How to Stop Ferrets from Licking You all Over

Q: How do I stop my ferrets from licking me all the time?

A: Do you notice the licking is happening at particular times? While its possible that he senses a problem, it is equally possible that it’s just hormones. Here are some ways to stop the licking:

  • Collar Him. You might try using an “E” collar or cone. That will at least stop him from licking you. A lick sore can be horrible and almost impossible to treat (I’ve got a boy who sucks one toe, never been able to figure it out why but he does…insecurities :-[) I used a dog boot (you can use a sock, vet wrap) and a collar. 
  • Get him checked for adrenal disease. Ferrets crave salt, and if they have adrenal, their hormones might be through the roof, making them crave it even more. If the grooming is becoming obsessive, then you could well be looking at adrenal disease. Sinnead was one of our more obsessive groomers prior to her lupron starting.
  • Get him a salt lick. Much like deer, ferrets crave the minerals found in salt, or salty skin. Your ferret could be licking you for the salt taste in your sweat. Get a small salt block for his or her cage, and stop the licking of your face, hands, and feet.
  • Put on bitter apple perfume. If you notice your ferret licking you in a certain spot, like the arm, back of the hand, face, cheeks, or eyebrows, put bitter apple in the place they like to lick. Vinegar spray works as well – ferrets hate the taste and smell of bitter vinegar. Your ferrets will learn that you taste bad, and stop licking your skin. 
  • Only adopt weaned ferrets. In ferret mills and pet shops, ferrets are often sold before they’re weaned (between 6-8 weeks of age.) Young, unweaned ferrets are likely to lick your skin, or suckle the ears of other ferrets, which causes cauliflower ear. Only bring home ferrets which are confirmed by a vet as being over 8 weeks old. 

Get Used to Being Licked

The occasional lick is part of ferret life. It’s how ferrets “groom” their human owners, showing love and affection. If you don’t like it, scruff or loudly say “no,” moving the ferret to its cage when the tongue comes out.

If they start licking you aggressively, or start grooming their paws, chest, or stomach to the point of bleeding and baldness, get them checked for summer allergies or bacterial infections at your local vet.

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