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What Spots Do Ferrets Like to be Petted? Guide with Infographic


Apr 21, 2023



Ferrets aren’t your “normal” pet. However, they have been domesticated for quite a while and often love interacting with their owners. This often includes playing, cuddling, and petting. If you haven’t been around ferrets all that much, you may be wondering where they like to be petted. Luckily, ferrets like being petted in much the same places as other pets.

For instance, ferrets often like to be petted on their head and neck. Some may like their belly rubbed, while others prefer their back to be scratched. There are a lot of personal preferences involved.

Of course, figuring out exactly where your ferret likes to be petted isn’t always straightforward. Below, we’ll discuss the areas most ferrets like (and don’t like) to be petted.


Preferred Petting Areas

Exactly what areas a ferret likes to be petted depends on the individual ferret. However, many do like to be petted in certain areas.

PetKeen Best Places to Pet a Ferret_Infographic
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Here are some of the most common areas ferrets like to be petted in:

  • Head and neck: Most ferrets like their head and neck rubbed. They have scent glands on the top of their head and often like this area rubbed. Gentle strokes can make your ferret feel secure and happy. However, others do prefer scratches instead.
  • Belly: Like dogs, sometimes ferrets like belly rubs. Usually, they only like belly rubs when it’s from someone they know and are close to. Therefore, if you’ve just met a ferret, this probably isn’t the first spot you should try to pet.
  • Back and shoulders: The back and shoulders are pretty safe spots to pet, and many ferrets enjoy them. This area is one of the least sensitive, so they often like it rubbed rougher. However, you should remain gentle, primarily if the ferret isn’t used to being petted.
holding ferret III_Peryn22_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Peryn22, Shutterstock

Areas to Avoid

Like there are some areas ferrets usually like to be petted, there are some they absolutely don’t (in most cases). Here’s a quick list of places you should avoid when petting your ferret:

  • Tail area: A ferret’s tail and the area around the base of the tail tend to be quite sensitive. Therefore, you should avoid petting around this area. It can be uncomfortable for many ferrets.
  • Feet: Most ferrets don’t like their feet to be touched. They have delicate feet that are often overly sensitive. Therefore, we don’t recommend touching their feet unless you have to. (However, you should train your ferret to at least let their feet be touched so that they can be examined if necessary.)
  • Face: While their head and neck are often a great area to pet, the same isn’t true for their face. Many ferrets don’t like it when their face is touched, so you should avoid it.
Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

How to Tell If Your Ferret Likes Being Petted

Because there is a lot of personal preference involved in petting, it’s vital to understand your ferret’s body language. Otherwise, it can be hard to tell whether they enjoy the petting session. There are many signs that your ferret may be stressed or anxious, indicating that they don’t like where you’re petting.

These signs include yawning, licking their lips, stomping their feet, trying to escape, hissing, and arching their back. These signs should be taken seriously, as body language is the only way your pet can communicate with you. You may get bitten or scratched if you continue pushing after your ferret has made itself clear. (And your ferret may be a bit less trusting)

Many things may make your ferret anxious or stressed—not just where you choose to pet it. For instance, the ferret may not be comfortable around you yet, making any petting a bit stressful. Ferrets aren’t always as quick to warm up to their owners as other pets.

Therefore, building up your ferret’s trust and taking things slowly is important.

Image Credit: kemll, Pixabay

Do Ferrets Like to be Touched?

Ferrets often like to be touched, assuming they have been socialized well with humans. Of course, just like any animal, ferrets must be socialized, or they may be fearful of humans. Ferrets that have only been socialized with their owner may fear everyone who isn’t their owner. This trait isn’t necessarily because of their species. Most domestic animals, including dogs and cats, require socialization to enjoy the presence of people, too.

With proper socialization, ferrets will not be fearful of humans (usually) and will enjoy being petted in most cases. Ferrets often enjoy belly rubs, just like dogs. They may even cuddle with you just like any other pet.

Of course, a lot depends on the ferret’s temperament, too. Some ferrets are much cuddlier than others. Some prefer to run around and play. Often, ferrets are more active when young and calm down as they age. Therefore, if your ferret seems to only love playing now, they may still like to be petted when they get older.

holding ferret
Image Credit: Nadezhda Manakhova, Shutterstock

Do Ferrets Understand Affection?

Yes, ferrets do understand affection and often enjoy being petted. They’re pretty similar to cats and dogs in this manner. While we can’t know if ferrets understand affection as we do, many ferrets like to be petted. Ferrets will also show affection in many different ways. Some may like to cuddle; others may try to play with their favorite human. Pet ferrets have been noted in studies for their excited greeting behavior—not much different from many dogs and cats.

With that said, ferrets tend to be much more active and curious than other pets. Their exploratory urges are often very strong, which may cause them not to enjoy cuddling quite as much. Ferrets tend to be a little “all over the place,” so it isn’t odd for their shows of affection to be very short. They may enjoy shorter petting sessions for this reason, too.

However, with proper socialization and interaction, even the most excitable ferret should grow to like cuddling and petting as they age.

holding ferret
Image Credit: Mitskevich Uladzimir, Shutterstock



Ferrets may not be widespread pets, but they have been domesticated for over 2,000 years. Therefore, they exhibit very similar behaviors as cats and dogs. They often love to be petted and loved by their people, especially as they age. Younger ferrets are often more excitable, so they sit still for shorter periods. Ferrets often prefer to be petted on their heads, neck, back, and belly. Like most animals, ferrets don’t like touching their tails and feet.

If you’ve ever been around a cat or dog, you can pet a ferret similarly to them. There isn’t a special ferret petting technique, and they prefer to be petted in similar places to dogs and cats.

Featured Image credit: Alexandra Koval, Shutterstock

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