Ferret Vocalizations

Ferrets are often inaccurately portrayed in the media as rodents, and as such are depicted making a variety of rodent noises and squeaks. However, ferrets are not rodents, and do not make rodent sounds. The most common sound that ferrets are known for is their “dooking” sound – a sort of chuckling sound. “Bark” is to a dog as “Dook” is to a ferret. Dooking is far from a ferret’s only vocalization though. They have a repertoire of sounds that they use, in conjunction with body language, to communicate. Below is a brief summary of some of the common vocalizations that you may observe your ferret making, and what they may mean. 

***Click on the Embedded links to see videos of each sound***

Ferrets don’t necessarily dook….and even then it has different meanings. We look at it as a happy sound but I’ve learned through the years, that just because they’re dooking or not has no indication as to how happy or unhappy they are.

Dooking

  • There is the happy chuckle that everyone loves to hear but only some ferrets use it. It doesn’t mean they’re not happy. I think sometimes that farm ferrets do not communicate in the full width of dooking because they never learned it from their mothers. They’re taken when their eyes open, their ears are closed until then too….so mom rarely talks to them until their eyes and ears open. It’s like she knows….from then on she dooks constantly to them in various tones, levels and volumes.
  • In the spring there is the hob song which as annoying as all the accompanying behaviors are that go with it, is fun to listen to. Hobs and jills sing as they search for mates. It reminds me of a senior looking for their glasses, a constant low chuckle that increases or decreases as they uncover various scents.
  • There is a dook that shows annoyance, it will sometimes show up if your ferret is constantly after something and you interfere, or keep removing them. That’s a warning, you might get bitten….this will also be used when another ferret is insisting on pushing the limit.
  • There is the low rapid fire dooking of a jill calling her kits to the nest when they’re out playing.
  • There is the high almost staccato dooking of a ferret on the hunt, usually for an opponent. A hob will also use this tone when he has a jill who’s not cooperating. This usually erupts into violence.
  • Ferret Noises
  • Ferret Dooking
  • Ferret Dooking

Hissing:

  • Some ferrets actually hiss. Hissing may be a sound of displeasure (fear, anger, or a warning to back off), but many ferrets hiss in play (especially when play-fighting cage-mates). Some ferrets even hiss when happy; deaf ferrets are notorious for this and other “socially inappropriate” vocalizations.
  • There is the sound of happy hahahah’s that are so much fun to hear. There is only one meaning for these and so often they’re misinterpreted as hisses, but if you listen, it’s breathy ferret laughter. They make me laugh when they’re doing this.

Honking:

  • Huffing, also referred to as ferret “laughter,” is a rapid huffing/panting sound that ferrets make when very excited. This is seen more commonly in younger ferrets, but even older ferrets may laugh when excited.
  • As mentioned above, deaf ferrets are notorious for making “socially inappropriate” vocalizations, as they cannot hear themselves or others. A deaf ferret may make any assortment of noises, and over time you will learn to read your deaf ferret’s sounds and body language. A common sound that deaf ferrets make is a squaking sound – anywhere from a honk to a scream. This is often while playing, but can occur at any time. Often owners are concerned that their deaf ferret is in distress (a reasonable concern), only to learn that the ferret is deaf and vocal.
  • Chewbacca the Deaf Ferret Making Sounds
  • Deaf Ferret Squeaking
  • Deaf Ferret “Screaming”
Barking:
  • Occasionally ferrets will make a distinct barking noise. This occurs most often when they are trapped or startled.
Screaming:
  • When in severe distress, a ferret can and will scream. This is seen when they are in pain, severe fear, or during siezures.