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Pet owner perception of ferret boredom and consequences for housing, husbandry, and environmental enrichment

Dancer, Alice; Diez Leon, Maria; Bizley, Jennifer; Burn, Charlotte


Alice Dancer

Maria Diez Leon

Jennifer Bizley

Charlotte Burn


Boredom is a potential chronic but overlooked animal welfare problem. Caused by monotony, sub-optimal stimulation, and restrictive housing, boredom can therefore affect companion animals, particularly those traditionally caged, such as ferrets. We surveyed owners' (n=621) perception of ferrets' capacity to experience boredom, the behaviours they associate with it, and whether their perception of their ferrets' capacity for boredom influenced training techniques , housing and environmental enrichment (EE). Most (93.0%) owners believed that ferrets can experience boredom, but owners who doubted ferrets experience boredom (7.0%) provided significantly fewer EE types to their ferrets. Heat map and classification tree analysis showed that owners identified scratching at enclosure walls (n=420) and excessive sleeping (n=312) as distinctive behavioural indicators of ferret boredom. Repetitive pacing (n=381), yawning (n=191), and resting with eyes open (n=171) were also suggested to indicate ferret boredom, but overlapped with other states. Finally, ferret owners suggested social housing, tactile interaction with humans, and exploration as most important for preventing boredom. These results suggest pet ferrets are at risk of reduced welfare from owners who doubt they can experience boredom, highlighting an opportunity to improve welfare through information dissemination. We recommend further investigation into ferret boredom capacity, behavioural indicators, and mitigation strategies.


Dancer, A., Diez Leon, M., Bizley, J., & Burn, C. (2022). Pet owner perception of ferret boredom and consequences for housing, husbandry, and environmental enrichment. Animals, 12(23), Article 3262.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 17, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 23, 2022
Publication Date Nov 29, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 29, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2022
Journal Animals
Print ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 23
Article Number 3262


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