If you own a ferret, it became apparent very quickly that these creatures have very weird sleep schedules. Specifically, it seems like all ferrets do is sleep!
One questions that many owners have regarding their ferrets is whether or not they’re nocturnal since they always seem to be sleeping whenever they’re checked in on.
So, are ferrets nocturnal, or are they something else entirely?
Are Ferrets Nocturnal?
Although it may seem like it, ferrets are not nocturnal creatures. Instead, they sleep during all times of the day and night!
Ferrets absolutely love to sleep. In fact, ferrets sleep for an average of 18 hours every single day — that’s 3/4 of their day spent sleeping!
Because of this extensive period of time spent sleeping, ferrets can’t confine this sleeping time to only daytime or only nighttime. Therefore, they they wake up at random points during the day, carry out their ferret activities, then go right back to sleep.
If your ferret seems to be more active at night, that’s likely just the preference of your individual ferret. Ferrets aren’t biologically nocturnal, but your ferret may prefer to live like a nocturnal animal.
How Ferrets Adapt Their Sleep Schedule
As stated, ferrets need about 18 hours of sleep per day. All of this sleeping isn’t done at once, though. Instead, it’s spread out however a ferret wishes to spread it out!
It should be noted that ferrets are very social creatures that form close bonds with their owners. First time owners are often shocked at just how sociable their new ferret can be!
Because of this personality trait, your ferret will likely want to spend as much time with you as possible. To do this, they will adjust their sleep schedule to better work with your schedule.
So, if you’re around and available to play in the mornings and in the evenings, your ferret will likely start to wake up around those times so that they can interact with you. Similarly, if you’re a night owl, you can expect your ferret to live more of a nocturnal lifestyle as well.
When I was in school, I’d wake up in the morning to the sound of my ferrets eating or playing in their cage, eager to see me. Then, when I’d get back from school, they’d be up and ready to go again.
Do Baby Ferrets Sleep Differently?
Amazingly, baby ferrets sleep even longer than adult ferrets. While adult ferrets sleep around 18 hours per day, baby ferrets sleep around 20-22 hours per day.
In addition to sleeping for longer, baby ferrets are less keen on adjusting their sleep schedules around you. It’s not that they dislike it, but rather that they don’t comprehend the idea, yet.
If you have baby and adult ferrets together, though, the noise that adult ferrets will likely wake the babies so that they exhibit a similar “adaptation”.
Standard Ferret Day/Night Cycle
While every ferret is different in their behavior, there are some common trends in their sleep schedule that most owners can expect to observe.
Ultimately, this cycle will closely match up to your cycle.
Ferrets will often wake up briefly in the morning due to the change in light around them — just like humans!
However, if a ferret is waking up in the morning, especially if it’s waking up with a healthy amount of energy, it’s most likely because its owner is up and willing to play with it.
Instead of a quick snack and bathroom break, the ferret will likely start roughhousing with their cage mate and bite at their cage door in anticipation of playtime.
During the day, ferrets carry out their routine of waking up for short periods, eating, drinking, pooping, and cleaning, then going right back to sleep.
Ferrets may wake up slightly more during the day to the sunlight flooding their cage, but they still sleep through most of it.
Evening behavior for ferrets is very similar to their morning behavior. This is because many people get home from school/work in the evening, ferrets are very excited about this.
If you get home earlier or later than evening, though, your ferret will likely adjust to that.
Ferrets sleep throughout most of the night — especially if they were played with a lot and given plenty of attention before bed.
Why Is My Ferret Always Sleeping?
If you’re concerned that your ferret always appears to be sleeping, don’t worry!
First of all, remember that ferrets sleep for 18 hours per day. This means that they’re only awake for 6 hours. This short time frame that they’re awake can be hard to catch sometimes and can easily give the impression that they’re always sleeping.
Additionally, while many ferrets will adjust their sleep schedules so that they’re awake when you’re around, some simply won’t do that and will sleep on their own terms!
If you have other ferrets that wake up for you, this can make that other ferret’s behavior especially concerning. Most of the time, though, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about and this is just standard ferret behavior.
On the other hand, if your ferret appears to be exhausted after just a few minutes of playing, doesn’t eat much, and seems to be zoned out most of the time that it’s awake, this may be indicative of something being wrong.
When my ferret had an undetected internal tumor and was living his last few days, he would wake up at the right times, but he would simply lay around outside of his cage and act very passive/lazy.
If your ferret is acting tired in a strange way, it’s best to take them to a veterinarian to make sure that they’re healthy.