Ferrets can bite for several reasons, and it is important to know the reason, that makes the correcting of the behavior much easier. Do not make a mistake to see playful biting as aggressive biting. Real biters will bite and will not let go, or will bite so hard that the teeth will go right through the flesh and start bleeding. Spray full biting is no more than taking a fast nibble, but playful biting needs to be corrected as well.
Biting will start when the ferret is a pup
the young ferret is discovering the world and uses its teeth to do so, there is no other way for ferrets. The young ferret will have to learn how far it can go and how hard he can bite, this is part of the normal upbringing process. A young ferret that is not well-trained will get problems in later life; he does not know that biting is a big no and does not know what biting too hard is, so a playful bite from those ferrets might hurt.
A ferret can also start biting when it is neglected
because it is mistreated by its caretakers. Then it is biting to defend them selfs. A ferret who is insecure about its situation, the ferret is put for instance in a new environment and is scared and confused, might bite also, lucky most ferrets aren’t bothered by this.
A ferret might also bite out of habit; it is his way to get what he wants. The owner picked the ferret up from the floor; the ferret does not want this, he bites and is back on the ground in no time at all. The other reason for biting could be when the ferret has pain. May be caused by a disease, maybe a broken leg and that hurts when you pick up the ferret. (a ferret with a broken leg can keep it hidden so well, you might not notice it).
Lucky the biting behaviour can be corrected, it is seldom the case that a ferret is aggressive and can’t be corrected. So don’t give up to fast, try the other method and be aware of the fact that it can take a long time before the ferret learns not to bite, weeks, maybe a year or longer sometimes. And be consistent in your approach.
The first problem is picking up a biting ferret. A ferret who hangs in your fingers directly is no fun. Distract the ferret’s attention a bit and pick the ferret up by the scruff of the neck, the animal is now not capable of doing anything, besides just hanging around. Then get hold of the ferret on the front by the chest, fingers around the neck, and a paw between your fingers. The ferret can’t reach your hands this way. The other hand that is now free (the one you used to grab hold of the surf of the neck) can be used to support the ferret from under.
Now we need to unlearn him to bite. If you have a suspicion that the biting might be caused by pain, and that could be the case if a non-biting ferret turns into a biting ferret, a visit to the Vet is the first thing to do. Male’s who are not yet castrated can turn into biters also, a visit to the vet is advice then too. A bite ferret needs lots of attention, more than normal and has to be picked up a lot to make him get used to hands. Of course, the caretaking of the bite ferret has to be optimal. It is wise to have such a ferret in a group of ferrets; the other ferrets will correct this behaviour also. This is certainly of importance with ferrets who were not trained properly if they bite the other ferret too hard, the other ferret will correct him. (make sure it is not done to hard). Don’t start with giving the ferret taps right away, certainly not with frightened ferrets.
A better way is to hiss or puff at the ferret and utter a loud NO. Distract the ferret’s attention to something else, show the ferret the living room and talk to the ferret. Biting in toy’s is better then in your finger, so if a ferret threatened to bite, hold a toy in front of him. A time-out can be helpful too; the biter has to remain in its cage for punishment. If you are bitten, don’t let go right away, that gives the ferret wrong signals, biting = the owner lets me go.
A ferret can bite hard and won’t let go sometimes. First off all make sure the ferret has its feet on the ground, hanging in the air no ferret feels the need to let go and fall to the ground. A cold bath can be helpful sometimes as well. Eventually, you can open the mouth softly with your fingers, be careful not to use to much force while doing this.