If you’re planning to have ferrets and other pets in your household, it’s important to first understand how ferrets interact with additional ferrets, and with animals of other species. Frankly, some do not mix well and it’s better to know what you’re getting into rather than trying to expand your pet zoo and then discovering it was a bad idea.
Ferrets in Groups
Most ferrets will accept others into their group. Living in colonies is instinctive for these animals, and after they adjust to each other and decide who gets to be in charge, there are usually few disagreements about sharing the ferret family goodies, such as food and toys. If your ferret has been an only child for a long time, it may take a while to accept a ferret intruder in the household. Younger ferrets don’t seem to mind newcomers.
Keep an eye on the ferrets while they are getting used to each other, but though they may fuss and nip and drag one another, stay out of it unless one gets bloodied or is desperately trying to hide. Don’t force ferrets and other pets into the same cage. Give them separate spaces at first, until they decide to hang out together. And don’t give up if they don’t adore each other overnight.
Ferrets and other pets of different species can get along. Ferrets are socially aggressive animals who seem to lack the natural fear of things larger than themselves. See ferret biting for more detail. Cats are usually put off by such forward behavior and may run off until they decide the ferret is worth looking at again. Cats will often get along well with ferrets, but if they get into a tussle, the cat’s claws will hurt your ferret. Keep an eye on them when they are playing together.
Dogs can be very dangerous for ferrets, but it really depends upon the individual dog. Some become best friends with the family ferret and would protect their fuzzy buddy at any cost. Some dogs cannot resist the impulse to snap their jaws around a long, thin ferret body. When introducing ferrets and other pets such as dogs, your patience may be severely tested. You may want to go so far as to muzzle your dog before introducing it to your ferret, because one quick bite is all it takes to kill a ferret. Even when you’re sure they get along and adore each other, do not leave the dog alone with the ferret. Dogs can and do turn on other pets that they’ve gotten along with for years.
Other Small Animals
In the case of other small animals, ferrets and other pets generally don’t do well together. Ferrets love to drag and shake and hide things, and that includes animals smaller than themselves. If your household includes birds, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs and other similar animals, it’s best to never even try putting them together with the ferret to see if they can get along. One good ferret shake will kill most of these little pocket pets.