Licking their lips in ferret body language can have 3 meanings, two of these meanings being of special importance and attention to people.
Basically, ferrets lick to groom themselves, but a ferret licking its lips can also be a sign of stress or a warning sign that should be heeded.
In a lesser percentage, a ferret licking its lips may signify physical discomfort.
In this topic, I will address in detail these three aspects of why ferrets lick their lips, and what you should do about it.
A ferret licks its lips as a sign of appeasement
Special attention should be paid, appeasement does not mean that the ferret is calm, on the contrary, a ferret licking its lips can be a sign that the ferret is stressed.
Lip licking, in many mammals, is a sign of trying to calm things down, a ferret may lick its lips if it perceives something in its environment as a threat.
The ferret will lick its lips if they perceive a person or other animal as a threat as a signal, this before producing any aggression (bite), this is the main reason why a ferret before biting licks its lips.
So, you should pay special attention to this seemingly harmless gesture of ferrets, if you notice that a ferret is licking his lips before a situation that seems stressful it is best that you leave it alone.
Usually, licking his lips is only a warning, or rather, as I said at the beginning, a sign to make peace, but if necessary the ferret will use aggression if things do not improve.
Although lip-licking does not always mean a sign of aggression, you should pay special attention to whether the ferret licks his lips and then yawns, these are the two body signals that indicate he is about to bite.
An example, an owner may be scolding a ferret loudly, then the ferret as a sign of appeasement licks its tongue, but if the situation persists and the ferret begins to feel threatened, it may bite if you try to touch it.
Another very common situation is when the ferret does not want to be hugged or touched by force, many people confuse the licking gesture of ferrets and try to touch and pet them by force, which leads to bites and uncomfortable situations.
In a less likely situation, a ferret may lick its lips in case of health problems, such as nausea, mouth pain, or tooth discomfort.
In this situation, the most appropriate thing to do is to take the ferret to a veterinarian’s appointment.
The ferret licks its lips to groom itself
Most ferrets lick themselves for cleaning purposes, especially in the area of their lips and muzzle when they have finished eating, this is a characteristic behavior of carnivorous mammals.
What should you do if your ferret licks its lips frequently?
The most important thing to note is what are the signs that cause stress to the ferret, many people tend to confuse the tender appearance of ferrets, in reality, ferrets do not like too much to be carried and to be poked and prodded.
This behavior usually causes stress in the ferret, you must identify the body language of the ferret, but this happens because of ignorance, I hope that with this topic many will acquire this knowledge and can identify signs of stress in their ferrets.
The ferret is not an aggressive animal, it is simply a normal behavior to react to situations that represent danger for him, and licking his lips is a sign of submission more than anything else, a sign of peace.
If the ferret behaves defensively and you notice him licking his lips, the best thing to do is to back off and respect his space until the ferret feels more comfortable, the worst thing to do is to pick him up from the floor against his will.