Are Ferrets Nocturnal? (Understanding Their Sleeping Habits)

Ferrets are active creatures that love to run and play. They might be the perfect pet for you! When you’re choosing a pet, you’ve got to consider if it’s suitable for your lifestyle. A lot of pocket pets are nocturnal or crepuscular. This means that they’re active at night or at twilight. But are ferrets nocturnal?

Ferrets are crepuscular animals. They’re most active at dawn and dusk (twilight periods). Ferrets will sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day. While most ferrets are naturally active during twilight, they can quickly adapt their sleeping habits when kept as pets.

Both ferrets and cats are well-known for their sleeping habits. This is because they are both capable of sleeping for long periods. However, although ferrets and cats both love to sleep, there are slight differences in their sleeping habits. Therefore, we’ll explore everything about the sleeping behavior of ferrets in this article.

Ferrets Are Crepuscular

Why are ferrets crepuscular?

Ferrets are active predators in the wild and hunt small prey such as rodents and birds. As a result, their sleep patterns have naturally evolved to allow them to be active at all times of the day and night, depending on when their prey is available.

Their prey (small animals) are most active at dawn and dusk, and ferrets have adapted to become most active during these periods. Ferrets have a keen vision and sense of smell to hunt during these times.

But the sleeping behavior of ferrets is also influenced by the presence of other predators. During the day, large predators such as birds of prey are more active and form competition for ferrets. During the night, nocturnal predators such as owls can threaten ferrets.

Ferrets can avoid competition with certain predators and avoid being the target of predators by hunting during twilight.

What does the crepuscular nature mean for ferrets as pets?

Crepuscular pets have several advantages over pets that are diurnal or nocturnal. A crepuscular pet will better suit most people than one that is nocturnal. For example:

  • They are more active when you’re most likely to be awake and available to interact with them. 
  • They’re less disruptive to your sleep schedule. You won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed your ferret and play with them.
  • Crepuscular pets are more likely to sleep when you’re not at home. Your ferret will probably be asleep when you’re at work or at school. When you come back home, your ferret will be awake and you can enjoy time with them.

Although there are advantages to having a crepuscular pet, there are also potential drawbacks:

  • If you have a busy schedule and aren’t home in the early morning or evening, a crepuscular pet may not have enough time to play and interact with you.
  • Crepuscular pets, especially ferrets, are highly active when they’re awake. You’ll need to provide enough stimulation and play with them while they’re awake. This can be when you’re less active and don’t have a lot of energy.

Always consider all factors when getting a pet. This includes their sleeping habits and other essential elements such as housing and dietary needs. Some pets also require specialized care and aren’t easily kept as pets.

Sleeping Habits of Ferrets

Now that you understand why ferrets are crepuscular and the benefits and drawbacks of this, we’ll get more in-depth into the sleeping habits of ferrets by answering different questions about their sleeping habits.

How long do ferrets sleep?

Ferrets sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day. Ferret babies and older ferrets usually sleep more than young and adult ferrets. They can even sleep 20 to 22 hours a day. A young ferret will spend more time awake because it’s interested in exploring its environment and will want to play more.

Of course, no one ferret will be the same. Some might sleep more or less. But, like cats, you will notice that a ferret spends more time asleep than awake. This is because ferrets are very intense when they’re awake. They will get tired from playing and exploring their environment while awake.

Ferrets won’t sleep 18 hours in a row. Instead, they will have mixed periods where they sleep and periods when they’re awake. A good guide of reference is that a ferret will sleep five hours for every hour of playtime (awake time).

How do ferrets sleep?

Ferrets have a lot of different sleeping positions and don’t mind how they sleep as long as they’re comfortable. They can sleep on their back or curl up. Ferrets have long bodies and are very flexible. They will close their eyes while sleeping and can spend several hours in a position.

To give you an idea, we’ve gathered some sleeping positions of ferrets below.

Where do your ferrets sleep?

Ferrets like to burrow and will sleep in dark and hidden places. Since ferrets should spend at least several hours outside their cage and they’ll play most of the time, you can expect a sleeping ferret in unusual places.

When a ferret is really tired, it can fall asleep almost anywhere. Most often, they tend to seek hidden places like under the blankets of a bed, under the bed, sock drawers, piles of laundry, and under carpets. It’s important to ferret-proof your room to prevent accidents with your ferrets while it’s finding a place to sleep.

When a ferret is in its cage, you should obviously also have a sleeping place for them. It’s recommended to get two to three hammocks or beds for your ferrets to sleep in. There are several kinds of hammocks, some are open and some are closed. Get one of each so your ferret can choose where to sleep depending on the light in the room.

You can find good hammocks in your local pet store or online (for example, this hammock from Fulue or this hanging mat/bed from Niteangel).

Do ferrets change their sleeping habits? (adaptive sleeping)

Ferrets are crepuscular by nature, but they can change their sleeping habits. A ferret can become more diurnal or nocturnal depending on their environment (and your lifestyle). However, since ferrets sleep a lot, this adaptive sleeping behavior will only have a slight impact.

It is easy to change the sleeping behavior of ferrets. Ferrets want to play and will notice when you’re awake. So they can quickly change their sleeping behavior to match yours more closely.

Example: work during office hours

When you work during the day, you should play with your ferret in the morning and evening. It will then sleep most of the day and night.

Example: nocturnal life and activity

When you’ve got a nocturnal life, your ferret will notice that you’re awake at night. It will then want to play with you, be more active at night, and sleep most of the day.

5 Tips to Give Your Ferret the Best Sleep

A healthy ferret needs to sleep enough. It’s important to let your ferret sleep and don’t bother them while they’re sleeping. To help you give your ferret the best sleep quality, we’ve gathered 5 tips:

  • suitable sleeping areas: create enough comfortable and safe places for your ferret to sleep. This can be sleeping bags, hammocks, or small beds in their cage and outside of their cage. Just like a cat, a ferret will need comfortable places to rest. The sleeping area should be well-ventilated and draft-free.
  • darkness and quiet places: a ferret is sensitive to noises and light. They can have difficulty sleeping when their environment is too loud or bright. Make sure that your ferret has a hammock where it can hide from any light and don’t expose them to prolonged daylight, for example, by artificial lighting in the room.
  • cover the cage at night or keep lights at a minimum: ferrets don’t need light at night, so make sure that they have a hammock or bed in the cage where they can hide from any light. You can also just put a cover over the cage at night, so there’s no light disturbing your ferret.
  • let your ferret outside its cage at least four hours a day: ferrets aren’t animals that should be kept the entire day in their cage. You should let your ferret outside its cage at least four hours a day. Play with your ferret and let your ferret get tired from the playtime. You don’t need to spend these four hours in one consecutive period but can divide them as you choose.
  • consult a vet in case of abnormal sleeping behavior: if you notice that your ferret has trouble sleeping, you should consult with an experienced veterinarian. They can help identify possible health issues that affect your ferret’s sleep.

Can ferrets sleep in bed with you?

When you’re playing with your ferret, it can happen that it falls asleep in your bed. However, it’s recommended not to sleep with your ferret for safety reasons and to avoid getting scratched or bitten when your ferret wants to play. Ferrets might also poop in your bed, which you want to avoid.

Are ferrets active at night?

When you play enough with your ferrets during the day, they will not be active at night. It’s possible that they will wake up and play with a toy or eat something. Most ferrets will be more active at dawn and dusk. Unless you’re active at night, your ferrets will sleep at night.

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