Why do ferrets steal things?

The word ferret has its origin in Latin and is translated as pilferer. With that bit of knowledge, it should come as no surprise that ferrets like to steal things and hoard them.

My ferrets take everything they can drag. I’ve seen my little one pound girl try to take the sterilized dog bone; the bone weighs more than it does. (The only reason she didn’t succeed is that the dog saw her dragging her bone across her room and intervened.) They have appropriated my shoes, my wristband and stuffed toys. They have taken away bookmarks, balls and plates of food. They have stolen computer mice, handkerchiefs and socks. They have removed apples, potatoes and staple removers. If they can hack an item, they will.

So after my ferrets acquire an object of desire, they hoard it. Almost everything stolen ends up in the same place. After cleaning, they can relocate their stash, but there’s usually only one stash at a time. I found the hiding place under his cage. One time the hideout was behind the TV and one time they put everything inside one of my husband’s speakers. Currently, my babies like to relocate objects inside their Tower of Fun, a tube that spins up and down. The furry ones like to slide down the slopes of the Tower of Fun, so it’s a bit strange that they block their fun slide path with toys. Yet they do.


Since I don’t speak ferret, and my ferrets don’t speak human, I can only guess based on their natural behaviors in the wild. Polecats (from whom our ferrets have been domesticated) are carnivorous. They are hunters. They kill things smaller than themselves (usually smaller, but I’ve seen videos of ferrets killing things bigger than themselves). So a ferret kills a mouse and eats it. When it’s ready, it will hide the leftovers. If a ferret kills an animal that is too large to eat in one go, the ferret will hide the carcass to finish it off later. And, in all of these cases, the ferrets are trying to prevent other animals from getting their loot.

I think that’s probably the best explanation for why ferrets steal, but I have another idea. Frequently, I find ferrets asleep in the middle of their stolen treasures. Usually when they sleep in their cache, the items are soft and squishy, ​​like small stuffed toys and other fluffy things. So my second hypothesis is that ferrets like to build cozy beds.

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