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Why Is My Ferret Shaking? Should I Do Something?

Nicole Cosgrove

June 17, 2021

Ferrets are unique pets. Raising and caring for a ferret is a whole different ball game compared to keeping a pet dog or cat. That’s not to say they can’t make great pets—they absolutely can! But you have to be aware of some major differences between raising ferrets and other pets.

When you’re caring for a dog or cat, the behaviors you can expect are pretty normal. Ferrets, on the other hand, have some decidedly strange behaviors. If you’re new to ferret care, some of these behaviors might be surprising, off-putting, or even worrisome to you.

One common behavior that people notice in their ferrets is shaking. When you see your ferret shaking and trembling, it can immediately cause worry and fear. Is there something wrong with your ferret? Is it having a seizure? Most likely, neither of these is the case. In most circumstances, shaking is perfectly normal behavior for your ferret to exhibit. In fact, there are many different reasons why your ferret might shake that are innocuous and no reason for concern.

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Times Your Ferret Might Shake

Your ferret could be shaking for many different reasons, most of which are harmless. You’ll probably see your ferret shaking in each of the following scenarios. These are all healthy and normal times for a ferret to shake or tremble, so if your ferret is doing so around these times, you have no reason to worry.

Your Ferret is Excited

Ferrets can harbor an awful lot of excitement in their little bodies! When that happens, it’s all your ferret can do to contain it, and the extra energy comes out in the form of excited shaking!

After Eating

It’s very common to see ferrets shaking during and after eating. This is because a ferret’s metabolic rate increases during eating. A short while after finishing the meal, your ferret’s shaking should cease.

During and After Sleep

Ferrets actually burn more energy during sleep than when they’re awake! As such, their metabolisms are ramped up during sleep, which can cause them to shake. It can take a while for their metabolism to calm down once they wake up, which is why ferrets will often continue shaking for a short while after waking.

ferret eating_Xseon_shutterstock
Image Credit: Xseon, Shutterstock

Do Ferrets Shake from Cold?

Ferrets are furry and well-equipped for cold temperatures. Truthfully, they’re unhappy once the temperature rises above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, people often misinterpret their ferret’s shaking as shivering. Ferrets are rarely ever cold, so the chances of your ferret shivering from the cold are very slim unless it’s absolutely freezing in your home.

Should You Do Something About Your Ferret’s Shaking?

Most of the reasons why your ferret could be shaking are no cause for concern. If your ferret is shaking under the normal conditions we’ve just covered, then you don’t need to do anything about it. This behavior is completely normal and doesn’t signify any sort of health concern.

That said, ferrets will also shake sometimes when they’re stressed or nervous. Different from shaking with excitement, nervous and stressed ferrets can be calmed down with a little attention and care. While there are no immediate health risks associated with your ferret shaking from nervousness, it’s always best to keep your ferret’s life as stress-free as possible.

Ways To Calm Your Ferret

ferret_Daniel Steinke_Pixabay
Image Credit: Daniel Steinke, Pixabay

If you think your ferret is shaking because of stress or nervousness, then you might want to try the following three methods to calm it down.

Play Music

Humans aren’t the only creatures that enjoy music—your ferret does too! If you play a soothing song, it can help to calm your ferret down when it’s feeling anxious. On the other hand, if you think your ferret needs a pick-me-up, try playing something that’s more upbeat with a positive feeling.

Offer it Treats

Treats make everyone feel better, including your ferret. You can give your ferret a piece of fruit, such as a banana or strawberry. Granted, you don’t want to give your ferret too much sugar, as this could have the opposite effect and make your ferret restless. A small bit of fruit as a tasty treat can help to relax a stressed-out ferret.

Be Affectionate

Ferrets are some of the most affectionate pets you can keep. They love attention, and a bit of care and love from you might be all your ferret needs to calm down and get rid of that anxious energy. Try petting your ferret while it lays with you. Ferrets also seem to enjoy a relaxing, slow rock from side to side. Don’t be afraid to pick your ferret up and give it some love when you think it’s shaking from stress or nervousness.

When Should Your Ferret’s Shaking Worry You?

 ferret_Couperfield, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

There are very few times when your ferret’s shaking should be a worry. But if your ferret’s shaking is accompanied by other worrisome behaviors, such as obvious sickness, vomiting, lethargy, or other major symptoms, it might be worth a trip to the vet. While ferrets are generally healthy, some diseases, such as insulinoma, can result in seizures that might appear like shaking. So, if your ferret is also displaying weakness and nausea along with its shaking, call your veterinarian.

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Other Strange Ferret Behaviors

ferret lying down_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Shaking is far from the only strange behavior that ferrets display. Ferrets are unique pets, and keeping them comes with some interesting experiences. Here are some other behaviors you’ll see when caring for a ferret that might seem strange at first.

Sleeping in Piles

If you have multiple ferrets, you probably have a bed for each. Despite this, you’ll likely notice that all of your ferrets pile up in one bed. This is for comfort and warmth. Even though you may worry about the bottom ferret, they won’t suffocate! This is just how ferrets prefer to sleep.

Play Dead

You’ve heard of playing possum, but how about playing ferret? Well, ferrets don’t play dead the same way a possum does, but when they sleep, ferrets sleep so soundly that you might think they’re dead! Even if you shake them and pinch them, your ferret probably won’t wake up! So, don’t panic if your ferret appears to be dead—it’s probably just sleeping.

Running into Things

Ever notice that your ferrets seem to burst out of the cage with an insane amount of energy and zero care when you open the door? They’re not even trying to avoid running into the walls and furniture. Don’t worry, your ferret isn’t blind. They do have pretty bad eyesight, but it’s no cause for concern. Ferrets have giant bursts of energy, and when they run into a bunch of things after coming out of their cage, it’s actually a sign of good health. Plus, ferrets have an incredibly high pain tolerance and likely don’t even notice that they’re running into everything!

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Is Shaking Normal for Ferrets? Should I do Something About it?

When you first start caring for ferrets, you might be surprised or even worried to see them shaking. While a human baby shaking is usually a sign that something needs attention, the same is not the case for a ferret. Ferrets shake for perfectly normal reasons, such as excitement, nervousness, during and after eating, during and after sleep, and other times as well. Unless your ferret’s shaking is accompanied by major signs of sickness like weakness, lethargy, and nausea, there’s no reason for you to be concerned.


Featured Image Credit: GuilleNeT, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.