Ferret Hissing: Why Do Ferrets Hiss? (Is It Bad?)

Ferret hissing

Ferrets are typically very friendly, curious, and overall fun creatures that are typically nothing but bundles of joy. However, sometimes ferrets do things or exhibit behaviors that raise some concerns. There are many different types of ferrets, but all of them are subject to questionable behavior!

Something that many ferrets do that owners almost always find concerning is "hissing". This bizarre sound doesn't seem very friendly, but that doesn't mean that your ferret is angry at you. In fact, is hissing even a bad sound for ferrets to make in the first place?

Why Do Ferrets Hiss?

Ferrets are quite vocal creatures, making many different sounds for many different reasons. You'll only have to be around a ferret for a day to hear them hiss, dook, chirp, sneeze -- all different but normal vocalizations!

So why exactly do ferrets hiss? There's not quite a straightforward answer, as there could be several reason behind your ferret hissing. A ferret may hiss for one of the following reasons:

  • Your ferret is angry - This one seems to be the obvious answer. Hissing, especially in cats, is associated with anger and aggressiveness -- a way for an animal to say "back off!". It often takes a lot to anger to a ferret, but if they do become angry or stressed, you may be greeted with one or several hisses. You can usually tell if the ferret is angry if the hissing is combined with raised fur on their arched back.
  • Your ferret is playing - Vocalization is incredibly common when a ferret is playing. Dooking is the most common sound that excited ferrets make, but hissing isn't uncommon. They could be using this sound in an entirely playful manner. If your ferret is having fun and suddenly hisses, it's likely just a part of their playtime ritual.
  • Your ferret is just making noise - Some ferrets are way more vocal than others, making sounds for no apparent reason. Some owners report that their ferrets make hissing sounds while just walking around or drinking water. This is likely just how they vocalize! Over time, you'll get to know your ferret and their normal vocalizations.

What To Do If Your Ferret Hisses

If you've never heard your ferret hiss before, it can be a bit intimidating to hear it for the first time. The first thing that you should know is that it's not a big deal. It's hardly even a deal at all!

As soon as your ferret hisses, address the situation. Was your ferret engaged in an activity that could make them feel threatened or scared? Are they now acting aggressively towards you or your other ferrets? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, the best course of action is to give your ferret time to cool off.

Animals can sometimes become overstimulated and simply need a minute or two away from everything before they can return to their normal happy state. If your ferret is angry hissing, note what made them hiss in the first place, put it to a stop, and make sure that it doesn't happen again. Most of the time it's nothing, though, so don't stress!

If your ferret hisses randomly while playing or going about their normal day and nothing seems off, there's nothing that you need to do. You may do a quick assessment of their living space and general well-being to make sure that nothing is wrong, but no stress is needed beyond that.

Remember, ferrets are weird creatures! They'll hiss for absolutely no reason, so it's okay if you can't find anything wrong.

What Does A Hissing Ferret Sound Like?

It's really hard to imagine what a ferret hissing sounds like if you've never heard it before. It's more of a primal sound, like a high-pitched squawk you may hear coming from a bird. Ferret hissing is quite loud, so you likely won't have a problem hearing it over the sound of them playing with toys or other ferrets.

This video is a great example of a ferret hissing while just playing around. It sounds intimidating, but the ferret is just having a great time with its owner:

This other video is an example of a ferret hissing while their owner plays tug-o-war with them. This instance isn't aggressive either, but it's used in a way that says "back off, this kill is mine!". My ferrets would do this all the time with their toys:

Final Point

Always know that all ferrets are different. Some will hiss at the drop of a hat, and others will never make a peep. There's nothing wrong with your ferret if they hiss all the time, and there's nothing wrong if they're always silent.

It's very hard to judge a ferret's well-being from just one random behavior. If you're ever concerned about your ferret, assess their environment, their cage, the activities that they're doing, and their overall health. Hissing isn't indicative of anything being wrong, but it isn't harmless 100% of the time either.

Additionally, if you're uncertain of whether or not your ferret is okay, you can always consult with their veterinarian. It's better to be safe than sorry with these adorable little carpet sharks!