of variation between different ferrets. Some may only seem to need 13 hours of sleep, while others will need 17. There is no magical number of hours that your ferret should sleep, as it can vary depending on their activity level and age. A good rule of thumb is to allow your ferret to sleep as much as they want. Typically, they won’t sleep more than they need.

However, if you notice a sudden change in your ferret’s sleeping habits, you should speak to a vet. Ferrets suddenly waking up during the day and night might be in pain or have an underlying health condition. Those that are suddenly sleeping all day may have anemia or a similar problem.divider-ferret

Are Ferrets More Active at Night?

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Credit: christels, Pixabay

Some ferrets may stay up a bit later than you, but they will usually sleep for much of the night. Whenever it gets dark, ferrets will usually begin to settle down and sleep.

They need about 14 to 16 hours of sleep a day. Usually, they will divide this up somewhat evenly between the night and day. Many will sleep 7-8 hours at night and then another 7-8 hours during the day.

However, it also isn’t odd for ferrets to sleep 10 hours at night and 6 hours during the day. Most will adjust their sleep schedule to when the household is most active. This is typically not at night, so many will sleep during this time.

If your ferret seems to be waking up at night, you may want to provide them with more activity before bed. If they are generally awake from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., you may want to try waking them up at 5 a.m. instead. Letting them out of their cage to explore and play will usually wear them out so they are more likely to sleep through the night.

Younger ferrets may require more activity, but all ferrets need quite a bit of exercise. Without this exercise, it is normal for them to be extra hyper and not calm down for bed. They are similar to most other species in this manner.

Are Ferrets Noisy at Night?

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Credit: Sir_Tommy, Pixabay

No, ferrets will spend much of their time sleeping at night. They are most active at dusk and dawn. In the dead of night, they will usually be asleep.

However, ferrets can have sleep problems, just like any other pet.

If your ferret seems to be quite noisy at night, there is likely something wrong with their sleeping cycle. It is usual for ferrets to wake up for about an hour or so during the night, but they should otherwise be asleep.

If your ferret is keeping you up all night, there are quite a few things that you can do. Wearing your ferret out is an easy way to ensure that they are tired at night. Try to ensure that your ferret has a total of 2 hours of wake-up time before you go to bed. Let them out of their cage, if possible. This will ensure that they are using those 2 hours for activity, not sleeping.

Of course, you should never force your ferret to stay awake. However, if they tend to be getting all of their playtime at night, try adding in extra playtime when it is okay for them to be noisy.

How Long Do Ferrets Sleep During the Day?

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Credit: christels, Pixabay

Ferrets will usually sleep another 7 to 8 hours during the day. This may be done as a few long naps, but it is also typical for ferrets to sleep for one long stretch. Some ferrets may sleep more than this, especially if their house is quiet and active during this time.

Some owners feel bad about leaving their ferret in their cage all day, but they will be spending much of this time sleeping. Some ferrets can sleep for up to 18 hours a day!

In the wild, ferrets will wake up around dusk. This is when many of their prey animals are active, so most wild ferrets will use this time to hunt.

In captivity, things may be a bit different. If everyone gets home around 4 pm, your ferret may start waking up around then. They typically adjust their sleeping hours to when their household is most active.

Since the time of dusk varies quite a bit throughout the year, ferrets won’t always change their schedule to match it. In many cases, they will keep the same sleeping schedule throughout the year, especially if there is a large amount of artificial light in their room. After all, ferrets won’t likely notice that it is getting darker earlier if you always have the lights on.

Can Ferrets Sleep Too Much?

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Image Credit: Mitskevich Uladzimir, Shutterstock

Ferrets sleep a great deal, far more than most people expect. Therefore, some worry that their ferret is sleeping too much.

Usually, as long as your ferret is getting at least 4 hours of activity a day, there is no need to worry about their exact sleep cycle. This means your ferret could sleep for 20 hours a day before you should start getting worried.

The main problem with your ferret sleeping for more than 20 hours a day is that they likely won’t get enough exercise, which can cause obesity.

You do need to pay attention to changes in your ferret’s sleep, though. If your ferret suddenly starts sleeping way more than they used to, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition. Several health problems can make your ferret feel sleepier than usual, such as anemia and heart issues.

Many of these conditions are entirely treatable if you visit the vet quickly. Ferrets don’t typically have that many symptoms of health problems, but the ones that they can have include fatigue and excess sleep.

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Final Thoughts

Ferrets are not nocturnal but they aren’t diurnal either. Instead, they will spend much of their waking hours in the morning and the evening. Many will sleep similarly to a cat, with short awake times and short naps.

It isn’t odd for them to sleep for 4-5 hours, wake up for an hour, and then go back to sleep. Most will have their most prolonged waking periods during dusk and dawn.

Ferrets are more than able to adjust their sleep cycle to their environment. Often, they will be most active when their household is active. Many will wake up when everyone starts getting home for the day, as things tend to be most active during this time.

We recommend letting your ferret out to play as much as possible in the evening, as this will ensure that they are tired enough to sleep properly throughout the night. They need at least 4 hours of activity a day, but this shouldn’t be done all in one go. Most ferrets will be unable to stay awake for that long. An hour or two of active time is all that most ferrets can handle at a time.

Ferrets may have an irregular sleeping cycle, but it isn’t much different from a cat’s or a dog’s. Most predatory animals sleep in this manner.


Featured Image Credit: GuilleNeT, Pixabay

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!