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4 Reasons Why Ferrets Steal (and How to Stop Them)

Ashley Bates

As any ferret owner knows, these little buggers love to steal your things. They will snatch up just about anything they can get their little paws around. So, if you’re sick of digging your wallet out of their hammocks, you might want to know why they do this in the first place.

Stealing random objects around the house is a standard and totally instinctual behavior—let us explain why these little bandits rob you blind.

The 4 Main Reasons Ferret Steal Are:

1. Hoarding Impulse

Among many other rodents and weasels, hoarding is a widespread practice. Typically, in nature, ferrets stash away food in their homes to preserve their health and keep alternate rations—kind of like a squirrel. A hoarding impulse is wholly expected in many like animals.

2. Food Collection

Obviously, in captivity, ferrets are fed by their owners and do not need to scavenge. Because they never know where their next meal is coming from in the wild, hoarding food is a regular habit ingrained in their DNA. Domestication doesn’t take the urge away to stash food as much as they can.

3. Shiny Object Obsession

If something catches your ferret’s eye that is is big enough to fit in their hands, they’re probably going to snatch it. Ferrets will hide anything from shiny keys to valuables to other precious metals. And yes, they guard these items with all their might

4. Sticky Paws

In addition to their jewel heist, ferrets can still take about any toy or small valuable you have laying around your home. That is not limited to cat toys, dog toys, children’s toys, and even your wallet. Once they have it in their clutches, they will be very resistant to let it go.


How to Keep Your Ferret from Stealing

Hoarding is a natural impulse that isn’t trainable. This means that you will have to come up with other deterrents to prevent or channel the behavior rather than stop it completely.

Get your ferrets their own goodies

Trying to take away their basic instincts can have negative impacts on your pet. Instead, try to offer them shiny objects they can actually take to hoard. If you give alternatives, it can really turn the behavior around.

You can gather up various things you don’t need anymore—like extra keys, faux jewelry, socks, and other ferret-friendly household items.

Credit: kemll, Pixabay

Remove any questionable items before floor time

Before you let your ferrets out to play, remove anything and everything they may get their paws on. If there are no forbidden objects within their reach, they won’t do much damage.

Supervise, supervise, supervise

The best way to prevent your ferret from stealing is to eliminate the option. During out-of-the-cage time, interact with your pets. Play with a variety of toys with them, so they burn their energy but stay out of mischief at the same time.

Having said that, always make sure to supervise any interactions out of the enclosure.divider-birdcage

Handling Ferret Object Aggression

Ferrets can get downright protective over what they have stolen, adopting the “finders keepers” mentality. Even though it might rightfully be your possession, they might think otherwise. If they feel threatened, they can become aggressive or even bite.

If you are concerned that your ferrets will bite or otherwise hurt you, you must handle them with caution.

Never try to pick your ferret up if they are:
  • Hissing
  • Vocalizing
  • Hovering over objects
  • Snapping

If it is something you desperately need at the time (like car keys), try to distract them with a snack or another desirable object.

How To Ferret-Proof House

The best way to make sure your ferret doesn’t steal your things is to ferret-proof your house as much as possible. When you’re getting your ferret out for playtime, put away anything that they might latch onto.

  • Control the free-ranging area
  • Close doors
  • Put things out of reach
  • Wall off designated play spaces
  • Close cabinets and closets
  • Discourage climbing
  • Use a playpen or play enclosure

We all know your ferrets rule the roost, but you can have a small amount of control—just don’t let them know about it.


Ferret + Stealing: What Did We Learn?

Like all owners, you’ve been the victim of your favorite furry companion swiping your goods. Don’t feel bad, though. There is no real solution other than taking some precautions. Always protect yourself—arming for a potential attack—if you try to retrieve these items back without consent.

Ultimately, the only thing you can do is make sure your ferret and valuables stay separate—best of luck with your retrieval.

Featured Image Credit: Nadezhda Manakhova, Shutterstock

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.