The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Ferrets are curious little creatures that many people enjoy keeping as pets. These animals love to jump around, climb, and steal anything that they can get their little paws on.
When taking care of ferrets, one thing that you should make sure that you do is research how ferrets communicate, especially with each other, so that you can make sure you can understand what your ferret is trying to say.
Understanding what your ferret is saying to you or the other ferrets it lives with is important, as it will help you get a sense of what mood your ferret is in and what you can do about it.
Ferrets are actually very communicative animals, though it can be hard to understand what they are trying to say at first. One thing that you might notice is that ferrets have a tendency to lick each other’s ears.
You might begin to wonder why your ferret is doing this and if this is a sign of a problem. After all, if an animal focuses on grooming only one spot, doesn’t it mean that there is a problem with that area?
For ferrets, licking is a form of communication that you will want to pay close attention to, as it is one of the primary ways that your ferret communicates with you as well as other ferrets in its home. Licking each other’s ears is only one of the many licking behaviors that your ferret will engage in.
When a Ferret Licks Another’s Ears
Ferrets, much the same as cats, are meticulous groomers and will spend their time grooming themselves as well as other ferrets in their lives. The ears are an especially sensitive and important part of the ferret’s body, so it would make sense that your ferret will want to keep them clean.
Assuming that your ferrets are on good terms with each other and that the only behavior involved is licking and there isn’t any nipping or hard biting, then there’s a pretty good chance that your ferret is simply grooming the other ferret. Ferrets will groom each other regularly, especially if they are close with each other and get along well.
Just as with cats, when a ferret chooses to care for and groom another ferret, it is a sign of trust and a close bond with the other ferret. The ears are a sensitive part of the ferret’s body and quite an important part of the body too, so there’s a good chance that this will mean your ferrets are particularly close pals with each other if they groom each other’s ears.
Abnormal Licking in Ferrets
If you notice that your ferrets licking each other, especially the ears, tends to happen far more often than it should, it may also be indicative that there is something going on.
Again, much as with other animals that groom themselves, an abnormal amount of grooming usually means that there is something in the fur (or in this case, the ear) that shouldn’t be there, or that there is an itch.
A ferret does not necessarily know when another ferret is itchy, so it is safe to assume that this isn’t the only reason why your ferret is licking another ferret’s ears way more than it should.
Typically, when this happens, it means that your ferret may have fleas or ear mites, though the latter is more likely if the licking is focused mainly on the ears.
Fleas are itchy, and ferrets can get fleas just as any other animal can. When a ferret grooms another ferret, it is likely to see these fleas and will want to get rid of them, as fleas are not supposed to be in a ferret’s coat of fur.
Because one of the ferret’s main methods of grooming is to lick, your ferret will lick the other ferret wherever it sees the fleas, which can often be the ears.
However, with fleas, the excessive licking will not be exclusively located in the ears, as there is a lot of fur and other areas where the fleas can reside. It may be an occasional problem, but there will usually be other signs of a flea problem in your ferret’s life.
Ear mites, on the other hand, can lead to your ferret excessively grooming another ferret’s ears to try to help it out. After all, there’s a good chance that not only will the ferret see the other’s ear mites, but that it will sense the other ferret’s discomfort.
Ear mites are pests that make themselves at home in the ears of other animals, such as ferrets. They are fully visible, especially if the problem has been prolonged for some time, and will appear as dark markings in the inside of a ferret’s ears.
More often than not, the affected ferret is going to have other side effects than simply being licked too much by another well-meaning ferret, as ear mites are plenty uncomfortable for the ferret involved.
In the beginning, when the problem is fairly minor or just starting out, you may not notice any other symptoms; however, as the problem worsens, you will begin to see signs of it.
In ferrets specifically, you will notice that the affected ferret is going to have irritated ears much of the time, and that it may stop letting you touch its ears because of how irritated they have become. This will only worsen as ferrets scratch and lick the affected ears, and it may even interfere with the ferret’s social life if it starts picking fights with those cleaning its ears.
Over time, it will start shaking its head more and more to try to rid itself of the mites in the only ways it can. It will also scratch at its ears, which can lead to scratches and wounds in the skin that will only worsen the more that your ferret messes with them.
The excessive licking from other ferrets can also worsen this, so if you notice your ferret licking another ferret’s ear far more than it should, the first thing that you should do is consider inspecting the affected ferret to see if it has ear mites.
From there, you will want to see if you can get them treated, or if there is another reason why your ferret is paying so much attention to another’s ears.