What’s a Group of Ferrets Called?

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Published: March 29, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/slowmotiongli
Share this post on:

Ferrets are incredibly social animals, and you should never adopt just one ferret. They must be in groups of two or more.

This article will discuss ferret groups, including socialization, whether it’s okay to keep just one pet ferret, how ferrets live in the wild, and more.

What’s a Group of Ferrets Called?

Ferret litter pan
A group of ferrets is called a business.

iStock.com/Harald Schmidt

A group of ferrets is called a business or a fesnyng (pronounced as fez-ning).

Other fun terms for ferrets are as follows:

  • Intact males are called hobs, while unspayed females are called jills.
  • Gibs are neutered males. Spayed females are called sprites.
  • Kits are baby ferrets less than one year of age.

Why is a Group of Ferrets Called a Business?

It may seem odd that a group of ferrets is called a business. After all, they’re quite unprofessional creatures!

Ferrets are known for their mischief, ability to get into things they shouldn’t, escape tactics, and energetic natures. Would it make more sense if we told you that, in the past, they were referred to as a busyness? People saw ferrets and went, “Wow, those are some busy critters!” Not that they belonged in an office or were destined for entrepreneurship!

Can You Own Just One Ferret?

Ferret (Mustela Putorius Furo) - pink babies
Pet ferrets must be kept in groups of two or more.

Rashid Valitov/Shutterstock.com

Generally, you shouldn’t own just one ferret. This is because humans alone cannot meet a ferret’s needs for socialization and company. They need another ferret, or more than one, to spend their lives with. Ferret friends will keep your ferret company while you’re out of the house. They also “speak ferret,” so to say. Another ferret will understand your ferret in ways you simply can’t as a human being.

Ferrets also make great playmates for one another. While you can play with your ferret, they can’t roughhouse and bite at you directly. Your ferret’s strong teeth won’t hurt another ferret because their skin is very thick. Biting is a common way ferrets communicate with one another!

Ferrets can live in pairs or groups of any gender combination. However, they should be spayed and neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

While some ferrets cannot get along with other ferrets, they are in the minority. Unless your ferret is truly aggressive and won’t bond with others (and you’ve tried extensively!), you owe them to find the right match. Even truly aggressive ferrets benefit from having another ferret around. Consider keeping a pair of ferrets in another cage nearby so that your ferret can at least see, smell, and interact with them from afar. This will keep everyone safe while meeting your ferret’s social needs.

How do Ferrets Socialize?

Ferrets socialize with one another through sound, smell, body language, and touch.

Sound

They make many noises to interact with other ferrets. Hissing means a ferret is fearful, chuckling means they’re excited, and screeching means they feel threatened.

Dooking is another common ferret sound that typically means your ferret is curious, happy, or excited.

Scent

Scent is another huge way ferrets communicate. When threatened, ferrets release a scent from their anal glands. They also scent-mark by rubbing their bodies, chins, or butts along a person, animal, or surface. Ferrets will poop to mark territory as well.

By smelling another ferret’s scent or poop, a ferret can tell a lot about them, including when they were last in the area.

Some people descent ferrets or remove their anal glands, to reduce their smell. However, this doesn’t cut down on odor—it’s also an unethical and unnecessary procedure that has no benefits for your ferret.

Body Language

In body language, ferrets may cower when afraid, slouch when sad or in pain, and “dance” when excited. This involves puffing their tail, baring their teeth, tossing their heads back in the air, and hopping around.

They might also arch their backs when upset, raise their heads when excited, run and hide when afraid, or lay flat with their eyes squinted when in pain.

Touch and Physical Interaction

Lastly, ferrets communicate through touch like play fighting, biting, and scruffing. A mother ferret might wiggle her young from side to side to calm them down while carrying them.

Although rough play and biting can look aggressive, it’s simply how ferrets interact. Predators often play by mimicking hunting, which is how they learn to take down prey. Luckily, ferrets have thick skin and can take bites from others without pain.

How do Ferret Businesses Live in the Wild?

animals unique to North America: black-footed ferret
Black-footed ferrets are much less social than their domestic counterparts.

Interestingly, there is only one wild ferret species; the black-footed ferret. Black-footed ferrets are solitary creatures. They come together during mating season, and mother ferrets care for their young for a short period.

Domesticated ferrets don’t live in the wild. These ferrets are much more social and must be able to socialize with other ferrets and their human owners.

Share this post on: