Q: Our ferrets live cage-free in our apartment. We lost a 6-year-old, male ferret a week ago to illness, leaving Max, a 3-year-old, male, behind. Max is a very sweet and gentle albino ferret. Our two ferrets were very close from the first day they met two years ago. We tried bringing in two new ferrets this week, a 1-year-old, male-female pair. The female went after Max’s neck. I believe she was trying to preen him, perhaps as a sign of domination, perhaps not. Max would squeal and try to escape, but she would pursue him. We returned the pair, sadly. My overall concern is to provide Max a companion and ease his grief.
Yesterday we got another male, a 2.5-year-old bandit. He seems quite mellow, buy Max doesn’t want much to do with him. He would like to be near Max, and sleep with him, but Max hisses at him, keeping him away. Tonight, while Max was asleep in a cat-carrier, the new ferret crept in and curled up near him. I was so happy to see it. I returned 15 minutes later, and he was sleeping in a different place, so I’m not sure what happened. Then later my wife put them together, and Max reacted by hissing again. Can I expect them to get along, or might Max never warm to him? Do some ferrets never get along? Are these simply stress/newness issues that will work out?
A: Some ferrets need time to adjust, and while Max was used to having another ferret around, the two new, young ferrets may have been too much for him, and now he is a little gun-shy.
Give Max time to adjust to the new and calmer ferret, but keep them together. The more time spent together, the quicker they will get used to each other rather than only seeing the other for short periods of time.