Ferrets are cheerful and playful, exposing lots of colorful body language cues to owners. As adorable as they are, they can have tempers—especially if something unexpected sparks it. So, if you’ve recently heard the ever-infamous ferret “hiss,” you might require a translation.
Just know this is always a sign of fear or discomfort, so finding a trigger is essential. Here, we will explain potential reasons your ferret might hiss and how to keep yourself safe when handling the behavior.
What is Hissing in Ferrets?
Just like any other vocal behavior, his saying indicates emotion. As with almost any animal, it’s a sign of warning and potential aggression. They feel that something is wrong for whatever reason, and they’re trying to tell something to back off.
The 5 Reasons for Ferret Hissing Are:
If you look around to assess the situation, you can probably tell what the problem is. But there are a few different emotions that come along with the behavior. Let’s discuss.
1. Your Ferret Is Angry
Obviously, one of the first things that come to mind is that they’re angry—and you may very well be right. Something has set them off, and they are plumb ticked off about it.
Be very careful handling your ferret when they are this upset because bites are a real thing, and they can be downright horrible.
2. Your Ferret Is Hurt
If they’ve been wounded and you don’t know it—it might cause hissing. Any time they are in pain, both externally or internally, it might create this response as a way to show you something is wrong.
If you find that your ferret s in pain for some reason, veterinary attention is crucial. It could be something as simple as a strained muscle or as severe as a progressive underlying health problem.
- Related Read: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Ferrets: 5 Step Guide
3. Your Ferret Feels Threatened
If you have another animal or strange ferret around, your little guy might be feeling threatened by the newcomer. If they are, their hissing is likely the direct response, warding off any potential rivals.
If you can see that your ferret is stressed out about a meeting, keep both parties safe—separating if need be. Always make introductions slow.
4. Your Ferret Feels Scared
If you sacred your ferret unexpectedly, you might get a slight hiss at first. But once they realize no harm is lingering around, they will calm down once the fear passes.
Ferrets may also fear outside stimuli, like thunderstorms or other loud noises. If your ferret is frantic, just give them a few to regain their composure.
5. Your Ferret Is Hormonal
When your ferret reaches sexual maturity between four and eight months of age, things start to change. Intact males can begin to get a little feisty with this new surge of raging hormones. Personality changes are highly common and expected.
If hormones play a part, they might be acting bothered all the way around. Many exotic veterinarians will recommend spaying or neutering to prevent aggressive behavior.
Finding a Trigger
To prevent hissing, you need to find out why it’s happening in the first place. Take note of anything that has changed around the household to see if you can spot the problem.
Most commonly, hissing occurs anytime your ferret feels like their safety is at stake. They aren’t inherently aggressive animals, but they can respond quickly to potential problems.
If it starts happening frequently, you might want to get them to the vet to check their overall health. With a general exam and possibly some bloodwork, your vet can rule out any significant concerns.
Safely Handling an Upset Ferret
Ferrets have ultra-sharp teeth and claws. Their teeth are comparable to that of cats—causing quite a gaping wound if they snap hard enough.
If your ferret is upset, leaving it alone until it calms down is your best bet. However, if that’s not an option, protect your skin with multiple layers and wear thick gloves if you can.
After you subdue them, you need to put them in their enclosure and give them some space.
- Related Read: How to Hold a Ferret Correctly (with Pictures & Video)
Just like many other odd noises and behaviors, hissing is a noise you’re bound to hear during your ferret’s lifetime. Most of the time, it is a startle response that is entirely manageable. However, it could also relate to an underlying illness or hormonal problem.
If the issue persists, contact your chosen veterinarian for guidance and possible testing.
Featured Image Credit: Mitskevich Uladzimir, Shutterstock