Understanding Toe-Nipping Ferrets

These theories shed light on possible reasons why ferrets nip your toes.

Ferret on the floor
Ferrets are mostly at floor level, and some may think nipping your toes is a good way to get your attention. eurobanks/iStock/Thinkstock

Q: Why do ferrets bite toes?!

A: Ouch! Hurts, doesn’t it? I don’t have a definitive answer, but I believe several things factor into this propensity of some ferrets.

First, you are really big to a nearsighted ferret. Some ferrets, especially youngsters, don’t quite “get” that those enticing toes are attached to the voice way above them. You don’t have to own ferrets for long to realize they love, love, love stinky shoes. While hopefully less stinky, your feet carry that aroma too. (Don’t ask why ferrets love stinky feet/shoes. It’s a ferret thing.)

We tend to give ferrets soft, plush toys and find it adorable when they carry these around. Toes encased in socks look an awful lot like a sock monkey, plus they have that wonderful odor. Differentiating between the two is a pretty advanced concept; imagine trying to explain it to a 1-year-old child.

Sometimes a bright ferret does understand that toes are connected to you. And they want your attention. Now. A sharp nip sure gets you to take notice! Let’s face it, ferrets are pretty short and can’t tap you on the shoulder. Toes and ankles are at floor level, same as they are, so that’s the part of you they can reach.

Honestly, I think there are a few ferrets who just plain like to make their human yelp. It’s fun. You’ve probably trod on their toes every so often, so it’s only fair they get some revenge. — L. Vanessa Gruden

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