ferret being held by a woman in a red and white striped shirt

Can A Ferret Be Happy Alone?

No doubt that if you have researched ferrets, you might see that they do better in pairs. But, maybe you don’t want two ferrets. After all, two ferrets mean a bigger cage, and more mouths to feed. It also means twice the cleaning and twice the amount of work. Can a ferret be happy alone? And if they are happy, do they bond with just one person? Let’s explore this question, along with possible solutions.

Can A Ferret Be Happy Alone?

In short, the answer is yes, a ferret can be happy alone. But it does take more work than you might think to keep a single ferret. Since ferrets are very social creatures, it means that you will need to have a lot of time for them. 

If you work long hours and your ferret will be alone most of the time, then getting a pair actually might be more manageable. A single ferret will need a lot of toys and attention and will end up costing just as much as owning two ferrets.

sad looking ferret lying on a white background
Ferret (Mustela putorius furo) lying on a white background

Pros And Cons Of Having One Ferret

To get a better idea of how owning one ferret would look like, it’s best to look at the pros and cons. There can be great things about owning a single ferret that you can’t get with owning multiples. But everything always comes with a price.

Pros:

  • The first thing that everyone thinks about is how bonded a ferret will be to their owners. Without any playmates around, you become apart of their inner social circle. They will rely on you for everything, from food to companionship. Your ferret will make you an honorary ferret, grooming and socializing with you.
  • Having a single ferret also means that you could get by with a smaller cage. Ferrets do best when they have a multilevel home and plenty of space to play. But the more ferrets you have, the more room they will need.
  • Having fewer ferrets also means that you will be saving money on food. Ferrets can get expensive to feed due to their dietary requirements. With every mouth you have to feed, that monthly cost goes up.
  • Ferrets are generally a little messy. They poop a lot and have to have their litter boxes changed almost daily. If you have one ferret, that means there will be a little less of a mess. But if you have more than one, you are likely to notice much difference.
  • And finally, having a solitary ferret can save you on vet bills. Your ferret will need annual vaccines and check-ups. Ferrets are also very prone to illnesses, and when one gets sick, they all do. Treating multiples can get expensive quickly.

Cons:

  • Having a single ferret will mean that you have to spend a lot more time with them. Your ferret will need to have 4-6 hours outside of the cage with you interacting with them. This can be a lot of time to spend with them if you have family obligations and work.
  • Ferrets that are alone tend to get into trouble faster than in groups. Don’t get us wrong; ferrets will always find trouble. But a singular ferret will get bored quickly and will find anything to curb it. Unless you are tending to their needs 24/7, your ferret is likely to start trouble.
  • You might be saving money on food, but you might find you spend more on toys. You will have to spend more on toys to keep your ferret preoccupied while you are gone or free-roaming.
  • And the last con is that singular ferrets don’t always do well. Some of them get depressed, no matter how much time you spend with them. You will have to be prepared to find a friend for your ferret if they get too depressed. A depressed ferret will lose their appetite, sleep more, and stop playing. It all depends on your ferret’s personality if they do well alone.

Pros And Cons Of Owning Multiple Ferrets

Now that we see what life would be like with only one ferret, we can examine multiples. Seeing the pros and cons of each can better help you understand what situation is best for you.

4 ferrets in a row - benefits of having multiple ferrets
Four ferrets in a row

Pros:

  • The first thing that everyone thinks about with multiple ferrets is that you don’t have to give your ferrets as much attention. Your ferret will love playing with their siblings and won’t need to look to you for companionship. If you have multiple ferrets, they should still get time outside the cage, but you could get by with just 2-4 hours instead of a full 6.
  • Having multiples also diffuses any trouble that ferrets can get into. Since they have shorter attention spans and get distracted easily, having a friend could deter mischief. They will still work together on getting into things, but it will be less like a full-time job.
  • And of course, having multiple ferrets means that your babies are happier. They won’t feel neglected or lonely. Their happiness is also directly related to their health. Happier ferrets have boosted immune systems and a drive to thrive.

Cons:

  • The biggest con is that your ferrets are less likely to bond tightly to you. They will still come to you and show affection in their own ways. But it will not be the same as single ferrets. They would much rather be playing with their siblings that have the same interests as they do.
  • If you have multiple ferrets, you will inevitably need a bigger cage. And if you work a lot, bigger is always better. That means you will need to have space and money for these larger cages.
  • The monthly expenses will also go up with every ferret you have, so it is essential to budget this. The average ferret owner spends $20-$40 on a quality food brand. Plus, you will have to replace toys that get destroyed. And another $30 a month in litter. It can get expensive, but it is also worth it.
  • When one of your ferrets gets sick, they can all get sick. Finding a vet who specializes in ferrets can get expensive. Office visits and treatment for all of your ferrets can get pricey.
  • And as with all animals housed together, be prepared for the unexpected. Some ferrets have personality differences and will not get along together. Should this happen, you should be ready to separate them and care for them individually. If that means separating one that prefers to be alone and buying a third to keep the social one company, then you should do it. Owners have quickly gone from owning just one ferret to easily four or more to find balance.

Our Verdict?

If you are home for the majority of the day and can give a solitary ferret all of your attention, one ferret can be alone.

If you are gone a lot and can’t give as much attention to one ferret, it is best to have a pair.

But ultimately, it depends on your ferret. If you give all of your time and attention to your solitary ferret, and it’s just not enough, you will need to buy a second.

Do Ferrets Bond With Just One Person?

If you decide to go ahead with just one ferret, this next part of the article is for you. We already know that ferrets can bond with people to an extent. But next, we will talk about everything from how to make your ferret happy to how they bond with people. This will be your ultimate guide to owning a solitary ferret that is happy and healthy.

Many people who have a lone ferret may wonder, “Do ferrets bond with just one person?” This question is usually asked by couples who share the care in their ferrets. The short answer is, ferrets will bond to whoever cares for them the most, especially with feedings. If only one person is every feeding your ferret, they might be prone to bonding with them more. Let’s look at how ferrets show their affection towards us. How they display, their love tells you how bonded they are to you.

How Do Ferrets Show Affection?

If you are curled up cuddling with your ferret, you might wonder how they show their affections. Surely ferrets show their love towards us in more than one way.

Greetings

The best way a ferret shows their affection is by coming and greeting you with excitement. If they are free-roaming, they might run up to you and ask to be picked up. If they are in a cage, they will come to the door and wait eagerly for you to open it. Their excited greetings are much like a dog’s. They will be overjoyed and want to jump all over you until you settle in.

Seek Attention

Another way that ferrets show affection is to seek attention. They might run back and forth in front of you or nibble at your hands. Your ferret will even jump up and down to get you to notice them.

Grooming/Kisses

The most obvious way a ferret shows their affection is by grooming. Ferrets have been known to lick all over their owners to groom them. Most people mistakenly call these kisses as we do with dogs. But it is their way of showing you that you are one of them.

Playing

Your ferret will also bring you toys to play with if they favor you. Whether this is a ball to throw or an object that they are using as a toy. They have chosen you to be the favorite for playtime.

Following

If your ferret follows you around the house, they are very bonded to you. They would rather be in the room with you than to find mischief somewhere else.

Interested In Your Activities

Along with following, your ferret will become interested in everything you do. They will look where you look and give their attention to anything you have yours on. This is their way of showing that they are in it through anything.

Cuddling

Whether this is short cuddles with a few tummy scratches or sleeping on you, this is a sure sign of bonding. They trust you to keep them safe and to show affection the way that people do towards each other.

How To Show Affection Back

For the most part, you can show your affection by doing all of these things back to your ferret. Bonding with your ferret using their love language is the best way to strengthen the tie. And the more people who do these things, the more people your ferret will bond to.

Be just as excited to see them as they are you. When they seek attention and cuddles, give them back when they want it. If you see your ferret interested in what you are looking at, show them whatever it is up close. Talk to them and play with them, don’t just take care of their necessary cleaning and dietary needs. And most importantly, give them the time and attention that they need to thrive.

Playing With Ferrets

A solitary ferret will need more attention than having multiples. On average, you should account for 4-6 hours daily to play and care for your ferret outside of the cage. But what do you do during that time? We are going to give you some great ideas on how to play with your ferrets. With every activity you do with your ferret, the stronger your bond will be.

Play Tag

You can start a game of tag with your ferret by lightly tapping them and running away. Your ferret will them try to get you back, and so the game begins. Going back and forth will not only wear your ferret out, but it’s also a lot of fun!

Hide And Seek

Hiding in a good hiding place and then calling for your ferret is a great game. They will be so happy when they find you. And this game never gets old to them. You can even do a similar hide and seek game by hiding treats around the house for them to find.

Tug Of War

Just like dogs, ferrets love to play tug of war with ropes, toys, and even strips of cloth.

RC Cars or Animals

Ferrets are natural hunters, so they love to chase small RC (remote controlled) cars and animals. They can go as long as the battery will last.

Tunnels and Burrows

Ferrets find tunnels and burrows fun to weave in and out. You can even get connectable tubes for them to run about, or crinkle tunnels and sacks from the cat department.

Fetch

Ferrets love to play a good game of fetch. You can toss about any toy, and your ferret will instinctively chase after it. Then they will eagerly bring it back to you for more. With minimal effort, your ferret will have a blast.

Cardboard Mazes and Towers

All animals love a good box, and the ferret is no different. Save up some of your Amazon boxes and build amazing forts and mazes for your ferret to play in. You could even hide a few treats for extra fun.

Water Play

Fill up the bathtub with some lukewarm water and ping pong balls and watch your ferret go to town. Not all ferrets like playing in the water, so don’t force it if they object entirely.

Peek-A-Boo

Throw a light blanket over the top of your ferret and play peek-a-boo. This game is highly entertaining to ferrets, not just toddlers.

Walks

If you can leash train your ferret, this is an excellent way for you both to get some fresh air. Start with walks around your house to be safe and slowly increase the time. Then you can move on to things like your back yard or the pet store. 

Warning: Just be careful as ferrets are pretty quick little Houdinis and can wiggle out of their harness.

Dig Bin

Ferrets are instinctive burrowers. If you give one a box with play sand, rice, or even beans, they will have a lot of fun making a mess to find the bottom. Hiding a few tasty treats inside is also a great way to give them more mental stimulation.

Stairs

For those of you with stairs in the house, great news! Ferrets find stairs highly entertaining. They love to climb up and down all day. Something about stairs will always draw a ferret’s attention.

Toy Rotations

And finally, always keep a toy rotation for your ferrets. They love a variety of squeaky toys, cat toys, cat wands, and anything with a bell. Trading these toys out every two weeks is a great way to keep your lone ferret busy.

Wrapping Things Up

Can a ferret be happy alone? Yes, as long as you take all the necessary precautions to make sure they are getting all the attention they need. If you can play and bond with your ferret for at least 4 hours a day, your ferret should be happy and healthy. And the more people involved in their care, the better. A ferret has enough love for everyone in the household, and they are sure to show it.

Related Questions

Can ferrets die of loneliness?

Ferrets bond to their owners and even other ferrets, so if a ‘sibling’ ferret dies, a bonded pair (or group) may go into a deep depression when their bonded friend dies. If your ferret is bonded to you and you decide to re-home it once the novelty of owning a ferret has worn off, they take it really hard when you decide you no longer want them. Ferrets can go into a deep mourning period and even die of loneliness.

Are boy or girl ferrets nicer?

Generally speaking, there is not much difference in temperament between the two genders. Some say that females are more likely to be troublemakers or more aggressive towards other ferrets, whereas males tend to be more mellow. However, go with the ferret that immediately sparks your interest, and don’t worry so much about the sex of the animal.

It’s important to note that ferrets sold in pet stores in the U.S. have already been spayed or neutered. This important since altering a male or female ferret (or any animal really) will affect their temperments considerably. 

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