Did you know that ferrets steal things?
Do you know why they do that?
Owning a ferret often results in missing everyday things like socks, keys, even wallets. 99% of the time we can blame our little fuzzy pets for that. There is something about those items laying around which makes them irresistible to ferrets and they simply must take them. Here are answers to all those questions including a few tips on how to handle a sealing ferret.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why Do Ferrets Steal?
There is more than one reason for ferret stealing, but one thing is certain. Every ferret does it, some more, some less. Here are some of the most common reasons for your ferret to develop “sticky fingers”
It Is Natural Behavior
Ferret’s Latin name is Mustela putorius furo which roughly translates as a stinky thief. That tells us that ferrets are stealing things since the beginning of time, even before that. Stealing, or stashing, is a natural behavior by their wild ancestors.
Photo Source: Earlham Institute
Once a wild ferret ancestor killed prey and couldn’t eat more, it hid the rest of the food for later. But, he had to stash it somewhere to hide it from other animals. This behavior is still imprinted on our pets, even though they are domesticated animals.
Ferrets Stash Food
It is hard to say that ferrets steal food because it is theirs, but I can rephrase this claim and say that they stash food. This behavior is another treat that ferrets carry from their ancestors. If you fill your ferret’s bowl with food, he will eat until he is full. Most ferrets don’t overeat themselves. But, what they can do is stash the rest of the food somewhere in your home or in their cage. Stashing doesn’t mean your ferret is scared he won’t get another meal, it is an instinct.
If your ferret is one of those that stash food, a smart move is to give your ferret a meal inside the cage. If your ferret starts stashing the rest of the dinner, he will do it under the hammock and not under the couch. This is extremely important if you feed your ferret with a raw meat diet. You don’t want a piece of chicken gizzard under your couch, don’t you?
Ferrets Are Possessive
Another reason why a ferret would steal and stash an item is that he doesn’t want to share it with other people or animals. For example, if your ferret has a favorite animal, he will probably try to stash it somewhere safe. He won’t play with it, he will simply grab it and drag it under the couch, behind the TV stand, or in the kitchen cabinet.
Yoda is like that. Yoda’s favorite toy is a snake teaser from Kong. Now, this toy is not something you can play with. The toy belongs between the cage and the couch, in a safe, tight, and dark spot. If someone takes the toy from there, Yoda will grab it and return it to its rightful place. If someone grabs the toy again, Yoda will move the toy to the second-best hideout – a tunnel below the bar stools.
What Can Ferret Steal?
This question is actually very hard to answer because it mostly depends on a ferret. There are ferrets that will steal everything they can move. There are ferrets that won’t steal anything so it really depends on the ferret and his personality.
Things Ferrets Steal
The most popular items for ferrets to steal are socks, tissues, plushies, remote controls, tennis balls, clothespins, hair clippers, wallets, pencils, etc. There is really no rule what will encourage your ferret to start stealing. But, there are things you have to keep away from your ferret no matter what.
Forbidden Things For Ferrets
You mustn’t let your ferret steal makeup, lotions, shampoo bottles, chemicals, or medicines because those things can make him sick. Most things from this list are usually in the bathroom so if you want to avoid any accidents, keep the bathroom door closed whenever your ferret is roaming your hose. The bathroom is on top of the rooms you have to ferretproof to keep your ferret healthy.
Another forbidden category is reserved for sponges, foams, styrofoam, and other soft materials your ferret can swallow. If a ferret eats one of those things, it can cause him a blockage, and then he is in a dangerous situation. A blockage is when a foreign body gets stuck in an animal’s digestive system. Ferrets have a very narrow digestive system so they are prone to blockages. If that happens, you will notice that your ferret is lethargic, can vomit, and won’t poop. The best thing you can do to keep your ferret alive at that point is to hurry up and go to the vet.
Can You Prevent Your Ferret From Stealing?
As you can see, this behavior is not something ferrets do because they don’t want you to go to work. They are doing it on instinct so I wouldn’t prevent them from doing it. What I would do, is allow them to steal and stash only ferret-safe items, items that won’t harm him. That means you have to find a substitute for every forbidden thing your ferret loves to steal. For example, if your ferret loves stealing makeup, give him empty bottles instead of full ones. Always make sure they are too big for him to swallow and glue the cap on so he can’t separate the cap from the bottle, or open the lid.
Another thing you can do is find his stashing locations. That way you can control what is happening in it, remove things that aren’t toys and keep the entire situation under control. If your ferret decided that his stashing place is under the couch, you might want to pick a better stashing location for him. Spending time under the couch can be dangerous because you can squash him or he can eat sponges from there.
Try to close the couch underneath and you can even try to make a safe ferret stashing location. You can use an old box and put a couple of old blankets inside. Place the box in a hidden corner of your home and let your ferret find it. If you did a good job, your ferret will pick that spot as his next stashing place.
I don’t think we have to think of ferret stealing as something bad. Ferrets will do it because their instincts tell them to. That means you have to provide them with safe items they can steal and satisfy their instincts. Is your ferret a stealer? What does he steal? Share your experience in the comments below and join the Friendly Ferret Family by subscribing to our newsletter!